I sometimes feel ashamed at judging people based on their laptops, especially if they are using big bulky ones. But Dell wants to change how we think about business laptops with its Latitude 15 9520. This Latitude doesn’t look like your “standard” high-end business notebook aimed at hedge-fund managers wearing black suits. Rather, the Latitude 9520 is trying to fit into the new corporate environment, a hybrid work model that is going to be the mainstay for quite some time. The 15-inch Latitude 9520 is a part of the new generation of business notebooks, but has Dell done enough to make this laptop compelling enough for top executives to shell out Rs 1,45,000? Here’s my review of the new Dell Latitude 15 9520.
The Latitude 9520 is intended to be a “no-nonsense” business laptop, and it shows in its design language. It’s blessed with good looks, has a solid build, and has a large 15-inch screen with minimal bezels. Of course, you are paying a hefty amount for the minimalist design. The lid is rigid and the hinge opens with one finger, which gives the impression that you are using a high-quality product. The notebook is made from a single slab of aluminium with a visible silver Dell logo in the middle. Open up the lid, and the craftsmanship that goes into making the Latitude 9520 becomes more visible. There’s a pair of speaker grilles on either side of the keyboard (more on that later), a beautiful backlit keyboard, and a generously sized trackpad. It’s still remarkably lightweight at just 1.5kg for the 15-inch model.
In terms of connectivity options, there is a full-size HDMI 2.0 port, a pair of USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4, Power Delivery and DisplayPort (one of which is used for charging), and a MicroSD card reader on the left side; and a USB 3.2 port with PowerShare and a 3.5mm audio jack on the right side.
Dell has somehow crammed a 15.6-inch display into the chassis of a 14-inch notebook. This has been done by shaving off the bezels. Although not a touchscreen, the 1080p display is bright, vibrant, and colours look bright without being overly saturated. Movies and TV shows look great on the Latitude 9520 and so does reading the e-paper in the morning. Up on top is a 720p webcam for video calls along with a privacy shutter, something that is becoming increasingly critical.
But one of my favorite Dell Latitude features is Express Sign-In. It basically locks the notebook when you walk away. The software senses your proximity when you come close to the notebook and automatically logs you in with an IR camera or a fingerprint reader.
On either side of the keyboard are a pair of front-firing speakers, which are fantastic for watching movies, listening to music, or attending Zoom calls. The bass is clear and you won’t get the tinny sound that comes with laptop speakers. Dell has this intelligent audio feature built-in which tracks ambient audio and then intelligently filters out background noise and echoes for video calls when working from home. I also liked the 3D audio option which creates a surround sound experience as if the sound is coming from all the sides and you are literally sitting in a cinema hall.
The keyboard is good. I didn’t like it too much in the beginning because I was making too many typos. But after a few days, I started liking the keyboard which I feel has a ‘mushy’ feel to it. The keys are bouncy and snappy, and they provide a satisfying level of travel. I don’t know if the Latitude 9520’s keyboard is better than the Magic Keyboard on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, although personal taste plays a role in the fondness for a keyboard. The trackpad, fortunately, is spacious and accurate, and I have had no trouble using it.
I didn’t experience any hiccups or noticeable slowdowns on the Latitude 9520 during the course of testing. My review unit came loaded with an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 vPro chip with 32GB RAM, 512GB of storage, and Xe graphics. I was able to do multitasking — including running a dozen Chrome tabs, Apple Music streaming and chatting on WhatsApp Web. You can render video files, but do not treat this laptop as a device for content creation. It’s not designed to be a gaming laptop either. But since it has integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, the notebook makes it suitable for less demanding titles. The idea of such a laptop is to perform any task your office workstation is capable of but in a portable form factor.
With the display set to 50 per cent, I got roughly 8.5 hours of battery life on a single charge. That’s not bad, but I have seen much longer battery life on the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1. Yes, battery life varies based on different types of usage, but you will get through most of a workday with the Latitude 9520.
The Dell Latitude 9520 (starting at Rs 1,45,000) is for those who are looking for a sleek and compact-looking 15-inch business notebook with fast performance, a large display, an excellent keyboard, and amazing speakers. There are more portable laptops out there in the market, especially from Dell. The XPS lineup is the gold standard if you want a compact notebook. But the new 15-inch XPS notebook is geared towards content creators. Suffice to say, the Latitude 9520 is close to perfect if you are in the market for a high-end business notebook.