In late 2018, we talked about the benefits of the second generation of Windows on Arm laptops, which use the Snapdragon 850 SoC built on Arm Cortex technology. An Arm-commissioned benchmarking paper showed how these 2-in-1 laptops were ahead of the competition on battery life, instant on, connectivity and thermal management.
Fast-forward over a year and we have seen the innovation of Windows on Arm laptops advance. A brand new third generation is entering the market, including marquee devices from Microsoft and Lenovo. More Arm-based laptops are expected to be announced throughout 2020, including the new Windows on Arm device from Samsung.
The third generation offers core Windows on Arm laptop features, such as constant connectivity, instant on and all-day battery life, along with 5G-readiness and performance improvements. All packaged together in some visually appealing, lightweight, and cutting-edge form factors.
Lenovo Yoga 5G
Lenovo first teased its new 5G laptop that is known as ‘Project Limitless’ at COMPUTEX 2019, with this being officially launched at CES 2020 as the Lenovo Yoga 5G. The 2-in-1 laptop – which claims to the world’s first 5G PC – is the first-ever PC to be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx 5G Compute Platform, which is built on Arm Cortex-A76 CPU. This brings high-speed 5G network connectivity, which promises to be up to ten times faster than 4G. This, in turn, offers reduced latency and wider bandwidth when using the device.
To put these benefits into context, this enables the downloading of large files instantly and streaming of high-resolution videos with Full HD clarity, even in highly populated areas like airports. Imagine being able to watch your favorite sport while on the move, keeping track of the ball in Full HD.
As with all Windows on Arm laptops, the Lenovo Yoga 5G offers impressive battery life – up to 24 hours overall based on local playback conditions, according to the product webpage. We have managed to test the device in our lab and have seen similar results that support Lenovo’s claims. The device has the lightweight and highly portable design that supports users constantly on the move. Also, the Yoga 5G’s intelligent temperature control feature keeps the laptop cool, eliminating the need for a noisy fan.
Alongside these traditional Windows on Arm features, the Lenovo Yoga 5G packs in even more performance. In fact, it offers twice the level of performance when compared to its previous second generation of laptops using the Snapdragon 850 SoC. Looking more broadly across the entire third generation of Windows on Arm laptops, the trajectory of generational compute performance in the Snapdragon 8cx SoC is moving faster than the traditional PC market. This is positive for the future of Arm-based laptops.
Beyond performance, the full HD 14-inch display of the Lenovo Yoga 5G helps users stream and watch shows anytime anywhere. It also offers core machine learning (ML) security features, including face recognition through the infrared camera or integrated fingerprint reader for the instant log-in.
As Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm, said on-stage at the launch of the Lenovo Yoga 5G: “The 5G PC is now a reality … and that will define the future of productivity.” The Lenovo Yoga 5G is likely to be one of many new devices that are released in 2020 that take advantage of the high speeds of the 5G rollout. This enables true connectivity and productivity for users on the go. The Lenovo Yoga 5G is set to be released sometime in Spring 2020, starting at a price of $1,499.
Microsoft Surface Pro X
Microsoft was the first out of the blocks with its Surface Pro X launched in October 2019. Microsoft and Qualcomm worked together on the design of the Arm-based custom processor that is known as the SQ1. We have done plenty of work to help develop a robust and ready ecosystem for these devices and remain committed to making life easier for developers. Recently, we delivered Electron 6 for Windows on Arm. This allows developers and ISVs to easily bring their existing apps to Windows on Arm and deliver the best possible performance and battery life.
The laptop, which is available to buy from $899, keeps the core ’always on, always connected’ benefits. This includes all-day battery life, instant on, and constant connectivity through the advanced LTE feature, along with a thin, and lightweight design. On top of this, the Surface Pro X adds fast-charging (80 percent charge in an hour), a Surface slim pen with pen storage and edge-to-edge display. It also includes new eye gaze technology that uses AI to adjust the appearance of a user’s eyes so it appears they are looking straight at the camera on a conference call. Finally, the Surface Pro X contains impressive performance with marketing claims that it is the most performant per Watt Microsoft Surface PC to date. To quote Panos Panay, the Chief Product Officer at Microsoft says: “[We have] taken mobile architecture and pushed it into a fully functioning, powerful PC.”
Samsung Galaxybook S
Samsung announced its new Arm-based Samsung Galaxybook S at its ‘Unpacked’ event in August 2019. The laptop is using the new Snapdragon 8cx SoC, which means it has the traditional benefits and features that are associated with Windows on Arm laptops. This includes the all-day battery life, LTE connectivity and 'instant on' features, along with the trademark thin and lightweight design.
The Windows on Arm laptop is now available to pre-order and the deal appears to be compelling. At the time of writing, the price is $999.99 but users can trade in their old phones and tablets and save up to $450 on the purchase price (depending on the device). $100 credit for other Samsung devices or accessories is available if consumers pre-order. Samsung has also partnered with telecom operators Sprint and Verizon on zero interest finance deals to enable the connectivity and productivity benefits through the laptop’s built-in LTE.
Samsung’s director and head of Product Marketing and Strategy for Mobile Computing, Hassan Anjum said that it looks like a laptop but has the essence of a smartphone. This is an important feature of Arm-based laptops and supports consumer preferences for more of a smartphone-like experience on their PCs.
These preferences are reflected in an Arm-commissioned report by Creative Strategies. It highlights the results of a survey of over 2,000 U.S. consumers about the features that would influence their next laptop purchase. The report shows that battery life, connectivity and instant on are all key influencing factors. The big consumer draw is day-long battery life. In fact, a significant proportion of those surveyed would be willing to make a performance trade-off for longer battery life in laptops. Ultimately, consumers want to be more mobile with their laptops with an experience that matches their smartphone.
Lots of Samsung Galaxybook S laptops at Unpacked 2019.
The laptop space continues to witness an exciting time for innovation. Tech market research firms IDC and Gartner announced that worldwide PC shipments that are actually increased in 2019, which is the first time that this has happened since 2011. Leading tech analyst Patrick Moorhead noted in a tweet at CES 2020 that he was struck by the ”skyrocketing” PC innovation. Meanwhile, another leading tech analyst Bob O’Donnell said in an article for USA Today that the first fully 5G device being a laptop (the Lenovo Yoga 5G) says a lot about the rate of innovation in the PC market.
This innovation is reflected in the new Windows on Arm laptops coming to market, which display the best aspects of the smartphone experience through constant productivity, connectivity and all-day battery life. At the same time, the performance numbers for the third generation of Windows on Arm laptops seem to be improving at a rate beyond the Moore’s Law trajectory, offering greater performance with each generation. New capabilities such as 5G connectivity and new AI technology, as showcased in the Surface Pro X, are being added to enhance the overall user experience. All of these features make Windows on Arm a compelling offer for consumers.
Learn more about Arm's laptop solutions