Dell XPS 14 9440 (2024) Hands-On: First Impression

The Dell XPS 14 9440 is a visually stunning laptop. Long-time users of Dell products will notice a significant transformation in design, a trend that began with the Dell XPS 13 Plus. The entire XPS line has since adopted this refreshed aesthetic, which is modern without being overly radical.

Dell XPS 14 9440 review

In the current Windows laptop world, Dell was often considered slow to innovate and create for its laptops, but when it changed, it made users really passionate about the new XPS generations. 

With a product with many intersecting lines like the XPS 14 9440, if not done carefully and meticulously, the lack of continuity will immediately appear, especially in the hinge area and the entire C side. But Dell has perfected it wonderfully.

Dell XPS 14 9440 (2024) Hands-On: First Impression

Design

Dell’s craftsmanship remains top-notch, with a solid build quality evident in its products. The XPS 14 ultrabook, weighing 1.74kg and measuring 19mm in thickness, feels noticeably heavier compared to the 14-inch MacBook Pro, despite the latter’s specs listing a lighter weight of 1.6kg. Interestingly, the MacBook Pro is also slimmer at 15.5mm, making it thinner than the XPS 14.

Dell XPS 14 9440 review

Dell also uses aluminum, anodizes, and paints it with a matte finish, also in a black color that easily attracts fingerprints like the Space Black color of the new MacBook Pro M3. The 14-inch MacBook Pro and the Dell XPS 9440 both exhibit exceptional sturdiness, standing out as two of the high-end laptop models with superior build quality.

From opening and closing the device, holding it in the hand, and examining it from all angles, it is impossible to find a single creaky point on the XPS 9440. The feeling of solidity when using the MacBook is similar to that of the Dell XPS 9440.

A drawback in the design is the difficulty in opening the device due to the sturdy hinges Dell employs. Unlike the MacBook, which facilitates one-handed opening with its bezel, the Dell device presents a challenge in this aspect.

The Dell XPS ultrabook lacks USB-A and HDMI ports, offering instead 3 USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm jack. The XPS series, particularly the prior XPS 15 and XPS 17 models, has been recognized for its multimedia capabilities. Despite the XPS 14 taking over, it notably lacks an SD card slot.

Keyboard and touchpad

When I first encountered the Dell XPS 14 9440, its keyboard immediately stood out. It combines an unusual yet recognizable design, replacing traditional keycaps with a unique layout. Adapting to this new keyboard may require some time, but contrary to initial impressions, it proves to be quite user-friendly.

Dell XPS 14 9440 review

The inclusion of the Copilot button on modern Windows computers marks the beginning of a new era: the AI-era PCs. This feature allows users to effortlessly engage Microsoft’s AI assistant, signifying a significant advancement in personal computing technology.

Dell sparked debate by replacing the traditional physical Function (Fn) keys with a touch-sensitive row. This change was met with mixed reactions; while some users appreciated the innovation, others missed the conventional keys. Similarly, Apple’s MacBook introduced the Touch Bar, eliciting a comparable response. In terms of design, the touch-sensitive Fn keys integrate well with Dell’s aesthetic, yet the question remains: does this feature sufficiently enhance the user experience?

In the settings software, we can alter the default display of features or the traditional Fn key row. Unfortunately, it does not vibrate for tactile feedback when I fine-tune it.

Display

The Dell XPS 9440 features a high-quality OLED screen with impressive display capabilities, including Delta E < 2, 98% DCI-P3, 90% Adobe RGB, and 100% sRGB coverage. Samsung (model SDC41A2) has made the OLED panel, and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protects it, ensuring durability and clarity.

Dell XPS 14 9440 review

Dell has different screen setup options for different content: internet, Cinema, HD video, Photo, and Vibrant mode. The default when setting up the computer will be Vibrant.

The screen border of the Dell XPS 9440 is very thin, especially the bottom border. Although it is not even, it still looks very cool. Above is a 1080p webcam with AI features on Windows 11 which is the Studio Effect suite. The webcam set in My Dell dims the screen when the user looks away, conserving battery life. This functionality also helps protect the lifespan of the OLED panel. Automatically locks when leaving the computer, and automatically lights up the screen when returning.

Specifications

Numerous configuration options are available; however, the CPU choice is limited to the Core Ultra 7 155H, while you can choose from multiple options for RAM and SSD. Our Dell XPS 14 9440 review model is the max option of the series. 

Dell XPS 14 9440 review

RTX 4050 on XPS 9440 has a power consumption of 30W. This is the weakest version of the RTX 4050 among laptops equipped with this GPU. Therefore, Dell aims this laptop not at gamers but at users of graphics software accelerators from the new RTX Ada Lovelace GPU generation, like the Adobe toolkit and Blender. Dell has also chosen Studio drivers over Game Ready drivers for this model.

Battery

The Dell XPS 14 9440 features a 69.5Wh battery, with the manufacturer promising up to 21 hours of use. The actual number is not as announced by the manufacturer. Unfortunately, I have not used the device long enough to see how many hours the Dell XPS 14 9440 will be on screen when it reaches stability. Another unfortunate point is that Dell only uses the Intel Killer AX211 Wi-Fi 6E card. With a model with this high price, Wi-Fi 7 will be more attractive.

Final line

Looking at the Dell XPS 14 9440, my feelings are still the same as nearly 2 years ago when I first saw the XPS 13 Plus, a model of the future. At that time, it was truly a revolution for Dell with the XPS line, but Dell was not in a hurry to bring that design to Dell’s entire product range because the XPS 13 Plus was still too new. Until now, after users have gotten used to it, this new design has brought Dell XPS back to the position of one of the most beautifully designed laptop lines today.

Price and availability

You can pre-order the Dell XPS 14 9440 (2024) for $1,849 on Bhphotovideo.com and for £1,599 on Amazon.co.uk.

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