With the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex, Samsung is offering you everyday computing power in a device that stands out most in terms of its design and aesthetic polish. Its 2-in-1 form factor – so you can use it as a tablet, at a push – and the included stylus add to the appeal.
When it comes to laptops, generally speaking you either go chunky and more powerful, or lightweight and less powerful, and this definitely falls into the latter camp. Gaming and serious video editing are out of the question, but everything else is very much possible.
You can buy the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex with a 15.6-inch or a 13.3-inch screen, and it's the latter model that we had for our review. If you want that extra screen real estate, or a separate number pad on the keyboard, you might want to pay more for the bigger laptop.
In our Samsung Galaxy Book Flex review, we'll explain everything you need to know about this stylish new laptop from Samsung: what the battery life is like, what kind of performance you can expect, what the screen is like to use, and plenty more besides.
Samsung Galaxy Book Flex review: screen and design
This is undoubtedly a fantastic-looking laptop, whether you go for the Royal Blue of our review model or the Silver alternative: the Galaxy Book Flex might be relatively expensive, but you can see where your money goes when it comes to the design. It looks and feels like a premium-level machine, with a clean aluminium body and sharp lines. The build quality is good too, with a solid and robust-feeling hinge under the screen.
The 13.3-inch touchscreen QLED display, which you can fold right over and use as a tablet, runs at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. It's sharp, and bright, and we had absolutely no complaints with it – from watching movies to editing images, it's a pleasure to look at, due in part to the VDE-certified 100 percent colour volume carried over from Samsung's TVs. The bezels are nice and thin, except on the bottom, and you get a 720p webcam built-in, plus a 3.5mm headphone jack, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one USB-C port and a microSD memory card slot.
As a tablet, the device is rather chunky (with the keyboard still underneath), but it's fine for brief use – if you want to lay the device down flat and do some digital sketching, for example. The S Pen stylus slots right into the casing, and is intuitive and responsive in use, even if we're not sure there are many real uses for it for anyone who isn't a digital artist. The laptop is great for watching streaming video, with the AKG stereo speakers providing plenty of quality and range even at louder volumes.
We found the typing experience really comfortable too, with the keys soft and quiet to use – we can imagine powering through a few essays or reports on this laptop. The trackpad is just as good, with wide dimensions and a quality feel to it. We also like the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor on the right of the keyboard for simpler logins, though it is a bit awkwardly placed (and means the right-hand Shift key gets cut in half).
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Samsung Galaxy Book Flex review: performance and features
There are only two models of the Galaxy Book Flex available: the 15.6-inch model and the 13.3-inch model. Go for the smaller and cheaper option, as with our review device, and you get a 10th-gen Intel Core i5-1035G4, an upper to mid-range processor that first appeared in late 2019. That's coupled with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage, so you're getting a decent spec here rather than a spectacular one.
The Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics are fine, and the computer whizzes through tasks like web browsing, emailing, image editing and watching movies – just don't expect to do any speedy 4K editing on this, or play any demanding games. For most users, performance is going to be more than satisfactory, and will be for several years to come as well.
Of course the 2-in-1 form factor will be one major reason you choose this over other laptops, and so is the integrated S Pen stylus – it works when you tap the screen and when you hover it just above the screen, and you can use it for everything from selecting menu options to creating digital sketches. Another added bonus is that the touchpad doubles up as a wireless charging pad for your phone or another gadget – and if you think you're going to use these extra features then the Galaxy Book Flex might just be worth the extra price.
In our two-hour video streaming test, the battery dropped from 100 percent to 80 percent, suggesting you'll get about 10 hours of streaming in total – though that was at maximum display brightness, so you can probably improve on that if you need to. In general use that 10-hour limit seems about right, so you should be able to spend a full day away from a mains power adaptor with the Galaxy Book Flex.
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Samsung Galaxy Book Flex review: price and verdict
It's hard to find many criticisms to level at the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex. You can get a similar set of specs for less money, but then you don't get the extras like the S Pen and the 2-in-1 form factor; and while we generally prefer 16:10 aspect ratio displays for reading websites and documents, it's a minor complaint. The screen could be a higher resolution, but at 13.3 inches it doesn't make that much of a difference.
Interestingly you can get a higher spec version of this laptop in the US, complete with an i7 processor and 12GB of RAM, so if we had to mark down the UK version for something then we guess that would be it. Otherwise this delivers everything you could want in a laptop: excellent build quality, stylish design, speedy performance, a great screen, and even a few useful extras that set the Galaxy Book Flex apart from the crowd.
If you're thinking about picking up this laptop we would recommend weighing up whether you're actually going to use the folding format, or the stylus, or the wireless charging trackpad – because if you're not, you might be able to find better value elsewhere. Indeed, if you don't need everything that Windows offers and traditional desktop applications, you might be better off with one of the best Chromebooks.
Overall though the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex really impresses, from the design to the performance to the versatility. Samsung hasn't been fully committed to laptops in recent years, despite making some excellent models, but if this is a sign of what's to come in the future then we're looking forward to what's next.
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