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Samsung Galaxy Chromebook hands-on review: The world's first OLED Chromebook

At CES 2020, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Chromebook, the world's first Chromebook with a 4K AMOLED display.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

From the OLED display to the razor-thin chassis, Samsung's Galaxy Chromebook sets a new standard for Chrome OS laptops.

For

  • Stunning 4K AMOLED display
  • World's thinnest Chromebook
  • 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs
  • Eye-catching red chassis

Against

  • Battery life is unknown
  • Pricey

 Samsung just unveiled the Galaxy Chromebook, a boundary-breaking 2-in-1 laptop that could turn out to be a pivotal device for Chrome OS. Announced at CES 2020, the Galaxy Chromebook is the first Chromebook with a 4K AMOLED display. 

But that stunning panel isn't the only standard feature of the Galaxy Chromebook. The 2-in-1 laptop is also the first Chromebook with Intel's latest 10th Gen processors and it's the thinnest Chromebook ever, at just 0.4 inches thick. 

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook

(Image credit: Future)

I went hands-on with the Galaxy Chromebook and was blown away by its display, design and impressive specs. If battery life holds up, the Galaxy Chromebook should make the Pixelbook obsolete when it launches later this year. 

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook price and availability 

The Galaxy Chromebook will ship in the first quarter of 2020 at a starting price of $999. That model will come with 8GB of RAM. There will also be a pricier 16GB version.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook design

The Galaxy Chromebook's bold, innovative design is the perfect companion to its gorgeous display. 

The Galaxy Chromebook is the thinnest Chromebook ever, at just 0.4 inches thick. If its thin, lightweight (2.3 pounds) frame doesn't catch your eye, the laptop's Fiesta Red finish will. Samsung will also sell the Galaxy Chromebook in a sleek, but comparatively boring Mercury Gray color variant, but do yourself a favor and get the red. 

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook

(Image credit: Future)

I was really impressed by the look and feel of the Galaxy Chromebook. The scarlet hue stands out and the aluminum frame is ridiculously thin yet feels plenty sturdy. I like how Samsung continued the red not just on the lid and base of the laptop but also across its keys and touchpad. 

The Galaxy Chromebook's lid is simple, featuring only an offset Chrome Samsung logo. Open the laptop and you'll notice a couple of interesting features (if you can take your eyes off the display for a second). The first is a second camera on the base, just above the keyboard. This "world-facing" camera is meant for developers who want to create AR apps, or students who need to quickly take pictures of notes on a whiteboard. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

I also applaud the Galaxy Chromebook's thin bezels (0.2 inches), which drew my eyes toward the highlight of this machine: that gorgeous display.   

As a 2-in-1, the Galaxy Chromebook can transform from a clamshell laptop into a tablet. It supports stylus input and even has a slot that you can slide the pen into when you're done using it.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook ports

You'll probably need a dongle or two in order to connect peripherals to the Galaxy Chromebook. We can't fault the laptop for having only two USB-C ports, a headphone jack and a microSD card slot, given how thin it is.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook display

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook

(Image credit: Future)

Chromebooks have evolved beyond the budget device bin with plastic materials and small, dim displays. In recent years, we've seen Chromebooks with 4K displays and aluminum chassis. Now Samsung is taking it a step further by bringing AMOLED, the technology used on premium smartphones to the Galaxy Chromebook. 

I tried not be rude, but I couldn't take my eyes off the Galaxy Chromebook's 13.3-inch, 4K AMOLED display as a Samsung rep briefed a room of journalists on the laptop. The device was playing a high-res wildlife video and I could see the smallest details from across the room, like scales on a lizard or a bee hiding in the seeds of a sunflower. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The crisp image came to life thanks to Samsung's own AMOLED display technology. If you've owned a phone with an AMOLED display then you have an idea of its beauty. Colors burst off the panel; plant leaves were a deep, rich green and the various colors of a chameleon looked as if they had been painted on. The screen is HDR 400 certified, which means it reaches at least 400 nits of brightness. 

I could have stared at the display all night if given the chance. It was just that gorgeous. In fact, the feeling of look at the Galaxy Chromebook's panel reminded me of the excitement I felt watching a movie on my first 4K TV for the first time.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook keyboard 

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Chromebook's keyboard is nothing to write home about, but it's not terrible when you consider how little room Samsung has to work with. I can tell you that it's more comfortable than Apple's Butterfly keyboard because you can feel a bit of travel as you depress the keys. The backlit keys are also clicky and there is a satisfying weight to them.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook specs

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung somehow found a way to fit a U-series processor into this razor-thin chassis. That's right, the Galaxy Chromebook packs Intel's 10th Gen U-series Comet Lake processors, so expect this laptop to punch way above its weight class. 

Digging into the specs, the Galaxy Chromebook comes with an Intel Core i5-10210U CPU, either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and up to a 1TB SSD. Chrome OS should fly with that much torque behind it, and you won't have any problems running Android apps

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook battery life

Samsung didn't provide any battery life estimations, only stating that the Galaxy Chromebook has a 49Wh battery. Chromebooks typically have excellent endurance but this is the first with a power-sucking 4K AMOLED display. I'm hoping for close to 10 hours on a charge but would be OK with anything over eight. 

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook outlook

I was among the many doubters who rolled my eyes at Google when it released the $999 Pixelbook a few years back. Now here I am, more hyped than I've ever been about a Chromebook and wishing I was in the market for a laptop so I can plop a grand down on the Galaxy Chromebook. Of course, that 4K AMOLED display has me worried about battery life, which is typically one of the best reasons to buy a Chromebook.

Regardless, the Galaxy Chromebook won me over, and now I'm as giddy as a kid on Christmas Eve to get my hands on a review unit. 

For more laptops, tablets and more, read our CES 2020 hub page.