If you have got over Rs. 1 lakh to spend on a laptop, the Dell XPS becomes “THE” laptop to go for if you don’t want a MacBook. For years, the Dell XPS has set new standards for the premium laptop space, offering a supreme user experience that most of its rivals struggle to match. And then comes along Samsung with its Galaxy Book 2 Pro – a high-end Windows laptop that does the high-end stuff differently. And, it is refreshing enough to make Dell stand up and take notice.
Samsung might not be a familiar name in India in laptop showrooms but globally, your favourite foldable maker has been impressing the crowds with stellar Chromebooks and Windows machines. Now with its re-entry into our market, Samsung brings a whole range of stellar Windows laptops across prices. And the Galaxy Book 2 Pro is easily the best one in the lineup. Starting at Rs. 1,06,990, it seems like a bargain for what you get.
For this review, I have been using a 13.3-inch Galaxy Book 2 Pro with the 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, which will set you back by Rs. 1,14,990. Before you ask, you get the charger in the box.
Samsung does contemporary design well on its smartphones and tablets, and on its high-end laptop, it replicates the same. The Galaxy Book 2 Pro looks fairly normal for a laptop but those with an eye for details will appreciate its slim body and some classy lines. In fact, slim is theme here, with the lid and deck being as slim as the MacBook Air. It is not going to grab eyes like one of those over-the-top Asus ZenBook laptops but the understated looks will find takers. The display has some substantial bezels for a laptop of this class but Samsung’s clever design masks all of it nicely. And when you pick it up…
Oh boy! This is by far among the lightest laptops I have ever used. Featherweight would be an exaggeration but next to my MacBook Air, it feels like nothing else. At 870 grams, you can flick it around in ways you won’t do with a tablet! I can pick it up with just two fingers, carry it around my room, and slip it into my backpack. This is despite the lid being made of metal. And, it is not that the build quality suffers – this is a sturdy laptop by all means. And in this shade of silver and white combo, it looks handsome.
Before you start wondering, all the crucial I/O ports are here. A USB-C port for charging and data, another USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 specs, a USB-A 3.2 port, a regular HDMI port, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm audio jack is present – most rivals leave you with two USB-C ports only! Samsung is taking top points here.
Nobody does display better than Samsung and hence on its flagship laptop, you expect the best. On the Galaxy Book 2 Pro, you get that. This has a 13.3-inch Full HD AMOLED display in the 16:9 aspect ratio, and a refresh rate of 60Hz. I agree some of Asus’ high-end laptops are offering higher refresh rate OLED displays with much higher resolution but Samsung’s tuning of the display is superb. In the standard “Samsung AMOLED” setting, the Galaxy Book 2 Pro’s display looks vivid with adequate brightness levels, great contrasts, and lively colours. The auto brightness functionality is a boon and the “True Tone” like feature keeps adjusting colour tones to better suit the eyes. This also supports HDR content and on supported content, it looks great.
All the latest stuff in here! The Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro offers 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1260P processor paired to 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD storage. No dedicated GPU here but you have the capable Intel Iris Xe onboard graphics. It comes preloaded with Windows 11 out of the box, along with a few Samsung apps for customization and extra features.
Note that the Core i7 processor here is the midrange variant with 28W of power rating (the U series is for efficiency while H is for super high-performance machines). This is our first taste of the 12th processors and expectations have been at an all-time high, considering Intel’s promises of much better efficiency. The experience, however, hasn’t been near as much as the hype.
For regular tasks, the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro has more than enough horsepower to chug along without sweating. As expected from a Core i7 processor, the laptop can deal with generic office workloads with ease – workload in my case involves MS Word, WhatsApp Web app, and Google Chrome with 10-12 tabs running simultaneously for 11-12 hours at a stretch. However, the laptop would occasionally ease off and the effect is visible on the running apps (Word responds slowly at times and so does Chrome). After a while, I figured out that the battery saving measures are strong and hence, changing it to the “Performance” modes from Windows Settings helps speed up things. Still, the performance isn’t as consistently sprightly as I had hoped. This is an issue I observed on another 12th Gen Intel laptop. Maybe Windows 11 needs to be optimized better for these processors.
But despite the power saving measures taken as standard, I could only get up to 7 hours at a stretch from the 63Wh battery. This was with auto brightness on and constant connection to Wi-Fi networks. Maybe Samsung could have stuffed a bigger 90Wh battery to attain over 10 hours of stamina with real use; nobody would mind a thicker laptop with more battery life. The 65W USB-C charging adapter takes over an hour and a half to do a full charge.
Mind you, a Dell XPS or an HP Spectre perform similarly in these circumstances, so the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro is on par with the best Windows machines here but a notch below the MacBook Air M1. It, however, manages its thermals better than a MacBook Air M1, especially in the Indian summer. Despite working all day, the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro never warmed up uncomfortably. I seldom heard the fans kicking in, which is another great thing.
Since this is a Samsung device, we have to talk about software. This runs a standard version of Windows 11 that we are now familiar with. However, Samsung throws in some additional apps to make life a tad easier. Other than the regular Windows settings, there is Samsung Settings. This is an app aping the One UI interface and offers quick access to basic settings to play with, just like a phone. Then there’s the Galaxy Book Experience app that presents all the guides as well as other phone-friendly features here. Your Phone app works great with Samsung phones, and the Quick Share feature apes the AirDrop functionality.
Samsung also bakes in a Quick Search feature similar to Spotlight on macOS. It works well but the feature is no different than the standard Windows search bar. In fact, I seldom used the Samsung apps to get work done, since all the essentials are a Windows 11 standard.
Another aspect that is crucial for buyers. The keyboard on the Galaxy Book 2 Pro is neatly laid out and easy to read, with a beautiful white backlighting. However, the typing experience isn’t as nice as on a Dell XPS or a MacBook Air. The keys have substantial travel but the feedback is unsatisfactory – they feel too soft. Hence, it becomes tricky to type for long hours on this keyboard. The power key holds a fingerprint scanner and it works beautifully to unlock the laptop eagerly. The trackpad is good though, impressing with its responsiveness and precision.
You do get a webcam mounted in the conventional top position, and the output is decent, not great. For video calls indoors, the footage looks clear. Moreover, Samsung Studio additions help you blur the background or touch up the face while doing meetings.
And lastly, the audio quality out of the AKG tuned speakers is good considering the slim dimensions of the laptop. It goes loud enough for a living room and there’s adequate punch for a laptop speaker.
Samsung makes some drool-worthy smartphones and now that we got a taste of the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro, we can say the same confidently for its laptops too. The Galaxy Book 2 Pro is unbelievably lightweight and easy to handle, has oodles of performance to offer for regular folks, offers an amazing display, and has got all the necessary ports to get some work done. For a laptop costing just above Rs. 1 lakh, these form a good specifications sheet.
That said, there are areas where the Galaxy Book 2 Pro falls behind its competition. The keyboard isn’t pleasant to use on the long run, and the battery life is average at best. The aggressive power management slows things and considering the Core i7 variant, Samsung could have offered an NVIDIA MX series GPU to enable decent editing and creative work.
At Rs. 1,14,990, the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro gets competition from the 13-inch Dell XPS, which we consider the benchmark for Windows notebooks. If OS isn’t a limiting factor, the Apple MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air offer a slightly better experience with regards to keyboard, battery life, and overall performance fluidity.
However, the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro offers the best combo of a stellar display, a very slim and feather weight body, good performance, and best choice of ports on an ultra-portable. For this reason alone, the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro ends up as our top recommendation in this segment.
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