The XPS 13 is the same great laptop we loved in 2020 but the OLED touchscreen option really kicks the premium experience up a notch.
Senior Editor / Reviews
Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering laptops and the occasional action cam or drone and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.
The Dell XPS 13 9310 is an undeniably impressive laptop. Dell has whittled down the size of this 13.4-inch laptop to the point where it’s roughly the same size as an 11.6-inch model and it still has spritely performance and relatively long battery life. Dell added the option to configure the XPS 13 with an OLED display (organic light-emitting diode) that is the cherry on top of this premium little laptop. The display looks stellar and while it hurts battery life some, it’s not as horrific as past OLED laptops we’ve tested. It’s a worthwhile upgrade if you’re looking for the ultimate ultraportable.
Although , that configuration’s Core i3 CPU doesn’t offer the same capabilities as the Core i5 and i7 configurations that are Intel Evo-certified. The Evo label means the system is tested to hit certain mobile performance requirements such as getting at least 9 hours of battery life with normal use, recharging quickly and being just as responsive on battery power as it is plugged in. You also can’t get the OLED display without an i7-1185G7 or i7-1195G7 processor.
The base configurations vary by region. In Australia, the new XPS 13 starts at and but includes a Core i5 processor. Both sites sell older, less expensive configurations of the XPS 13, so if your priority is having a small, lightweight, well-constructed laptop and not the fastest possible CPU or an OLED display, you aren’t locked into these higher starting prices. The same goes for US buyers with . But again, you’re paying primarily for the design at that point, though you’ll get better battery life with these lower-end configurations as well.
Dell shaved off as much of the body around the keyboard as possible.
With slim bezels on all four sides of the XPS 13’s 13.4-inch, 16:10-aspect-ratio display, Dell wasn’t left with a lot of room to play with for the keyboard and touchpad. Still, Dell managed to increase the size of the keycaps and touchpad. The keyboard is surprisingly comfortable to work all day on, especially given how little room there is for key travel. Dell even integrated a fingerprint reader into the power button in the top right corner of the keyboard.
Dell offers four display choices with the XPS 13: A FHD plus 1,920×1,200-pixel LCD with or without touch, a UHD plus 3,840×2,400-pixel LCD touch display and the 3,456×2,160-pixel OLED touch display. The LCDs all have 100% sRGB and 90% DCI-P3 color gamut coverage and are rated at 500 nits peak brightness. The OLED’s brightness is rated at 400 nits (it hit 394 nits in my testing) and its color gamut coverage tested at 100% sRGB and DCI-P3 and 98% Adobe RGB, so if you need to do color-critical work on the go, the OLED is what you’ll want.
Again, the OLED panel comes with a battery life penalty. For the FHD plus display, Dell says you’ll get up to 14 hours, 11 minutes of streaming video and 8 hours, 12 minutes with the UHD plus panel. On our streaming video test, the OLED reached 7 hours, 38 minutes. That’s actually pretty good and it’s going to vary depending on what you’re doing of course, but if your goal is the longest possible battery life, go with the FHD plus display.
The XPS 13 has two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports (one on each side), a headphone jack and a microSD card reader.
One of the few shortcomings of the XPS 13 is its webcam. While Dell moved it from below the display (boo!) to above the display (yay!), it had to use a tiny camera with a minuscule sensor. It really needs a lot of light to get a good image regardless of Dell’s advanced noise reduction. Also, although 720p is still the industry standard webcam resolution for video, on a premium laptop like this we’ve come to expect 1080p.
The XPS 13 has also fallen behind in terms of webcam privacy features. Unlike premium models from HP and Lenovo, Dell doesn’t include a physical webcam shutter or a quick way to mute its mics. With so many more people using video chat to keep up with friends, family and coworkers, these features have quickly become essentials. One positive, however, is that the laptop does have an IR camera. That, combined with the laptop’s instant-on performance, lets you use facial recognition to sign in and start working fast.
Based on what’s happening with Dell’s Latitude business laptops, there’s a good chance these features will come to the next version of the XPS 13. Models like the Latitude 7320 Detachable and Latitude 9420 already have them and I would expect them to make the jump to the XPS line. So, if those features matter to you, you may want to wait for the next-gen version. And who knows, maybe Dell will decide to have more than just a couple of Thunderbolt 4 ports on board, too.
Otherwise, the Dell XPS 13 is still a beautiful laptop made a little more so with the option for a gorgeous OLED display.
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