Ever since Google first unveiled the Chromebook years back, the idea of the “premium Chromebook” has been kicked around. However, it wasn’t until we were able to get our mitts on the Asus Chromebook Flip that we saw the concept executed, and quite perfectly at that.
We could go on all day about where other Chromebooks have come up short, but the long and short of it is that the Asus Chromebook Flip is everything we could ever ask for in a premium Chromebook, not to mention one that’s been touted as one of the best Chromebooks around – even after all these years since its original release.
Now that a good few years have passed, there are some great deals to be had for the Asus Chromebook Flip.
While it isn’t quite to the level of the Google Pixelbook, the Asus Chromebook Flip is only half the price. So, even a year after it first hit the streets, and in the face of its successor at CES 2019, the attention to value without compromising on its performance is why the Asus Chromebook Flip is still one of our favorite Chromebooks. As such it remains a top choice for budget-minded users considering Asus laptops.
Because the Asus Chromebook Flip is a 2-in-1 laptop, it flips inside out, giving the Chromebook its name. At 12.5 inches and 2.6 pounds, the Asus Chromebook Flip is also a light and easy travel companion.
The Asus Chromebook Flip isn’t just a great Chromebook, it may just be one of the best laptops that have ever hit the shelves to date … depending on what you’re looking for.
- See our list of the best Chromebook VPNs
CPU: 0.99Ghz Intel Core m3-6Y30 (dual core, 4MB cache, up to 2.2GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515
RAM: 4GB LPDDR3
Screen: 12.5-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED backlit anti-glare
Storage: 64GB eMMC + TPM
Ports: 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C (Gen 1), microSD card reader, headset jack
Connectivity: Intel 2x2 802.11ac; Bluetooth 4.2
Camera: 720p webcam
Weight: 2.6 pounds (1.18kg)
Size: 13 x 9.1 x 0.9 inches (33 x 23.1 x 2.29cm; W x D x H)
Pricing and availability
When the Asus Chromebook Flip first arrived, it cost $649 (about £509, AU$926) with an Intel Core m5 processor, 64GB storage and 4GB RAM. That was certainly quite a price tag for a Chromebook.
However, since the Asus Chromebook Flip has been around the block a few times, you should be able to find some deals out there.
If you’ve been eyeing an HP Chromebook, the HP Chromebook 14 might be slightly bigger and come with an Intel Celeron N2940 processor, Intel HD Graphics 500, 4 GB memory and 32 GB eMMC storage. However, it’s considerably cheaper at $299 (about £234, AU$426).
At the same time, the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 for work runs for about $766 (about £604, AU$1,112) with an Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and 64GB of flash storage.
The Samsung Chromebook Plus is really the biggest competition here, however, as it goes for about $499 (about £349, AU$725) and comes with an ARM CPU, a sharper 2,400 x 1,600 display and a built-in stylus, despite being equipped with half the storage and memory.
Samsung’s offering also comes with a Pro SKU, which has the same Intel Core m3 CPU as the Asus Chromebook Flip, for $599 (about £472, AU$870) – though, again, with half the storage and memory.
Finally, there’s the Acer Chromebook R13, which also comes with a convertible build, with a full HD display for $369 (£399, about AU$536). However, the 2.1GHz quad-core chip comes from MediaTek, rather than Intel.
Like the original Asus Chromebook C100 before it, the Asus Chromebook Flip is housed in an all-aluminium chassis, though, this time it has an anodized finish rather than a brushed texture. Overall, it has a clean, practical aesthetic, and folds up to a nearly symmetrical slab of metal.
Thankfully, the original Chromebook C100’s long, bar-shaped hinge has been succeeded by the ZenBook Flip UX360’s multi-gear, metal mechanism. These two smaller hinges make this laptop feel like less of a toy while still allowing it to blend in as a regular notebook.
Weighing in at 2.6 pounds (1.19kg), the Asus Chromebook Flip is one of the lightest Chromebooks around, only 0.3 lbs heavier than the Samsung Chromebook Plus. It’s also one of the first convertible Chrome OS computers you’ll actually want to try in tablet mode, unlike the 3.3-pound (1.5kg) Acer Chromebook R13.
Overall, the Asus Chromebook Flip C302 follows in the footsteps of every other unibody laptop inspired by the MacBook Pro in recent years. However, the straight edges, rounded corners and 0.9 inch (2.29cm) thin frame all add up to a smart design that rivals HP and Google’s most premium models, but at a significant discount.
Aside from portability, the Asus Chromebook Flip seems to have been especially crafted for tablet use. Asus has designed a clever magnetic clasp that pulls the screen lid tight to the underside of the notebook. It’s an ingenious detail that helps the 2-in-1 Chromebook feel like one solid device rather than a foldable electronic, and we’re surprised this solution hasn’t come sooner.
When you’re not using the Asus Chromebook Flip in tablet mode, it relies on a solid keyboard that makes it as familiar and comfortable as any traditional laptop. The keys offer a satisfying 1.4mm of crisp key travel that’s been lacking in a world of ultra-thin notebooks.
As for the trackpad, we can only mention that it’s there and it exists. It offers accurate tracking, but without any multi-touch features or two-finger scrolling, which is nothing to write home about.
Android apps on tap
Having a usable tablet mode is becoming more and more common in Chrome OS devices as Google is consistently increasing the platform’s Android integration. The Asus Chromebook Flip did not initially launch with access to the Play Store, so we had to switch over onto Chrome OS beta channel in order to download apps during our tests.
This has since been corrected by Asus, and now the device fully supports Google Play Store Android apps.
Right now, the hybrid Chromebook is fully equipped to explore the depths of the Android ecosystem. We loaded up our favorite apps just as we would on any Google tablet. To our surprise, the hybrid Chromebook is also outfitted with gyroscopes, allowing us to play motion-controlled games like Asphalt 8.
Unfortunately, not everything about running Android apps is perfect. Slack and many other essential apps that we regularly use on a smartphone don’t scale quite right on Chromebooks, leaving us with tiny text on certain apps. Plus, the Kindle app isn’t able to display full screen in portrait orientation.
Mobile apps are designed with consideration for a touchscreen interface, and sometimes this doesn’t play well with the touchpad and keyboard setup of the Asus Chromebook Flip. Of course, it’s simple to switch the hybrid to tablet mode.
We chalk these issues up to the beta version of Chrome OS, which fixed some problems and introduced new ones during the course of our review.
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Despite these issues, we’re thankful we longer have the days of sorting through the beleaguered Chrome Web Store full of knockoff apps and games. Having access to the Play Store gives us with many more useful programs on the Asus Chromebook Flip.
We love using Android apps in tablet mode just as much as sitting down with the Asus Chromebook Flip as a traditional Chromebook for long browsing and writing sessions. The hybridization of Google’s two platforms also finally lets us use mobile apps alongside the staple elements of Chrome OS.
First reviewed November 2017
Images Credit: TechRadar