Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook Review 2021

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook is a small Chromebook with an 11-inch display, good battery life, and a stylish case. It offers full access to the Google Play Store and, thanks to the SoC from MediaTek, has enough power for everyday use.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook is the smallest Chromebook I’ve tested so far. With its dark blue design, it is also the most aesthetic to date. Due to its small footprint and low weight of 1.2 kilos, it is wonderfully suitable for traveling.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook Review 2021

Inside work 4GB of RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage, and a MediaTek MT8183. With eight cores, this Processor offers a little more power than most Intel Pentium processors that are otherwise found in Chromebooks. Of course, the same applies as always: Google’s Chrome OS operating system runs well even on economical components. We also have an overview of the first specs in Chrome OS for you.

Specifications Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook

Display29.5cm (11.6 inches), 1366 x 768 pixels, 60 Hz refresh rate, glossy IPS touchscreen, 250nits,
processorMediaTek MT8183 (8C, 4x A73 @ 2.0GHz + 4x A53 @ 2.0GHz)
graphicIntegrated ARM Mali-G72 MP3
random access memory4GB LPDDR4X, 1.866 MHz, OnBoard (firmly soldered)
hard disk64GB eMMC 5.1
networkWi-Fi 5 (802.11 a / b / g / n / ac / ax)Bluetooth 4.2
connections1x USB-C 2.0 (supports data transfer, power delivery and DisplayPort)
1x USB 2.0
1x headphone / microphone combo socket (3.5 mm)
1x microSD card reader
safetyDevice for Kensington lock
battery packLithium-ion battery with 42 Wh capacity, up to 16 hours, 45W charger
Input devices
Backlit keyboard Touchpad with multi-touch gesture support
720p webcam
Sound2 x 2W speakers
Dimensions28.5 x 20.2 x 1.85 cm (W x D x H)
weight1.20 kg
price260$

Scope of Delivery

The scope of delivery is pleasantly simple. The Chromebook, a USB-C power adapter, and the usual paperwork are in a small box. The box is also very functional – in a positive sense: brown, with no special colors or surprises. Lenovo gives a 3-year manufacturer’s guarantee.

Processing and Service

The workmanship and the design surprised me in such a cheap Chromebook. The case comes in an unusual matte dark blue and uses robust plastic. The back of the display is divided into two parts: the area with the Chromebook logo is ribbed, while the rest has a smooth finish. I have to admit, I often caught myself running my fingers over the ridged surface. It’s just fun.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook Review 2021

The processing quality is rock solid: there are no sharp edges, the gaps are correct and nothing creaks. The small Chromebook looks as if it could withstand the ravages of time. It should withstand falls, scratches, and other (minor) accidents without any problems. However, you should be careful with the display, as it is not overly torsion-resistant.

I recently tested the HP Pavilion Aero 13, which weighs less than a kilo at 13 inches. The 11-inch Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook weighs 1.20 kg. So it’s a little heavier, but still ideal for a backpack or at home. In fact, I like the size combined with the weight. It makes the small Chromebook appear valuable.

Flex 3 Chromebook weighs

A special function of the display is that it can be rotated up to 360 degrees. Since it is also a touch display, it can be used as a tablet. The keyboard deactivates itself. This “tablet” function bothers me with larger devices because they are far too heavy for it. The compact Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook is the ideal size and weight to be used as a tablet.

There is (only) a USB Type-C slot on the left. This can be used to connect accessories and charge the Chromebook. In certain situations, this means that a dongle is required to enable both at the same time. In addition, it can be annoying in certain environments to only be able to load from the left side. Depending on the location of the nearest socket.

Flex 3 Chromebook keypad


The keyboard also plays a role in the operation. It is an unlit chiclet keyboard. Of course, backlighting would have made the Chromebook a bit more expensive, but I still miss it. The surface of the keys is slightly rough and offers a short journey and a clear pressure point. It’s fun to use it to write longer texts or to chat. Only the space bar is a bit too loose for my taste.

Flex 3 Chromebook touchpad


The multi-touch capable trackpad is relatively large for the small device and is offset a little to the left. It makes a rock-solid impression, but it’s not a revelation. But for the low price, it is good enough.

connections

Flex 3 Chromebook ports

On the left are a USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer. Next to it is a USB type A connector, a jack connector, and a microSD card reader.

Flex 3 Chromebook volume buttons


On the right side, there is a device for a Kensington lock, a volume rocker, and a power button. There is also WiFi 5 (802.11 a / b / g / n / ac / ax) and Bluetooth 4.2.

Basically, all necessary connections are covered: USB-C, USB-A, jack connection, and even a reader for microSD. There is enough choice for normal everyday life. It is practical that the USB-C connection can even be used for screen output. However, if you have a monitor with an HDMI or DisplayPort connection, you also need a dongle. A dongle is also required to read out normal-sized SD cards or when connecting multiple USB devices.

In addition, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook uses outdated standards: USB 2.0, WiFi 5, and Bluetooth 4.2. This is a pity. By using older hardware, however, the costs can be reduced significantly. If you consider the low price – and that the slower transfer speed shouldn’t really be noticed on a normal working day – that’s fine with me.

Display

Without further ado: It could be a lot better. A touch-sensitive IPS panel with HD resolution (1366 x 768) is installed. It should be 250 nits light and this information looks quite realistic. So it is below the “300 nits” limit that is so important to me. It is ok for indoors, but unfortunately too weak for outdoors or strongly lit rooms.

Flex 3 Chromebook screen


There is no information about the other properties of the display – such as the coverage of the sRGB color space or the important color fidelity. If you consider the brightness or the resolution, no peak values ​​are to be expected here either. The small Chromebook is not intended for color-critical tasks either. In games or on Netflix it is completely sufficient.

Flex 3 Chromebook foldable


The HD resolution makes the picture appear spongy, as you are used to full HD or 4K screens on smartphones and televisions. However, the resolution is sufficient for use at work or for occasional videos. Just don’t expect a crisp, sharp picture. The IPS panel has stable viewing angles. So you can see it from all sides and the colors don’t polarize.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook Review


As already mentioned in the section “Workmanship and operation”, the display offers you the option of converting the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook into a tablet. The touch input worked flawlessly at all times. The display works excellently as a touchscreen.

power (Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook Review 2021)

The “Performance” chapter is a bit unique on Chromebooks. The Chrome OS operating system is very economical and runs smoothly even on old hardware. Since it is mainly designed for web apps and Android applications, it does not need a high-end processor. In addition, the target group for Chromebooks consists more of digital natives, families, office workers, and students. For these groups, a device should be cheap, deliver good battery life and offer otherwise solid performance.

Chrome OS operating system


Thanks to a fast processor, it is possible to play complex Android games on a Chromebook. This enables titles like “Call of Duty: Mobile”, “PUBG” or “Fortnite”. With a mouse and keyboard, a Chromebook even has a small advantage over smartphone gamers.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook contains a MediaTek MT8183, which was presented on December 3rd, 2019. This offers four large Cortex-A73 and four small Cortex-A53 cores. In terms of performance, it is roughly on par with a Samsung Exynos 9611, which can be found in a Samsung Galaxy A51, for example. An ARM Mali-G72 MP3 is used as the GPU. In short: it offers the performance of a mid-range smartphone. It should be able to cope with everyday tasks and some games.

games display


During my test phase, I threw everything imaginable at the MediaTek SoC: YouTube, Netflix, Raid: Shadow Legends, Asphalt 9: Legends, and also a lot of surfing. Everything works best when a maximum of two applications are open. All background applications should be closed when playing a game. The reason is not necessarily the performance of the processor, but the 4GB of RAM. That’s just not enough for multi-tasking.


One of my favorite smartphone games, Raid: Shadow Legends, ran surprisingly smoothly on the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook. Asphalt 9: Legends worked well on “medium settings”. Unfortunately, the MediaTek MT8183 cannot manage high graphics settings smoothly. Nevertheless, many mobile games look much nicer on the larger screen than on the small smartphone.

The integrated video decoder can relieve the processor of videos in formats such as H.264 / H.265. Streaming services such as Netflix are no problem.


In addition to the MediaTek version, there is also a model with an Intel processor. The colleagues from the American website “The Verge” took a closer look at this model. Purely in terms of data, the MediaTek MT8183 is clearly superior to the Intel Celeron N4020, since it is a pure two-core device without SMT. It also has a significantly weaker GPU.

Battery power

Thanks to the MediaTek SoC, the display with low resolution, and also otherwise economical components, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook should be quite a long-term runner. Lenovo promises a runtime of 10 hours.


In order to achieve realistic results, I observed the battery performance for several days and tested it as follows: I set the display brightness to around 80 percent and spent a normal working day with an active WiFi connection. The program was: Surfing the Internet and working in Office applications. The keyboard and trackpad were used continuously.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook lasted almost 9 hours and 38 minutes in my test. A normal working day is no problem and there are even reserves. If the battery does run out, it can be charged with USB-C and the 45-watt charger in just under an hour and 23 minutes. It’s not super fast, but absolutely fine for the price range.

Noise emissions

Noise emissions

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook is passively cooled and is therefore silent.

temperature

Thanks to the energy-saving processor, the Chromebook stays cool and can therefore be operated without a fan. The case never got noticeably warm during my test phase. It is at room temperature when idling or during normal use.

Gear up

Gear up


As with many other Chromebooks, unfortunately, none of the components can be replaced afterward. The main memory and the SSD – in the eMMC form factor – are permanently installed.

Sound & webcam

Sound & webcam

Unfortunately, people like to save on the speakers and webcam. Fortunately, the speakers in the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook are well done.

They are located above the keyboard, so they are aimed at the user. This makes them look massive. With just under 82 dB, they get really loud. Unfortunately, there is a lack of bass, which is the case with pretty much all notebooks. On the other hand, they do not overdrive at high volume.


I used the Chromebook for a day at work listening to the Doom soundtrack and podcasts. Lenovo has installed good notebook speakers here that are on par with good smartphone speakers.

webcam


The webcam is – in a classic way – in the middle of the display. There’s even a small protection switch to physically block the camera.

webcam display
quality of the recordings

The quality of the recordings can be described as “well”. The picture is noisy and cannot cope with darker areas in particular. It is sufficient for occasional video chats. You should make sure that you have enough light, as the webcam will work up a sweat in dark surroundings. It is too weak for frequent use or even proper video conferencing. Here I recommend an external webcam, which is available for around 25$.

For the price range of around 266$, the video and especially the audio quality is perfectly fine.

Conclusion Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook Review 2021

In a nutshell: the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook is a really good Chromebook for around 266$. At 11 inches, it is pleasantly small and ideal for traveling, the design is stylish and the entire case is flawlessly processed. There is also a pleasant keyboard and surprisingly good speakers. The rest of the hardware is okay overall.

Conclusion Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook


The processor and the display are sufficient for office work, occasionally watching series and films, and Android games. But not anymore. The limitation of an “only” HD-capable display and a processor from 2019 is more due to the price savings and could be annoying for some users. However, you get a surprising amount of good things for just 266$. Thanks to the energy-saving SoC, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook lasts for almost 9 hours and 38 minutes without a fan. That is fantastic value.

For a potential successor, I would like to have another USB-C port and an increase in the display resolution to Full HD. That would also be worth a small premium to me.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook Review


Otherwise, I can recommend the small Chromebook without hesitation. It is suitable as a travel notebook, for students or people who mainly do things on the Internet. Since Chrome OS is secure and hardly requires any maintenance, it is always up-to-date and ready to use. However, if you are looking for a device for demanding gaming or video editing, you are wrong here.

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