The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is arguably one of the coolest laptops we've ever come across and it left quite an impression on us when its launch in India was first announced back in October. However, its unconventional form factor also raised a lot of questions around practicality and usability, and we'll be exploring all of that and more in this review. According to Asus, the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED (UX9702) is the world's first 17.3-inch laptop with a folding display, and while that might be true, it's not the first laptop of any kind to do it. That title goes to Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Fold which had a 13.3-inch folding display, and this was followed up by a second-generation model a few months ago with a 16.3-inch folding display.
With HP also reportedly working on a product similar to the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, there clearly seems to be some potential for such a device, however niche it may be. It's time to find out if Asus' latest (very expensive) experiment is just a novelty item or if there's any actual practical advantage to choosing this over a conventional large-screen laptop.
Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED (UX9702) price in India
The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is available in a single configuration (Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD) for Rs. 3,29,990 in India, which sounds absurd but if it's any consolation, Lenovo launched its ThinkPad X1 Fold in 2021 for roughly the same price and that laptop had a much smaller display. If you are one of the buyers who pre-booked the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, then you mighthave gotten it for an effective price of Rs. 2,84,290, which includes discounts and some freebies such as an extended warranty and a portable SSD.
One could easily get a top-of-the-line gaming laptop or even multiple premium laptops for the cost of a single Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, but that would be missing the point. You're paying the price for the ability to fold a 17-inch touchscreen in half, which is as cutting-edge as it gets.
Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED (UX9702) design and accessories
The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED comes in a fancy box, along with some accessories such as a Bluetooth keyboard with a touchpad that's specially designed for this laptop, a USB Type-C to Type-A dongle, and a faux-leather carry case. The Bluetooth keyboard is designed in a clever way such that the laptop can be folded with it sitting between the two halves. Asus does not include a stylus with the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, which will disappoint some creative professionals.
The laptop itself arrives in an unfolded state in the box, much like other foldable display devices we've come across. Asus says the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED uses a proprietary hinge that has been tested for 30,000 cycles (of opening and closing). This is nowhere near the rated 200,000 cycles of the Samsung Galaxy Fold 4's (Review) hinge, but I guess users won't open and close a laptop as often as a phone.
The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is built using premium materials
For a first of its kind, I think Asus has done a pretty good job with the build quality. The Zenbook 17 Fold OLED feels sturdy and premium with a mix of glass and metal for the back panel, and faux-leather for the sliding mechanism protecting the hinge and the built-in kickstand. The laptop also gets a MIL-STD 810H certification for durability. There's no camera on the back like most tablets, but then again this isn't really meant to be used as one. The device is fairly chunky even in its unfolded state, and quite heavy too. It's a little thicker than an iPad Pro (11-inch) (Review) and this doubles when it's folded, making it look like a small binder folder or encyclopaedia. The laptop weighs a little over 1.5kg making it heavier than a MacBook Air (M2) (Review). It's still relatively portable, just a bit unwieldy.
While the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED can be used in multiple ways, the layout of the components and ports on the laptop point to two main use cases – as a regular laptop with the screen partially unfolded, or completely unfolded and propped up on the kickstand. When using it as a regular laptop (with or without the keyboard), you'll find the webcam and IR sensors for Windows Hello face recognition on the top, where they should be.
The upper half of the laptop is where the motherboard and main components are placed, including a cooling fan, while the lower half houses the battery. Two speakers fire upwards, above the webcam, while the other two are placed on the bottom. In laptop mode, you'll find the volume buttons and a USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 4) port to the sides of of the speaker grilles on the top. The right side has the second Thunderbolt 4 port, a headphone jack, battery status LED, exhaust vent, and power button with a built-in LED. When using the laptop on its kickstand, the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED rests on two little rubber feet on the side. Face recognition still worked fine even with the change in orientation.
The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED can be used as an AiO with the built-in kickstand
Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED (UX9702) specifications and software
The highlight of the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is its display, which is made by BOE. It's a 17.3-inch panel with a 2560x1920 resolution and a 4:3 aspect ratio, capable of up to 500 nits of brightness. The display also has certifications for Pantone colour accuracy, Dolby Vision HDR, and VESA's DisplayHDR True Black 500. The display itself needs to be handled with care since there's no ultra-thin glass protecting it, especially the area near the hinge. An instruction leaflet in the box warns users about how to correctly hold the laptop when trying to fold it, in order to avoid damaging the screen.
If you use the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED with the Bluetooth keyboard attached to the lower half of the display, the area below it automatically switches off (effectively consuming less power) and all your content automatically adjusts itself to the top half of the display, thereby giving you a 12.5-inch screen running at half the resolution: 1920x1280.
The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is powered by the Intel Core i7-1250U CPU which has a total of 10 CPU cores (two performance and eight efficiency cores). The U-series Intel 12th Gen CPUs are designed to consume the least amount of power (9W TDP) and can be used without active cooling. Asus still uses a heatpipe and fan to cool the Zenbook 17 Fold. The 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM is soldered onto the motherboard, and for storage you get a standard 1TB PCIe SSD. These components are understandably not user-upgradable. The laptop has Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5, along with a 75WHr battery which can be charged rather quickly with the bundled 65W Type-C charger.
The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED comes with Windows 11 preinstalled, accompanied by the typical apps such as Microsoft Office Home & Student 2021 and a trial version of McAfee LiveSafe. You also get some first-party apps such as MyAsus which lets you run diagnostics, change the battery charging style based on your usage, tweak the colour saturation of the display, and do plenty of other things. There's even a dedicated button on the Bluetooth keyboard to launch it.
The MyAsus (left) and ScreenXpert 3 apps are quite useful in making the most of the large display
Features such as Pixel Refresh (activates a special screen saver if there's no activity for 30 minutes) and Pixel Shift are enabled by default, and are intended to prevent any unwanted burn-in if a static image is displayed for a long time. This is something we've seen on previous OLED laptops from Asus such as the VivoBook K15 OLED (Review). Target mode is a useful feature for saving some battery power, keeping only the active window lit while dimming the brightness of any background windows and the desktop.
Asus' ScreenXpert 3 is a handy tool for quickly switching between different window layouts for your open apps. Hovering over the ‘Maximise' button for any window gives you multiple options for placing it on the display.
Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED (UX9702) performance and battery life
I used the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED for a couple of weeks, and the software experience was quite good, albeit with a few teething issues. The shortcut for quickly arranging open windows and apps to various corners of the screen was immensely useful. Windows 11 is also very quick at changing resolution and layout the moment you dock or undock the Bluetooth keyboard.
However, every once in a while I encountered a software glitch when changing the orientation of the laptop (landscape to portrait) or switching between usage modes (laptop to AiO mode), where Windows refused to readjust its layout correctly. This would usually sort itself out if I just left the device alone for a bit or if I restarted it. Every once in a while, the screen would also flash for a split second, but I only noticed this happening when static content was displayed.
The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is quite a bit thicker than a MacBook Air (right), when closed
I didn't travel with the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED much during my review period but when it's folded, it has a much smaller footprint than most 13-inch laptops, despite the thick bezels around the display. The only downside is that it's very thick and a bit heavy; similar to carrying around a big diary. Like most folding devices that don't close flush, dust tends to settle on the display easily.
Asus envisions multiple ways of using the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED; with the keyboard unattached and the display sitting either vertically or horizontally on a desk, or even as a giant tablet. The touch response of the display is good, although I didn't find myself interacting with the screen a whole lot since I preferred using the keyboard and trackpad. I mostly used the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED in laptop mode or as an All-in-One (AiO) PC on a desk, using the kickstand. It's actually not that comfortable to use on a lap since it's a little top-heavy, but this isn't an issue when it's on a desk. The AiO mode is probably the best way to use it since the massive display offers plenty of screen real estate to comfortably do multiple things at once.
The bundled Bluetooth keyboard is an essential part of the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED experience. It's slim and light, the keys have good travel and aren't very noisy, and the trackpad works decently well. It attaches to the bezel of the laptop magnetically. However, I think Asus could have done a much better job here. It has a lot of flex and feels flimsy when typing in the docked state. I also wish it had the ability to charge when attached to the laptop, rather than needing to be plugged in separately. There were many occasions when I folded the laptop with the keyboard docked but forgot to power it off, only to come back to a low battery warning.
You only get two USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 4) ports on the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED
The next big missing feature is backlighting for the keys, which makes it difficult to use this laptop in the dark. I also found the Bluetooth connection to the Zenbook Fold 17 OLED to be a bit unstable when sitting even just a foot away from the laptop. It would intermittently not register inputs from the trackpad.
Besides the obvious productivity benefits of the Asus Zenbook Fold 17 OLED, it's also an insanely good laptop for content consumption, all thanks to that gorgeous OLED display. The crease where the display folds is barely visible when the unit is unfolded, and high-resolution content looks absolutely stunning on it. The display truly shines with HDR content, so much so that I often preferred watching TV shows and movies on the Zenbook Fold 17 OLED than on my 50-inch television. The sound quality from the four Harman Kardon speakers is equally impressive. The volume can get incredibly loud and while there is some distortion when you max it out, it's still mighty impressive for a laptop.
The performance of the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED in general is very good. Windows 11 is quick to boot, multitasking is snappy, and apps are quick to load thanks to the ample RAM. Despite being a U-series CPU, this Intel Core i7 actually managed better numbers in certain synthetic benchmarks than the P-series and H-series Core i7 CPUs seen in the LG Gram 14 (Review) and HP Pavilion Plus 14 (Review), respectively. The Zenbook 17 Fold scored 592 and 2,379 points in Cinebench R20's single and multi-core tests, while putting up 4,915 points in PCMark 10. This laptop isn't meant for gaming but you can play casual titles.
When folded, the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is more compact than the average 13-inch laptop
Some games such as Asphalt 9 Legends struggled a bit to run smoothly at the display's native resolution but worked better in laptop mode. Newer titles were even more challenging for the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II was barely playable at 1080p at the lowest graphics settings. When stressed, the half of the body that has the CPU and cooling fan does get hot but you'll mostly never feel the heat, unless you're holding that end. The fan is also barely audible even if you put your ear to the exhaust area.
I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of battery life but I was pleasantly surprised when I got similar runtimes when using the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED at its full resolution and in laptop mode. The Battery Eater Pro app ran for 4 hours, 24 minutes in laptop mode, and 4 hours, 12 minutes in AiO mode. On average, with mixed usage (laptop and AiO modes), an hour of standby, and with a bit of work (Chrome, Slack desktop app) and play (streaming through Netflix), I was easily getting around 10-11 hours of actual runtime, which I feel is more than adequate. The Zenbook Fold also charges quickly with the bundled charger, going from an 18 percent charge to 97 percent in an hour.
Having a large display on any computing device, especially when travelling, is immensely beneficial and something that no one would turn down. It improves the content consumption experience, productivity is better, and battery life is generally longer. However, every device category has its limits, and you can only make a display so large before it starts becoming an inconvenience. 17-inch displays on laptops are nothing new, but most of these devices aren't exactly portable.
The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is a bold new way of looking at large-screen laptops and even 2-in-1s in general. Rs. 3,29,990 is a lot of money but that's the price you pay for staying ahead of the curve. The two things that I hope Asus improves on with the next iteration, apart from price, are the keyboard and overall thickness.
The Zenbook 17 Fold OLED offers an excellent display, superb-sounding speakers, good battery life, decent performance, and a very unique design. If you think your workflow could benefit from such a form factor or if you simply want to show off, this laptop could very well be worth the investment.
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