Samsung’s new Galaxy Book Pro took my breath away with how thin it is

At less than half an inch thick, the new Samsung Galaxy Book Pro isn’t just thin. It’s shockingly thin.

At its third Galaxy Unpacked event of 2021 so far, Samsung announced two new laptops, the aforementioned Galaxy Book Pro and its 2-in-1 sibling, the Galaxy Book Pro 360. The two devices are follow-ups to the Galaxy Book Ion and Galaxy Book Flex but sport a completely redesigned chassis that fit in well among the best laptops you can buy.

That new chassis comes in some new colors, yes, but the real highlight is the portability. The 13-inch Galaxy Book Pro is just 0.43 inches thick and weighs 1.9 pounds, making it one of the thinnest and lightest laptops in its class, with the 15-inch model not far behind. Samsung noted that it’s now as light as a large iced coffee.

Despite being this thin, the Galaxy Book Pro has avoided many of the common pitfalls of making a device this slim. First, the Galaxy Book Pro is surprisingly rigid. Build quality is often sacrificed to claim the crown of thinnest or lightest laptop, but Samsung’s use of 6000-series aluminum alloy has afforded it a sturdier feel. There’s still a hint of flex in the keyboard, but the lid is solid.

Hands-on video

Poor performance is another downfall of ultrathin laptops that the Galaxy Book Pro avoids. It’s running the latest 11th-gen Intel Tiger Lake processors, meaning it should provide more than adequate performance. I’d have loved to see AMD as an option, of course, but Samsung is sticking exclusively with Intel for this launch.

Finally, the Galaxy Book Pro somehow packs a wealth of ports into its tiny chassis. You get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, USB-A, a headphone jack, and even HDMI. It’s unheard of in a laptop like this. The Galaxy Book Pro 360, though, reverts to only the two Thunderbolt 4 ports, which is too bad.

Samsung has also made some advances on the screens used in these new laptops. They both include AMOLED panels across the entire lineup, including in the base configuration of the 13-inch model. That makes it the most affordable OLED laptop ever sold, which is a great sign for the future of OLED getting into the hands of more laptop buyers. All the configurations of both the Galaxy Book Pro and the Galaxy Book Pro 360 use a 1080p screen, and Samsung doesn’t currently have plans to offer 4K models.

Sticking with 1080p should help with battery life, though, which was a standout for the QLED display on the Galaxy Book Flex. With a 63 watt-hour battery (or 68 watt-hours on the Galaxy Book Pro 360), I’d expect similar results on the Galaxy Book Pro.

The other downside to these new screens? They’re all in the 16:9 aspect ratio. Nearly all of Samsung’s competitors have moved to 16:10 or 3:2, which are both taller display sizes that provide more vertical screen real estate. Sticking with 16:9 also means a large bottom bezel. It’s a bit of an eyesore on what is otherwise a highly modern design.

Although the Galaxy Book Pro and Galaxy Book Pro 360 share the same screen technology, the Pro 360 is the only model that offers a touchscreen. It no longer has built-in housing for the S Pen like some other Samsung laptops, but the Galaxy Book Pro 360 does come bundled with the stylus. For storage, the S Pen magnetizes to the side of the screen.

Price is the other big difference between the Galaxy Book Pro and Galaxy Book Pro 360. The clamshell laptop starts at $999, which comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive. The Galaxy Book Pro 360 starts at $1,199 for an identical configuration — but remember, it also includes the S Pen. The Galaxy Book Pro 360 will be offered in a 5G configuration later this year, but both laptops include Wi-Fi 6E connectivity.

Samsung also pointed to the Galaxy ecosystem and the new ways these Windows 10 laptops could connect to Galaxy Android devices. The laptops support using a Galaxy Tab S7 as a second screen or controlling lights or other SmartThings devices from your PC.

The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro and Galaxy Book Pro 360 both go on sale on May 14.

Galaxy Book for the U.K.

Samsung has also announced a more basic laptop for the U.K., called simply the Galaxy Book. Unlike the Book Pro and Book Pro 360, it has a 15.6-inch TFT LCD screen, with a 1920 x 180-pixel resolution. There’s a choice of 11th generation Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processors, with up to 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD storage.

It comes with a 54 watt-hour battery and a 65W charger, and ports include two USB Type-C, two USB Type-A, an HDMI, a MicroSD slot, and a 3.5mm headphone socket. It doesn’t have additional features like S Pen support, cellular connectivity, or a choice of screen sizes. The Galaxy Book doesn’t share the same ultra thin and light chassis either, measuring 0.60-inches (15.4mm) thick and weighing 1.55kg.

The Galaxy Book starts at 699 British pounds, or around $940, and will be available from May 14, with pre-orders starting on April 28. It’ll also be joined by the Galaxy Book Pro which starts at 1,099 pounds (about $1,525), and the Galaxy Book Pro 360 from 1,199 pounds (about $1,660).

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