Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 15.6in review: A true road warrior

This sleek ultraportable misses out on perfection, but makes a capable travelling companion

Price
£1,208 exc VAT
  • Almost unbelievably slim and light
  • Good range of ports and features
  • Outstanding display
  • Slightly underwhelming performance
  • No facial recognition
  • Minor trackpad issues

After a few years in the wilderness, Samsung has returned to the laptop category in force, launching a number of notebooks over the last 12 months that have demonstrated its skills with smart designs and powerful hardware. The latest in this range is the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro, which launched this year alongside the entry-level Galaxy Book and the convertible Galaxy Book Pro 360.

Boasting a razor-thin chassis and high-spec components, this ultraportable machine has its sights set squarely on the likes of the MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 15. It has a big hill to climb, though, and despite Samsung’s prowess in the mobile space, laptops are often a different beast entirely. 

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 15.6in review: Design

The days when opting for a larger screen meant sacrificing portability are long gone; the LG Gram 17 proved that you can fit a big display into a slim and light frame, and Samsung more than matches this with the Galaxy Book Pro. It’s incredibly petite considering the size, measuring just 13.3mm thick and weighing just 1.05kg. That’s less than the Gram 17 on both counts, and indeed less than almost any other laptop you’d care to name.

It comes in a colour scheme that Samsung calls ‘Mystic Silver’, which also includes a white keyboard surround. The design looks clean and professional enough, although as with all white laptops, we have concerns about how much of that pristine appearance will remain after a few months of regular use. The smaller 13in Galaxy Book Pro and the Galaxy Book Pro 360 both come in darker blue shades, and we’d have appreciated having the option here.

Still, it’s hard to argue with the stylish and understated appearance of this laptop, which is among the most boardroom-ready devices we’ve seen this year. The sharp lines and subtle accents come together to create a sumptuous effect that’s rather arresting.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 15.6in review: Display

One area where Samsung definitely hasn’t cut any corners is the screen. The company is known for its display technology for good reason and the 15.6in AMOLED panel is absolutely gorgeous to look at. It sensibly uses a 1080p resolution, rather than opting for an excessive and power-hungry 4K panel, but quality is nonetheless high.

This is borne out by its 100% coverage of the sRGB colour gamut and an outstanding Delta-E of 1.39 as measured by our calibrator. It also covered 114% of the DCI-P3 colour space and 111% of the Adobe RGB gamut, meaning it’s as well-suited to professional graphics work as it is to making web pages and videos look their best. As with Samsung’s smartphones, the AMOLED panel also results in effectively perfect contrast.

In short, the Galaxy Book Pro’s display is as sophisticated as you can get outside of an enterprise-grade mobile workstation. The only minor point against it is the maximum brightness of 308cd/m2, which is a bit on the dim side for brightly-lit or especially sunny conditions. There’s no touchscreen either, but both of these are easily-dismissed gripes when stacked up against the panel’s overall quality.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 15.6in review: Keyboard and trackpad 

The keyboard is similarly polished. The large keycaps are comfortable and accurate to type on, with firm actuation and crisp, pleasant feedback. There’s also multi-stage backlighting, a range of handy function keys for various operations, and even a full-sized numberpad. It’s easily the rival of most high-end ultraportables, although it still doesn’t quite match the ThinkPad or MacBook keyboards for sheer typing satisfaction.

The trackpad is nice and expansive too, measuring 160mm across the diagonal, and offering plenty of room for both navigation and multi-touch gestures. The smooth glass surface is silky-smooth to the touch, but one slight quirk we noticed was that when we had the device on our lap, in certain positions the pressure of our wrists on the keyboard surround had a tendency to accidentally activate the mouse buttons, leading to unexpected clicks. It’s not a huge issue, but you may find it a little frustrating until you get used to it.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 15.6in review: Specs and hardware

What you certainly won’t find frustrating, however, is the power on offer. Our Galaxy Book Pro review unit came with a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor and 16GB of RAM under the hood, and racked up a highly capable overall score of 100 in our benchmark tests. The 512GB NVMe SSD is speedy too, racking up scores of 2.2GB/sec for sequential reads and 1.6GB/sec in sequential writes in AS SSD’s storage tests.

While that’s not going to set any records as a powerhouse device, it’s certainly enough to cope with everything short of high-intensity specialised tasks, and it didn’t feel at all underpowered in practice.

With that having been said, better performance can be found for less money elsewhere. The Acer Swift 5, for example, comfortably sailed past the Galaxy Book Pro with a score of 122 despite being around £500 cheaper and using lower specs. A Core i5 version of the Galaxy Book Pro is available for those that want a more budget-friendly package, but beware the corresponding drop in performance.

This underwhelming result is likely down to the CPU being throttled as a result of poor thermal management. The laptop gets noticeably hot when under load, and while it does have a cooling fan built in, it’s clearly not large or powerful enough to prevent the Galaxy Book Pro from choking under serious strain.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 15.6in review: Battery life

Thankfully, things are a little more impressive when it comes to battery life. A score of 13hrs 55mins in our tests is up there with some of the best Windows laptops we’ve seen, and while it can’t match Apple’s M1-driven MacBooks or the outstanding 22hrs 6mins racked up by Asus’ ExpertBook B9450F, it should be more than enough to get through a full workday.

Even if it does run low, it’s not going to be a problem, as the USB-C charger has been radically redesigned. It’s much smaller, for starters, looking more like a smartphone plug than a traditional laptop power brick – perfect for taking on the go. It’s also got fast-charging, which offers a claimed eight hours of battery life after just 30 minutes plugged in.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 15.6in review: Ports and features

Most ultra-thin laptops have a tendency to skimp on all but the barest essentials when it comes to ports, but thankfully that’s not the case here. Not only has Samsung included two USB-C ports (one of which supports the newer Thunderbolt 4 specification), it also manages to pack in a full-size USB 3.2 port, a microSD card slot and even a HDMI output. 

Wireless connections are equally capable, with Bluetooth 5.1 and support for the latest Wi-Fi 6E standards. However, there’s no LTE option and although there is a fingerprint reader built into the power button for biometric authentication, the 720p webcam does not support facial login, which seems like an odd oversight.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 15.6in review: Verdict

When you’ve got a record as polished as Samsung’s, products come with certain expectations attached, and there’s certainly a lot to like about the Galaxy Book Pro. The display is characteristically breathtaking, the dimensions are fabulously slim and light, and there’s a surprisingly versatile range of features. 

There are some notable flaws, though. The performance is uninspiring, considering the price, and the trackpad niggles are a little off-putting. These shortcomings just barely keep the Galaxy Book Pro from an award, but although it’s not quite perfect, this laptop makes a worthy business companion – particularly for anyone who needs a device that’s as comfortable on the road as it is in the office.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 15.6in specifications

Processor

2.8GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor

RAM

16GB

Graphics adapter

Intel Iris Xe Graphics

Storage

512GB NVMe SSD

Screen size (in)

15.6in

Screen resolution

1920 x 1080

Screen type

AMOLED

Touchscreen

N/A

Memory card slot

MicroSD

3.5mm audio jack

Headphone/mic combo

Graphics outputs

1x HDMI, 1x Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-C

Other ports

1x USB 3.2

Web Cam

720p webcam

Speakers

2x 1.5W AKG stereo speakers

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi 6

Bluetooth

Bluetooth 5.1

NFC

N/A

Dimensions, mm (WDH)

355.4 x 225.8 x 11.7mm

Weight (kg) - with keyboard where applicable

1.05kg

Battery size (Wh)

68Whr

Operating system

Windows 10 Home

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