Galaxy Book 2 Hands-on: Meet Samsung’s Surface Pro Killer
The first round of Snapdragon Windows laptops didn’t catch on, but Samsung is hoping to change that with the new Galaxy Book 2, which promises 20 hours of battery life along with Gigabit LTE and a faster Snapdragon 850 processor.
I had a chance to go hands-on with this 2-in-1, which includes a keyboard and pen (unlike the Surface Pro 6). The Super AMOLED display and design look great, and there's some special goodness here for Galaxy phone owners. But the jury is out on the performance of the Snpadragon 850 chip.
Galaxy Book 2 Pricing and Availability
The Galaxy Book 2 will be available November 2 starting at $999. It will be available through ATT.com, Microsoft.com and Samsung.com initially, followed by AT&T, Sprint and Verizon stores.
“It’s not just about shoving a modem into a PC,” said Don McGuire, vice President of product marketing at Qualcomm. “Samsung’s know-how in bringing this to market is important. Samsung understands the operator channel.”
Design and Display
The Galaxy Book 2 is one of the sleekest convertibles I've seen this year. The silver magnesium back feels sturdy, as does the aluminum flip-out kickstand. The right side houses two USB-C ports (not Thunderbolt 3) along with a headphone jack, while the right side has the SIM card slot for LTE. This is where you can also plug in a microSD card.
Around back you'll find a fingerprint reader and 8-MP camera. There's a 5-MP camera up front. Samsung says the camera supports Windows Hello, so you should be able to log in fast via facial recognition.
The Galaxy Book 2 weighs 1.75 pounds as a slate and about 2.4 pounds as a laptop, which is pretty light and in line with other 2-in-1s.
The bezel around the screen is a bit thicker than I'd like, but this 12-inch Super AMOLED panel (2160 x 1440 pixels) is rich and bright.
I played a quick Aquaman trailer on YouTube, and the colors really popped on this panel. Other highlights include dual speakers tuned by AKG with Dolby Atmos support.
Key Specs: CPU, RAM and Storage
The Galaxy Book 2 is powered by a Snapdragon 850 processor, a step up from the Snapdragon 835 chip inside convertibles like the HP Envy x2 and Asus NovaGo. Qualcomm says to expect a 30 percent performance improvement.
The $999 configuration includes 4GB of RAM, which is on the low side when many other ultraportables and 2-in-1s come with 8GB standard. There's also 128GB of storage on board.
Keyboard and S Pen
The S Pen on the Galaxy Book 2 supports 4096 levels of sensitivity and the inking felt super smooth during my brief hands-on time. I also like that the back of the S Pen works as an eraser, similar to the Surface Book 6.
However, I have a couple of complaints. The S Pen feels almost too light, and while it does attach to the left side of the system magnetically, the connection doesn't feel as strong as the Surface Pen does with the Surface Pro 6.
Samsung is targeting very long endurance with this device, and it says that you should expect up to 20 hours of battery life — or more than two full work days. By comparison, the Surface Pro 6 lasted close to 9.5 hours on our tests.
The Galaxy Book also offers fast charging support, but we're awaiting details on how fast.
Carrier Support and Samsung Flow
One key differentiator for Samsung is how the Galaxy Book 2 works with Galaxy phone. The Samsung Flow app will let you transfer files and get notifications right on this Windows device. I tried this out with a Galaxy Note 9 and it worked pretty well.
The Galaxy Book 2 looks like it could give ARM-based Windows PCs a shot at wider appeal. The price isn't cheap, but you get a keyboard and pen, and the performance of the Snapdragon 850 processor should be better than before — though maybe not quite in the same league as a Core i5 chip. I also like the Super AMOLED display.
However, I wish the S Pen's magnetic connection to the unit were stronger. It will really come down to how well the Book 2 balances its potentially epic battery life and speed, and how well this device's ARM chip runs non-Windows Store apps. Stay tuned for our full review.
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