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ASUS ZenBook Flip S review: A quality convertible that's surprisingly thin

ASUS has three ZenBook laptops that are all fairly similar but have their own unique identifiers. The ZenBook 3 Deluxe is an amazing Ultrabook with performance and style galore. But if you're looking for something that supports touch, it's not for you.

That's where the ZenBook Flip S comes into play. Not only does it bring a touch display to the party but also a digital pen and that display that flips around.

As far as convertible laptops go, the ZenBook Flip S is certainly towards the top of the pile. (Unfortunately, the device does not appear to be available in the U.S. quite yet, which is why we've included U.K. price information below.)

Reviewing the ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe

ZenBook 3 Deluxe

Much of the ZenBook Flip S is similar to the ZenBook 3 Deluxe. It's a little smaller and less powerful, but the design and many aspects are very much the same as on the larger model.

So for a little bit of background and more detail, check out our review of the ZenBook 3 Deluxe.

ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe review: A near-faultless Ultrabook

ASUS ZenBook Flip S tech specs as tested

CategoryZenBook Flip S
ProcessorQuad-core Intel Core i7-8550U
Eight threads
Memory8GB (16GB optional)
Storage512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
GraphicsIntel UHD 620
Display size13.3-inches
Display resolution1080p touch
60Hz
Pen supportYes (included)
MaterialMetal
Wireless802.11ac Wi-Fi (2x2); IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n compatible
BiometricsFingerprint sensor
PortsTwo USB-C 3.1
Battery39 Wh
Weight2.4lbs
Price£1,209 ($1,601)

ASUS ZenBook Flip S hardware and design

ZenBook Flip S

The model I have is the same gorgeous blue and gold color scheme that you see in all the press photos. ASUS's trademark concentric circle design is on the lid, and it's impossible not to be impressed by the appearance of this laptop.

As this is a convertible and a very slim one at that, there are some sacrifices when it comes to ports in particular. The ZenBook Flip S has only two, but they're both USB-C 3.1 and both can be used to charge the laptop. Thunderbolt 3 would have been nice to have, but on a laptop like this, the fact that it is missing is probably not a dealbreaker.

To cater to the change in form factor over a regular laptop, the power button and fingerprint sensor are both found on the side along with a volume rocker. All of this is perhaps a little awkward at times using the ZenBook Flip S as a laptop, but it's crucial for a better experience in the tablet mode.

ZenBook Flip S

The fingerprint sensor allows for Windows Hello, and it's very fast and very reliable. The only thing bad I can say about it is that it's almost flush with the chassis so it's not the easiest thing to feel. I lost count of the number of times I missed it.

The ZenBook Flip S is every bit as sturdy as the normal ZenBook 3 Deluxe, which is extra handy when you're folding the display around. It's also light, coming in at only 2.4lbs, and the Harman Kardon tuned audio packs some decent sounding speakers into this sleek chassis.

What I'm not so keen on is the side-mounted exhaust vent. When pushed, there's a fair amount of heat kicked out, which is good, but if you're using it as a tablet, it's literally the exact spot you need to hold. So you either have an awkward time or a hot hand.

ASUS ZenBook Flip S keyboard and display

ZenBook Flip S

ASUS ZenBook Flip (Image credit: Windows Central)

The display is 13.3 inches and 1080p in resolution, and it looks superb. More pixels would mean worse battery life and at this size, they'd be completely unnecessary. Besides being a touch display, the ZenBook Flip S also supports a digital pen, which is included in the box.

The ASUS pen is pretty similar to the Surface Pen, in that it looks and feels like a real pen. The latency is low, Windows Ink responds to the input well and it's all-in-all a very pleasant experience. The slight friction from the rubber pen tip makes it feel a little more natural and less like scrawling on glass.

ZenBook Flip S

I love the keyboard. The key travel is excellent, and the keys feel quite firm. There's no real flex around the keyboard area and no sign of any mushiness when typing. The keyboard layout is perfect for a laptop of this size, too. Everything is where you'd expect to find it, and importantly, there's no weirdness with the cursor keys. Everything is backlit with adjustable lighting levels, or you can turn it off entirely.

The trackpad is also Microsoft Precision, which means it supports the full array of Windows gestures. At this price, frankly, I'd accept nothing less.

ASUS ZenBook Flip S performance

ZenBook Flip S

Putting the device through the CrystalDiskMark benchmark to test the read and write capabilities of the solid-state drive (SSD) sees read speeds of 2,992 MB/s and write speeds just under 1,550 MB/s. On read, it easily outperforms the Samsung 960 EVO in my own desktop PC, which is impressive.

The Geekbench 4 CPU test yields impressive results of 4,491 on single-core and 13,524 on multi-core. These are a little below the ZenBook 3 Deluxe with the same CPU, but not dramatically. A quad-core Intel Core i7 is pretty impressive to have in a laptop.

Battery life sadly doesn't follow suit, with a very small 39Wh power unit. It's smaller than both the ZenBook 3 Deluxe and the original (smaller) ZenBook 3, and in real-world testing, I've seen no more than five to six hours of mixed use before looking for the charger. The pursuit of thinness seems to have sacrificed the battery.

The bottom line on the ASUS ZenBook Flip S

ZenBook Flip S

Convertibles aren't the sort of laptop I usually go for, but the ZenBook Flip S is very impressive. It's stunning, almost impossibly thin, has a great display and performance where it matters.

Pros:

  • Superfast SSD.
  • Solid CPU performance.
  • Gorgeous design.
  • Nice looking convertible display

Cons:

  • Underwhelming battery life.
  • Fingerprint sensor doesn't stand out much and is hard to feel for.
  • Exhaust vent is awkwardly placed.

Again, this device and ZenBook 3 Deluxe are very similar. In fact, I'd say that since they're so similar, if you just wish the ZenBook 3 Deluxe had a touchscreen, get this. It's good to use like a tablet, aside from the placement of the exhaust vents, if only it had better battery life.

The ZenBook Flip S tested here is currently on sale in the UK for £1,209 and is not yet available in the U.S.

See at Amazon

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

5 Comments
  • Would love to see a Surface Laptop with a 360 hinge.
  • They have the surface book. Same thing. As for the Asus. Not with a 100 ft pole.
  • Very nice, but needs that 3:2 screen (also would remove that thick lower bezel to improve portrait tablet mode). That would be so nice with that low weight.
    One thing I miss in the review whether the edges are sharp or not, e.g. some thin 2-1's like hp Spectre have sharp edges which make it annoying to handle in portrait mode and sometimes also annoying in landscape mode.
  • Look at the XPS13. I have the 2017 m5 model (9365) since exactly a year today, and it's great, not only regarding battery, but also office performance.
    With 13" it's only as small as 11", with the downside of bad camera placement.
    The 2018 i5 model just follows that greatness (while the i7 also has lacks of battery power).
  • Wish they offered the xps 13 2 in 1 in white and rose gold like the normal xps. I would have one for the wife now!