Little by little, smartphone design has been making an impact on laptops thanks to features like touchscreens, built-in fingerprint readers, face-scanning cameras, and more. So naturally, after notches became one of the most discussed (and often reviled) features on phones in 2018, Asus went and added one to the new ZenBook S13.
The difference this time is that instead of infringing on the laptop’s screen by jutting downwards, the Zenbook S13's notch is actually a small bump on the notebooks top bezel that also holds its webcam. This might seem like an odd decision, but given the choice between this or putting the webcam below the screen so that it stares straight up your nose all the time, this thought process behind putting a notch up top seems pretty pragmatic.
There’s one more benefit to that notch too because, on top of providing some extra room to hold its webcam, it lets Asus create a 13.9-inch screen with absolutely minuscule bezels, giving the S13 an overall screen-to-body ratio of 97 per cent. When you compare that number to other nearly bezel-less laptops like the Huawei Matebook X Pro, the Zenbook S13 almost makes the Matebook’s 91 per cent screen-to-body ratio seem weak. Even notchless all-screen phones like the Oppo Find X only have ratios of around 94 per cent.
Of course, if you take a closer look at the Zenbook S13, you can see where Asus is fudging the numbers a bit. Because the S13 features a hinge that allows a small section of its so-called NanoEdge display to hang down behind its keyboard deck when opened, it seems Asus is taking the liberty of not counting that overhang as part of the screen.
As for its components, the Zenbook S13 looks very well equipped, with your choice of 8th-gen quad-core Intel i5 or i7 CPUs, up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage, support for both USB Type-A and Type-C ports, optional Nvidia MX 150 graphics, and a fingerprint reader built into its touchpad.
All told, the Zenbook S13 specs stack up quite favorably against Huawei’s Matebook X Pro, which was one of our favourite laptops of 2018. The only thing it can’t quite match is the Matebook’s 3000 x 2000 resolution display.
Oh, and if for some reason you just can’t stand the notch, don’t worry, because Asus also made the Zenbook 14 UX431, which offers essentially the same specs in a slightly larger chassis, and instead of webcam notch, it sports a touchpad that transforms into a number pad on command.
The Zenbook 13S and Zenbook 14 UX431 both go on sale early this year, with the UX431 starting at just $750 (UK pricing and release date TBA). Unfortunately, Asus hasn’t said what the Zenbook S13 will cost, but hopefully we’ll know more later this week.