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Circuit Breaker

Hands on with the Galaxy Book S, Samsung’s laptop and smartphone hybrid

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Pretty thin and pretty light

Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Samsung just announced the Galaxy Book S, a device that looks to promise the best of both worlds by marrying the the battery life and LTE data of a smartphone with the power and feature set of a full Windows 10 laptop.

We were able to try out the Galaxy Book S for a few minutes after the reveal, but unfortunately, the two biggest features here — the new Qualcomm 8cx processor, and the 23-hour battery life Samsung is promising that will provide — are hard to gauge in a brief hands-on.

Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Here’s what I can say, though: the Galaxy Book S wasn’t noticeably laggy or slow when I was using it, and it apps like Edge and Paint 3D ran as expected. But that’s hardly conclusive one way or the other, and we’ll obviously have to put it through some proper testing with some more serious applications when it releases next month. (An early demo of the 8cx running Firefox conducted by my colleague Sean Hollister last December also impressed, though, so there’s some room for optimism here.)

As for the hardware itself, Samsung’s done a nice job here. The Galaxy Book S is ultra-thin and ultra-light (to the point where it fails the “one-hand test” for opening the lid without raising the whole laptop.) The aluminum case does suffer from the same, slightly cheap feeling that Samsung’s other laptops have had in the past, but that’s part of the price you pay for a 2.11 pound laptop.

Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

And despite how early leaks compared it to Microsoft’s Surface Laptop, the actual Galaxy Book S feels a lot more like Apple’s most recent MacBook Air in size, shape, and design. The trackpad uses Microsoft’s Windows Precision drivers, the keyboard is pleasant to type on, despite the limited room for key travel, and the screen is a standard 13.3-inch FHD panel that neither astounds nor overly disappoints. Also unlike other thin-bezel laptops, Samsung has thankfully kept the webcam up top, where it belongs (although Windows Hello is only accessible through the fingerprint-reading power button.)

There are phone influences too, though, like the aforementioned Qualcomm processor that will make or break the Galaxy Book S and a combination SIM/MicroSD card slot hidden on the bottom (although unlike the just-announced Note 10, there’s still a headphone jack.)

Assuming the processor and battery life hold up, though — and that’s a big “if” at this stage, given the history of ARM-based laptops to date — the $999 price point Samsung is targeting may be fair, and could let the Galaxy Book S usher in a new era of portable laptops.