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Home / Reviews / Tablets & computers / Laptops / Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro hands-on review: screen dreams

Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro hands-on review: screen dreams

Premium portables promise power in clamshell and convertible forms

Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro 14 and 16 hands-on verdict

Samsung is getting serious about laptops this year. Rather than simply slap new hardware inside the same shells it used for the previous two generations of Galaxy Book, the new Galaxy Book 3 Pro line get all-new aluminium chassis, as well as top-tier displays influenced in part by the firm’s smartphone range.

Naturally Intel’s latest mobile silicon also makes the cut, which will help the 14in and 16in laptops take on the mighty MacBook Air. The 16in 2-in-1, meanwhile, has convertibles like the Lenovo Yoga 9i firmly in its sights.

We tried out all three ahead of their official unveiling at Samsung Unpacked 2023, to see if they deserve a spot in your laptop bag once they go on sale later in the year.

Design & build: heavy metal

Whether you go for one of the laptops or the convertible, all three machines are satisfyingly skinny. The 14in model is the baby of the bunch, measuring just over 11mm at its thickest point, and only weighing in at 1.17kg without the accompanying power brick. Which is barely larger than one you’d get with your smartphone, by the way, and powerful enough to juice any other Samsung gadget with a USB-C port at its maximum rate. The 2-in-1 tips the scales at 1.71kg, which isn’t so hefty it’ll stop you using it in tablet form.

Happily connectivity doesn’t take a hit in order to keep dimensions in check, with twin USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports, a single USB-A, microSD card slot and full-size HDMI output, plus a 3.5mm combi-jack.

All three models are milled from aluminium, and feel wonderfully premium. The sharp lines, rigid construction and minimal branding are all easy on the eye, and just what Samsung needs to rival Apple’s MacBook Air. We only saw the Graphite models during our hands-on, although certain territories will also have the option of a beige version.

Like most convertibles, the Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360’s rotating hinge lets you prop it up in tent mode for hands-free watching or presenting, as well as folded flat to use on the move. It’s sturdy enough to stay fixed at whatever angle you open it to, but not so stiff you need to brute force it closed.

Screen & sound: New year’s resolution

Laptops with AMOLED displays aren’t exactly a rarity any more, but Samsung has been relatively behind the times in leaving 1080p behind. While Acer, Asus and Lenovo all embraced 3K or higher resolutions last year, the second-gen Galaxy Book stuck with Full HD. That changes for 2023.

The Galaxy Book 3 Pro line-up get 2880×1800 resolution screens, which promise exceptional clarity. They also ditch the 16:9 aspect ratio in favour of the more productivity-friendly 16:10. The 11% extra vertical space is ideal for side-by-side documents, or fitting more of a web page onscreen before having to scroll.

As you’d expect from the tech, contrast is exceptional and black levels are pretty much flawless, giving jaw-dropping depth to images and videos. Colours are properly punchy, and the claimed 500 nit peak brightness should do justice to HDR content too. It certainly impressed during our short demo, with stellar viewing angles and sharply defined text.

They all have 120Hz refresh rates, which ensures motion is buttery smooth, and the Book 3 Pro 360 also adds stylus support to the mix, via Samsung’s S-Pen. There’s nowhere to stash it inside the machine, like there is on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but it was a delight to doodle with; touch response was basically instant, and the pressure sensitivity was spot on for delicate sketching.

We weren’t able to properly crank the Dolby Atmos-certified quad speakers (to avoid incurring the wrath of the assembled vloggers and YouTubers sharing our hands-on session), but even at lower volumes it’s clear the 16in machines probably have a slight edge. They’ll probably do just fine for streaming video or background music while working, but you do get a 3.5mm headphone port if you want personal listening the classic, cabled way.

Keyboard & touchpad: all the right buttons

All three Galaxy Book 3 Pro machines have full-size keyboards, with only the function and arrow keys shrunk to fit. The 16in versions also get numerical keypads, which could be handy for data entry. The white lettering on black keys is as easy to read during the day as it is at night, when the entire keyboard tray is LED backlit.

The island-style keys have a decent amount of travel, with fairly bouncy actions that meant we had no trouble typing at speed. Things are a little squishy in the middle of the keyboard tray on the 16in models (something we didn’t notice on the smaller 14in laptop) but we didn’t find it at all distracting during our demo session. The fingerprint sensor built into the power button in the top right corner is a nice touch, if a little too close to the backspace and delete keys on the 14in laptop for our liking.

Samsung has offset the touchpad slightly to the left side of the keyboard tray, but its sheer size makes up for any muscle memory you might have from using rival machines. It’s a single expansive pad, which was perfectly responsive to single finger clicks, as well as multi-finger taps and gestures.

Performance & software: Unlucky for some

Any laptop launching in 2023 worth its salt had better come with a 13th-gen Intel CPU, and the Galaxy Book 3 Pro is no different. All three models get a choice of Core i5 or Core i7 ‘P-class’ CPUs, which run at 28W and have a big performance advantage over the ‘U-class’ chips previously found in thin-and-lights. They come paired with up to 32GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage, if your wallet is large enough.

We had no complaints during our limited testing, where Windows 11 apps opened quickly and always felt responsive, even once we’d filled a browser window with tabs and set a few videos running in the background. Benchmark scores will have to wait, but we don’t doubt all three will make ideal work machines. Intel’s Iris Xe graphics should also be able to handle simpler games and esports titles at sensible detail settings, though we’ve yet to flex our Rocket League skills in order to test the theory.

If that’s not enough grunt, Samsung also has a more potent model in the works. The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra will arrive with either an Nvidia RTX 4050 or RTX 4070 discrete GPU, which will be far better suited to more demanding modern games, as well as graphically-intense jobs like 3D rendering and video editing. It’s clearly taking aim at the 16in MacBook Pro, but seeing how we weren’t even allowed to touch the demo unit and it won’t go on sale for another month, we’ll have to wait to find out if it can challenge Apple or not.

Intel’s latest gen CPUs are more power efficient than ever, so we’re promised battery life that will be more than sufficient for all-day working, even from the larger-screened models. We’ll have to wait until we get one in for review to put an exact figure on it.

Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro initial verdict: happy travels?

Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro 14 and 16 hands-on verdict

It wouldn’t be totally unfair to say last year’s Galaxy Book laptops were middle-of-the-road machines. They stuck to 1080p screens, while rivals were nudging closer to 4K, and had largely plastic builds to keep weight in check – something that didn’t gel with the premium prices. On first look, it seems the Galaxy Book 3 Pro series fixes all that.

All three models feel like quality machines thanks to an all-metal construction, and have gorgeous 16:10 AMOLED screens that keep pace with established rivals like Acer and Lenovo. Performance should be a given, too, thanks to the Intel internals.

The 14in model in particular feels like a perfect commuter companion, being small and light enough to sling in a bag, yet with enough power to get serious work done.