HP Spectre Folio 13 vs. HP ENVY x2: Which should you buy?

Should you be on the hunt for a premium notebook that's designed primarily as a laptop, go with the Spectre Folio. If a tablet sounds like the better choice, the ENVY x2 allows for some flexibility with the detachable keyboard cover, so long as you can make do with an ARM processor.

By the numbers

It's difficult to compare the two devices against one another since the HP ENVY x2 is available in both ARM and Intel processors. To keep things fair, we'll be using Intel processors in the ENVY x2, but if you were to go with the ENVY, we'd recommend considering ARM for reasons we'll cover below.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 HP Spectre FolioHP ENVY x2
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8200YIntel Core i7-8500YQualcomm Snapdragon 835Intel Core i5-7Y54
Storage256GB128GB or 256GB
Display size13.3 inchesTouch12.3 inchesTouch
Display resolution1920 x 108016:9 aspect ratio1920 x 108016:9 aspect ratio
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 615Intel HD Graphics 615
Ports2x Thunderbolt 31x USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 13.5mm audio2x USB-C (Gen 1, DisplayPort 1.3 Power Delivery)microSD3.5mm audioSIM tray
BiometricsIR camera for Windows HelloIR camera for Windows Hello
BatteryUp to 18 hoursUp to 12 hours (8 for Intel)
Dimensions11.5 inches x 7.9 inches x 0.33 inches(292 mm x 201 mm x 8.5 mm)11.53 x 8.28 x 0.27 inches(293 x 210 x 6.85 mm)
Weight3.28 pounds (1.45 g)Tablet: 1.57lbs (0.71kg)With KB: 2.67lbs (1.21kg)

Intel vs. Intel vs. ARM

Performance is fairly similar between the Intel-powered HP ENVY x2 and Spectre Folio 13 since both devices use low-power Intel processors, though the Spectre Folio can be kitted out with a Core i7-8500Y CPU. It's also worth noting that the ENVY x2 comes with 7th Gen Intel processors, as opposed to 8th Gen chips inside the Spectre Folio.

The ARM version of the ENVY x2 is less powerful than all Intel processors available for the two devices, though it does allow the ENVY x2 to be "always on" much like your smartphone. You can press the power button and it's good to go. The ARM processor also lets you get more computing time out of the battery since it draws less juice overall.

So long as you do not need to do any video processing or intensive multitasking, the Snapdragon ARM processor is more than enough. It truly is a draw in this regard, since storage, RAM, and other internal components are all very similar, depending on configuration.

Leather looks better

The ENVY x2 isn't an ugly device, nor is it one we find lacking in the design department. The issue is that we're comparing it tothe Spectre Folio, which sports leather that results in a far more expensive and premium look and feel. By putting the ENVY x2 and Spectre Folio side-by-side, you'd be correct in assuming the leather-touting notebook was the more expensive device.

There is a disadvantage to having leather as part of the design, which involves regular cleaning. Both displays are similar in resolution and technologies, and the use of aluminum in both products make them look and feel high quality. Should you be all about looks, the Spectre Folio is a match made in heaven. N-trig technology is supported in both cases, making it possible to use a stylus like the HP Tilt Pen or Surface Pen.

Don't buy the Intel ENVY x2

Comparing the ARM ENVY x2 against the Spectre Folio is unfair due to the differences in performance between the two processors, but it's worth considering due to how HP managed to mess up the Intel version of the ENVY x2. As covered in our ARM vs. Intel ENVY x2 comparison, the company has cut corners on numerous factors.

If the device was identical in every way but the CPU, the Intel-powered ENVY x2 would be a great package overall, but this just isn't the case. The additional cost of going with the Intel processor means you'll enjoy shorter battery life, worse keyboard and trackpad, more restricted kickstand positioning, no instant-on and always connected functionality, and a price of $99 if you upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.

If you like the look of the ENVY x2 over the Spectre Folio (maybe leather just isn't your thing) we strongly urge you to consider the ARM processor variant.

HP Spectre Folio is a premium leather notebook

If only the best will do, HP offers the Spectre Folio and it's a unique notebook made from leather and aluminum. Using this notebook out in the wild will turn heads and make you feel better than the rest. The option of LTE and an Intel Core i7 makes it a capable Windows 10 machine.

HP ENVY x2 is a great ARM Windows 10 tablet

When portability is what you truly desire, you should go with the ENVY x2. The ability to detach the device from its base makes it possible to use it as a light notebook and a tablet, depending on the immediate needs. The only drawback is the battery life, which is around 8-10 hours less than the Spectre Folio. That is unless you get the ARM version, which we recommend over Intel.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.