Ahead of CES 2020, Dell just introduced the latest iteration of its premium laptop. Meet the new Dell XPS 13, and it’s sleeker than ever. Unlike most Windows-based productivity laptops in the market now, the XPS 13 features a taller 16:10 screen, with no bottom bezel to boot.
That’s right, Dell’s signature InfinityEdge bezel-less display on the XPS 13 is now extended to all four sides of the screen, lending to a very sleek, modern-looking laptop. As mentioned, it’s no longer sporting a 16:9 display either, opting instead for a 16.10 screen.
Why is Dell going with a 16:10 display? Well, it makes sense for a productivity-focused laptop like the XPS 13 to have this kind of screen. In fact, all modern MacBooks come with this very aspect ratio. Unlike 16:9 screens, 16:10 displays are slightly taller, so you get more vertical space.
Say you’re reading an article on the XPS 13: having a taller display allows more of the article to be shown at any one point. Basically, any workflow that involves a lot of scrolling will benefit from the 16:10 screen, and it’s great to see that Dell is going with this direction for the XPS 13.
As for the display itself, it’s now a slightly larger 13.4-inch screen – the previous model had a smaller 13.3-inch panel. Just like its predecessor, there are also three screen options: the top-of-the-line model comes with a sharp 3840 x 2400 touch display, while the more affordable models feature a 1920 x 1200 touch or non-touch screen.
If you’re wondering, yes, the webcam is still placed at the top of the screen right in the middle. To make things even better, it even comes with Windows Hello support now, which is quite impressive for such a tiny camera module. If facial recognition isn’t quite your thing, you’ll be happy to know that the power button still doubles as a fingerprint sensor.
In terms of processing power, the new XPS 13 can be configured with an Intel Core i3-1005G1, Core i5-1035G1, or Core i7-1065G7 processor paired with up to 32GB of on-board RAM and a whopping 2TB PCIe SSD. Not surprisingly, there’s no dedicated GPU either; it only comes with Intel UHD Graphics or Iris Plus Graphics, depending on your choice of processor.
Unfortunately, port selection of the XPS 13 remains rather limited. Oddly enough, it even loses out on a USB-C 3.1 connection, so this premium laptop only comes with two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support now. Thankfully, there’s still a microSD card reader, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB-C to USB-A adapter bundled with the laptop.
Design wise, the XPS 13 is still a very premium-looking laptop. Just like its predecessors, the palm rest area of the silver model is covered with carbon fibre composite, while the white version features a woven glass fibre finish. Interestingly, the keyboard now stretches edge-to-edge, allowing the keys to be 9% larger.
But it’s worth noting that the new XPS 13’s keyboard doesn’t have as much key travel anymore. The previous model’s keyboard offered 1.3mm of key travel, but the new laptop only has 1mm of travel. For context, that’s the same amount of travel the new 16-inch MacBook Pro’s keyboard offers, which feels pretty shallow in my experience.
Granted, I haven’t had the opportunity to try out the XPS 13’s keyboard for myself yet, so it’s only fair to reserve judgment until I’ve tried typing on the new keyboard. But given the limited amount of key travel, I’m not particularly optimistic it’ll be able to provide a pleasant typing experience.
On a brighter note, at least the glass Precision trackpad is now 17% larger. Navigating with the trackpad should be more comfortable with a bigger surface area to work with.
Battery life is important for a productivity laptop like the XPS 13, and traditionally, it fares really well in this regard. However, Dell is still using a 52WHr battery with the new model, and the quoted battery life is lower now: it’s said to last up to 19 hours instead of the previous model’s lofty 21 hours estimate.
Of course, 19 hours of usage is still very impressive, but manufacturers’ estimates rarely line up with real life usage. Regardless, I’ll definitely put the XPS 13’s battery life to the test once it’s available for review. I’m especially interested to see if the 4K model can return better battery life than its predecessor.
The new Dell XPS 13 will be available in the US, UK, France, Germany, and Sweden from 7 January 2020 onwards; other regions will only receive the laptop sometime in February next month. As for pricing, the regular Windows 10 model retails from $1,000 (about RM4,085), while the XPS 13 Developer Edition – it runs on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS – starts at $1,200 (approximately RM4,905). The latter will be available in US, Canada, and several European countries from 4 February.