Windows 2-in-1s come in all shapes and sizes these days, but two of the best high-end options include the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and Samsung’s new Galaxy Book Flex. Samsung’s option is known for its beautiful QLED display, and Dell’s features one of the most stunning designs ever.
You might be wondering which one is right for you. In this guide, we’ll tell you how the two products stack up against each other in terms of design, display, battery life, and performance to help you in your buying decision.
Design is at the forefront of any product, and this is an area where the XPS 13 2-in-1 and the Galaxy Book Flex share some heritage. Both are crafted out of premium materials that don’t look or feel cheap. As important as that is, there is a difference.
Looking at the design, Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 is cut from a single block of aluminum and features a diamond-cut finish. It comes in options for either an “arctic white” or black interior. The black interior uses carbon fiber while the white interior is composed of white woven glass fiber. The Galaxy Book Flex is all aluminum, with no touches of carbon fiber. It also has a very boxy shape and is a little less rounded than Dell’s 2-in-1. The boxy look carries over to the sides to the display panel and the notch for the lid as well.
The only color option on the Flex is “Royal Blue,” a bold aesthetic that stands out from the crowd. Both devices feature diamond-cut aluminum along the side walls for a touch of glitz.
The two devices are nearly identical in thickness, though the Galaxy Book Flex is a bit lighter at just 2.5 pounds compared to the 2.9-pound XPS. They both also include two Thunderbolt 3 ports, but the Galaxy Book Flex adds one additional USB-C port on the left side. The Flex also includes its AKG-branded speakers on the sides, which provide decent-quality sound. It can’t beat the MacBooks of the world, but compared to the tinny, downward-firing speakers on the XPS 13 2-in-1, the Galaxy Book Flex sounds more full-bodied. There’s even a hint of bass.
The latest XPS 13 2-in-1’s new keyboard extends edge-to-edge, and features larger keycaps and a more efficient layout. The actual keypresses, though, are a matter of contention. It uses butterfly-style mechanisms supported by magnets that make for a short travel feel similar to that of older MacBooks. It takes a few minutes to get adjusted to if you’re coming from a more conventional keyboard.
The keyboard on the Galaxy Book Flex is a typical 2-in-1 chiclet-style keyboard. It’s not quite edge-to-edge like the XPS 13, but Samsung has embedded a fingerprint sensor there, too, though the sensor is in an odd position along the side near the arrow keys. Dell includes its scanner in a more conventional spot at the top right of the keyboard.
The Galaxy Book Flex also has built-in support for the S Pen, which slots into the side of the device. This lets you ink on PDFs and control PowerPoint presentations. The XPS 13 2-in-1 also supports a pen, but it needs to be purchased separately at $88. The position of the S Pen slot does have a downside. Because of its location, above the keyboard, the palm rests have been shrunken, leaving about a half-inch less space than on the XPS 13 2-in-1. That makes the typing experience a bit uncomfortable for long periods of time. If you have smaller hands, this won’t be as big of a problem.
The other problem with the Flex is screen wobble. The hinge is a bit looser than on the XPS, making writing on the screen a bit impractical.
Samsung also embeds a QI charger in the trackpad of the Galaxy Book Flex. This allows you to charge your phone on it when the trackpad is not in use.
As the lineup is known for, the XPS 13 2-in-1 features super-slim bezels on all four sides of the screen. The Galaxy Book Flex, meanwhile, has a very large bottom bezel. You’ll get used to it, but it’s quite an eyesore compared to the super-sleek XPS.
The Flex is the first laptop to feature a QLED panel, which produces more vibrant colors than the XPS 13’s traditional LED panel. Thanks to its Quantum Dot display technology, it’s a more colorful and vibrant screen, yet still accurate and natural-looking. It’s one of the best 13-inch screen for photographers we’ve ever tested, bested only by the Spectre x360’s OLED display. The 1080p QLED panel, while not as dense as the 4K panel on the XPS 13 2-in-1, makes up for that in terms of image quality.
The XPS has two resolution options, either 1,920 x 1,200 (FHD+) or a 4K 3,840 x 2,400 (4K+.) All these display options are touchscreen and have a 16:10 aspect ratio, which is taller and leaves you more vertical room for work. It’s a beautiful, immersive design that we prefer to the Flex’s large bottom bezel.
The downside to the XPS 13’s 4K option, however, is battery life. It’s reduced in the higher resolutions, and can’t compete with the excellent battery life of the Galaxy Book Flex. The Flex bests most laptops in our tests, and that includes both resolutions of the XPS 13 2-in-1. With a large 69.7 watt-hour battery, the Flex lasts over 13.5 hours in light usage. That’s almost five hours more than what you get on the XPS 13 2-in-1. If you’re looking for a beautiful, photography-caliber screen that doesn’t kill your battery, the Galaxy Book Flex is the right choice.
Both the Flex and the XPS use Intel’s latest 10th-gen Ice Lake processors. There’s one difference, though: Samsung is only selling the Flex in one configuration in the states. It’s a Core i7 with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, for $1,350.
Generally speaking, Intel’s Ice Lake processors on the XPS and the Flex means that both devices will have plenty of power and efficiency. As the CPUs are quad-core, you’ll be able to handle most multitasking easily. You also can do some light gaming, as Intel’s Ice Lake processors feature improved Iris Plus integrated graphics. That means lighter games like Rocket League should be able to play well on low to medium settings.
Dell gets a bit more mileage with those same components, though, performing better in benchmarks and content-creation tests. The XPS also offers much more variety. You can pick up a cheaper Core i3 model for $999 or higher-end variants with 4K screens and up to 64GB of RAM. The Flex is a bit more affordable, though. When you line up specs, the XPS ends up being around $300 more.
It’s a toss-up. We prefer the design of the XPS 13 2-in-1, and the 16:10 screen really makes a difference for workflow. We also like the configuration options, which let you have a bit more control over performance, storage, and display options. The Flex, though, has a more colorful screen and much better battery life. If those are must-have features for you, the Galaxy Book Flex is an excellent choice, and is a slightly better value too.
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