When I reviewed the 15-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360 earlier this year, I concluded that it was great – but that its somewhat unique combination of a 15-inch OLED screen, built-in graphics, and a pen all into one rather high price its performance audience quite specific. The package it offers is a bit unusual in the 15-inch space.
The 13-inch Galaxy Book Pro is clearly the laptop I’ve been looking for. Like many Samsung Galaxy Books, this device has a thin and light body, a great screen, and great battery life. Unlike many other Galaxy Books, these advantages don’t come with significant compromises and it doesn’t cost a fortune – My test device is $ 999. It offers many of the benefits we would expect from a premium business laptop, but also with a price tag that is accessible to consumers. It’s a package of business-ready features that I’m glad to finally be available in the mainstream space.
In many ways, the Galaxy Book Pro is similar to a Surface Laptop 4 or an XPS 13. It’s attractive, well-built, and comfortable to use. However, there are a few reasons why buyers might want to go for the Galaxy Book instead. The first is its height and weight. My test device is only 0.44 inches thick – almost as thin as many smartphones – and 1.92 pounds. This connects it to that Asus ExpertBook B9 (which is almost twice as expensive as my test device) as one of the absolutely lightest laptops in the world. For a quick context that 13-inch Surface Laptop 4 is almost a pound heavier and a 14-inch MacBook Pro is close to the weight of two of these things stacked on top of each other. You won’t notice this thing in your pocket; carrying it feels like carrying a small tablet around.
The second is the screen. The Galaxy Book Pro is one of the few 13-inch OLED laptops you can buy (and some of the others have … problems) and one of the cheaper OLED devices out there. Note that this is a 1920 x 1080 OLED screen – it’s visibly more pixelated than the 4K panels you often see on OLED workstations. But that hardly spoils the experience. Black is black and colors are saturated – the Galaxy Book covers 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color space and 100 percent of the sRGB color space. And luckily, I couldn’t notice any screen shake (which was an issue I had with the Convertible Galaxy Book).
The main downside of the screen is that for this price point (like OLEDs often) it’s a bit dark and in my tests it is 314 nits. However, this was not a major problem during operation – even at medium brightness, the panel did not reflect much glare in bright settings.
Another notable drawback is the 16: 9 aspect ratio, which is going out of style with the consumer market; The Galaxy Book’s big competitors, including the world’s Surface Laptops, MacBooks, and XPS laptops, all offer more vertical space. This made the screen a bit cramped for my workload, especially since it’s only 13.3 inches.
The third unique thing: there are quite a few Samsung-specific software that will work with a Samsung phone if you have one. For example, you can use the Quick Share function to quickly move things between the Galaxy Book Pro and a Galaxy phone and also synchronize notes and the like. The sheer amount of OEM software here is actually a bit overwhelming. I counted 14 Samsung branded programs on this device – Samsung Flow, Samsung Studio Plus, Samsung Security, Samsung Settings, Samsung Care +, etc. – and I was never quite sure where to find certain settings and functions. Those who are already connected to the Samsung ecosystem may not have this problem.
One thing I discovered in this maze of apps is the Studio Mode which tries to beautify you in real time on video calls. A small menu will appear when you turn on the Galaxy Book’s camera. There are a few different presets to choose from, all of which attempt to enlarge your eyes, thin your face, and remove blemishes to varying degrees. Without going into politics, I would like to note that this function appeared to be effective at what it was trying to achieve. The only weird thing I noticed was that my face sometimes flickered strangely when my hand covered part of it, possibly because the algorithm was having difficulty recognizing my face due to the disability.
In most of the other areas, the Galaxy Book Pro is your run-of-the-mill ultrabook (which means it’s pretty good). It feels like using a thinner, lighter XPS 13. (Samsung in particular nailed the keyboard structure – it’s eerily similar.) The trackpad is solid, with a smooth texture and a still slightly stiff click. The keyboard is on the flat side, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it – it has a very satisfactory click and I exceeded my normal typing speeds. The only category in which the Galaxy Book falls a little behind the top contenders is looks; The exterior has a bit of a dreary feel to it which, in my opinion, belies the excellence of the rest of the device.
My device comes with 256 GB of storage, 8 GB of RAM and a Core i5-1135G7; $ 1,199 gets you 512 GB of storage and a Core i7. You get it in “Mystic Silver” or “Mystic Blue” – the colors have the same price. 15 inch models start at $ 1,099 and Convertible models (equipped with a pen and touchscreen) start at $ 1,199. The $ 999 tag brings my device to the same price level as that Surface laptop 4, which exchanges an AMD Ryzen 5 processor instead of the Intel chip.
The Core i5-1135G7 is made for thin and light laptops – despite the nickname “Pro,” this Galaxy Book isn’t designed for intense professional workloads, and the lack of a discrete GPU makes it not a good choice for gaming. But it’s fine for someone like me, who spends most of their time hopping over a few dozen Chrome tabs with the occasional Zoom call or Spotify stream. I never heard any fans or felt any kind of heat even when running the device on Battery Saver.
The battery life was also good. I worked an average of eight hours and five minutes. That’s not as good as the 15-inch model, which has a slightly larger battery, but should still last a full day of work, especially if you let the device hibernate instead of constantly squeezing it like me.
My feelings about the 13-inch Galaxy Book Pro can be easily summed up: It’s the perfect travel companion. It’s light, it’s well built, it lasts, and I can see the screen outside. When I travel, there is no other consumer notebook that I would rather have with me.
The word “consumer” in this sentence is of course a lot of work. That’s because this combination of functions is available in the business sector and have been a hallmark of the best business laptops for years. The Asus ExpertBook comes close to the weight of this device and lasts much longer. But consumers travel too, and they should have options that enable them to lead a lifestyle on the go without them Exorbitant prices tied to company acquisitions. Because of this, I’m glad the 13-inch Galaxy Book Pro is out, even if it wouldn’t be my laptop of choice because of its bland aesthetics and aspect ratio. It’s my top recommendation for anyone who travels a lot or just wants something really, really light.
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