Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Review

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook is in a class of its own. Forget it’s a Chromebook — you won’t find another laptop that’s so thin and performs so well, no matter what OS it’s running. Add a 13.3-inch, 4K AMOLED display, and it’s simple to see why the Galaxy Chromebook is a groundbreaking machine, not just for Chrome OS, but for the industry as a whole. The bright and saturated AMOLED panel makes billing a reality. Only the Galaxy Chromebook’s beautiful metallic red chassis can stand up to one of the best laptops we’ve ever tested. This is our Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Review.

But while the Galaxy Chromebook may have the best portable laptop design and display, the disappointing battery life is the end of the party. There’s also the issue of value. Yes, the $999 Galaxy Chromebook has much to offer, but it’s overkill for most users of Chrome OS. For those reasons, the Galaxy Chromebook is too short to be one of the best Chromebooks you can buy.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Review: Design

The Galaxy Chromebook has a beautiful and bold design that perfectly complements the AMOLED display. This is the thinnest Chromebook ever, only 0.4 inches thick, but if the slim frame doesn’t stand out, the laptop’s Fiesta Red finish will. The metal scarlet finish pops out in a way I’ve never seen before on an aluminum device. It’s a bold design that wouldn’t have looked well if Samsung hadn’t spread the beautiful shadow all over the laptop — the touchpad, keyboard, and even the hinges bleed the fiery hue.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Review

I’m also a big fan of the laptop’s chrome edges, which contrast nicely with the beautiful ruby hue. Samsung also sells the Chromebook in a Mercury Gray color variant, but believe us; you want the red. The design is not only beautiful but also practical. On the deck, there is a fingerprint sensor where you usually find an on/off button (which is located on the right side) next to a world camera. Samsung has found a way to store the included S Pen in a slot (or stylus garage) on the right side.

Samsung sweated the details. The Chromebook has a notch on the front lip to open the lid, and the webcam is located on the thin edge above the screen. I also like how the arrow keys have shifted, making them easy to find by touch. As a 2-in-1 laptop, the Galaxy Chromebook utilizes its flexible hinges to convert into a tablet. You can also put it in tent mode to hide the keyboard when viewing content. The hinge rotates smoothly, but I’m worried about long-term stiffness.

The screen wobbled every time I adjusted the angle of the lid, and it moved out of position when I carried the Chromebook around. I wish the bottom of the screen were as thin as the others because the real edge-to-edge display on the XPS 13 2020 is a feast for the eyes. Ports are limited on the Galaxy Chromebook, but many laptops have done worse. On the left are a USB-C port and a headphone jack. On the right, you will find a second USB-C input and a microSD card slot.

Keyboard, TouchPad, and S-Pen

The illuminated keyboard on the Galaxy Chromebook reminds me of Apple’s almost extinct Butterfly keyboard. Stay here with me, because the Galaxy Chromebook’s low-profile keys are what Mac’s keys should have been, not what they turned out to be. Yes, the keys are very superficial, and they start to feel stiff during extended typing sessions, but those are mistakes I could look past thanks to their clicking feedback and large size. Unlike the 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro keyboard, I could feel the keys move up and down, and they didn’t fail to register.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Review

The 4.6 x 2.3-inches touchpad is quite smooth and responsive. The bright red surface responded to my erratic swipes, and I had no problem performing Chrome OS gestures, such as three-finger swipes to switch Chrome tabs and two-finger swipes to scroll.

There’s no excuse. Every 2-in-1 notebook should have built-in stylus storage. If Samsung can fit one into a 0.4-inch notebook, then any device with stylus support should take over. Here too, Samsung has thought carefully about the details. The rectangular S Pen fits in the slot in both directions, so you don’t have to mess with it. I also like the satisfying click you hear when the pen is placed. The S Pen itself is beautiful. I’m not an artist; however, the S Pen wasn’t responsible for an embarrassingly bad penguin drawing that I sketched using a built-in drawing program.

Although small and slim, I found the pen comfortable to hold, and the sensitive tip allowed me to change the line variation on the fly. If the advice is not to my liking, Samsung has included an extra package, along with a tool to turn it off.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Review: Display

The 13.3-inch, 4K (ultra-HD) AMOLED display on the Galaxy Chromebook is not only the best panel on a Chromebook, but it’s also one of the best notebook screens ever. The screen is bright, vibrant, and detailed – qualities that will enhance your Netflix binging or web browsing. The 4K nature videos on YouTube that I’ve seen countless times have been given a new life when I played them on Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook.

I was able to see the most delicate details, like little water droplets sitting on top of the nose of a turquoise and green snake. Each strand of woolly hair on a slow-moving sloth was razor-sharply focused. A sunset scene revealed perfect black levels in stark contrast to a vibrant orange sky. I can’t exaggerate the beauty of this panel — imagine a Galaxy smartphone expanding to 13-inches. Unfortunately, I found a strange bug while running YouTube that caused the color saturation to shift drastically when scrolling.

I first noticed watching a Conan video when the comedian’s rosy face turned to a spooky grey. The dull colors remained when I stopped scrolling down. Rich AMOLED tones only returned when I returned to the top of the page. I had the same problem in full screen and theater mode. The color shift problem didn’t occur in any other app or web page I visited so that YouTube might be the error. I contacted Samsung to find out.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Review

The touch screen of the Galaxy Chromebook responds quickly. I tapped my way through several Chrome web pages without any problems. I hate to use the on-screen keyboard, but it worked as advertised on the Galaxy Chromebook. According to our colorimeter, the Galaxy Chromebook’s screen covers 224% of the sRGB color gamut, making it the fifth most colorful panel we’ve ever tested. It is much livelier than the PixelBook Go (108%), the HP Spectre x360 13 (109%), the Chromebook Flip C434 (286 nits), and the average premium laptop (125%).

Samsung’s panel is also becoming very bright, although the competing laptops are getting into a fight. With 357 nits average brightness, the Galaxy Chromebook’s screen is a bit dimmer than the PixelBook Go (368 nits), the HP Spectre x360 13 (369 nits) and the category average (362 nits). On the other hand, it is much brighter than the Asus Chromebook Flip C434 (286 nits).

Audio

I was quite surprised by the clarity of the speakers in this little notebook. Uniquely placed on the sides of the laptop, the double speakers played Phoebe Bridgers “Garden Song” loud enough to fill a small room and even cover the racket of the nearby garden work. The Bridgers’ smooth, delicate vocals sounded clear and distortion-free at maximum volume. The size limitations became a problem when I listened to Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day.” Again the vocals and treble sounded clear, but the drums had no punch, and the cymbal collisions clouded the midrange.

Chrome OS

Chromebooks are still only popular among students and children; however, the market is expanding upwards. Premium Chromebooks are becoming more regular, although few are as expensive and high quality as Samsung‘s latest efforts. The only competitors in this field are the outdated Pixelbook and the less expensive Pixelbook Go. We expect to see more premium Chromebooks in this market as Chrome OS gains popularity, and new productivity features are added. The most notable change in Chrome OS in recent years has been the addition of Android apps so that people can download mobile apps onto their laptops.

Some apps are still not quite optimized, even after three years. For example, the Slack app is slow compared to the Windows 10 version. Also, many made-for-mobile games take up a fraction of the screen. Even the popular game Heads Up! is not optimized for large screens and presents itself on the Galaxy Chromebook as a YouTube video recorded in portrait mode. Despite those obstacles, Chrome OS has come a long way from being a desktop operating system focused on a browser to a real Windows 10 and macOS competitor.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Review: Performance

Armed with an Intel’s Core i5-10210U CPU and 8GB of RAM, the Galaxy Chromebook is the fastest Chromebook in town. Yes, those specifications are overkill for most Chrome OS users, but I’m not going to complain about excess power. Especially after I’ve loaded 20 Chrome tabs, four of which played 1080p YouTube videos, without any problems. Determined to find the breaking point, I then played a Twitch and Mixer stream and set Google Play Music on fire. Eventually, the Galaxy Chromebook started nodding; animations became slow, and some apps took a fraction longer to open.

The Galaxy Chromebook crushed our reference tests thanks to the 10th generation U-Series chip. It scored a 2,232 in the Geekbench 5 overall performance test, beating the Pixelbook Go (1,356, Core i5-8200Y). It couldn’t keep up with the HP Spectre x360 13 (4,074, Core i7-1065G7), but it crushed the Asus Chromebook Flip C434 (6,968, Core m3-8100Y) in the Geekbench 4 test with a score of 13,345.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Review

On the Jetstream 2.0 test, the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook scored a 91.9, passing the Google Pixelbook Go (85.9) and the Asus Chromebook Flip C434 (76.7).

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Review: Battery Life

Keep the charger close. The Galaxy Chromebook lasted just 5 hours and 56 minutes on our Laptop Mag battery test, surfing the web continuously over Wi-Fi at 150 nits. Realistically, you won’t limit that AMOLED display to just 150 nits, so expect real-world runtimes of about 3 to 4 hours (I average about 3.5 hours). We’re not surprised. Combine an energy-guzzling 4K screen with a small battery, and endurance will suffer. Still, Chromebooks are expected to last all day, and the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook didn’t come close to the Google PixelBook Go (11:29), the Spectre x360 13 (13:20), the Asus Chromebook Flip C434 (9:58) or even the Chromebook category average (8:45).

Heat

This is where placing a U Series processor in such a sleek chassis backfires. The bottom of the laptop was warmed up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit when we played a 15-minute video with a resolution of 1080p. Even the center of the keyboard, at 93 degrees, almost exceeded our comfort threshold of 95 degrees. Fortunately, the touchpad maintained a snug 87 degrees.

Price and Availability

The only Galaxy Chromebook configuration that is available today costs $999 and comes with a 13.3-inches, 4K (ultra-HD) AMOLED display, an Intel’s Core i5-10210U CPU, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD storage.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Review: Conclusion

There are things about the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook I can’t keep my head-on. It starts with the design. At 0.4-inches, the Galaxy Chromebook is one of the thinnest 13.3-inch laptops ever made. And yet it somehow houses a powerful U Series Comet Lake CPU, a stylus slot, and a world-focused camera. Add to that a 4K AMOLED screen and a beautiful fire-red aluminum chassis, and nothing beats this machine.

Reality drops as soon as you disconnect the Galaxy Chromebook from the charger. The gloomy battery life of fewer than 6 hours undermines the benefits of the Galaxy Chromebook’s ultra-portable design. Of course, the way to improve battery life is to replace the 4K AMOLED display, but that’s an unacceptable concession once you’ve seen it in person.

If you don’t release the Galaxy Chromebook for an extended period, there is no better Chromebook. However, if you travel frequently or just don’t like being plugged into a wall outlet, save some money and get Google’s PixelBook Go instead. In the end, I want Samsung to make a Windows 10 version of the Galaxy Chromebook anyway because it’s just one mistake away from the best laptop on the market.

7.5 Total Score
Our Verdict

With a 4K AMOLED display and a wafer-thin chassis, the Galaxy Chromebook is in a class of its own. However, the battery life isn't the best you get.

PROS
  • Breathtaking 4K OLED display
  • Razor-thin chassis
  • Stunning red aluminum design
  • Fast performance
  • Built-in S Pen
CONS
  • Dismal battery life
  • Weak hinges
  • Runs warm
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Compsmag Canada