Home / Computing / Laptop / Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review



1 of 9

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 video review
  • Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 video review
  • Dell XPS 13 2 in 1 6
  • Dell XPS 13 2 in 1
  • Dell XPS 13 2 in 1 1
  • Dell XPS 13 2 in 1 2
  • Dell XPS 13 2 in 1 3
  • Dell XPS 13 2 in 1 4
  • Dell XPS 13 2 in 1 5
  • Dell XPS 13 2 in 1


Our Score:



  • Thin and light design
  • Decent battery life
  • Windows Ink support


  • Rivals are better value
  • Sleep battery drain
  • Annoying adaptive screen brightness
  • Weird webcam position

Key Features

  • Dual-core, fanless 1.6-3.6GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75 processor
  • Weight: 1.24kg
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 13.3-inch, Full HD IPS touch screen panel (Gorilla Glass, Windows Ink)
  • Infra-red webcam and fingerprint scanner
  • 2 x USB-C (1 x Thunderbolt 3), microSD, 3.5mm headset
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Manufacturer: Dell
  • Review Price: £1,499.00

What is the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1?

Forget what you know about Dell’s XPS range: the 13-inch 2-in-1 is a return to the hybrid form factor last seen with the launch of the ill-fated XPS 12 in 2015.

It’s the thinnest Dell XPS laptop you can buy right now, and one of the lightest, but the eye-watering price and some exceptionally strong rivals – such as the Surface Pro 4 and 12-inch MacBook – mean that this 2-in-1 doesn’t have the appeal of the class-leading regular XPS 13.

Much of the disappointment surrounds Dell’s UK pricing strategy. In the US, the cheapest XPS 2-in-1 costs a mere $949 (£916 inc VAT), which is actually a bit of a steal, although that model has a cheaper, slower SATA SSD. Here, the lowest price is £1,349, which means expectations are higher. And, as you’ll see, they aren’t quite met.

Watch: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 video review

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 – Design and Build

At first glance, you’d be hard-pushed to spot the difference between the regular Dell XPS 13 and this 2-in-1.

The same carbon fibre-composite finish lines the wrist rest, and as in the XPS 13, it looks good. Also present is the same tiny bezel that makes this machine feel more like an 11-inch laptop than a 13-inch one, plus there’s the chiclet, backlit keyboard.

However, there are some significant differences. It weighs 1.24kg, which sits bang in the middle of the lightest XPS 13 (1.2kg) and the heavier touchscreen model (1.29kg). This might initially sound surprising, but it's worth remembering that the structural rigidity required to make a strong 360-degree hinge will always result in a more weighty device.

Still, it does rather make the 2-in-1 feel heavier than you’d expect for a laptop that’s just 13.7mm thick. It’s only 160g lighter than the 14-inch Acer Spin 7, too, which is arguably a better bang-for-buck laptop.

The processor (more on that later) is cooled passively, meaning there’s no need for bulky fans and vents. This means the outer shell feels robust, a feeling that’s reinforced by the screen's Gorilla Glass coating.

Around the edges of this super-svelte device you get two USB Type-C ports. Not all Type-Cs are created equal, however: the port on the left is used for charging and can connect directly to a DisplayPort cable. You’ll still need a multi-adapter dongle for this, though; the laptop won't be of much use hooked up to your favourite monitor if you’re going to run out of battery.

The port on the right supports full-speed ThunderBolt 3, so you’ll be able to connect high-performance peripherals to your 2-in-1.

There’s no regular-sized SD card slot here, but a microSD card port is included. I use a microSD card in an SD card adapter for my camera, so this wasn’t an issue for me. But photographers who use ultra-high-capacity SD cards will, again, require a dongle, or need switch to the smaller format.

Related: Best Laptops for all Budgets

Dell XPS 13 2 in 1 4

The power button is on the right-hand side, but it’s mushy – and difficult to determine whether you’ve actually pressed it when the laptop is switched off without looking at the tiny power light embedded within it. There are no volume keys on the side of the device, which is unusual for a convertible laptop. The final extra feature is the battery status indicator, which tells you the battery's charge status in the form of five small LEDs.

Spinning this machine around into tablet and tent mode is easy, but not so easy that the screen collapses at the first sign of movement. If I pick it up with a little force, it moves slightly, but not like the larger Acer Spin 7 – it collapsed as soon as you looked at it.

What’s slightly irritating is the lack of a groove for your fingers around the front of the laptop when it’s closed; as a result, it's actually surprisingly difficult to open the laptop without using two hands. This wasn't an issue with the original XPS 13, so I don’t quite understand how Dell let that slip through the QA process.

Dell XPS 13 2 in 1 3

This laptop’s best feature is arguably its support for Windows Ink, which we already know to be very good. Sadly, Dell didn’t provide a stylus with my review unit – you can buy one separately – rather wasting this excellent opportunity for a genuinely interesting use case.

You can read more about Windows Ink in my Windows 10 Anniversary Update review – but if you’re a sketcher, artist or just prefer working with a stylus, it’s a great feature that’s getting better all the time. It’s also probably the most compelling reason to buy an XPS 13 2-in-1

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 – Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is surprisingly good. The chiclet, backlit keys don’t have as much travel as they would on a larger laptop, but they’re generally fine for long periods of typing. They do bottom out pretty severely if you’re a hard typist, so you’ll have to change your style if you tend to hammer the keys.

The only slight oddity (aside from the US key layout on my model) is the positioning of the screen brightness keys. These can be found on the up and down navigation keys; to activate them, they have to be pressed in combination with the Fn button.

Related: Everything you need to know about USB-C

Dell XPS 13 2 in 1 2

The touchpad is Microsoft Precision-certified, which means it can handle all the gestures you can throw at it. However, there are minor physical design flaws.

It’s nice to have a physical click, especially when dragging and dropping items. However, the age-old problem of the cursor jumping has returned. It doesn’t happen every time, but when it does, you might find your cursor jumping a few dozen pixels in one direction when you click with any force.

To the right of the touchpad is a fingerprint scanner, which is now all the rage on high-end laptops. It’s a great addition, although its usefulness is limited to logging into Windows and the very, very occasional website using the Edge browser.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 – Webcam and Audio

Another XPS, another nose cam. The webcam might have jumped a few inches to the right, dead centre of the bezel at the bottom, but it remains a terrible position.

This time around, it’s a dual setup with an infra-red camera as well as a regular sensor. Right now, the IR sensor doesn’t do anything, but the plan is to have it log you into Windows 10 using Windows Hello, much like the Surface Pro 4. This is expected to arrive in the Creators Update later this year.

Dell XPS 13 2 in 1 1

Ignoring its weird positioning, the webcam is actually pretty good. It doesn’t fall into the trap of over-compensating backlit subjects and managed a clear and blotch-free interpretation of my face. Sadly, if you’re on a video call and typing notes at the same time, your companions will have an uncomfortably close view of your fingers moving up and down.

The built-in microphone is similarly pretty good, recording clear audio that’s more than Skype-worthy.

The speakers are fine, but nothing out of the ordinary for a laptop. They can go fairly loud but have very little bass presence and struggle to make music sound enjoyable.

In addition, Dell's audio software has become needlessly complicated: every time you plug in an audio device, not only do you have to choose whether it's in or out, but also what kind of headphones they are.


January 5, 2017, 3:06 am

One thing that pretty much never gets mentioned in laptop reviews but which I find critical to usability is the key availability, meaning which keys are actually present on the keyboard. Specifically, the absence of dedicated Page Up/Down has been an annoying recent trend in laptop design: seriously, for anyone who uses Excel a lot, this is a major hassle. In fact it was the only reason I didn't choose to outfit my team at work with the XPS 13. (I went with the HP x360 instead.) So I'm thrilled to see from the photos here that the 2-in-1 model shockingly brings back those beloved keys. Hopefully the start of a new trend back?


January 5, 2017, 6:24 am

Yes! I tried multiple laptops (including an XPS 13) and returned them all before landing on a Thinkpad 13 with dedicated PgUp/PgDn/Home/End keys. I also like that it has full-size up and down arrows, rather than the half-height ones that serve no purpose other than to make the bottom of the keyboard a straight line.

I like how HP has the extra column of keys to the right side, which is what my old Dell V130 had. Seems funny to me that manufacturers spend so much time trying to reinvent keyboard layouts when there have been so many good ones over the years.


January 6, 2017, 6:11 pm

"Seems funny to me that manufacturers spend so much time trying to reinvent keyboard layouts..."

Which begs the question, why did you bother trying them all out?


January 6, 2017, 11:26 pm

Haha. Good question. I'm a professional writer, so the first thing I look at is a laptop's keyboard. If it doesn't have decent feel and dedicated keys (or has the Canadian bilingual keyboard) I usually won't consider it. However, my five-year-old V130 has been dying a slow death over the past two years, so I tried to find a laptop that was so good in every other respect (without breaking the bank) that I'd overlook the keyboard. But that wasn't happening, and I kept going back to the V130 until I found the Thinkpad 13.


January 18, 2017, 10:50 am

Thanks for discussing the price. It concerns Sweden too, or maybe all EU. Let me just say this:

First, it's absolutely horrible that Dell is putting out a 4GB ram product in the professional/productivity segment! It's not 2009 anymore! Just because the CPU is weaker, it doesn't mean that more ram is a waste. You're even more likely to do more multitasking since this is a 2-in-1 with pen support.

Second, I could go to the supermarket and get a £400 laptop with double that ram. And even such laptops aren't meant for pro/power-users.

Third, The second option up is 8GB, but a QHD screen, which means more battery drain due to the screen. That price is not worth it. It's still a core M computer (rebranded ofcourse).

I am frustrated at Dell for creating a really good laptop, and then destroying the dream by limiting the available models. If I ran this company, I would do things differently.


January 18, 2017, 5:35 pm

achat du dell xps 2en1 est ce possible...


April 18, 2017, 1:07 am

A Mac doesn't even have a touchscreen, let alone be a 2-in-1, so it isn't strong anything. If you're not interested in that, Dell themselves have better options. (Just once I'd like to get through a review without an irrelevant Applevert.) If we're going to see alternatives, they need to do as good as what's being reviewed.

Surface Pro 4 is nice - but one problem it has is poorer battery life (a problem all non Atom detachables seem to have), and needing a stand may make it less preferable for lap use for some.

Closer comparisons to this XPS imo would be the Asus Zenbook Flip (much cheaper), Surface Book and Yogas.


April 18, 2017, 1:12 am

On the Dell UK site I can see an option for 8GB, Full HD. Yes cheap laptops can have 8GB, but they don't have the same portability.

Yes if i ran the company, I'd make a £400 8GB device that's just as portable. It'd have full Intel Core (not M) performance but also magically be fanless. Easier said than done though.


June 2, 2017, 4:31 am

Bought 2 followed by each other in 2 weeks and then I'm returning both laptops back, one is defected (couldn't get replacement) and the other one sometimes takes 15 seconds (5-10 seconds most of the time) to start up and show BIOS (Yup, that's right, that long just to see something show up on the screen - this is i7 model by the way, and the most expensive one in XPS 13 2in1 models), the laptop sometimes doesn't restart, it just cuts off, which means there has been a short circuit in the motherboard, so probably this laptop is defected as well.

And be aware, once you get Dell technician to open your laptop the first time, you will get into the loop of fixing it, I have another laptop from Dell where it's motherboard has been replaced 4 times... So having someone to replace a defected part of the 2 hour old laptop is a no way.

I tried to reach to one single manager, and I couldn't reach to any manager, they keep transferring me from one department to another, it doesn't feel ilke I'm dealing with organization at all.

Best recommendation: stay away from Dell.

comments powered by Disqus