At MWC 2022, Lenovo unveiled 3 Chromebooks in total and if you weren’t paying too close attention, there’s a good chance you noted the new Chromebook Duet 3 and Flex 5i, but missed the Flex 3i in that press release. That’s understandable as the Duet 3 and Flex 5i bring some substantial improvements to the table, but we can’t forget about Lenovo’s more-affordable entry in this latest batch of Chromebooks, either.
Finally, a good screen on an affordable Chromebook
With the original Duet, one of the things that set it apart from other Chromebooks in its price range was the fact that the screen was really good. With affordable Chromebooks, we tend to see poor build quality, bad trackpads, and really bad screens. Even if they manage to get an IPS display in most affordable Chromebooks, it is rarely very bright.
Lenovo has completely bucked this trend once again in the Chromebook Flex 3i and this device will ship with a 15.6-inch FHD IPS screen that cranks the brightness up to 300 nits. Seriously, Lenovo: thank you. With an all plastic chassis, small core Intel silicon, and smaller RAM and storage options, devices like the Flex 3i are already cutting some big corners. Making sure the screen, keyboard and trackpad aren’t garbage is the key to making an affordable Chromebook that isn’t terrible to use.
Nailing the basics
Under that nice screen is a solid, non-backlit keyboard and decent trackpad experience. No, it’s not a glass, but the plastic used here is smooth and there’s no wobble present in our review unit’s trackpad. With these input methods and the very-good screen, Lenovo has solidified the overall experience on this Chromebook. Yes, the body is less sturdy than I like, but on the desk it isn’t terrible, and the speaker grill across the top puts out some loud, mid/high-heavy audio that should serve you well in video calls.
Internally, Lenovo will ship the Flex 3i in a few configurations with either the Intel Celeron N4500 (Jasper Lake) or the Pentium N6000. Those will come equipped with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 128GB of internal storage as well. It isn’t clear yet what the standard $399 MSRP will get you when it launches in May of 2022, but our bet is on the Celeron with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
With the addition of some niceties like a camera shade over the 720p webcam and the numeric keypad, the Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook could hit a nice balance of price and features that we don’t normally see. Over the past few years, this is where Lenovo has succeeded, and alongside the excellent-looking Duet 3 and Flex 5i, the company has a nice group of new Chromebooks that should sell well into the middle and latter parts of 2022.