The Lenovo X1 Carbon and X1 Fold represent very different devices that should appeal to very different users. Interestingly, the most revolutionary of the two products, the X1 Fold, may be better for the pandemic world we have now than the more traditionally designed X1 Carbon. On the other hand, the status aspect of the cutting edge X1 Fold is offset by the fact that people won’t see you use it if you are primarily working from home.
Neither product is a gaming machine or portable workstation; both products are best for those mostly streaming entertainment, working in the office and living in email and social networking, but they’ll appeal to very different users. I believe that the Fold would generally be better for a female user and the Carbon better for a male user.
Let’s look at who I think are the primary users of the Lenovo X1 Carbon and X1 Fold.
Comparing the specs
The Lenovo X1 Carbon is state of art about traditional notebook design. It weighs 2.4 pounds and feels lighter than it is due to being well balanced; it will work well on a table or lap but, like most laptops, doesn’t allow for any flexibility concerning component placement, because the screen is attached. It does come with an optional 14-inch 4K display or an FHD display with a privacy guard at 500 nits (outdoor viewable). Battery life is up to 10 hours, and it can be rapidly charged if you get the 65W AC adapter. It is pretty, but it isn’t different enough than most laptops in its class to draw attention. It is also robust passing 12 military-grade tests and 200 quality checks. It has Wi-Fi 6, and 4G is optional. The X1 Carbon prices out at $3,500 fully configured and starts at $949. You can configure the X1 to your specific needs.
The Lenovo X1 Fold is anything but traditional in design. It is more like a portable all-in-one. It weighs in at 2.2 pounds but is denser folded, making it feel heavier. It will work best either in cramped spaces in laptop mode or on a desk. On an airplane, it would be either best deployed in business class or best on your lap in laptop mode in coach. Its optional keyboard is tiny, making it best for those with small hands, and it will fit folded in a large purse, making it better for women who carry purses than men who do not.
It uses a hybrid Intel Core i5 processor, which has lower performance than the Carbon processor choices (i5 and i7). It has a 13-inch OLED 2K display at 300 nits, suggesting outdoor use will be limited, but indoor it will have deeper blacks and more vibrant colors than the Carbon. It has WiFi 6, and 5G is optional, providing a higher bandwidth level than the Carbon if both have the WAN option. Pricing is far tighter, ranging from $2,499 to $3,099. You can’t configure the Fold to your specific needs.
The Lenovo X1 Carbon is arguably preferred by men who like a lot of choice in their options. Someone who is OK with LTE (4G) connectivity or no connectivity and who wants a traditional design (status associated with a laptop isn’t a high requirement) will like this. Users who want to work outside will favor the high-nit screen options, and the 4K screen will favor those who want to do photo editing or use the device to watch movies in 4K resolution. The keyboard is fine for those with large hands, once again favoring men, and the visible carbon fiber weave has a slight automotive feel to it, appealing to those who like that effect more commonly seen in high-performance cars.
In short, a guy who works traditionally with a notebook and is into the technology enough to configure it while mostly doing productivity work will favor this design. The bigger you are, and the more you work away from AC power, and the harder you are on notebooks, the more you’ll favor the Carbon.
The Lenovo X1 Fold with its small keyboard is better for small hands who want to work more as they work on their desk. They want to move the keyboard around and treat the PC as a standalone monitor. They are also more design and fashion-oriented and like the attention, a very different product brings to them. You will get people noticing you if you use this in public.
Granted, since many of us aren’t going out right now, that benefit is somewhat nerfed. They don’t want a difficult choice when configuring the product but a handful of easy-to-determined choices. The Fold is a ton easier to configure than the Carbon, because you have many fewer choices. Given that this is a portable all-in-one, this also fits for those who want to use their own larger keyboard and have the device be more like a TV or monitor and like the flexibility of separating the two components. The smaller you are, and the more you like to be noticed and are near AC power, the more you’ll like the Fold.
The Lenovo X1 Carbon and Fold should appeal to quite different users. In general, men should find the X1 Carbon more attractive because it requires more technical skill to configure and because it works with large hands. On the other hand, women favor the Fold because it will fit in a purse, looks more like a fashion accessory, smaller keyboard, works better with smaller hands and keeps the selection process simple. This differentiation certainly isn’t absolute, because there are technically oriented large women and men who’d prefer unique products (executives, for instance). Generally, men should prefer, on average, the Carbon, and women, on average, the Fold.
If you are highly status-oriented and like people to get excited and a bit envious of what you carry, the Fold’s innovative design gives it the advantage. It does create that “What the heck is that?” reaction, given there are so few of them and that most people will have never seen one. So, if you are highly driven by status and like attention, the Fold should be your choice.
One other thing, with the Fold, consider an easel stand like the one Lenovo offers ($34.99); it raises the display component of the product high enough so it is more like a monitor and places the camera at a better height for video conferencing. That would likely be better for your neck.
Stay safe out there, and good hunting!