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Should you choose Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 vs. Lenovo Flex 5i (2021)?

Bright, shiny, and new

Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook

$430 at Amazon (4GB/64GB)


  • Brighter screen
  • Detachable keyboard
  • Long battery life
  • Better speakers


  • Weaker processor
  • Not as stable in your lap

After fixing the small problems with the original Duet, the Duet 5 is a Chromebook tablet that you can legitimately use as a full-time computer. The Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 isn't super-powerful, but that 400-nit screen is amazing, the speakers are wonderful, and the 8GB RAM configurations handle casual browsing and light-to-normal work well.

Traditional power

Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook

$479 at Amazon (Intel Core i3, 8GB)


  • Much more powerful
  • More familiar 2-in-1 design
  • More durable


  • Dimmer screen
  • Heavier
  • Just okay battery life

Following up the stellar Lenovo Flex 5, the Flex 5i bumps up the power and adopts a cooler Abyss Blue hue to its shell. That extra power means it runs down its battery a bit quicker, but it's more work-oriented than the Duet 5 and will be the more practical choice for those looking for a workhorse. That 250-nit screen is just hard to back to after you see the Duet's 400-nit panel.

Coming off the success of the Flex 5 Chromebook in 2020, Lenovo decided to double down on its 13-inch winner by offering it two ways in 2021. The more traditional 2-in-1 laptop form factor of the Flex 5i Chromebook provides more power, but the detachable Duet 5 Chromebook sports a much, much better screen and far longer battery life thanks to the less-powerful, more efficient Snapdragon 7c Gen 2. Both of these are among the best Chromebooks, but which one you get comes down to what you need more: raw power and lap-friendliness or adaptability and longevity. Here's all you need to know when considering a Lenovo Duet 5 vs. Flex 5i.

Experimental vs. traditional: How much fun do you want to have?

Two blue Chromebooks, both alike in dignity: Lenovo Duet 5 (left) and Lenovo Flex 5i (right)

After using and reviewing the Flex 5i and its detachable fraternal twin, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5, I've struggled to pull myself away from the Duet 5. That 400-nit, 1080p touchscreen is sublime, the great speakers are worthy of a Netflix binge, and its detachable keyboard doesn't feel cramped. In short, for casual browsing and content consumption, the Duet 5 can't be beaten.

I have blown literally all Saturday with the Duet 5 playing Microsoft Solitaire Collection and e-reading some favorite stories. This device is addictive for leisure; the 13.3-inch screen sounds ridiculous, but so long as it's in landscape, the 16:9 form factor fits movies and the latest season of Demon Slayer better than the 4:3 and 3:2 most recent tablets have used. Remember 400 nits brightness means that you can take this to the back porch and keep watching the game while supervising the smoker (or the increasingly out-of-hand Nerf war between siblings).

Few Chromebooks have displays this bright, which needs to change, and once you've had that screen for a weekend, going back to the 250-nit touchscreen on the Flex 5i just feels like a punishment. That said, a touchscreen alone does not make a Chromebook: power and practicality play their roles, too, and that's where the Flex 5i starts making up ground.

Category Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook
Display 13.3-inch OLED touchscreen
1920x1080px • 400 nits
13.3-inch OLED display (touch optional)
1920x1080px • 250 nits
Processor Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 Compute Platform Intel Celeron 6305
Intel Pentium 7505
Intel Core i3-1115G4
Intel Core i5-11135G7
Memory 4-8GB 4-8GB
Storage 64GB eMMC, 128-256GB SSD 32-64GB eMMC
128-512GB SSD
Ports 2x USB-C (USB 3.0)
Pogo pin
2x USB-C
1x USB-A
microSD card slot
Audio combo jack
Peripheral features Pre-bundled keyboard and kickstand
Optional Stylus
Backlit keyboard
Optional Digital Pen
USI stylus compatibility
Audio Quad speakers Waves Audio stereo speakers
Battery 42Whr
Up to 15 hours
Rapid Charge
Up to 10 Hours
AUE Date June 2029 June 2029
Colors Abyss Blue Abyss Blue, Iron Grey

The Duet 5's Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 compute platform places priorities differently than the powerhouse Intel Core i3 inside the Flex 5i. When it comes to pure power, the Flex 5i crushes the Duet 5, and the same can be said of storage on the higher-end configurations. Both have 4 and 8GB configurations for RAM, and whichever one you buy get one with 8GB of RAM. Chrome is naturally RAM-heavy, albeit less so on Chromebooks, and while you can work around smaller storage if you have to, you can't upgrade the memory, so don't cheap out on it.

The Flex 5i also handily spanks the Duet 5 on port availability: it has USB-A and microSD on top of the two USB-C ports both machines sport. Again, as a tablet, real estate comes at a high premium on the Duet 5 — and you can always use good USB-C hubs to get the extra ports when you need them — while the normal 2-in-1 laptop has much more room for peripherals.

Lenovo Duet 5 vs. Flex 5i: Which is best for you?

That extra room also enables the Flex 5i to have a backlit keyboard, something I miss on the Duet 5, but the core typing experience on the Duet 5 is still the best for any Chrome OS tablet to date. So if you're using a Chromebook on your lap or in the dark in actual laptop mode, the Flex 5i wins for stability and reliability, but if you're done working and ready to ditch the keyboard for some Solitaire or Star Wars binge-watching, the Duet 5 is tailor-made for it.

These laptops also sit in the $400-500 range, so it's not a matter of one being drastically more expensive, just a matter of what role you're looking to fill. If you want a fun Chromebook for weekends, vacations, and afternoons on the back porch while also still being a full-fledged laptop when you need it, the Duet 5 is worth its price tag. If you need a workhorse for your daily 8-7 (because really, who stops working at 5 p.m. these days) that can also work for leisure when the day is done, you'll want to stick with the dimmer, but beefier Flex 5i.

Bright, shiny, and new

Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook

$430 at Amazon (4GB/64GB)

Want to ease into Chrome OS? This is your gateway drug.

The Lenovo Duet 5 sports a screen twice as good as the Flex 5i, and you can ditch the keyboard once you're done with work. It's not as powerful as the Flex 5i, but it's more adaptable, and it makes for a great content-consuming tablet you can still work on when you need to.

Traditional power

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5i

$479 at Amazon (Intel Core i3, 8GB)

For you and your work for the rest of the decade, this is the flex.

It's not as sexy as the Duet, but the Flex 5i's practical form factor and 11th Gen Intel Core processor make it the more obvious (if less fun) choice if you're looking for a primary laptop. It's easier to use in your lap and more durable, but the screen is dimmer, and it has a fan.

Source: androidcentral

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