Samsung has announced two new Galaxy Book devices: the Galaxy Book Pro (a regular clamshell laptop) and the Galaxy Book Pro 360 (a touchscreen convertible). They start at $999.99 and $1,199.99, respectively. You can preorder them both today, and they’ll ship on May 14th.
I got to spend some time with both devices ahead of the announcement. While they’re not the most exciting computers in the world, I think they could still be great buys — provided they deliver on the fundamentals.
Samsung already sells several Galaxy Books, such as the ultra-light Galaxy Book S and the QLED display-equipped Galaxy Book Flex and Galaxy Book Ion. The Galaxy Book Pro isn’t a direct sequel to any of these older devices — Samsung told me it’s not discontinuing any of them. Rather, the Pro attempts to combine a few of the features that have made previous Galaxy Books stand out into a single, high-level machine.
The most significant of these is the OLED display. Previous Galaxy Books have had QLED screens (which are LCD panels with Samsung’s quantum-dot technology), and Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook was the first Chromebook with a 4K OLED screen. Now, the Galaxy Book Pro and Pro 360 are Samsung’s first OLED Windows PCs. Specifically, the Galaxy Book Pro has Samsung’s standard “AMOLED” display, while the Galaxy Book Pro 360 has what Samsung calls a “Super AMOLED” display. The difference is that the “Super AMOLED” has an integrated touch function — Samsung told me it’s also going to be brighter and more power-efficient than a regular OLED.
Samsung also claims these screens produce less blue light than standard LCD panels. An “Intelligent Color Engine” will adjust your color profile based on the task you’re doing — so colors might be more vivid while you’re watching a movie and more true-to-life while you’re editing photos, for example. I didn’t have enough time to test this effect in person, but I’m interested to see how well it works.
Both displays are glossy, and they do kick back some glare. That said, I was able to browse the web and watch some videos on a bright outdoor deck, and they were very usable.
Another unique feature is the weight. Not only are these some of the lightest Galaxy Books, they’ll be some of the lightest laptops you can buy, period. The Pro 13 starts at just 1.92 pounds (0.87 kg). That’s close to Asus’ Expertbook B9450, which is the lightest clamshell I’ve ever tested. Very few laptops are lighter. The Pro 360 models are a bit heftier, starting at 2.29 pounds, but that’s still very portable as far as touchscreen convertibles go. Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 starts at 2.9 pounds, for example.
Finally, we’re seeing a new S Pen for the first time. “New” is maybe a strong word — the difference between this and the S Pen that comes with 2019’s Galaxy Book Flex is that this one is 2.5 times thicker. Samsung says this will provide “a more true-to-life writing experience.” To be fair, it does feel a heck of a lot like a real pen.
The new S Pen ships with the Galaxy Book Pro 360 — but make sure you can keep track of it, because there’s no garage in the chassis.
In addition to the thicker S Pen, the Galaxy Book Pro and Pro 360 have better processors than the Galaxy Book S. All four models come with Intel’s newest 11th Gen processors. I tried out both a Pro 360 13 and a Pro 15, and everything seemed snappy and smooth. We’ll need to test the devices fully, but the Tiger Lake systems I’ve tested this year have generally performed just fine, especially on typical single-core workloads.
Battery life, of course, is the one thing I couldn’t test at all. That’s going to be a big question because OLED screens tend to be battery hogs. The last OLED laptop from Samsung that I tested was very disappointing in that area. These Galaxy Books have bigger batteries than the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, so I’m hoping they won’t be quite as much of a disaster — but I’ve still got an eye out.
Another thing I’m curious to test more completely is the audio. All four models here include Dolby Atmos speakers, with audio engineered by AKG. The videos I watched sounded fine, but our test area was a bit too loud to get a complete impression. Neither Galaxy Book Pro model comes with a discrete GPU, so this device isn’t targeting creative professionals. Rather, a likely use case for this OLED screen is an incredible movie-watching experience. That’ll be hampered significantly if the audio stinks.
Diving into the nitty-gritty specs: All four of these models come with either a Core i5 or a Core i7. These all include Intel’s Iris Xe integrated graphics — there’s no discrete GPU option available. The Galaxy Book Pro 13 comes with 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage, while the Book Pro 15 goes up to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. On the sides, you get Thunderbolt 4, one USB Type-C, one USB-A 3.2, one audio jack, and one microSD; the 15 adds an HDMI port as well.
The Galaxy Book Pro 360 is slightly more “pro” than the clamshell model. Both convertibles come with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and the 13 goes up to 512GB of storage while the 15 can get all the way up to 1TB. The Pro 360 13 also has optional 5G in case you’re looking for something you can really use on the go. Ports are the same as those on the 13-inch clamshell, except that there’s a second USB-C in place of the USB-A.
In terms of colors, the Galaxy Book Pro comes in mystic blue or mystic silver, while the Pro 360 comes in mystic navy or mystic bronze. My favorite option is definitely the mystic navy 360 — it’s very blue, and it’s the one to get if you want to stand out in the boardroom.
You can preorder both the Galaxy Book Pro and the Galaxy Book Pro 360 today, and they’ll be shipping May 14th. The clamshells start at $999.99 (for the 13) and $1,099.99 (for the 15), while the convertibles start at $1,199.99 (for the 13) and $1,299.99 (for the 15).
Retailers are offering a couple different deals. If you preorder either device before May 13th, you’re eligible for a $150 Amazon credit, a $150 Best Buy gift certificate, and either a $150 eCertificate or free Galaxy Buds Pro through Samsung. If you buy the Galaxy Book Pro between May 14th and May 30th, you’re also eligible for $100 in credit from all three retailers.
Overall, these are already impressive machines with a reasonable price tag. They’re unbelievably light, they’re well-built, and they have great screens — and this is from a company that’s great at making unbelievably light, well-built electronics with great screens. What I’m not sure about yet is the other fundamentals: How quickly will they charge? How long will they last? How good will they sound? How will I look on a Zoom call? After all, it’s not enough for a $1,000 laptop to have one or two strengths — it needs to be adequate everywhere else, too. And I really hope these groundbreaking elements are bonuses, not features you need to compromise everywhere else to get.