Just this week, Lenovo rolled out an upgraded version of their very popular Flex 5 Chromebook that brings a fix to most of the lacking parts of the original’s experience. You see, despite the low MSRP of $409 right off the bat, we’ve always wished there could be a slightly upgraded version of the Flex 5 for consumers to choose. The overall formula for the device is so good that changing just a few items would make it nearly irresistible.
What are those changes? Glad you asked. For one, the original Flex 5 came with only 4GB of RAM. While not a deal-breaker, 4GB of RAM can sometimes be a bit limiting when you have a very capable, fast processor like the 10th-gen Core i3 that the Flex 5 possesses. Lenovo’s upgraded Flex 5 comes with 8GB like we’d love to see on the majority of Chrome OS devices.
Second, this new Flex 5 offers 128GB of SSD storage instead of the 64GB of the slower eMMC variety. While I still contend that storage speed doesn’t affect the overall performance of Chromebooks that much, we love seeing SSD storage and more of it whenever possible. For me, I know that 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage is really the sweet spot where I don’t feel like I even give either of them a second thought when actually using the Chromebook. If you pair up a fast processor with that much RAM and that sort of storage, you have win on your hands in my book.
Finally, as Lenovo has been doing for the past year, they keep the pricing in check, too. Across the board, it seems that $479 is the asking price for what amounts to a doubling of both RAM and storage on a device that used to cost $409. For $70, that’s a pretty substantial upgrade, and right now you can actually find it for only $439 on Amazon. It is unlikely that price will hold for very long, but for $30 there’s absolutely no reason not to pick this over the 4GB/64GB variation and it is available in a handful of other places at the standard $479 price point, too. You can check all those out with the button below.
The pressure is on for the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2
With all of that in place, we are within two weeks of the launch of Samsung’s new Galaxy Chromebook 2, and if you’ve been keeping up, you’ll notice some pretty significant similarities that now exist between the Lenovo Flex 5 and this upcoming Galaxy Chromebook. Just to see it all laid out, let’s look at all the characteristics these two devices share:
- 10th-gen Core i3 processor
- 8GB of RAM
- 128GB SSD
- 13.3-inch display
- Convertible form factor
- USI pen compatibility
- Backlit keyboard
- 1080p resolution
With all that being similar and Samsung now asking what amounts to a $220-$260 premium over the Lenovo Flex 5 (the Galaxy Chromebook 2 is $699 in the Core i3 configuration), the Galaxy Chromebook 2 is going to have to deliver on a few key areas to justify that asking price. With devices like the excellent HP Chromebook x360 14c having fairly similar internals and a very good build quality at $630 and the Acer Spin 713 delivering a more-powerful processor with the same storage/RAM options, it was a little easier to understand the Galaxy Chromebook 2 price point just a week ago. With this new variant of the fantastic Flex 5 out there for less than $500, however, Samsung’s $699 price is a bit harder to justify.
But it can be justified if it delivers on the extras. For most users out there, the combination of fantastic build quality, a stellar keyboard/trackpad, interesting colors, a knockout screen, rich audio from the speakers, and stellar battery life are worth a premium. If Samsung’s claims about their new device hold true, we may have that exact formula on our hands with the Galaxy Chromebook 2. And, in the event that all those pieces come together, I’ll unapologetically say it is a great Chromebook worth the asking price.
If it misses on some of those pieces, however, I fear that other devices will simply steal the show from Samsung this year. When you can get so much for so little in a Chromebook like the Lenovo Flex 5, it becomes a very difficult to ask consumers to shell out hundreds more for the same internal hardware. If the perks of better build and finer hardware aren’t pronounced enough, they aren’t worth the extra cash and buyers are becoming more aware of this every single day. Within a couple weeks we’ll know if the Galaxy Chromebook 2 stacks up in a competitive way or not, but until then I think it is fair to say Samsung has a fight on its hands.