Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (15-inch) review: OLED disappointment?

samsung galaxy book pro 360 review 04

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360

“The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 comes close to greatness, but falls short in some key areas.”

  • OLED screen is vivid
  • Good performance
  • Excellent battery life
  • Surprisingly thin and light
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Lovely S Pen integration
  • Mediocre build quality
  • Restricted to 1080p
  • Big bezels, 16:9 aspect ratio

Samsung has been gearing up for this moment for years. It’s finally taking its Windows laptops seriously, and the Galaxy Book Pro 360 is the crowning achievement of that evolution, ripe for a spot among the best laptops you can buy. At least, that’s the plan.

It has an AMOLED screen, works hand in hand with your Galaxy phone, and it’s as thin a laptop as you’ll ever use.

But is it a laptop you should go out and buy? I checked out the 15-inch model, which comes with an Intel 11th-gen Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD, but you won’t get a discrete graphics card or a 4K screen. Galaxy phone fans will find plenty to like here, but the 15-inch model still lags behind the competition in a couple of key areas.

Video review

Jump to: Design | Display | Ports | Keyboard and touchpad | Webcam and speakers | Performance | Battery life | Our take

Design

The Samsung Galaxy Book comes in a few different flavors: The entry-level Galaxy Book, the Galaxy Book Pro, and the Galaxy Book Pro 360. The model I reviewed might be the most niche of all — the 15-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360, the convertible 2-in-1 laptop in the lineup. It’s just over three pounds, so you won’t be using it as a true tablet anytime soon.

The 13-inch model is likely more fitting for tablet use, but the real draw of these convertibles is the S-Pen. It’s the same thing that attracts people to the Galaxy Note smartphones, and it’s an important part of the Galaxy brand DNA. Older Galaxy laptops included smartphone-sized S-Pen that could be housed within the chassis. It ensured you never lost the tiny stylus, but it didn’t make for the most comfortable inking experience.

The new S-Pen is larger and feels much more like a proper writing implement for this size of device. It’s not as hefty as the Surface Pen or Apple Pencil, but it felt very natural for tasks like note-taking, illustration, and even navigation. The S-Pen is powered via a AAA battery, and can magnetize to the lid.

As for the device itself, it’s a fairly premium-looking laptop, made of a mix of aluminum alloy in some parts and plastic in others (such as the bottom panel). My review unit was the Mystic Bronze color, which is a subtle mix between gold and silver. It’s non-offensive if not a bit boring. The Mystic Navy color is a bolder color option.

Once you pick up the Galaxy Book Pro 360 and start maneuvering it, you may notice it’s not quite as well-constructed as it looks. There’s nothing egregious here, but there’s some flex in the keyboard deck, especially toward the center. The lid feels nice and firm, though there’s a weak point in the middle of the bottom bezel, in-between the two hinges. There are also spots along the sidewalls where it creaks if you give it a press.

There have been some compromises in build quality to get this light.

I also felt that the hinge was too loose for my preference. Many convertibles have an overly heavy screen, resulting in a strangely balanced device to use. The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 has those same problems. It opens with one finger, but it shuts on its own once it gets around 75% closed and wobbles too much. That can make using the touchscreen awkward, as you never when you might accidentally push the screen down.

All of this is fairly common in midrange Windows laptops, but the price of the Galaxy Book Pro 360 puts it a bit out of this category. Obviously, Samsung was interested in making the device as thin and light as possible, but there’s been some compromise in build quality. You can even click the touchpad by lifting the laptop and pressing on both sides of the palm rests. Not a great look.

Display

The screen is the most important feature of the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360. It’s not the first laptop to include an OLED screen, but there are a couple of special things to notice about its implementation.

Most importantly, it’s exclusively 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080). Even the 15-inch model doesn’t offer a high-resolution screen, which is unusual for a few reasons. The Asus ZenBook 13 OLED is the only other 1080p OLED laptop you can buy. You’d think Samsung would want to hype up the image quality of its OLED screen, but i’s hard to get excited about a 15-inch 1080p display, regardless of what kind of display technology is powering it.

The benefits of using 1080p are twofold: Price and battery life. This is going to be a cheaper entry into OLED, as it avoids expensive 4K panels. The laptop also gets phenomenal battery life, which is shown in the results from my testing (see below).

I often found myself squinting and wishing it was a crisper screen.

Losing sharpness is the obvious downside to sticking with 1080p. I’ll admit it’s been a while since I’ve spent a long period of time on a 15-inch 1080p screen, but it’s an eyesore. As someone who stares at small black text on white backgrounds every day, the difference in resolution is noticeable. I don’t know if the OLED is somehow making it worse, but I found myself squinting and often wishing I was working on a crisper screen. There’s a reason both the Surface Laptop 4 and LG Gram 16 come with a higher-resolution screen by default.

On a 13-inch display, I really don’t think it’s a problem. But on a 15-inch, it’s a buzzkill for what is supposed to be this laptop’s most impressive feature. If you set this next to the 15-inch Surface Laptop 4 and ask me which device I’d rather work on, there’s no question in my mind I’d pick the Surface, LED screen and all.

Still, you won’t be noticing that quite as much looking at images or videos. It’s where OLED truly flexes. I won’t rehash the whole argument, but OLED image quality is far superior to standard LED on a technical level. The individually lit pixels produce incredible contrast, and even just the viewing angles are an improvement.

As advertised, the color coverage is nearly perfect. It’s 100% across the board in both sRGB and AdobeRGB. That’s rare in general, but it’s extremely rare on a 1080p screen. The gamma, though, was slightly off, which isn’t great for watching movies — and I really noticed just how oversaturated the colors appeared. Samsung has said the Galaxy Book Pro 360 is designed for entertainment. It’s the reason the company stuck with 16:9, and I’m assuming it’s a big part of why it went with OLED to begin with.

People certainly use their laptops for entertainment, but a larger percentage of time is spent on work. And for that, a 16:10 or 3:2 display would have been a better choice. The increased vertical screen real estate could’ve also helped cut down on that thick bottom bezel. I had a similar complaint about the Galaxy Book Flex, but the effect isn’t felt as much on a 15-inch screen.

The brightness of the screen was a bit underwhelming.

When switching between work and play, Samsung offers other color modes in the settings, each of which improved the gamma and provided more natural-looking colors. They are subtle changes, but I’d suggest you stick with the default for doing your photo edits and switch to the AdobeRGB mode for watching videos.

These additional color modes didn’t solve the problem of the brightness, though. I tested the screen at a max of just 285 nits, which is a bit underwhelming. It’s a fairly glossy screen, too, and combined with the solid black produced by the OLED screen, you’ll be battling reflections from time to time.

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 does support HDR500, meaning you’re promised at least 500 nits of brightness. But as we all know, Windows 10 still doesn’t exactly play nice with HDR. It looks awful unless you’re watching HDR content, meaning you’ll need to toggle on the setting when you’re ready to watch.

Ports

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 includes a limited amount of ports. Along the sidewalls are two Thunderbolt 4 ports, two standard USB-C ports, a Micro SD card slot, and a headphone jack.

That’s become fairly standard in the world of premium laptops, but when you see what Samsung has done with the clamshell Galaxy Book Pro, you’ll be jealous. It includes legacy ports such as USB-A and HDMI, despite being even thinner than the Galaxy Book Pro 360. It makes you wonder why Samsung couldn’t have included those same options in the convertible model.

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 includes Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1 A 5G model will eventually be available, but only in the 13-inch screen size.

Keyboard and touchpad

I’ve really enjoyed my time with this keyboard, which features springy scissor switches and 1mm of travel. The 15-inch model includes a number pad off to the right, below the power button, and a built-in fingerprint reader. I’m not someone who finds much use in having a number pad, but it’s not much of a distraction and some people will assuredly appreciate the addition.

The keys feature bright white backlighting that looks pleasant and offers three levels of brightness control.

The touchpad is also of high quality. It tracks well, registers multi-finger gestures without issue, though it has a few oddities that are rife for nitpicking. First off, it’s nice and wide, which is not something I would ever complain about. That is, unless the palm rejection isn’t absolutely perfect. The size of the touchpad means your thumbs will be resting on the edges of the touchpad while typing, and it often resulted in accidental clicks or movements of the cursor.

This touchpad is also quite loud. Working in a quiet room with others, I found myself not wanting to click. Compared to the quiet touchpad of the Surface Laptop 4 or the silent, nonmechanical click of the MacBook Pro, the Galaxy Book Pro 360’s is irritatingly loud.

Webcam and speakers

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 includes a basic 720p webcam, which is a disappointment. It’s still the standard resolution, but some manufactures have begun to finally move to 1080p. Given how much we all rely on our webcams these days, a higher-resolution camera has become an important selling point on some laptops.

One feature that’s missing, is an IR camera. That means no Windows Hello facial recognition, which has become standard in higher-end Windows laptops. It’s a convenient feature that Samsung should not have left off.

The speakers included in the Galaxy Book 360 are decent. They’ll get you by for watching YouTube videos or some background music. They are faced downward, though, meaning the sound is muffled when using the device as a standard laptop. It improves when you flip it into tent mode. Even still, these speakers aren’t loud enough to fill a room. They aren’t even loud or full enough if you’re sitting further back, like when you’re watching a movie with another person.

Performance

The 15-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360 comes with just one processor option: The Intel Core i7-1165G7. It’s usually reserved for 13-inch laptops, but it occasionally pops up in ultrathin 15-inch laptops such as the LG Gram or Surface Laptop 4. The Galaxy Book Pro 360 fits into that same category, meaning you shouldn’t expect it to compete against a fully configured Dell XPS 15 or MacBook Pro 16-inch. This is a 28-watt processor with just four cores and eight threads. And rather than a discrete graphics card, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 relies on just Intel’s Xe integrated graphics.

But I was surprised by how much juice Samsung squeezed out of its components. The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 was one of the best-scoring devices in its class in PCMark 10. It was particularly ahead of the game in the “Essentials” category of tests, which benchmarks basic work functionality such as videoconferencing, web browsing, and word processing.

It still trailed behind the newer Ryzen 5000 laptops, such as the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED, but for a quad-core processor, I was impressed.

Cinebench R23 (single/multi) Geekbench 5 (single/multi) PCMark 10 3DMark Time Spy
Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 1308 / 4062 1554 / 5603 5159 1800
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 1137 / 5881 1016 / 6658 4849 1177
LG Gram 16 1394 / 4137 1573 / 5454 4827 1390
Asus ZenBook 13 OLED 1171 / 7824 19175 6034 1342

I was also surprised by the graphics performance. I’ve tested countless laptops with the Intel Xe graphics, and the Galaxy Book Pro 360 outperforms them all. They are even pretty far ahead of the Radeon graphics I’ve tested in the Ryzen 5000 processors. For example, the graphics here are 35% faster than the Ryzen 4000 integrated graphics in the Surface Laptop 4 that I recently reviewed.

That doesn’t turn the Galaxy Book Pro 360 into a gaming laptop by any means. It struggled with Fortnite, the one game I tested on it. At Medium settings, the game averaged around 50 frames per second(fps), but the frame rate varied wildly and left the game feeling choppy. Lighter indie games should play fine, as should 3D games that don’t require too much graphical horsepower.

The improved graphics do help the Galaxy Book Pro 360 perform well in video editing. I use PugetBench to test Adobe Premiere Pro performance — which covers 4K video playback and exporting, plus more– and I was surprised at how well this thin little laptop actually did. Despite having fewer processing cores, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 was actually 32% better than the Surface Laptop 4 at this same test. The GPU score actually even slightly beat out the M1 MacBook Pro.

Now, don’t get your hopes up. Even the fanless M1 MacBook Air, a cheaper and smaller laptop, was overall 25% faster at video editing in this benchmark. The discrepancy between Windows laptops and the M1 MacBooks is still a problem that the Galaxy Book Pro 360 isn’t really equipped to tackle on its own.

Fan noise wasn’t too big of an issue, and neither were surface temperatures. Again, it’s a benefit of using a low-wattage processor in a large chassis. The Galaxy Book Pro 360 did push internal temperatures pretty high, however, hovering around 94 degrees Celsius in runs of 3DMark Time Spy.

Battery life

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 has excellent battery life. The combination of a large 64 watt-hour battery, a lower-wattage processor, and a 1080p screen is a recipe for all-day battery life on a single charge.

It lasted 13 hours and 14 minutes in our light web-browsing test, which uses the iMacros plug-in to cycle through a series of websites on repeat until the battery dies. Your daily workload is likely heavier than that, but I didn’t have a problem getting through a full day of web apps, browsing, music streaming, and Office apps away from an outlet.

In an even lighter load, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 can last closer to its claimed 21 hours. The system lasted 17-and-a-half hours on local video playback, which loops a 1080p movie trailer until the battery dies.

Both the Surface Laptop 4 and LG Gram 16 lasted slightly longer, but all three devices are battery life champions.

Our take

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 doesn’t quite feel like the apex of design Samsung wanted it to be. The build quality is shaky, and the screen disappoints. The 13-inch clamshell Galaxy Book Pro, however, is much more appealing to me than the 15-inch. It has better port selection, is lighter, and the 1080p resolution bothers me less.

Are there any alternatives?

The Surface Laptop 4 is one of this laptop’s biggest rivals. It has a 3:2, higher-resolution screen, but it’s not a convertible. The LG Gram 16 fits into a similar class of laptop. It has a 16:10 display but is also a standard clamshell.

The HP Spectre x360 15 is a 15-inch convertible that offers a touchscreen and stylus support. Both it and the Dell XPS 15 offer a slim chassis, though they’re not quite as small as the Galaxy Book Pro 360. These slightly larger laptops, however, can be configured with more powerful components, including 45-watt processors and discrete GPUs.

How long will it last?

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 should last you at least five years. It has the latest components under the hood, as well as future-proofed ports. The build quality isn’t the best, however, which means it could get dinged up and damaged over the years.

Samsung offers a standard one-year warranty. You can also add a two-year or three-year advanced warranty through Samsung Care+, which costs up to $350 extra.

Should you buy it?

It’s a good option for those in the Galaxy ecosystem, especially if using the S-Pen on a larger screen is an attractive proposition to you. The 13-inch model is likely the better option for most people, however.

Editors’ Recommendations






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