The Yoga C630 looks quite similar to Lenovo’s other premium ultraportables and 2-in-1 convertible laptops. This 13.3-inch 2-in-1 has Yoga hallmarks like a ThinkPad-inspired keyboard, excellent build quality, and a hinge that rotates 360 degrees to allow you to transform the laptop into a tablet. Inside, however, the C630 (starts at $749; $799 as tested) is quite different from most other laptops: A power-sipping Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 processor means very long battery life and no droning cooling fans, while a Snapdragon X20 LTE modem built into the system-on-a-chip (SoC) offers blistering-fast peak download speeds. We noted some drawbacks, including sluggish performance at times when multitasking, but even with those qualifications, the Yoga C630 is overall a solid 2-in-1 for frequent travelers who need all the battery runtime they can get in a trim convertible.
The gray chassis, which measures 0.5 by 12.1 by 8.5 inches (HWD), is made of magnesium and aluminum. The premium materials look good with the lid closed, and a contrasting finish around the keyboard and touchpad give the deck a pleasingly soft-touch feel.
The Yoga C630’s best physical attribute by far, though, is its lack of weight. At just 2.6 pounds, this machine is astonishingly light for a convertible laptop. Machines of this kind require extra hardware in the hinge that typically makes them heavier than equivalent conventional laptops. The Yoga C630 is, of course, lighter than its big brother, the 14-inch Lenovo Yoga C930, which is still light at 3.1 pounds. It’s also meaningfully lighter than its main Snapdragon-powered competitor, the 3.06-pound Asus NovaGo, and slightly lighter than both the Apple MacBook Air (2.75 pounds) and Dell XPS 13 (2.7 pounds). Those last two weight comparisons are more boast-worthy than meaningful for the Yoga C630—you probably wouldn’t notice the Yoga’s minimal weight advantage if you were to cart each of them around in a backpack or handbag in turn.
What you undoubtedly will notice is the Yoga C630’s ability to convert into several different orientations besides a conventional clamshell laptop. The most obvious is into a tablet, with the hinge rotated 360 degrees so the display and keyboard are back to back. This is the first 2-in-1 I’ve used in a long time that was actually comfortable to hold as a tablet, thanks to its light weight. Perhaps more useful for frequent travelers, though, is orienting the machine with the keyboard deck resting face down on your lap and the display tilted toward you.
In this configuration, the hinge is sturdy enough to shrug off light tapping on the screen. As someone who is tall enough that his knees typically chafe on the back of the economy airplane seat in front, I was still able to rest the Yoga C630 in this mode on my lap and have plenty of room to do some casual web browsing and watch a TV show on a short flight. That’s impossible for me to do with a conventional laptop, and much more difficult to do with the larger Asus NovaGo, which measures 0.59 by 12.4 by 8.7 inches.
It’s nice that Lenovo includes its Active Pen digital stylus with the Yoga C630 at no additional charge. The pen provides an additional means of touch-enabled input for those who have freed themselves from the confines of point-and-click.
With pressure and tilt functions, it’s a similar pen to the one you can buy separately to use with other touch-screen Lenovo laptops. It’s not the most sensitive such stylus, lacking the more than 8,000 levels of pressure sensitivity you’ll find in artist-oriented stylii. But it’s fine for basic touch tasks that are too fine for your fingertips, such as jotting down quick notes on the screen.
The screen itself is gorgeous, with an extra-bright backlight and vivid colors. It’s a 13.3-inch full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) multi-touch panel. There’s no option for a 4K display like the one you get with the Yoga C930, but I didn’t miss the extra pixels over several days of typing, web browsing, and watching videos on the C630. (Plus, a 4K panel, all else being equal, would shorten the battery runtime.) Lenovo has taken a fairly conservative approach to the borders around the screen, or bezels. They’re narrow, especially on the sides, but not vanishingly so, like the ones you’ll find on the Dell XPS 13. Your thumbs will have a place to sit with the machine twisted into a tablet.
I didn’t even miss the sublime keyboard that’s on the now-discontinued Lenovo ThinkPad T470 that I typically use at the office. The Yoga C630’s keyboard is about the same size as the ThinkPad’s comfortable keyboard, but because the C630 is so thin, its keys travel a far shorter distance. This makes for a typing experience that’s closer to tapping on a smartphone. Still, the keys themselves are sturdy, and there’s little keyboard flex. It’s a fair compromise between the ThinkPad keys and the barely-moving butterfly key switches that Apple employs on its MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air laptops.
The touchpad is accurate, and it offers a sturdy clicking mechanism, though it’s nothing to tap home about. I far prefer the pinpoint accuracy, generous size, and haptic feedback of the MacBook Air’s Force Touch trackpad.
To the right of the keyboard is a fingerprint sensor that, at times, failed to recognize my registered print. A fingerprint sensor is a nice addition, and it’s the only way of logging in to your Windows 10 account besides typing a PIN or password. (The webcam is just a plain camera, without the IR sensors required for face-recognition logins.) Still, to be truly innovative, Lenovo could have miniaturized the fingerprint reader and installed it on the left or right edges, where it would be more easily accessible in Tablet or Stand mode. This configuration is present on a few HP laptops.
Those Are Some Thin Edges
As it stands, though, there’s not much room on the incredibly thin edges for ports, let alone a fingerprint sensor. All you get is a single USB Type-C port on either side, and a headphone jack on the right side. The left-hand USB-C port can be used to charge the Yoga C630’s battery, which took about two hours from empty to full in my testing.
These slim port pickings are a byproduct of such a thin and light laptop, and they’re similar to the I/O selections of the XPS 13, MacBook Air, and entry-level MacBook Pro. If you want a more generous port complement from a Lenovo 2-in-1, including a USB Type-A port for connecting an external mouse, you’ll have to look to the Yoga 730 or Yoga C930.
The audio quality from the dual speakers that flank the keyboard leaves a lot to be desired. Whether it’s watching an episode of a TV show or listening to music, the sound output sounds tinny and compressed. I found the maximum volume level to be adequate while using the Yoga C630 oriented as a laptop, but with the machine flipped and the keyboard facing down, the audio was muffled by my desk or lap. Even tablets and smartphones with much smaller speakers sound better than the Yoga C630. The so-so-at-best audio quality disappointed me while I watched YouTube videos at home, but it may not matter as much to frequent travelers, who will undoubtedly connect their own headphones via Bluetooth (the C630 comes with Bluetooth 4.2) or the headphone jack.
The Yoga C630 is mostly free of annoying bloatware, with only a single Lenovo utility app preinstalled on the task bar. That said, it ships with Windows 10 S Mode turned on by default, which prevents you from running Windows-compatible x86 apps unless they were specifically downloaded and installed from the Microsoft App Store. On the upside, Windows 10 S helps isolate your PC from rogue apps and viruses. But it can be irksome if you know the app you want to run is safe. Fortunately, switching out of Windows 10 S Mode is free, and easy enough to do.
Built for Constant Go
If you’re ever on the go, the Yoga C630 promises to do more than just lighten your load or contort itself to fit into a cramped airplane economy cabin. Thanks to its built-in 4G LTE modem and power-sipping Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 processor, it offers the tantalizing prospect of a laptop that’s always connected and that rarely needs to visit a power outlet.
On PCMag’s battery rundown test, which involves playing a locally stored 1080p video file (the Blender Project short film Tears of Steel, down-rendered from 4K) until the battery is depleted, the Yoga C630 achieved just shy of 18 hours (17 hours and 38 minutes, to be exact). That’s the second-longest time we’ve recorded with our current test format. (The longest, at more than 19 hours, belongs to the much bulkier Microsoft Surface Book 2, whose twin batteries (in the screen portion and in the base) make it an unfair comparison).
In my testing, the Yoga C630 largely delivered on its promise. I headed for New York City’s LaGuardia airport on a recent Friday afternoon with a full charge and browsed the web using the LTE modem connected to Verizon’s network for an hour or so as I waited for my flight. More web browsing ensued after takeoff while connected to the aircraft Wi-Fi, followed by about an hour and a half of streaming video over the next few days at my destination.
I never once powered down the Yoga C630 or connected it to any Wi-Fi networks other than the one on the airplane, and when I opened the laptop on Monday morning, the battery meter registered at 47 percent. I then proceeded to work on it all morning, with more than a dozen tabs open at times while I wrote parts of this story, and it took until lunchtime before the battery was completely depleted.
That’s a remarkable showing for a laptop, and it would have been unthinkable with cutting-edge ultraportables from just a few years ago. Even better, I kept the display brightness at a comfortable level—no squinting at a too-dark screen—and experienced internet speeds roughly the same as what I’m accustomed to at home or at PC Labs. Download speeds ranged from a slow but serviceable 8MB per second at LaGuardia airport to an impressive maximum 75MB per second in a residential area of Chicago. (I measured all of these speeds using Ookla’s Speedtest.net, whose parent company, Ziff Davis, also owns PCMag.com.)
Several factors, from the Yoga C630’s capacious 60-watt-hour battery to its X20 LTE modem, contributed to my successful weekend and Monday away from an outlet and (almost entirely) away from Wi-Fi. The biggest of those factors is the Snapdragon 850 CPU, which requires no cooling fan. It makes for a silent laptop and prevents a rogue app or multimedia-rich website from hogging computing resources and overheating the CPU.
On the other hand, it also is a computing-performance limiter under certain situations. The Yoga C630 was noticeably sluggish during web browsing using both Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Edge browsers. Pages crashed at times with these browsers and had to be reloaded, especially when I had several tabs open. Chrome proved more stable.
These problems are likely around the supporting scaffolding that makes using the Snapdragon 850 CPU possible; after all, the Yoga C630 that I tested has 8GB of memory and a 128GB SSD, robust enough for snappy performance on other ultraportable laptops. (The only configurable options on the C630, incidentally, are a choice of 4GB or 8GB of memory, and 128GB or 256GB SSDs.) The Snapdragon 850 is built on an ARM-based processor architecture, which means that it handles instructions from the Windows operating system and any apps you might be running differently from the x86 architecture of PCs with Intel or AMD processors. Many apps have to be reprogrammed to run on Snapdragon; others run in an emulation layer that significantly degrades performance. And still others—including some versions of Adobe’s Creative Cloud software—just don’t run.
This state of affairs makes it difficult to quantify the Yoga C630’s computing performance, since many of PCMag’s own Windows-standard benchmark tests either won’t run, or run in emulation. A few tests that I can run give some context for the sluggishness that I experienced, though. Graphics performance as measured by the 3DMark Night Raid test (the Yoga C630 scored 2,433) lags behind what PC Labs has seen from mainstream convertible notebooks like the Dell Inspiron 14 5000 2-in-1 (4,663) and even a smidge behind the Intel Pentium-powered Microsoft Surface Go (2,662). Future benchmarks, in development, may be able to give a more apples-to-apples illustration of comparative performance when they factor in running on Snapdragon natively.
Given that state of affairs, to judge general computing performance, I ran Principled Technologies’ WebXPRT 2015, a browser-based productivity benchmark that PC Labs typically uses to test Chromebooks. The Yoga C630’s score of 256 on this test lined up closely with Chromebooks like the Samsung Chromebook Plus (264), but lagged well behind more powerful, Core i5-equipped models like the HP Chromebook x2 (412) and the Google Pixelbook (416).
While these benchmarks are far from comprehensive, they suggest that the Yoga C630’s computing experience is roughly similar to what you’d expect from a moderate Chromebook or a Pentium-powered Windows PC. Indeed, the overall feel was similar once I was working in more than a few tabs in the Chrome browser.
Battery Versus Sheer Grunt: A Fair Trade?
How relevant that benchmark comparison is to you depends on the types of apps you need to run on the Yoga C630. If most of what you do is type documents and emails and watch videos on your laptop, you’ll have no trouble—I experienced no lag or stuttering while doing either of these activities. Anything more challenging, though, from gaming to browsing with a bunch of tabs open, will likely feel like a rollback of the times if you’re used to the snappiness of other, similarly priced machines.
This tradeoff is partly why Snapdragon-powered laptops haven’t really set this ultramobile market afire quite yet. The first machines went on sale in 2017, and just a handful of options have hit the market. Besides the Yoga C630 and the NovaGo, there is also a Snapdragon-powered HP Envy x2 (not reviewed) and the Samsung Galaxy Book2. Take that in contrast to the many dozens of Intel- and AMD-powered ultraportables and 2-in-1s that have rolled out in that same time span.
That tradeoff will be worth it for many people, though. Despite the occasional website crash, I appreciated the reassuring feeling that days worth of battery life and always-connected LTE offers. For many travelers whose computing needs are simple, this feeling might be worth the performance hit.
Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to choose the Yoga C630 solely for its battery life and LTE capabilities. Among those dozens of Intel- and AMD-powered ultraportables and 2-in-1s are some with nearly as good battery life that don’t impose the Snapdragon performance handicap. We’ve got a full list, and Lenovo’s own Yoga C930 is near the top. Add in a mobile hotspot, and you’ve got a viable alternative to the C630.
Or, you could spend a little less (assuming you opt for the near-necessary Surface Go keyboard) and get similar performance from the Microsoft Surface Go, which offers built-in LTE connectivity as an option. The lowest-end configuration of the Surface Go plus the matching keyboard rings up at a little more than $500, though bear in mind it has a much smaller screen; the highest-end one plus keyboard approaches the C630.
Ultimately, the Yoga C630 is our favorite Snapdragon powered-laptop so far, but the fact that we have to qualify that it’s powered by a Snapdragon processor at all keeps this machine from achieving field-leading excellence. Better speakers and lag-free web performance under duress would close the gap. If you can sacrifice, or at least compromise, those at the altar of battery life, though, the Yoga C630 is worth a close look.