Despite a few changes over the years, Dell’s XPS 13 series has long been setting the standard for ultraportable laptops. With the American tech titan choosing to make slight adjustments with each new model, rather than completely reinventing it every time, the XPS 13 hasn’t changed quite as dramatically as some of its rivals in an as similar timeframe.
It’s no surprise, then, that this year’s XPS 13 is no different. The 2019 model remains the same great laptop you’re already familiar with by now, although with a handful of subtle tweaks to the well-trodden formula.
Dell XPS 13 Specifications
PROCESSOR: Quad-core1 .8GHz IntelCore i7-8565U (upgradeable)
RAM: 8GB (upgradable)
DIMENSIONS: 302x199x1 1.6mm
SCREEN SIZE: 13.3in
SCREEN RESOLUTION: 1920x1080p (Available in 4K display)
GRAPHICS ADAPTOR: Intel UHD Graphics 620
TOTAL STORAGE: 256GB SSD
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 10 Home (Upgradeable to PRO edition)
WARRANTY: One year onsite
Model: XPS 13 9380
XPS to Excess
As ever, there is a multitude of different specs to choose from. The model we reviewed is one of the more basic ones available, but still comes equipped with a Full HD display, an Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage, all for 205,000 PKR (1450 USD).
Upgrading to 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD puts this up to 240,000 PKR (1699 USD) and opting for things like a 4K screen and 1TB of storage can push things all the way up to 340,000 PKR (2399 USD). Even so, you can still get a 4K model for as little as 212,000 PKR (1499 USD), although you’d need to settle for the less powerful Intel Core i5-8265U processor.
Either way, Dell always makes lovely-looking laptops and this year’s XPS 13 refresh is yet another ﬁne example. The aluminum body and carbon ﬁbre design make for a sturdy yet lightweight build that’s easy to carry around all day. The matt ‘woven glass ﬁbre’ palm rests is also nice, even if the Alcantara fabric of the Microsoft Surface is a more comfortable resting surface for your hands.
The new XPS 13 also has identical physical dimensions to its predecessor, measuring just 7.8mm at its thinnest point and weighing a backpack-friendly 1.2 kg. This laptop exudes quality, as you should expect for a machine of this price.
With such a slim chassis, however, it can be diﬃcult to squeeze in a healthy range of ports, and the 2019 Dell XPS 13 continues to suffer from connectivity deﬁciency. You get three USB Type-C ports, of which the two on the left-hand side are Thunderbolt 3-enabled, but there are no HDMI or full-size USB connectors, as you get on the Huawei MateBook 14.
There is a microSD card slot and 3.5mm audio jack on the right edge, and Dell includes a USB Type-C adaptor in the box.
The biggest difference between this XPS 13 and the previous models is the size and position of the webcam. Dell claims to have made “the world’s smallest HD webcam”–it measures just 2.25mm across –and this has allowed it to ﬁt above the screen without thickening the XPS 13’s famously thin bezels. This is an enormous improvement on its previous position below the screen, spelling an end to the era of unﬂatteringly low angles when taking a video call.
XPS 13 is frankly brilliant, even with its lower 1920×1080 resolution: it reaches sRGB gamut coverage of 95.2% and an average delta-E of 1.6, meaning that it’s well-suited to color-sensitive photo and video-editing tasks, as well as watching movies. A high peak brightness of 413cd/m2 also helps ensure high visibility even in overbearing lighting conditions, while the matt ﬁnish keeps reﬂections to a minimum.
All day Tripper
The upside for the XPS 13 is that it has less to drain the battery, and as such was able to keep going in our battery playback benchmark all the way to 10hours 35minutes before ﬁnally running dry. That’s 28 minutes longer than last year’s Dell XPS 13, and a massive six hours longer than the Blade Stealth 13.
Additions and Subtractions
- There isn’t much to say about the XPS 13’s dual speakers, however, which are side mounted and blast audio downwards towards the laptop’s resting surface. They’re decent enough for YouTube but could do with being clearer and especially louder.
- The touchpad on the XPS 13 is ﬁne, but when using two-ﬁnger scrolling it sometimes appears to have a mind of its own. We found that the scroll command can over-respond massively, going all the way to the top or bottom of the page, although this is quite infrequent.
- Unsurprisingly, the chiclet keyboard is an absolute pleasure to type on. It’s a small laptop, which necessitates a more compact key layout, but it’s very user-friendly; with a palm planted either side of the touchpad all of the keys are within easy reach, and there’s no need to move your hands about too much.
- Power key doubles as a power and a fingerprint sensor.
Latest and Greatest
In fairness, the XPS 13 can be conﬁgured to be cheaper than the MateBook 14 as is the case with the very model we’ve tested so some disadvantages are forgivable.
You might not want to play games at all, in which case it simply makes more sense to pick the XPS 13, saving you cash while netting you a better-performing display, a lighter build, and a better-positioned camera.
More generally, Dell has done a great job in, once again, making small tweaks to improve on an already-great laptop. The touchpad issue is a worry, and we wouldn’t mind some more ambition being shown in next year’s update.