It’s been a busy year for Samsung. After giving us the flagship Galaxy S21 phones, the affordable Galaxy A series handsets and the excellent Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds, the company is back with its first new laptops of 2021. The new $999 Galaxy Book Pro and $1,119 Galaxy Book Pro 360 are available for preorder right now, and they’re set to start shipping on May 13.
These two slim powerhouses are the company’s first Windows notebooks with AMOLED displays, delivering the rich colors and sharp details we’ve come to expect from Samsung-branded screens. They’re also some of the thinnest laptops we’ve ever laid our eyes on, and come in some attractive colors to boot.
We got a chance to see both the clamshell Galaxy Book Pro and the 2-in-1 touch-screen Galaxy Book Pro 360 up close — here’s everything you need to know about them.
It’s all about the displays
Like with many Samsung products we’ve tested, the first thing that pops out about these devices are the displays. These are the first Samsung Windows laptops with AMOLED screens, which is the same display tech found on devices like the Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy Tab S7+, and they pump out much better color and brightness than what we’ve seen on standard LCD screens.
When watching a 4K demo video on the 13-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360, we could make out every single scale in a shot of a yellow-and-white snake. Reds and blues also had a nice pop to them, as we noticed in a shot of a woman wearing various shades of face paint.
Colors looked similarly rich on a 15-inch Galaxy Book Pro, particularly in a video of a sunny mountain range with vivid blue skies and true-to-life greenery. We also noticed impressive contrast as a bright yellow flower burst onto a black background without any fuzziness or light leakage. Both the Galaxy Book Pro and Galaxy Book Pro 360 feature 1080p screens, and each offers a choice of 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch, depending on how much real estate you want.
The big difference between these two laptops on the display front comes down to touch. As its name suggests, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 is a convertible touch-screen device that can be folded up for tablet mode or propped up as a display for presenting or sketching. The 360 also includes Samsung’s S Pen for note-taking and drawing, which is more than twice as thick as the one found on the older Galaxy Book Flex. It felt responsive in our limited time making messy doodles in Paint, but we’re looking forward to spending more time with it. If you don’t need the touch and flexibility of the 360, the standard Galaxy Book Pro offers a traditional nontouch screen for about $100 cheaper to start.
A tale of two sleek designs
The Galaxy Book Pro and Galaxy Book Pro 360 are two of the thinnest laptops we’ve seen yet from Samsung — or any manufacturer, for that matter. Measuring just over 11 millimeters thin on both models and weighing about 2 to 3 pounds, these notebooks marry razor-sharp edges with slick colors for an elegant look that holds its own against the MacBooks and Surface Laptops of the world.
Each laptop has its own choice of colors: Mystic Navy and Mystic Bronze for the Book Pro 360, and Mystic Blue and Mystic Silver for the standard Book Pro. We got a quick glimpse at the bronze Book Pro 360 and blue Book Pro, both of which are eye-catching while looking understanded enough for a home office.
We just have one question: Where’s the Mystic Purple option? It looks great on the Galaxy S21, and we all know people love their purple tech.
The Galaxy Book Pro notebooks feature redesigned Pro Keyboards, which felt pretty great in our limited time with them. The 15-inch Galaxy Book Pro’s keys had a very satisfying bounciness that reminded us of the Surface Laptop 4, while the 13-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360 we tried out brought the MacBook Pro to mind. And in terms of how much typing you can do in a single session, Samsung hasn’t given an estimate on how long these laptops will last on a charge just yet. What we do know is that you’ll get a 65-watt charger in the box for juicing up quickly.
These svelte laptops differ slightly on ports, with the Galaxy Book Pro packing one Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port (the latest standard for fast transfer speeds and high-resolution monitors), one standard USB-C port, one USB-A port, a headphone jack and a microSD card reader. The Book Pro 360 features one Thunderbolt 4 port, two standard USB-C ports, a headphone jack, a microSD card slot and an optional 5G SIM slot. The latter port will give the 360 the unique advantage of being able to connect to fast cellular networks in supported areas, though the laptop will launch with Wi-Fi only to start, with 5G variations set for later this year.
Connectivity aside, the Book Pro and Book Pro 360 have fairly similar specs, and at least on paper, they should hold their own against similarly priced Windows notebooks for things such as video and photo editing as well as juggling everyday emails and work calls. You’re getting the latest 11th Gen Intel Core processors, up to 16GB of RAM for multitasking based on your choice of model, a 720p webcam and Dolby Atmos speakers for spatially accurate sound. Both laptops start with 512GB of solid-state drive storage, but only the 15-inch Book Pro 360 can be configured with a larger 1TB drive.
Deep integration with other Galaxy products
In addition to packing solid components into a slim package, the Galaxy Book Pro aims to work seamlessly with your other Samsung Galaxy products. Those who own a Galaxy tablet can use it as a secondary display for the Galaxy Book Pro, much like how Mac users can do the same with their iPad via Apple’s Sidecar technology.
Galaxy smartphone owners can transfer their photos to the Galaxy Book Pro without losing any special effects applied to them (such as Super Slow-mo), and Easy Bluetooth connection will recognize your Galaxy Buds right away so you don’t have to fiddle around in the PC’s Bluetooth menu. That’s on top of features such as Smart Switch, which allows you to quickly transfer files and settings from your old Windows laptop to your Galaxy Book, and a Samsung Notes app that can let you create a note on your phone and access it on your laptop (and vice versa).
The Galaxy Book Pro series is shaping up to offer good specs and a great display within a thin, stylish package for a competitive price. Available for preorder now, the Galaxy Book Pro starts at $999 for the 13-inch model and $1,099 for the 15-inch model, while the Galaxy Book Pro 360 starts at $1,119 at 13 inches and $1,299 for the 15-inch version.
If you lock in an order now, you can expect shipments to begin arriving on May 14. There are also a handful of preorder deals available for those who buy before May 13 — if you buy through Amazon, you’ll get $150 in future credit, while those who order via Best Buy will get a free $150 gift certificate. And if you purchase directly from Samsung.com or a Samsung Experience Store, you’ll get either a $150 eCertificate or a free pair of Galaxy Buds Pro. Those who pick up one of the new laptops between May 14 and May 30 are eligible for $100 in credit from all three retailers.
Those looking for a traditional laptop should look into the standard Galaxy Book Pro, while folks interested in a more versatile touch machine with cellular support may want to splurge on the Book Pro 360. We’ll be putting both of these promising new notebooks through our full testing process soon to see how they stack up to our favorite laptops, so stay tuned.