Lenovo's expansive Windows laptops might be center stage at MWC 2022, but its upcoming Chromebooks look quite competitive. Three new Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebooks will go on sale this summer — including an updated Duet 3 and Flex 5i Chromebooks ready to battle the much-beloved Acer Chromebook Spin 713 and HP x2 11 for a spot among the best Chromebooks.
While the original Lenovo Duet Chromebook brought us a fantastic value — and the first fully-formed Chrome OS tablet — some corners were definitely cut to reach its $250-$300 price point, so there were plenty of things we wished to see upgraded and updated in its successor. With the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook, we'll see most if not all of those upgrades arrive this May.
Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3
Starting at $400, this is not a direct replacement to the original Duet, which now routinely sells for $200. Instead, the Duet 3 positions itself to be the happy medium between the supersized Duet 5 and the budget-minded OG Duet. The Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 is the same chip (with the same casual-level performance) as the Duet 5. However, we finally have some substantial configuration options with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which you could fill up with movies, comics, and games to watch and play on the Duet's 11-inch 2K touchscreen. The slightly larger form factor also makes the keyboard look a little less cramped and a bit more sturdy.
Lenovo claims to have increased the durability of the keyboard and added magnets to let it stick to the screen when closed rather than flopping as it did with the original Duet. Another keyboard improvement allows the keyboard to be deactivated when folded back under the tablet, the way you would on a 2-in-1 Chromebook. This will hopefully make it easier to flip the keyboard under for a few moments of Freecell or Bejeweled between meetings.
|Spec||Lenovo Duet 3 Chromebook||Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook||Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook|
|CPU||Snapdragon 7c Gen 2||Intel Core i5-1235U Intel Core i3-1215U Intel Pentium 8505||Intel Pentium N6000 Intel Celeron N4500|
|Storage||64-256GB||256-512GB SSD 64-128GB eMMC||32-128GB|
|Display||11-inch 2K LCD Touchscreen, TÜV Rheinland certified low blue light content||14" 16:10 FHD IPS, 400 nits, 100% sRGB Touchscreen 14" 16:10 FHD IPS, 300 nits, 45% NTSC||15.6-inch FHD IPS Touchscreen, 300 nits|
|Battery||Up to 12 hours||Up to 10 Hours||Up to 10 Hours|
|Ports||2x USB 3.0 Gen 1 Type-C||1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A, 1x microSD card reader, 1x Audio combo jack, 1x HDMI||1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A, 1x microSD card reader, 1x Audio combo jack, 1x HDMI|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1||2x2 Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.0||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1|
|Camera||5MP Front, 8MP rear||1080p||720p|
|Measurements||10.16 (W) x 6.48 (D) x 0.31 (H) in (258.04 x 164.55 x 7.90 mm)||12.4 (W) x 9.0 (D) x 0.8 (H) in (315.5 x 229 x 19.7 mm)||14.25 (W) x 9.76 (D) x 0.75 (H) in (362.02 x 248.00 x 18.94 mm)|
Lenovo Flex 5i
Moving from the Duet to the Flex series, we have two new IdeaPads Chromebooks: a tantalizing 14-inch Flex 5i Chromebook and a modest, big-screen Flex 3i Chromebook. The Flex 5i (14") — not to be confused with the 13.3-inch Flex 5i Chromebook that we reviewed three months ago — features a 14.0-inch screen that comes in 300-nit brightness non-touch and 400-nit touchscreen flavors. The 16:10 aspect ratio differs slightly from our current favorite Chromebook, the 3:2 Acer Chromebook 713, sitting not quite as tall — but also not needing as ridiculously huge a palm rest to fill the space between the front edge and keyboard. The Flex 5i (14")'s half-inch larger screen allows for slightly improved split-screen use, and Chromebooks with 300-400 nits of brightness are a welcome sight after a decade of 220-250-nit mediocrity.
Powered by 12th-gen Intel Core i3 or i5 processors — and a Pentium for the basest of base models — and paired with up to 8GB of RAM and up to half a terabyte of SSD storage, this portable powerhouse should last up to 10 hours before it needs to find a charger. Unlike the Spin 713, Lenovo puts one USB-C port on each side; one is USB 3.2 Gen 2 for up to 10Gbps transfer speeds, and the other is USB 3.2 Gen 1 for up to 5Gbps. Wi-Fi 6E also helps future-proof the laptop, so it's ready when you buy a 6E-compatible router down the road. The AUE date for these models has not been listed on Google's support page, but as new Chromebooks ship with 8 years of Chrome OS support, this laptop should receive system and security updates until June 2030. You'll be able to pick up the new Flex 5i (14") this June starting at $600.
Lenovo Flex 3i
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook acts as a spiritual successor to the Lenovo Chromebook C340-15, offering a 15.6-inch 1080p touchscreen but less powerful Celeron and Pentium chipsets. You don't even get an Intel Core option with this generation — but that would drive the price from $400 up into the more premium $500-$700 range currently owned by the ASUS Chromebook Flip C356/CX5 (5500) that came out last summer (and gets discounted down to or below $500 about seemingly one week each month at Best Buy). Lenovo's Flex 3i is sturdier and a little less striking than the C536's white/black reverse tuxedo look, but that doesn't mean it won't appeal to parents looking for big-screen Chromebooks for older elementary or middle school-aged children.
Time feels like a flat circle these days, but May should come swiftly enough for us to enjoy these new Chromebooks. We look forward to reviewing the Duet 3 and Flex 5i Chromebook as soon as possible to see if they really can go toe-to-toe with Acer, ASUS, and HP.