Samsung’s new Galaxy Book range of laptops isn’t quite the radical shake up that many expected it to be. Instead of moving to ARM CPUs as Apple has, the latest lineup is all 11th-gen Intel-based. Clearly, the time is not quite right just yet.
That hasn’t put a dampener on Samsung’s continued push into the UK laptop market, however, with three models unveiled at the most recent Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event: the Samsung Galaxy Book, Samsung Galaxy Book Pro, and a 2-in-1 convertible, the Samsung Galaxy Book 360.
We’ve gone hands-on with each of the laptops to give you an idea of what to expect:
READ NEXT: Samsung Galaxy Book Ion review – a thin and light delight
Samsung Galaxy Book Pro
Available in both 13.3in and 15.6in sizes, the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro is the star of the lineup. The headline is incredibly light weight – 0.87kg for the 13.3in model and an incredibly impressive 1.05kg for the 15.6in model (there are LTE variants of these, weighing a fraction more). That’s lighter than the 16in LG Gram 16, previously the lightest laptop we’d come across at this size.
Pre-order the new Galaxy Books from Samsung
Samsung’s tagline for the new machines is “why can’t laptops be more like smartphones?”, so it’s not surprising to find the Book Pro is also impressively slim, with the 13.3in model measuring 11.2mm and the 15.6in 11.7mm thin.
There’s nothing quite so special about the finish and style of the laptops. They’re available in blue or silver with a matte finish whose only notable feature seems to be that it’s mercifully resistant to picking up fingerprints.
Open up the lid, however, and the next major feature becomes immediately apparent: both models are equipped with AMOLED displays (non-touch) with colour reproduction that reaches a colour volume that’s 120% of DCI-P3 and a Display HDR 500 rating, which means peak brightness ought to reach 500cd/m2.
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More impressive than this, however, is that Samsung is preinstalling software on these laptops that switches the calibration on the fly, based on your app or usage profile. For web browsing, the display will settle on sRGB; it’ll switch to DC-P3 when you’re watching movies; Adobe RGB is enabled while editing photos; and “AMOLED native” is switched on when you’re gaming.
How well this actually works is yet to be seen but it’s a big step forward over most other Windows laptops, which usually give you one calibration – if that – leaving people who want to work in other colour spaces to create their own.
The catch here is that the resolution of the display is actually pretty low at 1080p and, unlike, IPS-based screens at this resolution, the grain is quite clearly visible – at least it was on the 15.6in model I had a chance to try out. This may not be such an issue with the smaller Samsung Galaxy Book Pro; alas, this model wasn’t available for me to try out at the hands-on event.
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Elsewhere, there are more enticing details. The keyboard, which feels light and reasonably responsive to type on, has an adaptive backlight with a fingerprint reader built into the power key in the top right corner. The touchpad is huge and Samsung has improved the microphones and webcam on the Book Pro, too, although the latter is still restricted to 720p resolution.
As with the Galaxy Book Ion from last year, you get a decent selection of ports and sockets, too. While manufacturers such as Microsoft, Apple and Dell have been busy keeping connectivity to a minimum, citing the usual “not enough room in a chassis this thin” excuse, Samsung squeezes in full-size HDMI video output alongside two USB-C ports (one of which is Thunderbolt 4 capable), a legacy USB-A port, a 3.5mm headset jack and a microSD slot.
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Plus, there’s a host of interesting features on the software front. In keeping with the laptop-as-smartphone theme, you’ll be able to quickly share files from a Samsung Galaxy phone to the laptop and view photos taken on your phone in the gallery app on the laptop.
Owners of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and S7+ will be able to use their tablet as a second screen. Added security features include a secret screen function that prevents those next to you reading the contents of your screen, and the ability to use the webcam to automatically snap a picture of anyone who attempts to log into your laptop who isn’t you.
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Samsung is also introducing instant Bluetooth pairing with its own Galaxy Buds earphones, a feature that works just like pairing Airpods with an iPhone. Opening the Buds’ charging case near the laptop automatically generates a pairing popup – a small detail, but a handy one nonetheless.
As for performance, the Galaxy Book Pro range is based around the Intel 11th gen CPU range of processors, with Core i5 and i7 machines available, backed with Iris Xe Graphics. There are 8GB and 16GB memory options, plus 512GB of SSD storage.
That looks standard enough, but Samsung has performed its own optimisation trickery here, too, harnessing the powers of AI to detect what you’re doing with the laptop, and the environment you’re using it in, setting the fan speed and the power consumption accordingly. It does this, according to Samsung, by detecting your posture, the surface beneath the laptop and monitoring ambient noise.
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Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 hands-on
The 2-in-1 member of the Book Pro family shares many of the same features as the Pro series but with a few key differences. Like the regular Pro, it’s very thin and light, measuring 11.5mm and 11.9mm for the 13.3in and 15.6in models respectively.
Like the regular Book Pro laptops it has a 1080p AMOLED display. Like the Book Pro, it’s available with 11th gen Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs and Iris Xe Graphics and UHD Graphics, there are LTE variants available and all the software features are the same, too, including the second screen and webcam security functions.
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