Dell XPS 13 Plus Review: Form Over Function
January 3, 2023 Andrew Cheng

Dell’s XPS range of premium laptops have always been very modern-looking products. This is especially true for the Dell XPS 13 Plus: not only is it still a compact, lightweight productivity machine, it also looks quite unique with a “seamless glass touchpad” and capacitive function keys.

But as good as the XPS 13 Plus looks, it also sacrifices on a couple of key functions to achieve its minimalist aesthetics. This, in turn, affects the practicality of what would’ve otherwise been an excellent productivity laptop with a sleek, premium design and bright, vibrant screen.

That being said, I’m still fond of the XPS 13 Plus, and it is certainly worth considering.

What It Is

Display13.4-inch 4K IPS (3840 x 2400), 60Hz
ProcessorIntel Core i7-1260P (12C/16T, up to 4.7GHz)
GPUIntel Iris Xe Graphics
Storage2TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD
Camera720p webcam
Dimensions295.3 x 199.04 x 15.28 mm
AudioQuad-speaker design
Ports2x USB-C (Thunderbolt 4, DisplayPort)

The XPS 13 Plus in this review is the range-topping configuration with a Core i7-1260P processor, 32GB RAM, and a whopping 2TB SSD. It also features a sharp 4K touch-enabled IPS panel, which looks great with minimal bezels surrounding the screen.

Of course, these hardware don’t come cheap with a steep RM11,699 price tag, though there’s the more modest RM6,999 base model of the XPS 13 Plus. That variant features a Core i5-1240P processor instead paired with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 1920 x 1200 non-touch IPS display.

The Good Stuff

Without a doubt the design of the Dell XPS 13 Plus is its best quality, in my opinion. The fact that the trackpad is now “invisible” – it’s integrated underneath the smooth glass surface of the palm rest area – gives it a very clean-looking design, and I absolutely love it.

Now, the XPS 13 Plus’ trackpad is really only in the middle of the palm rest area; exactly where it would be normally, basically. It’s not like the whole slab of glass is the trackpad, no, it’s just that there are no borders to show the working area of the trackpad.

It’s also worth noting that the trackpad relies on haptics to simulate a click, as the trackpad itself doesn’t physically move. Despite that, the haptic feedback does mimic the sensation of a click very well. It really does feel like I’m physically clicking onto it, though it is not without faults – more on this later.

Beyond the functionality of the trackpad, the XPS 13 Plus looks and feels like a premium machine. It has solid build quality, it’s lightweight and compact enough to just slip into my backpack without issue, and the InfinityEdge display with very small bezels look great.

Speaking of the display, it’s a pleasant panel to look at. As mentioned, this unit of the XPS 13 Plus features the range-topping 4K IPS display, and it offers good brightness, vibrant colours, and wide viewing angles. While some may question the practicality of such a high resolution panel on a 13.4-inch screen, there’s no denying that it looks stunning.

But that also means this 4K panel is more power-intensive than the Full HD+ option, or even the 3.5K OLED panel, which translates to slightly worse battery life. I’ll get to this in the next section of the review.

Performance wise, the XPS 13 Plus’ Core i7-1260P processor is no slouch. Paired with 32GB of RAM and a fast 2TB SSD storage, the laptop doesn’t miss a beat in my productivity tasks. It feels very fast and responsive, and I can even do some light gaming (Dota 2, Diablo Immortal) with the integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics.

Last but not least is the keyboard of the XPS 13 Plus. While it’s not the best laptop keyboard I’ve ever tried, it’s above average. It has a decent amount of key travel to not feel shallow, and it offers reasonably good tactile feedback.

I would’ve liked the keyboard more if the backspace key wasn’t shortened for the power button – which also doubles as a fingerprint reader – but overall, it’s not a bad keyboard to do a lot of typing on.

The Bad Stuff

As much as I like the looks of the invisible touchpad, I don’t like the user experience as much. It’s a tad to sensitive to register a click, and I find accidentally clicking on the static trackpad more often than I care to admit when I just wanted to move the cursor around.

The capacitive function keys above the number row are also finicky. Unlike the trackpad, the capacitive keys are not sensitive enough, so I had to tap on the same key multiple times for it to register. It’s also not ideal that the capacitive keys are constantly illuminated.

Last but not least is the battery life of the XPS 13 Plus. On average, I can only squeezes out about five to six hours of use on a single charge. This isn’t bad by any means, but it’s certainly not class-leading, especially for a premium productivity laptop.

For this reason alone, I would personally go for the Full HD+ or 3.5K OLED panel option for the XPS 13 Plus, which should improve its battery life.

Is It Worth It?

Despite its shortcomings, I still thoroughly enjoy using the Dell XPS 13 Plus as my daily driver over the past few weeks. It has good performance, the 4K panel – even if it takes up quite a bit of power – is sharp and vibrant, and most of all, this is a very handsome laptop with a unique, eye-catching aesthetic.

Granted, you do have to pay quite a bit for the XPS 13 Plus with its RM6,999 starting price. It is not an affordable productivity laptop by any means, but for those who are willing to fork out the money for it, you’ll get a fast, sleek, striking laptop.