If you’ve been waiting for a 13-inch laptop with the best display technology, then Dell has an option to choose from. Dell has finally released the OLED version of the XPS 13 and we are now entering this review.
The test unit I sent had a Core i7-1185G7, 16GB RAM and 512GB storage. The OLED configuration is exactly the same as the non-OLED 4K model of the same spec ($1,699.99) and is $300 more expensive than the FHD touchscreen model of the same spec. There is nothing new about this XPS. It has a thin and light build, the same small bezels and webcam, the same fiberglass palm rests, and the same 16:10 aspect ratio as the few previous Dell XPS 13s. Review. So, what to consider here depends on how much you need an OLED screen and are willing to sacrifice for it.
The display itself is great. This is a 3.5K (3456 x 2160) panel with a 100,000:1 contrast ratio. We made full use of the colorimeter covering 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. It’s not as bright as the FHD model, but it’s still bright enough, up to 369 nits. I have had no problems using it outdoors, and used it indoors, usually at less than 30% brightness. Numbers aside, the bright, vibrant colors and sharp details make for some really cool photos.
The downside, of course, is that it has a slight impact on battery life. I haven’t reviewed the 4K Dell XPS 13, so I can’t say anything about the lifespan of that device. However, compared to the FHD models I reviewed, the OLED models suffer in terms of battery life.
In some circumstances, battery life was a big selling point for the other XPS 13 models. Using the FHD model as the primary working driver, using a brightness of about 200 nits, it took an average of 9 hours and 15 minutes. With the OLED model, I got about 5 hours with the same amount of work at the same brightness.
That’s… well, that’s a big difference. If you are thinking of purchasing this device, you should seriously consider it. After all, the FHD display is still pretty good. The black on the review unit wasn’t quite as deep as this OLED panel, but the photos delivered were still fantastic and I had no problems with my non-artistic eyes. (Non-OLED 4K displays, on the other hand, don’t seem to have long battery life, according to other reviews. So OLEDs are more competitive with those models, especially since they’re about the same price.)
That’s why most people prefer the FHD XPS 13 over the OLED model. Five hours isn’t a long battery life, but it’s not particularly good for ultraportable laptops that are close to $2,000. Even if everything else about the laptop was perfect, it could definitely break the deal for me. That means I have to connect this product several times a day. Although, one of its main advantages is that it is light enough to take with you wherever you go. I want to.
Meanwhile, it’s as cool as an OLED screen, but I can’t imagine that it will make a huge difference in the quality of life for everyone but the most discerning viewers. That certainly shouldn’t be a big enough difference to beat the $300 premium and a hit of 4 hours in battery life. Anyone who thinks OLED is worth the price knows who they are.
Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge