Chromebooks are getting bigger and more premium all the time, but a lot of people still just want a cheap way to get online. That's where the Samsung Chromebook 4 comes in, succeeding the well-liked Samsung Chromebook 3. This system is worth a look for students as it landed on our best laptops under $500 page, but it doesn't hit high enough highs to land on our list of the best Chromebooks and laptops with best battery life.
While the Samsung Chromebook 4's battery life is good and its price is on the lower end, the laptop's 11.6-inch display isn't bright or colorful enough. Also, this laptop features a non-touch-screen display, so you can't touch Android apps from the Google Play store. There's still a lot to like about the Samsung Chromebook 4's affordable $229 price, long battery life and decent performance, but you should consider some alternatives before buying this machine.
Samsung Chromebook 4 price and configurations
The Samsung Chromebook 4 comes in two sizes: the $229 11.6-inch model we tested and the $259 15.6-inch Chromebook 4+, the bigger brother, with thinner bezels. For $50, you can upgrade the internal storage and memory from 32GB and 4GB to 64GB and 6GB.
Samsung Chromebook 4 design
The Samsung Chromebook 4 looks exactly like you'd expect from its low price. With curved edges and a silver hue, the Samsung Chromebook 4 looks a lot like the many MacBook copycats we've seen over the years. Its aluminum top feels a little nicer than I expected, but the laptop's price shows in the plastic body. This machine's chunky display bezels make it look even more aged, but I don't feel like you should expect more for a laptop that costs less than $250.
At 2.6 pounds in weight and 0.7 inches thick, the Samsung Chromebook 4 is a hair heavier than the Samsung Chromebook 3 (2.5 pounds, 0.7 inches) and a bit lighter and thinner than the Lenovo Chromebook C330 (2.82 pounds, 11.4 x 8.5 x 0.8 inches). The Dell Chromebook 3189 (3.2 pounds, 0.8 inches) is heavier and a little thicker.
The Chromebook 4 has a USB-C port (which you'll need for powering the machine) on the left, next to the microSD reader and headphone jack.
There's a security lock slot and a USB 3.0 port on the right side of the Chromebook, though, oddly, the latter port lacks a bottom edge.
Samsung also says the Chromebook 4 passed multiple MIL-STD 810G durability tests (including transit drop, vibration, high temperatures and freezing, humidity, blasts of dust and low pressure). We can't wait to see how it survives our Chromebook drop test.
Samsung Chromebook 4 display
Our biggest complaint about the Chromebook 4 is its display. For starters, this Chromebook doesn't have a touch screen, a glaring absence now that Android app support is nearly ubiquitous on Chrome OS laptops. The Samsung Chromebook 3 didn't have a touch screen either, but the Lenovo Chromebook C330 and Dell Chromebook 3189 do have them.
Next, let's get to brightness. The first thing I did after opening the Samsung Chromebook 4 was try to increase the brightness setting, only to find out that I couldn't. Watching a trailer for Jumanji: The Next Level, I saw the white cast of the panel mute all of the tones, from the red bandana around Kevin Hart's neck to the green fauna around the characters and the browns of the snake that ate Jack Black head-first.
When we scanned the Chromebook 4 with our colorimeter, it registered a low 64% of the sRGB gamut, practically tying with the score from the Samsung Chromebook 3 (63%). That's less than the 83% Chromebook average, as well as the ratings from the Lenovo Chromebook C330 (75%) and the Dell Chromebook 3189 (81%).
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Our light meter rated the Chromebook 4 for a low 210 nits of brightness, a mark that falls below the 216-nit Chromebook average. The Lenovo Chromebook C330 (250 nits), Dell Chromebook 3189 (223 nits) and Samsung Chromebook 3 (259 nits) all got brighter. Predictably, colors darkened considerably on the Chromebook 4 when we viewed the screen from 30 degrees to the left or right.
Samsung Chromebook 4 keyboard and touchpad
I've found the Chromebook 4's typing experience to be pretty OK. The keys felt a little shallow, but they're not bad by any stretch. I hit 71 words per minute (not that far from my 80-wpm average) on the 10FastFingers test on my first try.
Similarly, the Chromebook 4's touchpad is acceptable and does a good enough job of tracking taps and scrolling. Pinch and pull gestures also moved smoothly.
Samsung Chromebook 4 audio
On Run the Jewels' "Legend Has It," the Samsung Chromebook 4 filled a smallish room with borderline-acceptable sound. Killer Mike and El-P's voices sounded clear enough, instrumentals sounded pretty accurate, and … bass? Well, there was some. It's not completely empty on kick. I'd suggest going with a pair of headphones or dedicated computer speakers if you plan on picking up the Chromebook 4.
Samsung Chromebook 4 performance
The Intel Celeron 3000N processor and 4GB of RAM driving the Samsung Chromebook 4 provides decent power for multitasking, especially at this price. When I split the screen between 12 Chrome tabs, including ones for Giphy, a Google doc and a 1080p YouTube video (Nick Offerman's Hot Ones episode is a delight), I saw lag only when I moved back to the Giphy page. The Google doc, with my notes about the system's performance, stayed responsive.
When I took Asphalt 9 for a spin, the Chromebook 4 ran the racing game at playable frame rates. On occasion, though, there was a bit of clipping and tearing, but this didn't send me off the road.
On the Geekbench 4 general-performance benchmark, the Samsung Chromebook 4 scored 3,613, less than the 5,128 category average but better than the 2,934 from the Lenovo Chromebook C330 (MediaTek MT8173C CPU, 4GB of RAM).
MORE: Best Chromebook Games: 17 Great Android Titles | Laptop Mag
The Chromebook 4 did pretty well on the WebGL Aquarium simulation, rendering 500 fish at 60 frames per second. The Lenovo Chromebook C330 ran 500 fish at only 25 fps.
Samsung Chromebook 4 battery life
The Samsung Chromebook 4 provided nearly all-day battery life, with a Laptop Mag battery test (web-surfing at 150 nits) score of 10 hours and 36 minutes. That's an hour longer than the 9:36 Chromebook average and more than half an hour longer than the 9:51 from the Lenovo Chromebook C330.
Samsung Chromebook 4 webcam
The Samsung Chromebook 4's 0.9-megapixel webcam is perfectly normal. Snapping a selfie with it, I saw enough clarity to be surprised (you'd be shocked how bad some of these cameras can be) but not impressed.
My mustard-yellow shirt was muted, and all the light sources behind me were blown out.
Samsung Chromebook 4 heat
I streamed 15 minutes of HD video on the Samsung Chromebook 4, and the laptop kept within acceptable temperatures (under 95 degrees Fahrenheit) up top but not below.
Our heat gun clocked the touchpad (77 degrees) and keyboard (84 degrees) on the cooler end, while the underside spiked as high as 98.5 degrees toward the back.
Samsung Chromebook 4 software
Like all modern Chromebooks, the Samsung Chromebook 4 runs Android apps, but you can only download them from the Google Play store. For parents, that means that your kid can't floss in Fortnite on a Chromebook. Still, we've collected the best Android games that run on Chromebooks, so you can get a little gaming done on Chrome OS.
For a budget Chromebook, the Samsung Chromebook 4's longevity, keyboard and performance make it a decent option. If only its display weren't so poor, offering barely any brightness and little color.
If you want a system with a better screen that still has decent battery life and solid performance, the Lenovo Chromebook C330 is right for you. Yes, it costs $50 more, but it's also got a touch screen, which the Samsung Chromebook desperately needs. But if you want a Chromebook just for Google Docs and basic web browsing, the Samsung Chromebook 4 is worth a look.