The new Dell XPS 13 has finally hit the streets, and its successor is a true return to form. Finally, Dell has addressed our biggest problem with previous Dell XPS 13 models – the awkward camera placement – while also bumping up its battery life.
Dell XPS news
Beyond these refinements, the 2019 Dell XPS 13 isn’t a big departure from its predecessors. Instead, this year’s iteration focuses on continuing and refining the lineage of one of the best laptops ever. The thing is that the high-end Ultrabook scene has changed from a year or so ago, so the Dell XPS 13 isn’t quite king of the hill right now – thanks to tough competition from the likes of Huawei and Asus.
Still, while the Dell XPS 13 2019 might not be the best laptop in the world these days, it’s without a doubt still one of the top laptops to beat. We've also seen Dell knock a huge £500 off the price tag of the Dell XPS 13 before, so there's even more potential value to be had.
Here is the Dell XPS 13 (2019) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.6GHz)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 16GB DDR3 (2,133MHz)
Screen: 13.3-inch, Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) UltraSharp InfinityEdge touch display
Storage: 1TB PCIe SSD
Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 1 x USB-C 3.1, micro SD card reader, headset jack
Connectivity: Killer 1435 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
Camera: Widescreen HD (720p) webcam with 4 array digital microphones
Weight: 2.7 pounds (1.23kg)
Size: 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.3-0.46 inches (3.02 x 1.99 x 0.78-1.16cm; W x D x H)
Price and availability
Dell is asking $978 for the starting configuration of the XPS 13 in the US. This price gets you an 8th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of 2,133MHz DDR3 memory and a 128GB PCIe SSD beneath a 13.3-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) InfinityEdge display.
There are three more customizable models available to buy, topping out with an 8th-generation quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 2TB PCIe SSD – all coupled with a beautiful 4K (3,840 x 2,160) touch display inside a Rose Gold or Frost White chassis. But, you’ll be paying an absurd $2,479 for this configuration.
All models can be had in Dell’s three colors: silver-on-black, rose gold-on-white and a brand-new frost-on-white layout. The model you see configured here would set you back a cool $2,279.
In the UK, you can get the Dell XPS 13 for as low as £1,379, with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD paired with a 4K touchscreen. Australian consumers will find the same configuration, only with a Full HD display, for AU$2,299.
The Dell XPS 13 2019 comes in plenty of different options, but there are fewer configurations available for buyers in the UK and Australia. It’s worth noting that larger storage options are tied into some steep price hikes, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Dell XPS 13 is still in the same league with similarly priced rivals – that is, save for the overwhelming value of the flagship Huawei MateBook X Pro, especially at the high-end.
Design and display
At first glance, the Dell XPS 13 looks a lot like last year’s model, and that’s essentially the case here. However, Dell didn’t just take an 'if it ain’t broke' approach this year. It actually fixed the XPS’ most glaring design flaw: the webcam, as it’s now finally placed in its rightful position above the display.
Dell is very proud of its new 2.25mm webcam, two years in development, which is not only small enough to fit above the thin-bezel display, but also utilizes a 720p widescreen sensor paired with four far-field microphones so you can activate and use Cortana or Alexa from a distance.
The webcam’s picture quality likely won’t win any awards, but we appreciate the wider frame for making capturing co-workers or friends next to us easier. Taking 0.9 megapixel stills and 720p video, you’ll look fine in meetings. Just don’t expect Twitch broadcaster quality here.
Elsewhere, the build quality and design language are mostly unchanged from previous models. The laptop is just as slim and light as last year at 0.46 inches (11.6mm) and 2.7 pounds (1.23kg), respectively. The Dell XPS 13 also keeps to the same anodized aluminum screen lid and base, paired with a woven carbon fiber (or glass fiber on light colored models) keyboard deck.
As for the keyboard, it’s just as punchy and responsive as before, and the glass-coated touchpad is still a pleasure to use. These are two of the features from the Dell XPS 13 that were deservedly left alone.
The lineup of ports is also inherited, with two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, one USB-C 3.1 port, a microSD card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack. This is much better than many competing laptops, with many sticking solely to USB-C 3.1 and not the superior Thunderbolt 3 standard.
Another thing that’s been untouched is the display, not that it needed to change. It’s just as dynamic and rich as ever in both the Full HD and 4K touchscreen options; the bezels around the display are almost non-existent, of course.
Particularly in the 4K model we tested here, we find the 100% sRGB color reproduction through Dell’s CinemaColor tools to be top-notch, complemented by some popping HDR techniques and 400 nits of brightness. The 4K panel is definitely very detailed, but it still might be a bit too much for a 13.3-inch viewing area.
All told, there wasn’t much that needed to be changed about the XPS 13 design, except for that one particular elephant in the room.
First reviewed January 2019
Images Credit: TechRadar