The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is a slim and tempting Windows notebook that transforms from a standard notebook into a tablet, and other modes, thanks to a beautiful watch band hinge that lets the Yoga 3 Pro bend in ways normal notebooks can’t.
There is a lot going for the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, with its premium design, but the Intel Core M processor sometimes struggles to keep up. And unless you keep the screen at a dim setting, battery life is not where it needs to be on a $1,199 laptop — even if it is the world’s thinnest convertible laptop, like Lenovo claims.
Many users are interested in the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro thanks to a Microsoft commercial that compares the Yoga 3 Pro vs MacBook Air, highlighting the many positions that this convertible notebook is capable of, and touting the touch screen. We’ll touch on some of these comparisons in our Yoga 3 Pro review.
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Review Summary
Want to know the good and bad of the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro? Here’s our short summary of the Yoga 3 Pro review to help you highlight the most important parts of this convertible notebook.
What We Like: Touch screen display, good speakers, premium design, thin and light, multiple modes.
What We Don’t Like: Performance is sporadic, battery life doesn’t match the price.
The Bottom Line: The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is an exciting notebook that offers a lot of use options, but shoppers need to weigh the trade-offs in performance and battery life.
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Design & Modes
The Yoga 3 Pro stands out in a sea of laptops thanks to a new watchband hinge that gives this convertible a luxurious look and allows for a slimmer design that offers support for four distinct modes. The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro weighs 2.62 pounds and is half an inch thick.
This thin and light design allows users to work on the Yoga 3 Pro as a normal notebook, and it excels at this with a soft touch palmrest, sharp display and a capable keyboard. While watching videos or using the Yoga 3 Pro on a counter, the tent mode or stand mode is a better choice. While cooking and looking up recipes on the Yoga 3 Pro I used both of these modes.
This is better than tempting fate by dripping something on a keyboard and allows for the perfect angle, no matter where I needed to stand or look at the display. This flexibility is not something the MacBook Air does nearly as well, plus I can use the touch screen to scroll through the recipes and switch apps. The screen gets dirty, but it cleans up easily.
Lenovo delivers the best convertible experience on the Yoga line with the Yoga 3 Pro. The device is finally thin and light enough to make tablet use more realistic.
This is still larger and more unwieldy than a smaller tablet like the iPad, but a good fit for use as a second screen while watching TV. The Tent and Stand modes make it easier to use the larger tablet for other tasks.
There are two USB 3.0 ports, including one that can charge your phone while the laptop is off. The Yoga 3 Pro charging port doubles as a USB 2.0 port, which is handy, but means you need a special charger. There is a micro HDMI port and an SD card slot. Power, volume and lock orientation buttons are on the right side of the device and there is a touch start button below the screen.
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Display
The large 13.3-inch QHD+ display on the Yoga 3 Pro is beautiful, but it is incredibly glossy and does throw off reflections of light significantly. The high-resolution, 3,200 x 1,800, means you won’t see pixelated text or photos. Even though the resolution is quite high, the notebook is still usable in the Desktop mode where I still do most of my work. Earlier versions of Windows notebooks with high resolutions left text and windows incredibly small, but this is just right.
There is a large black bezel around the display, but this is unavoidable due to the switch between notebook and tablet. This is a touch screen, and it will collect some fingerprints, but even when switching between tablet, tent, stand and notebook multiple times in a day I don’t need to obsessively wipe prints off the screen.
The touch screen is very responsive and performs just as you would expect on a high-end notebook.
In order to squeeze good battery life out of the Yoga 3 Pro it’s necessary to keep the brightness at around 40%, which is pretty dim. When you need a brighter display, the Yoga 3 Pro rises to the occasion, at the expense of battery life.
This display is not as amazing as the ThinkPad Carbon X 2014, but it is still a nice, versatile screen.
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Keyboard and TouchPad
The Yoga 3 Pro keyboard performs well, even under heavy typing, but the keys are not as enjoyable as using a ThinkPad keyboard. Key travel, the amount of space a key moves when pressed, is pretty shallow.
The keys are flat, but the spacing and tactile feel is good and there is no flex in the keyboard, even with heavy typing. Users will need to adapt to the Delete key siting in the far upper right instead of a back space key. The keyboard is backlit, for easier use in poor lighting.
There is a medium size touchpad on the Yoga 3 Pro that performs better than most Windows touchpads. Tapping anywhere is a left click, but if you click on the right side too far down you will activate a right-click. Occasionally the touchpad picked up on a palm, moving the cursor to a different spot on the page, but adjusting the settings fixed this issue.
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Performance
Lenovo includes the new Intel Core m processor in the Yoga 3 Pro. After a rocky start to the review where the Yoga 3 Pro delivered stuttering performance that was fast and then slow and then fast again, the processor now delivers consistently fast performance. This may be thanks to one of the many updates over the last month.
This is not a notebook I would buy for heavy gaming or for a lot of video and photo editing and production, but for a user that needs good overall performance for a range of tasks this is a good option. There is a slight fan noise during most use, not loud enough to distract from my tasks, but some users will pick it out.
The sound is good, but not great. The JBL speakers and Waves Maxx Audio deliver enough volume, but there is a major lack of lows and mids that leave every song we listened to with too much treble and not enough balance.
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Battery Life
The Yoga 3 Pro battery life is not long enough to get through a full day of work without making big sacrifices on screen brightness and avoiding streaming audio in the browser. With the screen at 40% brightness I was able to work in Chrome, stream music and then switch to stand mode to use the Yoga 3 Pro a cookbook. It lasted about six hours.
This is not long enough to last a full day. Dropping the brightness to 20-30% does lead to longer battery life, but the screen is not very enjoyable at this level — especially for extended use.
There is a trade-off for a thin and light notebook, and it is still battery life. You’ll need to decide which is more important for you.
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Software
The Yoga 3 Pro runs Windows 8.1, which fixes many of the original Windows 8 complaints. Lenovo also includes a number of apps and software additions to the notebook. One of these is the OneKey Optimizer which pestered me to calibrate the battery on a month old laptop every day until I let the software do what it wanted, without any noticeable gain in battery life. This software is something Lenovo could easily leave off, or at least optimize.
There is also a Lenovo Harmony app that helps you find apps that work with the mode you are currently in and will also track your usage in the different modes. The Harmony software is helpful, and something I found myself relying on.
Is the Yoga 3 Pro Worth Buying?
If you are shopping for a Windows computer that is a tablet, a laptop and a little bit of everything in between, and are OK sacrificing battery life for a thin design, this is a good computer. The limitations on battery life hinder portability enough that it is something you will need to think about, but the flexible options, nice display and premium design are waiting for users willing to make that trade.