The stylish, long-lasting HP Elite Folio laptop is perfect if you want a travel companion for light work. But it merely skims along the surface of computing compared to a rival with a more traditional AMD or Intel CPU.
- Excellent battery life
- Smart hybrid design
- Good keyboard and touchpad
- Limited app support
- Performance not suited to intensive jobs
- 2-in-1 design:The HP Elite Folio can be flipped into tablet mode thanks to its flexible hinge.
- Outstanding battery life:Thanks to the Snapdragon processor, the HP Elite Folio can outlast most other 13-inch laptops when it comes to battery life.
- Lightweight design:Weighing just 1.32kg, this is an ultra-portable laptop that’s ideal for working on the go.
The HP Elite Folio is part of HP’s range of business computers, but is as much a lifestyle laptop. It’s light, battery life is extremely long and the outer design is as important a factor as anything else here.
I’m going to highlight a lot of negative points in this review, ones that make real-world HP Elite Folio use hard to square against the £1500 price. However, this laptop is still going to be a solid fit for many if you’re not too fussed about performance and app compatibility.
The HP Elite Folio is also great for everyday work thanks to its high-quality touchpad and solid keyboard. I have to look at the wider picture in reviews like this, though, and the compromises in performance and app support that come with using a phone-like Snapdragon CPU here are just too impactful to ignore.
- Slick designer-style hybrid hinge
- Synthetic leather outer
- Magnesium alloy inner shell
The HP Elite Folio is a laptop with a well thought-out hybrid design. A lot of the time 360-degree laptops seem to exist just because their manufacturers worked out how to make decent flip-over hinges, and just stick them to an all-purpose design. But this HP is a bit more refined.
Its screen articulates in two places. There’s the standard laptop hinge, and another one that sits half-way up the screen. Lightly pull at the bottom of the display and it detaches from its backplate, where it is otherwise held in place with magnets.
You can pull it forwards so it sits like an angled-up tablet screen while sat on your knees. Or the screen can flip all the way over, without leaving the keyboard keys on the underside.
There’s also a stylus that sits in a well just above the keyboard. It’s there when you need it, and you’re less likely to lose it than a totally separate stylus. As it doesn’t have to fit inside a small slot in the side, its barrel is not ultra-thin and it offers proper pressure sensitivity in applications like Photoshop.
HP has pulled off HP Elite Folio’s design with a sense of elegance and practicality, and it has an asset particularly value among hybrids: when you want it to work like a “normal” laptop, it actually feels like one.
All the extra stuff going on here likely adds to the weight a little, but at 1.32kg the HP Elite Folio is still within the normal range for a 13-inch ultraportable. There’s even a nanoSIM tray hidden in the pen tray, making its portable cred even better.
The laptop’s slender frame does mean there isn’t much room for ports here though. You get two USB-C ports and one headphone jack – that’s it. You can still use USB-A accessories with an adaptor, but it’s a needless faff you won’t need to contend with when opting for other laptops.
The HP Elite Folio’s leather outer is perhaps its showiest part. This is not real leather, it’s “vegan” leather, a plastic formulation. However, it feels good and avoids the cold shock you get when sitting down to work with an aluminium laptop on bare legs. Other parts of the casing are made of magnesium alloy, a light but tough metal.
The main compromise of the design is the screen’s “normal” hinge does not let you push the display back that far. This is likely because it would otherwise make the HP Elite Folio tip over.
A lot of laptops like the HP Elite Folio have keyboard too shallow to offer a particularly comfortable typing experience. I find ultra-shallow keyboard start causing a strange sort of joint strain after tapping out thousands of words at a time.
The HP Elite Folio’s keyboard is comfy and fast-feeling, but with enough key depth to feel like a laptop made for proper work. Sure, a laptop like the HP Envy 13 has deeper keys, but it’s reassuring to see HP hasn’t gone too far with in its styling efforts and hampered how the laptop feels to work on.
The HP Elite Folio’s keyboard also has a smart-looking white key backlight with two intensity levels. Its touchpad is great too, a lovely panel of textured glass that uses a classic mechanical clicker, not the haptic sort that rarely feels as good.
Do not come expecting too much from the HP Elite Folio’s webcam. It’s a typical, fairly low-quality, 720p sensor camera whose image becomes quite grainy and undersaturated in imperfect lighting.
And the speakers? The HP Elite Folio has Bang & Olufsen branded speakers, and they are passable. There’s only the tiniest fraction of bass and some mid-range elements can distort at maximum volume.
- Bright at 402 nits
- Satisfying colour saturation levels
- 3:2 aspect ratio is good for work applications
The HP Elite Folio has a 13.5-inch LCD screen of 1920 x 1280 pixels. This is a 3:2 aspect ratio resolution, making the display far taller than a classic widescreen one. It’s a desirable shape for productivity apps, and just means there will be some black bars on top and bottom when you watch widescreen video.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get Trusted Reviews’ usual display testing software to run on the HP Elite Folio, for reasons I’ll get to later. This means I don’t have colour gamut coverage stats for the laptop, but I can tell you its peak brightness, which is an excellent 402 nits.
You should have no trouble working outdoors on the HP Elite Folio, even though its screen does have a glossy finish.
And while I can’t give you the full empirical low-down on colour stats, everything looks great to my eyes. There’s no evidence of under saturation, and I’d guess it satisfies a very solid amount of the rich DCI P3 gamut.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU limits app compatibility
- Performance in pro-level design apps is not great
- Packs in 256GB storage and 8GB RAM
There’s a lot of good stuff in the HP Elite Folio, but it’s time to address the issues. This laptop has a Qualcomm 8cx Gen 2 processor, not the AMD or Intel kind you normally see in Windows laptops.
It’s a close relative of the kinds of processors we see in phones. While Apple took a similar approach with its M1-series chipsets, used in recent MacBooks, the results are quite mixed here.
Compatibility is perhaps the leading issue. I couldn’t do any of the usual PC Mark benchmarks, because the software won’t run properly on the HP Elite Folio. I couldn’t perform most of our screen tests because the app that installs some of the required drivers for out colorimeter wouldn’t work.
If the issues were limited to these, it wouldn’t be in a bad place. However, I dug around to see what else might not work. Audacity won’t run in its current form, and that’s a pretty popular audio editing app.
Game support is very limited compared to what you’d see in a more conventional laptop with one of Intel’s nifty Iris Xe GPUs. Older games tend to work reasonably well, but a lot of newer ones just don’t run, often throwing up an error message suggesting you need a “64-bit” version of Windows, despite the HP Elite Folio’s Windows 10 Pro being 64-bit according to the laptop itself.
Some of the most significant software packages have been updated to fully support Snapdragon processors. You can use the Microsoft Office suite and Adobe’s Creative Suite programmes work too.
I tried the latest build of Photoshop, and while it seems to run just fine, I’m not sure I’d be happy with its performance if I had just spend £1500-odd on the HP Elite Folio. Image loads can be relatively slow, as can filter-based processing. This raises the question of exactly how well this laptop fits into HP’s Elite line-up, and how useful the stylus is for even moderately serious design work.
The HP Elite Folio’s app compatibility may improve when it gets an update to Windows 11, which was not available at the time of review. However, performance will remain an issue if you have high expectations.
If you can approach the HP Elite Folio like the best netbook ever made, skimming along the surface of what computers can do, it’s perfect. I’ve enjoyed using it for writing articles and browsing, but it just wouldn’t be my top choice for anything more complicated. At times it seems to run Photoshop worse than my 2013 MacBook Pro and, according to Geekbench 5, their single CPU core speeds aren’t radically different.
The HP Elite Folio scores 778 points using one core, 3028 in multi-core. A Core i7 laptop scores around 1400 single-core, 4500 in multi-core.
- Fantastic battery life
- Takes an age to turn on if totally drained
Qualcomm’s 8cx processor does have a way to pay you back: battery life. When streaming video over Wi-Fi, the HP Elite Folio lost just 72% charge after 12 hours and 45 minutes, suggesting a full charge can last over 17.5 hours.
For some this will overshadow the issues surrounding performance and compatibility because a lot of people who might buy a laptop like this one don’t actually need to use that many apps. The HP Elite Folio is also completely silent, because the Snapdragon processor generates so little heat that no fans are required.
This is a low maintenance laptop, with one caveat in this area. Do not let the HP Elite Folio’s battery drain down completely or you have to wait almost half an hour before it will turn back on again. It appears to use a very conservative safety mode when the battery is fully drained, dribbling charge in at a rate of just a few watts before it will even get close to the full 60W of the included adapter.
It’s probably the worst case of side effects related to battery health I’ve seen in a laptop. Sensible, perhaps, but annoying.
Should you buy it?
You want a low-maintenance travel laptop: Silent operation, long battery life, a quality keyboard and touchpad make the HP Elite Folio a great travel laptop for those who don’t actually need to do anything too intense on their computer.
You’re after a “pro” design laptop: This is not the best buy if you’re attracted by the design potential of the stylus and the clever hinge system. Photoshop doesn’t run well considering the cost of this laptop, and some creative apps may not work at all.
The HP Elite range is usually home to HP’s most business-focused laptops, but the Elite Folio is more of a lifestyle statement piece. It has a synthetic leather outer, an inner pen slot and a designer-style hybrid hinge.
For low-key work needs it fits the bill, and ultra-long battery life is dreamy for frequent travellers. However, the HP Elite Folio’s app support is much more limited than that of an Intel or AMD CPU laptop. And while a lot of the key packages are supported, including Photoshop, its performance with intensive image editing, layer-based digital artwork or video editing isn’t really good enough to justify the cost.
How we test
Every laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life.
These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real world checks, such as how well it runs the most frequently used apps.
We also make sure to use every laptop we review as our primary device for at least a week to ensure our review is as accurate as possible.
Used as our main laptop for the review period
Tested for at least a week
Used consistent benchmarks for fair comparisons with other laptops
Tested the battery life
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Yes, the HP Elite Folio features a convertible 2-in-1 design.
Yes, the HP Elite Folio features a touchscreen that’s compatible with a stylus.
The HP Elite Folio features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen2 processor.