The new Dell XPS 13 is finally here, and this 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 giving its battery life a boost.
Dell XPS news
Beyond these improvements, the 2019 Dell XPS 13 isn’t extremely different from its predecessors. Instead, this year’s model focuses on continuing the lineage of one of the best laptops ever. The thing is that the high-end Ultrabook scene has changed a bit over the last year or so, so the Dell XPS 13 isn’t quite at the top of the hill these days – thanks to hard competition from the likes of Huawei and Asus.
Still, while the Dell XPS 13 2019 may not be the best laptop in the world anymore, it’s without a doubt one of the top laptops to beat right now.
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 wants $978 for the starting configuration of the XPS 13 in the US. This price nets 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 on offer, topping out with an 8th-generation quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 2TB PCIe SSD – all behind a beautiful 4K (3,840 x 2,160) touch display inside a Rose Gold or Frost White chassis. But, you’ll be paying a whopping $2,479 for this model.
All configurations are available in Dell’s three colors: silver-on-black, rose gold-on-white and a brand-new frost-on-white scheme. The model you see configured here would cost a cool $2,279.
In the UK, you can get the Dell XPS 13 for as little as £1,379, with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD behind a 4K touchscreen. Australian buyers will find the same configuration, albeit with a Full HD display, for AU$2,299.
The Dell XPS 13 2019 is available with plenty of different configurations, but there are fewer ones on hand for those in the UK and Australia. It’s worth noting that high storage options are locked behind some high price hikes, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Dell XPS 13 is still competitive 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 identical to 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 laptop’s most glaring design flaw: the webcam, as it’s now finally placed above the display where it belongs.
Dell is quite proud of its new 2.25mm webcam, two years in the making, which is not only small enough to fit above the thin-bezel display, but also uses a 720p widescreen sensor paired with four far-field microphones so you can activate and utilize Cortana or Alexa from a distance.
The webcam probably won’t blow your mind, but we appreciate the wider frame for 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 the same as before. The laptop is just as thin and light as last year at 0.46 inches (11.6mm) and 2.7 pounds (1.23kg), respectively. The Dell XPS 13 also sticks 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 always, and the glass-coated touchpad is still a pleasure to use. These are two of the features of the Dell XPS 13 that truly didn’t need changing.
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 one step ahead of many competing laptops, with many using solely USB-C 3.1 and not the superior Thunderbolt 3 standard.
Another thing that remains unchanged is the display, not that it needs to. It’s just as vibrant and rich as ever in both the Full HD and 4K touchscreen options; the bezels around the display are almost non-existent, of course.
Especially in the 4K model we tested here, we find the 100% sRGB color reproduction through Dell’s CinemaColor tools to be top-notch, complimented by some popping HDR techniques and 400 nits of brightness. The 4K panel is definitely sharp, but it still might be a bit of an overkill for a 13.3-inch viewing area.
All told, there wasn’t much that had to be changed about the XPS 13 design, except for that one tiny elephant in the room.
First reviewed January 2019
Images Credit: TechRadar