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Chromebook Plus: Huge and exciting changes with a boring name

At face value, Chromebook Plus sounds like a juiced-up Chromebook, but this new classification system is way more than that.

Published onOctober 2, 2023

  • Google’s Chromebook Plus program is a new categorization for Chrome OS machines that meet certain hardware requirements.
  • Supported models will have more robust software, AI capabilities, and more.
  • Existing Chromebooks that meet the hardware criteria will retroactively receive support.

Over 12 years ago, Google launched Chrome OS and the first Chromebooks. The company set out to create productivity-focused laptops that were simple, reliable, and ultra-secure. Since then, we’ve seen hundreds of Chromebooks from dozens of companies. Some of these machines are of a low grade to keep things as cheap as possible, while others have been $1,000+ super machines. For 12 years, they’ve all just been Chromebooks.

Today, Google is significantly changing how the Chrome OS ecosystem works. Going forward, there will be two classifications for any Chrome OS device: a normal Chromebook or a Chromebook Plus. Taken at face value, this seems like a boring new way to categorize certain types of Chrome OS machines, but it’s much more than that. The new Plus moniker will not only let consumers know what kind of hardware they are getting but will also give those machines extra capabilities that non-Plus models will not have.

Here is what you need to know about Chromebook Plus and the first machines to support the new moniker!

What makes a model a Chromebook Plus?

Chromebook Plus 8
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

In order for machines to support the advanced features of Chromebook Plus software (which we’ll get to in a second), they need to have suitable hardware. Google is very specific about these hardware needs. Here are the requirements:

  • CPU: Intel Core i3 and above or AMD Ryzen 7000 series and above
  • RAM: 8GB or more
  • Storage: 128GB or more
  • Display resolution: 1080p or better
  • Display hardware: IPS or better
  • Webcam: 1080p at the minimum, and it must support temporal noise reduction (TNR)

Because of the new Chromebook Plus designation, if you buy a Plus model, you know that you’ll have those specs at the minimum. This will make it very easy for all types of consumers to understand what they’re buying. It also means manufacturers won’t be able to get away with selling “premium” Chromebooks with only some of those requirements. For example, the 2023 iteration of the Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Flex 3i has a list price of $349 but has just 64GB of storage and a relatively weak Intel Celeron N3400 processor. That price might sway unaware consumers to think they’re getting something good, but those specs will likely disappoint them.

In other words, consumers will now know that if they want a high-end Chromebook, they just need to look for the one that says Chromebook Plus on the back. Simple.

Chromebook Plus software: What you’ll get

Chromebook Plus 1
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Machines with the hardware listed in the previous section are powerful enough to do way more than budget-level Chromebooks. Now, Google is giving those models some extra oomph. Here’s what they can do:

Launch day features

  • Enhanced webcam: In addition to the 1080p (or better) webcam in every Plus machine, Google is working in system-level enhancements. Using AI, you can toggle on improvements to lighting and clarity, blur the background, and reduce audio noise. Since this is a Chrome OS tweak, it will work everywhere: Google Meet, Zoom, Teams, or even just shooting a vlog.
  • Magic Eraser and more: One of Google’s most popular AI-powered photo editing tools will now work in the Google Photos app pre-installed on all Chromebook Plus laptops. Along with Magic Eraser, you’ll also get access to an HDR effect and the ability to add portrait blur to existing photos.
  • File Sync: Your Chromebook Plus will keep your Google Workspace files on your machine locally automatically. This will allow you to work on recent projects in your Drive even if you’re offline.
  • Creator tools: Chromebook Plus machines will better work with graphically demanding programs such as the web versions of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Express. LumaFusion, a video editing program, will also work better on Plus models. To help get you started, all new Plus devices will come with three free months of Photoshop and Express and provide a 25% discount on LumaFusion’s one-time cost of $30.

Features coming soon

  • Right-click AI editor: When you’re writing something on a Chromebook Plus, you’ll be able to right-click and get an AI-powered tool to edit what you’ve written. This will be a system-wide feature, meaning it will work in any app.
  • Wallpaper generation: Want a wallpaper on your Chromebook that depicts New York City made out of chocolate? A new image generation tool built right into Chrome OS will make this for you and automatically apply it as your wallpaper with the proper dimensions.
  • AI-created video backgrounds: Like the wallpaper feature, this will create custom backgrounds for your video calls. You’ll use a text prompt to describe the background you want, and AI will make it and apply it for you.

You might already own a Plus-capable machine

Google Pixelbook Go Review open with pixel 4
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

If you already own one of the best Chromebooks available that meets the hardware requirements of the Plus program, you will get all the new features described in the previous section. Google says this will roll out “in the coming weeks.” Google also told us it would provide a list of devices that will get this retroactive support, but we didn’t receive it before publishing time.

By far, the trickiest spec requirement to meet is the 1080p webcam. The overwhelming majority of Chromebooks — even the super expensive ones — have 720p webcams.

Looking around, though, we found a few popular models that would likely qualify. The Core i5 and Core i7 models of the Google Pixelbook Go meet the requirements, as does the HP Dragonfly Elite 13.5-inch Chromebook. You’ll need to check the specs of your Chromebook to see if you’ll be able to join the Plus program retroactively.

For everyone else, continue on to the next section.

First Chromebook Plus models launch today

Chromebook Plus 9
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

To celebrate this new program, Google and its partners are launching eight new Chromebooks — the very first to launch in the Plus program, complete with “Chromebook Plus” printed on the back cover. They will all be available starting on October 8, 2023. Here are the models:

  • Acer Chromebook Plus 515 (Core i3, 15.6-inch display)
  • Acer Chromebook Plus 514 (Ryzen 3, 14-inch display)
  • ASUS Chromebook Plus CX34 (Core i3, 14-inch display)
  • ASUS Chromebook Plus CM34 Flip (Ryzen 3, 14-inch display)
  • HP Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch (Core i3, 15.6-inch display)
  • HP Chromebook Plus x360 14-inch (Core i3, 14-inch display)
  • Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Plus (Core i3, 14-inch display)
  • Lenovo Slim 3i Chromebook Plus (Core i3, 14-inch display)

We didn’t get confirmed pricing for all these models, but most seem to start at $399. You’ll need to check with your preferred manufacturer for specific pricing.

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