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Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro (13.3-inch) long-term review: Knight in shining armour

The most underrated laptop of 2022.

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Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro (13.3-inch) long-term review: Knight in shining armour
The 13.3-inch i5 variant of the Galaxy Book 2 Pro is currently selling for Rs 98,990. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Did you know that Samsung also makes laptops? The answer could be a yes or no depending on where you’re stationed (also on how tech-savvy you are) and if you’re in India, there’s an off chance that question might –even—surprise you. Make you go like: wait, what? But Samsung has been making laptops since the 90s, at least, and apparently, they’ve been selling like hot cakes, too (multiple reports online peg that it went from selling 100,000 laptops in the 90s to a whopping 10 million by 2010).

Samsung launched its first proper laptop portfolio in India only in 2022 though. This portfolio was big and mighty impressive spanning multiple price points from entry-level models like the Galaxy Book Go to high-end 2-in-1s like the Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360. The Galaxy Book 2 Pro was sort of like the middle child trying to offer the best of power and portability in a sleek and premium-looking package.

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But the real kicker for buyers was this— it was a “pro” ultraportable, like say the Dell XPS and HP Spectre, at a not-so-pro pricing.

Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro review
Content consumption is an absolute joy on the Galaxy Book 2 Pro screen. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Now, 2022 was a good year for laptops. We reviewed a few of them. But regardless of everything we liked and experienced, if there was one laptop that we kept coming back to over and over again, it was the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro. After having used it extensively for over 6 months, we have come to the conclusion that the Galaxy Book 2 Pro was the most underrated laptop of 2022.

As Samsung gears to launch a follow-up in the coming days, we though that it was only befitting to revisit the Galaxy Book 2 Pro one more time and give you a bit of hands-on overview of it to see what ticks and what doesn’t. But even more importantly, we’ll tell you why we just couldn’t get enough of this laptop.

The Galaxy Book 2 Pro is available in two screen sizes: 13.3- and 15.6-inch. The biggest draw is the form factor. The 15.6-inch model is only 11.7mm and weighs only 1.11kg. The 13.3-inch model— the version that we’re using— is even slimmer and lighter at 11.2mm and 0.87kg. The new MacBook Air, for reference, weighs about 1.24kg and measures 11.3mm. The Dell XPS 13 is about 1.17g and 13.99mm.

We can keep adding more laptops to this list and some –like the LG Gram — may even be slimmer and lighter, but, the Galaxy Book 2 Pro is hands-down one of the most compact machines in the market and even if Samsung were to— somehow— make the next Galaxy Book Pro even thinner, this one would still be somewhere on the top of that list. But that’s not really the Galaxy Book 2 Pro’s biggest USP, we believe.

Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro review
The laptop has a premium design. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

That would be the build quality. Despite its paper-thin profile, the laptop screams “high-quality” from every perceivable angle. Of course, the build materials have a lot to do with this— this is metal mostly— but Samsung’s craftsmanship also deserves credit here. The laptop seems cut from the same cloth as its high-end Galaxy S phones. You can get the 13.3-inch model in silver and graphite. The 15.6-inch model is also available in an “exclusive” burgundy.

We have been using the silver variant. But only half of it silver really. That would be the lid. The keyboard deck and bottom are all white. The obvious question would be, does it pick up dirt and fingerprints? Samsung doesn’t explicitly mention any protection layer but we can attest that the Galaxy Book 2 Pro –in silver— is very resistant to smudging and even if you do get it dirty someh0w, you can easily wipe it clean with a wet cloth (unless you’ve made a god forsaken mess).

The Galaxy Book 2 Pro, overall, has a very clean, minimal and premium design. It looks very, very nice. We can’t tell you how many people have come up to us and told us that. And the fact that you can carry it around so effortlessly— in hand, inside a backpack, you name it— makes it even more desirable.

Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro review
Port selection is generous. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Those sharp dimensions don’t come at the expense of basic compromises either. The keyboard is nice and spacious. The keys can be a bit flat— understandably— but they are not too cramped either. There can be a slight learning curve to typing on this laptop, initially, but you get past that fairly quickly in our experience. The trackpad is made of glass and is quite big, too, considering the package. The 15.6-inch version naturally gives you more room and so Samsung has been able to fit a dedicated 3-row numeric pad and a slightly bigger trackpad. Regardless of the variant, all the keys are backlit and there’s also a fingerprint scanner for biometric authentication.

Both the 13.3- and 15.6-inch models have the same 1080p AMOLED panel with 16:9 aspect ratio. Content consumption is an absolute joy on this screen. The top and side bezels are fairly slim but there is a bit of chin which we feel could have been used better to give a taller aspect ratio. You get a decent 1080p webcam in this laptop and Samsung gives you plenty of options in software to add filters/background blur as well as framing during video calls.

While we’re on that subject, the Galaxy Book 2 Pro is a no-brainer if you own a Samsung phone or tablet. Like Apple, Samsung has put deep hardware-software integration into this laptop to give its Galaxy phone/tablet users more functionality— and value— whether it be by letting them use a Galaxy Tab S8 as a second display (sort of like Apple’s Sidecar) or sync their phone calls, messages, and photo/video gallery seamlessly across the two. To that effect, the Galaxy Book 2 Pro ships with multiple Samsung mobile apps. For non-Samsung users, this would mostly be bloatware.

Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro review
The keyboard is nice and spacious. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The Galaxy Book 2 Pro is available in a choice of two core configurations— 12th Gen Core i5 1240P or i7 1260P. This is mated to Intel Iris Xe graphics (the 15.6-inch version is also available with Intel Arc), 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and 512GB of NVMe SSD. Moreover, the Galaxy Book 2 Pro also meets Intel’s Evo standards which is to say it’s designed keeping certain parametres in mind including fast boot up and good battery life.

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From the get-go, this is a fast computer. Like the XPS, Samsung has put sensors that automatically turn the machine on when you open the lid (and put it to sleep when you close it)— you don’t need to press the power button, that’s mostly for biometrics. This is an ultraportable which is to say, it’s designed for work— word/excel/light photo-editing kind— and entertainment. Within those confines, the Galaxy Book 2 Pro works surprisingly well. The only times it got warm and loud was when we were pushing it to run benchmarks. Generally, this is a calm and cool laptop, which is difficult to tell by just looking at it.

Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro review
The Galaxy Book 2 Pro is a home run. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Battery life is great. This laptop will easily last a full work-day for even the most demanding users. Samsung ships a 65W USB Type-C adapter with it, which looks more like a phone charger than a laptop charger though it can be a bit wide and take up some space on standard wall switches.

Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro | Should you buy it?

The Galaxy Book 2 Pro is a premium thin and light laptop with barely any major compromise to its name. It is a home run in many ways even more so in India, where a Samsung laptop has been a long time coming.

The 13.3-inch i5 variant is currently selling for Rs 98,990 while its i7 version is available for Rs 1,09,990. The 15.6-inch i7 variant is meanwhile selling for Rs 1,19,990. With everything that Samsung has put inside this laptop and then packaged it the way that it has, we have absolutely no doubt in calling the Galaxy Book 2 Pro real good value for money, one that should make legacy brands like Dell and HP very nervous.

PROS CONS
Premium, lightweight design Webcam could be better
Fantastic display Some bloatware
Fast performance Speakers could be better
Integration with Samsung phones/tablets
Great battery life

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First published on: 18-01-2023 at 20:45 IST