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Lenovo Miix 630 Review: Hands-on

We went hands-on with Lenovo's new 2-in-1, which promises a 20-hour battery life and always-on 4G LTE thanks to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • From $799.99
The Lenovo Miix 630 2-in-1 is one of the first three Windows 10 devices to be released that are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor - rather than an Intel chip. Qualcomm revealed the HP Envy x2 and Asus NovaGo late in 2017, but Lenovo waited until CES 2018 to unveil its Miix 630.


The upshot of using the Qualcomm chip is that the Miix 630 enjoys always-on LTE connectivity along with a mammoth battery life of 20 hours - though can the Snapdragon power a Windows 10 tablet or laptop as smoothly as it does a flagship phone?

We went hands-on to test out the Miix 630 at CES 2018, so find out what we think in our hands-on review.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The Miix 630 is expected to go on sale some time in Q2 2018, but Lenovo hasn’t been any more specific than that, or confirmed if that release window is just for the US, or other markets as well.

In terms of price, the base configuration will be $799.99, though we don’t know UK pricing yet. That’s much more than the Asus NovaGo, which starts from $599, and similar to what we expect for the HP Envy x2 - though that pricing hasn’t been announced yet.

DESIGN AND BUILD
In terms of design, the Miix 630 is a fairly standard 2-in-1 with a detachable keyboard. It’s attractive enough in an understated way, but it’s clearly not a design-driven device.

The core of the device is essentially a 12in tablet bordered by some fairly thick bezels. Most of the time though you’ll probably use it with the included keyboard cover and kickstand, which does a pretty good job of replicating the laptop experience.
With a full-size backlit keyboard and touchpad, the keyboard cover is a respectable substitute for a proper laptop. The key feel is surprisingly impressive, without the mushiness you often find on detachable keyboards, and the grey finish is attractive and avoids looking cheap.

There’s also a small strap on the edge to attach the Lenovo Pen, a simple stylus that comes included with the device.

As for ports, you get one USB-C port, one SD card slot, a Nano-SIM slot, and a 3.5mm audio jack. That single Type-C slot could prove limiting, but the SD slot is welcome, and missing from its Snapdragon rivals.

As you’d hope, the Miix 630 is impressively lightweight. At 7.3mm thick and 770g without the keyboard, the Miix 630 is slightly chunkier than HP’s Envy x2, but still comfortably portable. Adding the keyboard takes it up to 15.6mm and 1.33kg.

SPECS AND FEATURES
The big selling point for the Miix 630 is that Snapdragon 835 chipset lurking inside, which promises a few big benefits over Intel’s equivalents - though of course they’re hard to fully test at a show like CES.

Arguably the biggest benefit is to battery life, with Lenovo promising up to 20 hours use. That’s reportedly from tests involving continuous video playback though, so we’d expect most users to get even longer life than that in typical usage, with as much as a month of standby time.

That could be a huge benefit to many users, and Lenovo envisions it as an always-on device - like your phone, which could well have the exact same processor inside it, you’d just leave the laptop on all the time, topping the battery up every few days.

The other part of that is that this is an always-connected device, with Qualcomm’s X16 modem offering Gigabit LTE through either the Nano-SIM slot or the optional eSIM - though don’t expect serious eSIM support in the US or UK.

Access to 4G internet on a laptop-style device could be a huge boon for some users, freeing you from the need to track down Wi-Fi everywhere you go, but it will likely come with the additional ongoing cost of a data plan, so bear that in mind.

The improved battery life and LTE connectivity sound like big benefits, but there’s still the question of performance hanging over this and similar devices. The Snapdragon 835 is a powerful chip, capable of silky smooth performance on a flagship phone, but can it manage the same running Windows 10?

The Miix 630 will run Windows 10 S out of the box, but Lenovo is offering users a free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro within 180 days of activation, which will offer more functionality, but at a likely hit to performance and battery life. Our time with the device wasn’t enough to seriously stress-test it - navigating the OS was slick and smooth, but we’ll have to test it more thoroughly when we get it in for a full review.

As for the rest of the specs, you get a choice of 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB of flash storage, which should be plenty for most.

The display is a 1920 x 1280 touchscreen, which seemed crisp and bright - it’s about what you’d expect from a device at this price, but nothing to write home about.

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