The Dell XPS 13 is back for the new year, and it’s a true return to form. The 2019 Dell XPS 13 finally fixes the biggest bugbear: the awkward camera placement, and also extends battery life.
Dell XPS news
However, beyond these improvements, the Dell XPS 13 isn’t much different than its predecessors, continuing the lineage of one of the best laptops ever made. This time around, though, the high-end Ultrabook scene has drastically changed. So, the Dell XPS 13’s place at the podium has shifted ever so slightly, thanks to tough competition from the likes of Asus and Huawei.
So, the Dell XPS 13 2019 isn’t the best laptop in the world anymore, but it’s still 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 $899 for the starting configuration of the XPS 13 in the US – just like last time. 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 (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge display.
There are three more 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. But, you’ll be paying a whopping $2,609 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 $2,549.
UK buyers will find the Dell XPS 13 starting at £1,379, with an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD behind a 4K touch display. Australian readers will find the Dell XPS 13 starting at AU$2,299 with the same internals and a Full HD display.
There are plenty of different configuration options for the XPS 13, but there are more for US customers than those in the UK and Australia. But, higher 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 – save for the mind-blowing 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 largely the case here. However, Dell didn’t simply take an 'if it ain’t broke' approach this year, but finally solved the laptop’s most glaring design flaw: the webcam is finally above the display.
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 display, but uses a 720p widescreen sensor paired with four far-field microphones for activating 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 beside us more easily. Taking 0.9 megapixel stills and 720p video, you’ll look find 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, coupled with a woven carbon fiber (or glass fiber on light colored models) keyboard deck.
As for the keyboard itself, it’s just as punchy and responsive as ever, and the glass-coated touchpad is still a pleasure to use. This is one of those areas where the Dell XPS 13 truly wasn’t broken and didn’t need fixing.
The same lineup of ports is here as well, 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.
As for the display, it also remains unchanged, and 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 tested here, we find the 100% sRGB color reproduction through Dell’s CinemaColor tools to be excellent, complimented by some popping HDR techniques and 400 nits of brightness. The 4K panel is plenty sharp, but it’s still a little excessive 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