ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED (UX9702)
The ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is a fantastic peek into the future of laptops, and I loved the multitasking capabilities enabled by the foldable 17-inch display.
- Supreme multitasking capabilities
- A 17.3″ laptop that fits into handbags!
- Amazing 2.5K Foldable OLED display panel
- Stunning audio capabilities
- A benchmark for smarter PCs in the future
- Keyboard is too flexy
- Very limited I/O ports
- Bezels are dust magnets
ASUS wow-ed the world with the new ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, even though they weren’t actually the first to bring a laptop with a foldable screen to market. That honor belongs to Lenovo. However ASUS captured minds by offering a larger foldable 17.3″ screen, and by targeting the mainstream segment instead of the commercial market like Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold. That’s a massive differentiator as means the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED (UX9702) is vastly more accessible than the ThinkPad X1 Fold, cost notwithstanding. So, is this going to be your next laptop?
ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED Review — What’s Good?
Supreme multitasking capabilities
The large screen real estate lends itself very well multitasking, when you aren’t drooling over the stunning colors and deep blacks that it provides. On top of Windows 11’s own multi-window optimizations, ASUS developed the ScreenXpert 3 app to help you take full advantage of the screen’s current orientation. As the ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED’s screen can be in both horizontal and vertical orientations, as well as halved, the software really comes in handy.
I had some pretty bad experiences with Windows’ auto rotation. Oftentimes it was too sluggish to use reliably. But somehow the ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold’s is much more responsive. I am not sure if it boils down to better gyroscopes, ASUS’ optimizations or Windows 11 being more friendly towards screen rotations, but I found that I could quite seamlessly transition from the full desktop mode to the extended mode. It takes barely a second to rotate all the contents, and everything fits where they should.
Even slapping the Bluetooth keyboard onto the lower half of the Zenbook 17 Fold results in an almost immediate response, as the windows shrink and fit themselves in the space equivalent to a 12.5″ screen. Overall, I am very impressed. And even though the Intel Core i7-1250U doesn’t scream performance, running several separate windows of Microsoft Edge didn’t make it sweat. Kudos to ASUS for equipping this with 16GB LPDDR5, which is perfect for multitasking.
A 17.3″ laptop that fits into handbags!
I didn’t have a handbag with me, so I used my backpack for reference. You can see just how compact the whole package is. A standard 17-inch laptop would probably have taken up all the space in the bag, but the ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED can fit in just half. Essentially, you get to bring a 17-inch display with you, provided you carry a slightly larger handbag or messenger bag. Tell me you can carry a conventional 17-inch laptop in a messenger bag. Even if we disregard the weight, the sheer footprint of it would get in the way of normal walking.
The 17.3″ 4:3 display folds down to smaller than an A4 paper, which is what allows it to have such a compact footprint. The overall design is quite stunning as well, with the new ASUS monogram contrasting against the matte finish. As such, I am honestly quite torn between carrying it by itself, or with the included sleeve. Speaking of carrying it around, the 1.5kg weight, or 1.8kg if you include the keyboard, might raise some eyebrows in regard to its portability. But do let me know if you found a lighter 17-inch laptop, much less one that can fold in half.
Amazing 2.5K Foldable OLED display panel
There’s quite literally no point of bringing a 17-inch display with you if the screen sucks, so thankfully the ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold’s doesn’t. It’s as good as any ASUS OLED display we have seen thus far, and I dare say that after you experienced an OLED laptop, you won’t want to go back to a standard LCD screen. And this is the largest OLED panel we have seen in a laptop, making it all the more awesome. And as if that wasn’t enough, it’s foldable. In short, if you want to bring a big, beautiful display with you everywhere, look no further.
With foldable displays, I think one item that’s often on people’s mind is how distracting is the crease. Or at least, it’s on naysayers of foldable tech. In any case, ASUS seems to have optimized the folding mechanism to minimize the crease, as it’s barely visible. It’s still there, but definitely much less noticeable than what you will see on something like the first-gen Galaxy Fold. Another thing that you might be concerned about is durability. Well, ASUS tested it up to 30,000 folds, so I guess I am not too worried as that’s more than 8 years even if you open and close your laptop 10 times a day.
Stunning audio capabilities
ASUS equipped the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED with a quad-speaker setup, which sounds fantastic. Certified by harman kardon, the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED has two speakers on each side, no matter how you orient the screen. Wondering why most of the shots in this review is with a Blackpink music playing on the screen? Well that’s because I am enjoying music while doing the photoshoot. And also because their music videos are so colorful.
A benchmark for smarter PCs in the future
While I believe foldable laptops are probably still some ways away before becoming mainstream, I sure hope this gets widely adopted soon. I am talking about the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED’s AdaptiveLock, which is powered by the new Intel Visual Sensing Controller. Walking away from the laptop automatically locks it, and returning to it wakes it up. Isn’t it incredible? Win+L is so outdated, man.
The 5MP webcam and ambient RGB sensor which are also packed into the pill-shaped cutout of the bezel are also nice to have. To me, these features are what a next-gen laptop should have, as they solve low quality video calls and having to manually adjust your screen brightness, respectively. I hope ASUS will add it to more of their premium Zenbooks soon.
ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED Review — What’s Not?
Keyboard is too flexy
I am honestly nitpicking at this point, but the ErgoSense Bluetooth keyboard is definitely the weakest link in the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED. It comes with a fancy leatherette wrap on the palm rest area, but it flexes a bit too much. And after years of using tilted laptop keyboards thanks to the innovative ASUS ErgoLift, the flat and thin keyboard doesn’t feel quite right. I guess if I am going to use the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED long term, I will invest in a 65% mechanical keyboard to pair up with it, but at the moment, I am not exactly loving my typing experience with the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED.
Since we are on the topic of the keyboard, I also hope ASUS will improve the charging method for it. Currently ASUS added a USB-C port on the side of the keyboard, which is the only way you can charge it. Battery life is good, with up to 24 hours of use per charge, but you will still eventually end up having to charge it. I hope ASUS can consider adding wireless charging to the bezels for the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED’s successor. I kinda understand that it can be difficult, with the high heat output and poor efficiency of wireless charging, but we are talking about cutting edge tech. No corners cut. Make it work, ASUS.
Very limited I/O ports
To ASUS’ credit, the engineers clearly deliberated on the location of the USB-C ports. Regardless if you have it in the folded extended or laptop mode, or the desktop mode, there will be a USB-C port near the bottom corner. However you only have two of those. No USB-A port either, although ASUS graciously includes a dongle for that. At least there’s a headphone jack, but the location won’t be as convenient as it will be either on the upper half’s right flank, or at the top edge, depending on how you are using the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED.
Rubbery bezels are dust magnets
Once again, being nitpicky here. The bezels of the display are dust magnets, and are nigh impossible to clean. Made of a rubbery material, I believe they are there to absorb the shock of someone slamming the ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED shut. From my experience, rubbery materials do not last long in our hot and humid climate before becoming a sticky mess, but I sure hope to be proven wrong. Now, will ASUS let me use the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED for at least a year, so I can find out if my concerns are valid?
|Processor||Intel Core i7-1250U, 10C/12T (2P + 8E) @ up to 4.7GHz|
12MB L3 cache
|Memory||16GB LPDDR5-5200, on-board, quad-channel|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 96EU @ up to 950MHz|
|Storage||1TB M.2 PCIe 4.0×4 NVMe SSD|
|Display||17.3″ 2.5K 4:3 (2560 x 1920) 60Hz Foldable OLED display (BOE)|
500 nits peak brightness, 100% DCI-P3 gamut, PANTONE Validated
87% screen-to-body ratio, touch support
Folds down to 12.5″ FHD+ 3:2 (1920 x 1280) in laptop mode
|Connectivity||WiFi 6E + Bluetooth 5.3|
2 x Thunderbolt 4 with display-out, USB-PD
1 x 3.5mm combo jack
|Audio||Quad speakers with Smart Amp Technology|
|Power||75WHr 4-cell Li-ion battery|
65W USB-C power adapter
|Dimensions||Unfolded: 378.5 x 287.6 x 12.9 mm|
Folded: 287.6 x 189.3 x 34.5 mm
|Weight||1.5kg (1.8kg with ErgoSense Bluetooth keyboard)|
|Included Accessories||ErgoSense Bluetooth keyboard|
USB-C to USB-A adapter
ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED — should you buy this?
Only if you have RM14,999 burning a hole in your pocket. As with most first-gen device, I can’t fully recommend the ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED just yet. Don’t get me wrong though. I quite enjoyed my time with it. The ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is a fantastic peek into the future of laptops, and I loved the multitasking capabilities enabled by the foldable 17-inch display. However the rubberized bezels have me worried for the future, and the flexy keyboard with its clunky charging system has me scratching my head.
With that said, ASUS has committed to bringing more foldable laptops to the market. As with most tech gadgets, future iterations often bring with them not just refinements, but also lower price tags. And I definitely look forward to that. This is also the first Intel Evo-certified foldable, so we know Intel is working together with partners to improve the foldable experience too. To me, the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is akin to a beacon of what’s to come in the future. This is probably the start of a new age of laptops, which has not seen many innovative designs aside from the likes of the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo.
If you are interested to pick up the ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, do stay tuned to ASUS’ 2-in-1 eStore, as it will be exclusively available on that platform: https://shop.asus.com/my/90nb0wx1-m001b0-zenbook-17-fold-oled-ux9702.html