Apple isn’t the only company looking to make inroads with post-Intel laptops. “Multiday” battery life and multiple flavors of 5G are the headline features for Acer.
Acer is the first across the line offering a laptop powered by the just-announced Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 platform, with the new Spin 7. This two-in-one hybrid, presented onstage during Qualcomm’s (virtual) keynote at the IFA tech show, is part of a new generation of Snapdragon devices that Qualcomm says will, “support the digital transformation and mobility needs for remote productivity and learning experiences.”
More specifically, 8cx Gen 2 laptops will “benefit from superior performance and multiday battery life, 5G connectivity, enterprise-grade security and AI acceleration, as well as advanced camera and audio technology.”
That’s a lot of keywords, but especially for remote working and learning, the new Spin 7 seems like a good example to start off with, supporting 5G in both mmWave and sub-6 frequencies, as well as Wi-Fi 6. It also has a 360-degree hinge to swivel from a clamshell laptop into a slate-style tablet. It’s 15.9mm thick and weighs 3.1 pounds (1.4 kg).
The 14-inch full HD screen itself has a Gorilla Glass coating and what Acer calls “a BPR and EPA-compliant silver-ion antimicrobial agent in the coating on the surface of the top base of the device,” which seems like the kind of thing people are pointing out more often these days. There’s also a Wacom stylus and, even better, it’s included in the box, unlike the iPad Pro or Microsoft Surface.
More importantly, Acer claims “multiday” battery life for the Spin 7, although without specifying exactly what that means. Extended battery life is one of the main selling points of Snapdragon-based laptops, and a claim we’ve heard before about the first wave of similar devices starting in 2017.
But some of those early devices, such as the Asus NovaGo and HP Envy x2, didn’t overly impress our reviewers. They compromised too much on performance and software compatibility, while not delivering enough on battery life or lower cost. More recently, I’ve been testing the Lenovo Flex 5G, which I quite like so far. It has the previous Snapdragon 8cx but delivers on the 5G front, which I suspect will be the main selling point of the coming wave of 8cx Gen 2 laptops.
There’s a lot more openness to shifting away from Intel-powered computers now, with Apple promising a full lineup of Arm-based Macs over the next two years. Unlike previous Windows-based Arm laptops, the Macs will probably be optimized for performance in key apps like Photoshop and Final Cut, over connectivity and portability.
We don’t yet have price or availability information on the new Acer Spin 7, but note that previous Intel-based Spin 7 models have been around $1,000.