Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Plus Review: A Cheap Touchscreen Chromebook

At 22 millimeters thick and 3.1 pounds, the Flex 5i won’t win any portability awards, but it’s hardly obese. The plastic all-gray design also feels basic to a fault, despite the inclusion of an accent stripe in slightly darker grey on the left side of the lid. The same no-nonsense keyboard and trackpad found on most Chromebooks are accounted for here as well.

Fast to boot and fast to wake up, I found the Flex 5i to be consistently speedier than the Acer 515—but only marginally, besting it on benchmarks by less than 10 percent across the board. Battery power however suffered by a similar proportion, perhaps a necessity to accommodate the modest speed boost. I eked seven hours and 20 minutes of life out of the Flex 5i on a full-frame YouTube video playback test, compared to almost eight-and-a-half hours on the Acer. Given the Flex 5i’s smaller display, that’s perhaps a bigger delta than you might initially think.

I’ve written previously about the new apps and features available across the Chromebook Plus platform, such as animated wallpapers, Google’s Magic Eraser from its Pixel phones, and video features that clean up your webcam images and videos. Google says plenty more artificial-intelligence-driven extras are coming in 2024. Ready for an on-demand, AI-generated background for your next Google Meet? It’s on the way.

Photograph: Lenovo

For now, the machine is ready to rumble straight out of the box, fully configured within minutes of powering it on. I encountered no problems with stability or dragging performance throughout my testing. The machine was also virtually silent even under load, aided by upward-firing speakers that pumped out plenty of sound.

Is all of this worth that extra hundred bucks over an entry-level Chromebook Plus model? The real get here is the touchscreen, and arguably the addition of the microSD card slot, but both of those items may have niche appeal that not everyone needs. If you can live without them, opt for the cheaper Acer 515 Chromebook Plus. But if they sound useful, this is an outstanding little laptop that checks off all the Chromebook Plus boxes at a still very reasonable price.

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