Samsung Galaxy Book S Hands-on Review: This Is Impressive
Damn, I might have to eat some crow on this one. Awhile back, I wrote an article called “Dear Samsung, It’s Time to Stop Making Laptops,” which was an op-ed lambasting the company for years of boring, uninspired laptops. Apparently, the company took those words to heart, because for now, I’m absolutely taken with the new Galaxy Book S.
Starting at $999, the Galaxy Book S will be available sometime in early September. It ticks off most of the ultraportable boxes with a slim, incredibly lightweight chassis, vibrant display and the promise of an all-day battery life. Some of those claims will obviously hold up better than others. But for now, let’s analyze what we know.
Wow oh wow, I haven’t been this excited about a Samsung notebook since the 15-inch Samsung Series 9 and that was back in 2012. But the Galaxy Book S is a thing of absolute beauty. Available in two colors: Earthy Gold and Mercury Gray, the ultra-svelte laptop measures 12 x 8 x 0.5~0.2 inches and only weighs 2.2 pounds. It makes the Apple MacBook Air (2.8 pounds, 12 x 8 x 0.6~0.2 inches), Dell XPS 13 (2.7 pounds, 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.3~0.5 inches) and 13-inch HP Spectre x360 (2.8 pounds, 12.2 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches) seem big.
My favorite part of the design is the rounded rear, which wraps gently around the deck. Similar to other ultraportable systems, the Galaxy Book S only has three ports: a pair of USB Type-C ports and a headphone jack. It means that you’ll be living that dongle life if you want to use a mouse or an external hard drive, but for something this pretty, it might be worth it.
To the naked eye, the Galaxy Book S’s 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080 display is bright and vivid. The company has yet to release either the brightness or color gamut so right now all I can tell you is the screen looks pretty. Oh, and it’s got a 10-point capacitive touch that’s fast and responsive. I can’t wait to get this beautiful quandary into the lab to get some answers.
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The Galaxy Book S is powered by a 2.8-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8CX processor with 8GB of RAM. That means it’s really built for battery life and always-on connectivity rather than performance. Although this is a new chip to me, I sincerely doubt it will have the capability to go toe-to-toe with Intel’s new 10th Gen Ice Lake chips. But I was wrong about the design, I would love to be wrong about this as well.
In terms of storage, the Galaxy Book S will be available with 128 and 256GB SSD.
Now Samsung is trying to pull a fast one with the battery life. During the Unpacked 2019 event, the company claimed that the notebook will have 23-hour battery life. Here at Laptop Mag, we have yet to review a laptop with 15 hours of battery life let alone 23. And the Galaxy Book probably won’t be the first.
How do I know? During the hands-on, I took a gander at the battery life and at 90%, the Windows 10 battery indicator declared the machine had approximately 10 hours and 42 minutes of battery left. But maybe, Samsung and Qualcomm are going to work some magic to make this claim true. Like I said, I’m willing to be wrong. I actually want to be wrong.
Samsung seems to have gotten its mojo back when it comes to laptops. The Galaxy Book S is slim, sexy and downright stunning. Focusing on longevity rather than performance, the company has made some concessions, including going with a less-powerful mobile Qualcomm chip which may or may not help them get longer battery life. I’m excited to put this laptop to the test and being that it’s a Samsung system, that’s saying a lot.