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Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook review: Affordable choice for school or work


At first glance, the Lenovo Flex 5 seems like it should cost a lot more than it does (currently $478 on Amazon). This 13-inch convertible laptop has a 1080p screen, a snappy keyboard, and a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, plus it weighs less than three pounds.

There’s always a catch, though, and in this case, it’s the display. Although it looks sharp enough and offers fine viewing angles, the amount of light bleed around the edges of the display make for an ugly multimedia experience, especially when combined with anemic stereo speakers.

The result is a laptop that you probably wouldn’t want to use for media playback. But if you’re just looking for an inexpensive, browser-first laptop for productivity or schoolwork, the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook is a great value.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them. 

Tech specs

The Lenovo Flex 5 comes in several versions, but the $410 model we reviewed has the following specs:

  • 13-inch, 1080p IPS touchscreen with 360-degree hinge
  • Intel Core i3-1011U processor
  • 64GB of eMMC flash storage
  • 4GB of DDR4 RAM
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 720p webcam
  • Left side: USB-C 3.1 Gen 1, USB-A 3.1 Gen 1, headphone jack, MicroSD card slot
  • Right side: USB-C 3.1 Gen 1, Kensington Lock
  • Dimensions: 12.2 x 8.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Weight: 2.97 pounds (3.6 pounds with power brick)
Jared Newman / IDG

You can charge the Lenovo Flex 5 through the USB-C ports on eithre side.

These are pretty much the ideal tech specs for a Chromebook. While Lenovo does offer configurations with a Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, that’s probably going to be overkill unless you’re a power user running some demanding Linux applications. Even with an Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM, you probably won’t notice any slowdowns while bouncing among browser tabs, nor should you have any trouble with Android apps like Microsoft Word. The port selection is solid as well, other than the lack of an HDMI port for connecting an external display.

Design and display

Lenovo made an unusual decision with the build materials for the Flex 5. While the top cover is made from aluminum, the bottom portion uses ABS plastic. You can feel and see the difference in materials, with aluminum being more reflective and cooler to the touch. Clashing textures aside, the Flex 5 is fairly handsome for a cheap laptop, with sharp side edges and an angular front lip reminiscent of Lenovo’s pricier C740 and C940 Yoga range.

lenovoflex5left Jared Newman / IDG

It’s not always noticeable, but the Flex 5’s combination of metal and plastic can clash in certain lighting.

The display feels a lot cheaper, though. While the 13-inch touchscreen can flip around 360 degrees into tablet mode, brightness maxes out at 250 nits, which isn’t ideal for use outdoors or in direct sunlight.

The display panel also has light bleed issues, showing up as blotches of bright light around the edges of the screen. You won’t notice it much on light backgrounds, but it becomes obvious in dark scenes during video playback.



Jared Newman

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