There’s no denying that the Dell XPS lineup of laptops is one of the best out there. All three sizes offer premium builds and top-notch performance, especially considering their size and weight. That’s something Dell has been pursuing for a while — making the bezels as small as possible to make the computer smaller. But that kind of thing comes with sacrifices, and with smaller bezels comes less space for the webcam. Does Dell still manage to offer good webcam quality on the Dell XPS laptops? Sadly, the answer is no, and there’s a clear reason for that.
The Dell XPS 13 webcam is really small
A few years ago, Dell started pushing for extremely thin bezels with its InfinityEdge displays. The goal was to take the screen as close to the edge of the laptop as possible, and to make that happen, Dell moved the webcam under the display. It was just above the laptop’s hinge, and that meant most of the time, other people would be looking at you from below. In 2019, Dell finally moved the webcam back to the top of the display on the XPS lineup. But to keep in line with the goal of InfinityEdge displays, it had to make that webcam small. In fact it’s minuscule, at just 2.25mm and 720p resolution.
For one thing, that means you’re not getting Windows Hello facial recognition, at least in some models. That requires an infrared (IR) camera, which would be impossible to fit in this bezel. You have to stick with fingerprint sensors for biometrics here. The XPS 17 does have an IR camera, thanks to the additional space provided by the larger frame.
But even as a regular webcam, it’s just not very good. Camera quality is dependent on many factors, and one of them is how much light the camera can take in. If you have an objectively tiny lens, there’s only so much light that can get into the camera, so you’re going to get much darker and noisier images. Dell touts some advanced image processing and a four-elements lens, but there’s only so much you can do with a camera this small.
In our review of the Dell XPS 13, we noted that the webcam isn’t great, and users on Dell’s forums have the same complaint, too. It doesn’t matter which version of the XPS you get, either — they all have the same tiny camera.
You have to choose what you want
As we mentioned, the lower image quality here is the result of very small edges around the display. Dell’s angle has been that its laptops have much bigger screens than you’d expect for their size. For example, it says the Dell XPS 17 is the size of a 15 inch laptop, and smaller than 14% of 15 inch laptops out there. If you’re buying an XPS laptop, you probably know why, and this is the sacrifice that comes with it.
If you want something with a bigger and better webcam, you have to look at bigger laptops than the Dell XPS. Dell has great business laptops like the Latitude or Inspiron series that have more space for the webcam, for example. Or you can buy a dedicated webcam if you need the absolute best quality, like the 4K Dell UltraSharp camera. If you feel like tinkering a bit, you can even set up your Android phone to be a webcam, and it’ll probably be better than most laptop webcams out there.
Ultimately, you have to decide what’s more important to you. If video meetings and calls are frequent for you, then you might value a better webcam over the portability of the Dell XPS lineup. If not, the Dell XPS family has a lot of other great qualities, and it’s a super-portable family of laptops. If you find that these laptops suit your needs, you can buy your preferred size from the links below.