Samsung’s latest Galaxy Book Pro is a fast and versatile Windows 10 laptop that has a gorgeous-looking OLED screen.
Available as a standard laptop costing from £1,099 ($999) or one with a screen that folds back on itself called the Galaxy Book Pro 360 for an extra £100 ($200). It is the successor to 2020’s Galaxy Book Flex and follows a similar theme: good 13.3in screen, 360-degree folding hinge and thin metal body available in a distinctive royal blue colour.
The body of the Pro 360 has lost a little of the visual flourish of the Flex. But the new machine makes up for it with an upgraded OLED screen instead of the LCD technology common to most laptops. This gives it greatly improved contrast, inky blacks and vibrant colours similar to the best smartphones.
The 13.3in screen looks great, but is only full HD (1080p) resolution making it slightly less crisp than rivals with higher resolution displays. It also has a traditional widescreen (16:9) ratio making it fantastic for TVs and movies but less useful for work by being a bit short of height compared with more square screen ratios such as those of the Surface Laptop 4 or MacBook Air.
The large, smooth and precise trackpad is good and the keyboard has been improved with well-spaced and responsive keys. Both are fairly noisy and the keys have only a shallow depth when pressed. Good, but not quite best in class.
Screen: 13.3in FHD (1080p) Super AMOLED (166PPI)
Processor: 11th-gen Intel Core i5
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
Operating system: Windows 10 Home
Camera: 720p HD
Connectivity: Wifi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1, 1x Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB-C, microSD, headphone
Dimensions: 302.5 x 202.0 x 11.5mm
Strong performance, 8-plus hour battery
Both 13.3in Galaxy Book Pro versions come with the same 11th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, except for the 4G model that comes with a 256GB SSD only.
The new chip comes with Intel’s much-improved Xe integrated graphics and is faster all-round on paper, although generally not appreciably so compared with the well-performing previous generation. Performance was very good for a general computing device and it ran fairly quietly with the fans only audible when doing something more intensive when used on battery. Plug it in, and the fans ran almost constantly, however.
A Samsung utility can turn down the fan noise to “silent” or completely off by reducing performance.
Battery life was slightly above average for Intel-based PCs, lasting just under nine hours of work between charges, but some way behind the 16-hour battery life of the Apple MacBook Air. That was with the brightness set to 70% with recommended battery settings, using Chrome, Evernote, Typora and several messaging apps, plus some light image editing in Affinity Photo.
The Galaxy Book Pro 360 is repairable by authorised service centres in the UK. Samsung rates the battery for at least 1,000 full charge cycles while still maintaining at least 80% capacity. Samsung also has battery lifespan-extending options on the laptop, such as those that limit the maximum charge to 85% to prolong its useful life.
The battery can be replaced out of warranty by authorised service providers. The laptop is not made from any recycled materials and while Samsung offers trade-in and recycling schemes for other devices, but not yet for laptops. Samsung company-wide sustainability reports but not breakdowns for individual products.
Windows 10 Home
The Pro and Pro 360 ship with Windows 10 Home in the UK, with a few useful Samsung apps and tools installed. It also ships with McAfee Livesafe installed, which having experienced problems with in the past I uninstalled immediately, reverting to the built-in Windows Defender for anti-virus protection.
The laptop is eligible for a free update to Windows 11 on release in the autumn.
Using the laptop was generally trouble free. The fingerprint scanner worked great for logging into Windows and the various utilities were handy, including those for the stylus and the Bluetooth sync system that automatically connected a set of Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds. But I had issues with Windows Mail crashing with my work Google email account and getting the laptop to sleep properly when plugged in.
The glossy screen is very reflective, meaning glare can be an issue in some lighting conditions.
The screen suffers from so-called “jelly scroll” when used in portrait orientation, a problem common to large OLED touchscreen devices where one side of the screen reacts faster than the other when you drag your finger on it to scroll the page.
The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro is a thin, light and attractive Windows 10 PC with the latest Intel chips.
In its Pro 360 form , it is a versatile device that can pull double duty as a tablet with stylus and can be propped up in multiple ways to suit your environment, whether for movie-watching or getting work done.
The OLED screen is the star of the show, beating regular LCD competitors on colour and contrast, while being bright enough for most environments. It isn’t quite as sharp as some, though, and its wide-screen ratio is better suited to movies than work.
About nine hours of battery life is good for an Intel-powered machine, but pales into comparison to the market-leader, Apple’s 16-hour MacBook Air. The Samsung suffers from sleep issues and fairly constant fan noise when plugged in, which hopefully will get fixed with software updates.
Pros: 11th-gen Intel Core i5, 1x Thunderbolt 4 + 2x USB-C ports, microSD slot, rich AMOLED screen, convertible hinge, good keyboard, good trackpad, fingerprint scanner, excellent stylus included.
Cons: 16:9 ratio and lower resolution screen, noisy fans, battery life nowhere near top rivals, no built-in stylus storage, screen very reflective.