ASUS ZenBook Flip S Review

ASUS’ latest two-in-one convertible device is the ZenBook Flip S UX370UA. An evolution of the original ZenBook Flip I had reviewed back in 2016, the new two-in-one device is slimmer, faster, still luxurious, and a great choice for style-conscious users.

The ZenBook Flip S takes thinness to a new level — 10.9 mm. Bear in mind that this is a two-in-one convertible, a design with a 360° flippable display that tends to make the device thicker than a dedicated laptop. Hence, the thinness that ASUS has achieved with the ZenBook Flip S is quite awesome.

The ZenBook Flip S isn’t just thin, it’s also compact and light. This device has a 313 x 218 mm form factor, and weighs just 1.1 kg. Not only is this two-in-one convertible very portable, it still packs decent hardware within.

There are two colours available on the ZenBook Flip S: Smokey Grey and Royal Blue. I have the Smokey Grey one for this review. Either one, the ZenBook Flip S has the unmistakable ZenBook design that ASUS has managed to consistently adapt across their product line.

On the right side, you’ll find one of the two USB-C ports on this device. Both ports are identical in capability: USB 3.1 Gen 1, power delivery, and display output up to 4K UHD. This device is powered using these USB-C ports, and ASUS provides a 45W USB-C charger. There is, unfortunately, no Thunderbolt support. There’s also a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

The generous ventilation holes on left side prove to be helpful in keeping the device nice and cool throughout my casual testing.

On the right side, starting from the back, there’s the other USB-C port, a fingerprint sensor, volume rocker, and power button. The fingerprint sensor mounted on the side makes it easily accessible when the ZenBook Flip S is used in tablet mode. When used in laptop mode, a sticker beside the keyboard helps you to locate the position of the fingerprint sensor.

That’s all there are in terms of ports on the ZenBook Flip S. You’ll need dongles for everything else you need. These are some of the compromises you’ll have to make to get a thin-and-light two-in-one convertible. Fortunately, USB-C is getting quite common place, and while carrying dongles is still inconvenient, at least it’s now easier to find them. If it’s any consolation, ASUS has included a multi-port USB-C dongle that has another USB-C port, one HDMI port, and one USB Type-A port.

The keys on the ZenBook Flip S’ keyboard have rather shallow travel of 1.0 mm, a necessary compromise for such thinness. The good news is that the typing experience is quite decent, and you do get a full-sized back-lit keyboard with well spaced chiclet keys.

The touchpad on the ZenBook Flip S is excellent. It’s large, has super-smooth glass, and supports Microsoft Precision Touchpad. Tracking is accurate and, naturally, all Windows 10 gestures are well-supported.

The screen on the ZenBook Flip S is superb. It’s just Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, which isn’t quite high enough for anyone like me who’s gotten used to Retina-type displays, but despite that, this ASUS display is amazingly vibrant and sharp. It has 100% sRGB colour gamut, 178° viewing angle, and covered by Corning Gorilla Glass. The 6.11 mm thin bezels around the top and sides also help with the visual appeal.

Being a two-in-one convertible, the screen is touch enabled with 10 point touch, and also supports pen. The ASUS Pen two-button stylus is included standard in the box. It has 1,024 levels of pressure, and while perfectly functional, isn’t quite as good as the Surface Pen.

There are some two-in-one convertibles that, you know, work, but just don’t work very well in one or more modes. The ZenBook Flip S is compact and light enough to be both functional and practical to use any way you want it to.

Laptop mode, stand mode, or tent mode, these are easy to achieve with any 360° hinge design. Tablet mode, however, demands a few more things. The ZenBook Flip S is comfortable to hold and use as a tablet. It’s also light enough that you don’t get tired too quickly holding the device. If I had to complain about something, well, there’s no where to keep or hold the stylus when it’s not in use.

The ZenBook Flip S’ thinness hasn’t prevented ASUS from packing decent hardware within. It is powered by Intel Core i7-8550U processor (1.8 GHz quad-core with Turbo Boost up to 4.0 GHz and 8 MB cache), has 16 GB of 2133 MHz LPDDR3 RAM, and 512 GB PCIe SSD. For connectivity, the ZenBook Flip S supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1.

The 39 Wh battery capacity is the ZenBook Flip S’ Achilles heel. The manufacturer’s claim of 11 hours should, of course, be discounted. I had hoped to get at least a full work day’s worth of use, meaning about 8 hours at minimum. However, I find with just casual web browsing use, the ZenBook Flip S lasted at most 5 hours. The screen was set at 50% brightness. It’s perhaps quite an achievement with just 39 Wh, and it’s hard to pack more battery given the thinness of the ZenBook Flip S. You’ve got to decide, if 5 hours is enough, or ultra-thin is truly your thing.

The webcam is also another area of disappointment, unless you don’t intend to use it. While it’s positioned nicely centered above the display, the VGA resolution, yes, that’s 480p, is totally inadequate in 2018.

Apart from the ASUS Pen stylus, USB-C multi-port dongle, and USB-C charger, the ZenBook Flip S also comes with an excellent carrying sleeve. That ZenBook style actually carries over to this sleeve, and it totally matches the ZenBook Flip S. I see ASUS providing the carrying sleeve in at least some other ZenBook products too. It’s a good move providing not just a good quality sleeve, but one stylish enough that people will actually use.

The ASUS ZenBook Flip S retails for S$2,498.

Conclusion

The ASUS ZenBook Flip S is a superb two-in-one convertible that is completely functional and comfortable to use any mode you want it to work in, if you can sacrifice a little on battery longevity.

Pros:

  • Stylish design and good build quality
  • Compact and light
  • Functional and comfortable to use in any mode
  • Excellent screen quality
  • Powerful hardware specifications
  • Stylus and USB-C dongle included

Cons:

  • Mediocre stylus
  • Battery life is short

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