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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8) review: Bigger screen, even bigger flaws

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8) review: Bigger screen, even bigger flaws

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This was the Chromebook I was most excited about heading into 2023, but I’m throwing in the towel after a month and a half. This compact Chromebook is the first in a new generation, the first to break a decade of tradition and escape the shackles of the 11.6-inch, 1360 x 768-pixel panel that I’ve seen literally since my first rubberized education Chromebook back in 2015. Being a trailblazer is attention-grabbing, but as we know, the first try is not always ready for primetime.

Here’s my month with the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8) and why I hope it will still be useful.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i (Gen 8)

Source: Lenovo
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i (Gen 8, 12.2″)
7 / 10

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8) grants the wish we’ve spent years asking manufacturers for, but it comes via a monkey’s paw rather than a fairy godmother. What should have been the next king of budget Chromebooks instead whiffs on the performance needed for even light-duty work, making this laptop good for watching videos, reading emails, checking Facebook, and not much else.

Operating System
Chrome OS

Intel Processor N100

Intel UHD Graphics




Display (Size, Resolution)
12.2-inch IPS touchscreen (1920×1200 pixels), 16:10 aspect ratio, 300 nits

720p with privacy shutter, fixed focus

Stereo 2W speakers, Waves MaxxAudio-optimized

Abyss Blue, Cloud Grey

USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (Power Delivery 3.0, DisplayPort 1.4), 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, HDMI 1.4, microSD card slot, audio combo jack

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax 2×2), Bluetooth 5.1

284 x 210 x 18.4mm


Auto Update Expiration (AUE)
June 2030





Adaptor and Battery
45W USB-C Power Delivery AC adapter

Optional backlit (not on review unit)


  • Bigger, brighter screen than predecessors
  • Solid build quality
  • Excellent battery life

  • Too slow to work on consistently
  • Only 4GB RAM
  • Expensive for the experience

Pricing and availability

Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8)

Lenovo announced the IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8) in late December 2022, but the laptop didn’t go on sale until the following summer, arriving around the end of July 2023. While multiple configurations of the Flex 3i (Gen 8) were announced, the only one we’ve seen for sale — and the one we reviewed — has the Intel N100, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage.

The list price for this laptop is $350, which is a bit high given its low power, but it frequently drops to $300 or $280 during Best Buy’s various sales. We’ve only seen Best Buy sell it so far, so if you come across it on Amazon, be careful not to get an older model under a new name or a marked-up reseller.


Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8)

This compact Chromebook shares almost identical dimensions with its 11.6-inch predecessors, though this year, the lid bumps out a miniscule amount in the middle third. This gives you an easy handhold when pulling open the laptop without having to sculpt in a divot at the bottom, like most Chromebooks. The laptop may only technically be one color, but the two-tone texturing between the left third and the right two-thirds feels wonderfully pleasant in hand and makes for an easy grip when carrying the wonderfully lightweight Flex 3i around.

Unfortunately, that texture only covers a third of the lid. I desperately wish the bottom had the same grippy striations — the Pixelbook Go of yesteryear proved the benefits of a groovy Chromebook bottom — but it’s just smooth plastic. Both sides are smooth as well, outside the smattering of ports and buttons. The available ports here are the same as on several previous Flex 3i generations and the C330 before them: you only get one USB-C port, two USB-A ports, HDMI output, an audio combo jack, and a microSD card slot.

USB-A may be the more useful port for peripherals, especially in the budget segment, but for $350, Lenovo should really have put a USB-C port on both sides instead. Don’t get me wrong, HDMI without having to hassle with a Chromebook-friendly USB-C hub can be handy, especially in a classroom setting where everyone may need to go plug in and show their presentation through the projector, but having a spare port for charging if the first one breaks would be so much more handy. At the very least, it would allow you to charge regardless of where a USB-C charger cable may be snaking in from.

Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8)

The webcam sitting at the top of the display fits its budget price tag, but at least it’s got a physical shutter you can close for privacy — or to prevent awkward Zooms if you don’t quite get fully dressed before the morning meeting starts. (We can’t all be morning people, Sharon.) Quality isn’t phenomenal, but it’s good enough for online lectures and Meet-ings.


Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8)

The banner upgrade for the Flex 3i (Gen 8) does not disappoint, and while you can’t call these bezels small by any means, they are refreshing after a decade of inch-thick chonkers. The 16:10 aspect ratio of the 12.2-inch touchscreen itself isn’t quite enough added real estate to split-screen two windows properly on it, but it’s enough for casual browsing, reading, and watching some YouTube streams while you’re bored on the plane.

What’s truly worth celebrating here is the resolution finally jumping above 1080p to 1920 x 1200 pixels. For so long, we’ve been stuck at 1360 x 768 pixels, and finally being to a point where you can’t see every pixel at a glance is liberating. When watching videos or doing any magnification/text scaling, I’m exceedingly grateful for it, as any font change on older 11.6-inch models tended to make text blurry.

Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8)

300 nits brightness is enough for cloudy days or working from the shade, and I easily wrote on the Flex 3i for an entire morning. Obviously, you’re not going to be reading it in full sunshine, but from the shade on the bus to a bright classroom with wall-to-wall windows — because why study when you can be blinded by glare for hours a day — it’s perfectly fine.

In fact, my only brightness issue with this panel is that it doesn’t get dim enough when I’m using it at 2 AM — like right now as I write this review. Most won’t find this an issue, but it’s worth knowing if you’re a creature of the night. Since this Chromebook lacks a backlit keyboard, you likely won’t encounter this too often.

Software and performance

Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8)

Even as power-strained as the Lenovo C330, C340-11, and previous Flex 3i models were, I could at least work on them so long as I didn’t go overboard on tabs. That really isn’t the case with the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8) unless you’re purely using it for casual browsing. Most budget Chromebooks start struggling once you have like 15-20 tabs/windows open. Once I got above six on the Gen 8, performance crawled to a halt.

And I’m not saying, “Oh, this page is glitching a little as I scroll.” I’m talking about it taking 15-30 seconds to even swap tabs and have them load once I had eight tabs — four of them being AndroidPolice.com tabs — open at once. At times, when I made the mistake of opening too many tabs at once for research, it took a full two minutes to swap tabs, load the tab, and close the tabs down back to a state where I could actually type a complete sentence without errors.

Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8)

Even after multiple Chrome OS updates and weeks of troubleshooting, this behavior was still so common that I could track my lowered productivity on the days I used the Gen 8 instead of my 3-year-old Chromebase or other Chromebooks.

I tried turning off some extensions to see if this issue was impacted by the higher load of a power user’s profile, but to no avail. Hopefully, this is the result of a Chrome OS bug with the new Intel N100, but for now, it’s hard to recommend something this hobbled. Given that it only has 4GB of RAM, some lag when swapping tabs would have been forgiven, but this goes far beyond that.

Battery life

Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8)

The only benefit of the Intel N100 is its focus on efficiency, which helps the Lenovo Flex 3i’s battery get through a full day without needing to look at a charger. Lenovo claimed 12 hours of battery life, and on average, I got 11-14 hours, depending on the brightness used. Recharges usually only took an hour and a half, and it’s the same standard USB-C Power Delivery 45W charging that all but the most premium Chromebooks use.

I will mention that it heats up a bit more than expected for a Chromebook with a budget-friendly processor, especially if you’re using it while it charges.


Acer Chromebook Spin 311

Given the current performance issues of the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8), it doesn’t come off well when comparing it to basically any compact Chromebook from the last three years. The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 (3H, but honestly, most versions) may have a smaller, slightly dimmer screen, but the reliability of the MediaTek MT8183 makes it infinitely more handy in this scenario. The same goes for the HP Chromebook 11a and Acer Chromebook CX1.

If you’re set on a Lenovo, you could either grab the Lenovo Duet 3 with a detachable keyboard and Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 or grab the 2022 version of the Lenovo Flex 5i (13-inch) and get a better compact Chromebook or more powerful Chromebook experience for the same money (or slightly less).


In fact, once you’re willing to trade up to a larger Chromebook, most Chromebooks make more sense than the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8). The Acer Chromebook 314 and 315 may use the Celeron N4020 — which we’ve seen in Chromebooks for four years now — but they at least handle a dozen tabs simultaneously with more grace. The Acer Chromebook 514 and Spin 514 sport twice the RAM, a much better screen, and either a more powerful Intel, MediaTek Kompanio, or Ryzen processor for around the same price as the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8). (Yes, the Spin 514 has had impressive chip diversity over the last few years.

Should you buy it?

Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8)

If you just need a Chromebook for checking emails, some light browsing, and watching videos online, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8) can be a worthy contender when it’s on sale, but otherwise, you’ll likely better off sticking to a more powerful Chromebook. At the very least, if you’re going to spend $350 on a Chromebook in 2023, it should probably have 8GB of RAM.

The lightweight form factor and the bigger screen in a still-small package are a delight to see, but there’s less point if you can’t actually get your work done on it. I love budget Chromebooks. I’ve worked from a lot of budget Chromebooks, and I’ve never had one perform this poorly out of the gate.

We’ll keep troubleshooting and come back if things improve, but until then, hold off on buying one just for a shiny new screen.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i (Gen 8)

Source: Lenovo
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i (Gen 8, 12.2″)

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook (Gen 8)’s larger screen looks worlds better than its predecessors, but lag from the processor and memory can hold it back once you get beyond a handful of tabs. For casual computing or an expendable vacation laptop, the Flex 3i could fit well; just don’t expect to get much work done from it.

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