Samsung Galaxy Book review: Is the Surface Pro rival worth it?

Does Samsung’s latest 2-in-1 have what it takes to compete with Microsoft’s almighty Surface family?

Lee Bell
16 Jan 2018
4
Price when reviewed 
500
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Despite 2-in-1s losing their lustre of late, Samsung seems to think it can resurrect them. Its latest attempt to do so is the Galaxy Book, a successor to its Galaxy TabPro S of last year.

While the Galaxy Book could be seen by some as an incremental update on the Samsung Windows tablet that came before it, it’s actually a much stronger offering overall, benefiting in particular from a much-improved keyboard cover.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Book here 

In fact, there are also two flavours of Samsung’s Galaxy Book this time around: a 10.6in and a 12in model, both of which have been designed with productivity in mind. These are fully fledged Windows tablets with clip-on keyboards and true go-anywhere credentials; they’re sleek, lightweight and powerful. But does the Galaxy Book have what it takes to compete with Microsoft’s almighty Surface in an already saturated market?

Samsung Galaxy Book review: Design

Those that have had a chance to play around on Samsung’s TabPro S will feel right at home with the Galaxy Book. Not only do these products look similar, but place the two side by side and you’d struggle to tell them apart. One key difference, however, is that the Galaxy Book’s more powerful hardware has left the chassis looking a little more bulky.

Measuring 8.9mm thick, it’s noticeably fatter than Apple’s iPad Pro or even Huawei’s latest MateBook E. And in terms of connectivity, there’s one USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD slot. Sitting at the top left is the Book’s power button and volume rocker, while the bottom is reserved for the set of magnetic contacts for connecting the folio-style keyboard.

The design of the Galaxy Book isn’t what we’d expect from Samsung, however. Take its chassis, for example. With a faux gun-metal trim, it gives the illusion of aluminium from a distance, but up close it’s a totally different story. The plastic feels more like a mid-range tablet than a premium Windows device.

Saying that, we love the Galaxy Book’s keyboard, and that’s certainly the stand-out feature. Included in the box for free, it clips on securely, and folds up, Toblerone-style, to the back of the tablet; a nod to Apple’s Smart covers. The downside here is that it can only be rested in two positions, which means it isn’t always possible to position the display at the best angle as you can with Microsoft’s Surface tablets.

The Galaxy Book’s keyboard is more comfortable than most other hybrids I’ve tried as well. With plenty of movement to each keystroke, and a satisfyingly clicky feel, its keys are a joy to type on and it feels just as good whether you’re using the 10.6in or the 12in versions. The one negative point is that, on the smaller 10.6in model, the keys are a little on the small side, so might take some getting used to.

The touchpad is also tiny on the 10.6in model, but it still works superbly. Not only is it smooth to run your fingers across, but it works perfectly in tandem with Windows 10’s multi-touch gestures.

Samsung Galaxy Book review: Display

The 10.6in and 12in Galaxy Book models share the same screen resolution of 1,920 x 1,260, which makes for a crisp display on both. However, there’s one crucial difference between the two.

While the Book 10 uses a standard LCD panel, the Book 12 features a Super AMOLED display that also supports HDR, delivering a dramatic bump in image quality. Regardless of the differences, however, both are top quality displays.

The 10.6in model delivers a maximum brightness of 387cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 928:1 while the Book 12’s screen is 376cd/m2 with the nominally perfect contrast that AMOLED typically commands. Colour reproduction across both is also superb, but it’s the 12in model that has the edge, with far more vibrant and eye-popping colours.

Samsung Galaxy Book review: Performance and battery life

On the inside, the 10.6in Galaxy Book is powered by a rather modest 1GHz Intel Core m3-7y30 processor alongside 8GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage which is expandable via microSD.

This is quite a bit less powerful than the 12in model, which is powered by an Intel Core i5-7200U and comes with either 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, or 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

Both tablets acquit themselves well in daily use. Windows 10 is smooth as a peach to run, and there wasn’t the slightest hint of lag with touchpad or touchscreen gestures, or day-to-day web browsing.

In benchmark testing, though, the two proved to be quite far apart. The 10.6in Galaxy Book achieved a total score of 25, placing it just ahead of Huawei’s MateBook E while the 12in model hit a respectable 47, which lags behind the recent Core i5-equipped Surface Pro.

Battery life on the Galaxy Book isn’t its best feature. In our battery burn test, we got 7hrs 18mins of video playback out of the Galaxy Book from a full charge before it died at just over the 7-hour mark. While this means you’ll get just enough power to last you a day’s worth of work, it’s still behind its key competitors. The 10.5in iPad Pro and Asus’ Transformer Mini last significantly longer at 12hrs 59mins and 11hrs 19mins, respectively. However, you should get another hour out of the 12in model.

Samsung Galaxy Book review: Price

It goes without saying that the Galaxy Book’s main competition is Microsoft’s newest Surface Pro. However, one thing the Galaxy Book has over Redmond’s 2-in-1 device is price. Now in its fifth-generation, the Surface Pro remains an expensive option.

Prices start at a lofty £800 for the core m3 model with its 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD. And on top of that you’ll also have to fork out an extra £150 for the Type Cover, and a further £100 if you’re after the new Surface Pen. The Core i5 Surface Pro is £1,229 all in and the iPad Pro is even more expensive for the full package.

Samsung’s Galaxy Book, on the other hand, give you all of the above included in the box for a one-off cost of just £500 for the 10.6in model and £949 for the Core i5 version with 4GB of RAM and 128GB storage. That’s much better value for money.

Samsung Galaxy Book review: Verdict

It seems Apple and Microsoft have some proper competition on their hands with Samsung’s new tablets and it’s fair to say that both 10.6in and 12in Galaxy Book models are strong contenders.

Despite not being the most luxurious-feeling devices, they provide a keen balance of price, performance and usability and, best of all, the top-notch keyboard and stylus are included in the price.

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