Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review: Taking the fight to the Surface Pro

Dell's 13-inch convertible XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop has been around for a few years, but has traditionally opted for a hinged design that allowed you to fold the screen right back against the keyboard, so that you could hold it in your hands and use it like a tablet.

But, of course, keeping the keyboard attached meant that the XPS 13 2-in-1 was a lot heavier than a conventional tablet, so this latest update has finally taken the plunge and opted for a detachable design that allows you to completely separate the screen and keyboard sections. You can then use the screen panel as a lightweight tablet when you want to, and simply re-connect the keyboard when you need to get some real work done.

That's a move that puts the XPS 13 2-in-1 squarely up against detachable rivals such as Microsoft's recently updated Surface Pro 9. Dell has risen to the challenge, though, as the new XPS 13 2-in-1 combines an admirably sleek and slim design with a competitive price that gives the Surface Pro a real run for its money.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1


Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (2022)

The revamped design of the XPS 13 2-in-1 is a real winner, squeezing good mid-range performance and an attractive 13-inch display into a sleek, slimline design. The price is attractive too, although battery life does leave room for improvement.


  • New detachable design
  • Slimline, lightweight tablet mode
  • Excellent 3K display
  • Competitive price


  • No Ethernet
  • No HDMI
  • Modest battery life

Price and options

  • Display: 13-inch, 3K (2880x1920) with 500nits brightness
  • Processor: Intel i7-1250U @ 1.1GHz (10-cores, 4.7GHz Turbooost)
  • Graphics: integrated Intel Iris Xe
  • Memory: 8GB or 16GB
  • Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB solid-state M2 NVMe

Prices for the XPS 13 2-in-1 start at £1179 in the UK, for a model with an i5-1230U processor running Windows 11 Home, along with 8GB memory and 256GB solid-state drive.

That translates to $1249.00 in the US, which is even more competitive as that price includes a larger 512GB solid-state drive. US buyers of the i5 model will also get Dell's Folio detachable keyboard included in the price, whereas UK customers have to pay an additional £199.57 for it.

Thankfully, though, the Folio keyboard is included when you step up to the i7 model that we review here, which uses a 10-core Intel i7-1250U running at 1.1GHz (with maximum Turboboost up to 4.7GHz).

That model also includes 16GB memory and 512GB storage, and costs $1399/£1679.04 with Windows 11 Home, or $1809/£1718.84 with Windows 11 Pro. Models with an i7 processor also allow you to upgrade the solid-state drive to 1TB for an extra $150.00/£200, while customers in the US also get a 5G option - albeit one that costs a rather hefty $360.00.

Even so, those prices still compare favourably against the current Microsoft Surface Pro 9, which costs $1899/£1899 with a specification similar to that of our XPS 13 review unit - plus Microsoft still charges extra for its detachable keyboard.


  • Dimensions (hwd): 7.4 x 292.5 x 201.2mm
  • Weight: tablet - 736g; keyboard - 560g
  • Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-A and headphone adaptors included)
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth

The new XPS 13 2-in-1 makes a good impression straight out of the box, as the slimline tablet section measures just 7.4mm thick and weighs 736g - well below the 9.3mm and 879g of the current Microsoft Surface Pro 9.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

It does feel a little heavy to hold in one hand, but it's fine if you hold it in widescreen (landscape) mode with both hands or just rest it in your lap.

The slimline design does come at a cost, though, as the XPS 13 2-in-1 only has room for two Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports. There are two adaptors included in the box - a USB-A adaptor and a 3.5mm audio adaptor for headphones - which can be used with those Thunderbolt ports, but there's no Ethernet for a wired network, and no HDMI for an external display (although we were able to use one of the Thunderbolt ports to connect a 4K display that has a USB-C interface).

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

It supports the latest Wi-Fi 6E for high-speed wi-fi, along with Bluetooth and - in the US only at the moment - there's a 5G option available as well.

Dell's Folio keyboard adds another 560g, but that still leaves the total weight at 1.3kg, which compares favourably to conventional laptops, such as Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro (1.4kg). Low-profile keyboards aren't always our favourite, as they can struggle with high-speed typing, but the Folio keyboard does feel nice and firm, and the keys travel well, given the keyboard's slimline design.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 keyboard

There's a backlight for the keys, and a large trackpad too. You can also use the keyboard's rear panel as an adjustable stand that provides three different viewing angles, and when you're on the move it can fold flat to provide wrap-around protection for the front and back of the screen panel.

  • Display: 13-inch, 2880x1920 resolution, 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Webcam: 1920x1080 (front) 4K/3840x2160 (rear)
  • Audio: Stereo speakers - 2 x 2 watts

The 13-inch display is slightly smaller than the 13.3-inch Surface Pro, but provides the same '3K' resolution (2880x1920) with a 3:2 aspect ratio. The screen also has a healthy 500nits brightness, which provides a bright, colourful image that will work well for tasks such as web browsing and streaming video, or just tapping away in Microsoft Word or Excel. And, while it's designed for general office productivity rather than professional design work, the screen does support 100 per cent of the sRGB colour standard, so it should be suitable for basic graphics work and photo editing if required.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

The attractive display is backed up by a surprisingly good set of speakers. Despite the slimline design of the unit, the speakers produce a full sound that is more than adequate for casually listening to music or streaming video. There's no headphone socket, but Dell does include a 3.5mm audio adaptor that will allow you to connect headphones or external speakers to one of the XPS 13's Thunderbolt ports.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 even manages to squeeze in two high-quality cameras as well - a 'world-facing' camera that provides full 4K resolution, and a front camera that provides a clear, sharp 1080p resolution for video-conferencing.

Performance and battery life

  • Solid mid-range processor performance
  • Integrated graphics only
  • Power: 45W adaptor with 49.5Whr battery

The 12th generation i7 processor isn't going to break any records, but it provides solid, mid-range performance that will allow the XPS 13 2-in-1 to handle productivity tools such as Microsoft Office with no trouble at all. It feels fast and responsive in tablet mode too, smoothly rotating the Windows desktop and my web browser as we switch between portrait and landscape modes.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 scores 2,050 for single-core performance in the GeekBench 6 test suite, and 6,700 for multi-core, which puts it right alongside the similar i7 processor used in the Microsoft Surface Pro 9.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

Its reliance on integrated graphics means that the XPS 13 2-in-1 isn't much of a gaming rig, though - in fact, it flatly refused to run most of our 3D graphics tests. It should be able to handle 2D platform games or card games fairly well, but it's not really equipped for action games with fast-paced 3D graphics.

But while you can't really expect high-speed gaming action, an ultra-portable device such as this should provide stronger battery life. It's noticeable that Dell's web site avoids any mention of battery life, and even when using the most power-efficient settings with the screen set at 50% brightness the XPS 13 2-in-1 barely managed to last for a full six hours of streaming video.

If you're not watching films online all day long then you might be able to stretch that out to a full eight hour working day, but battery life remains the one noticeable weakness of the XPS 13 2-in-1.


The sleek, slimline design of the XPS 13 2-in-1 is both attractive and practical, allowing you to quickly switch from a lightweight tablet to a fully-featured laptop whenever you need. The display provides excellent image quality for both work and play and its price tag makes it fantastic value compared with Microsoft's Surface Pro 9. Only the modest battery life is likely to make prospective buyers think twice.