(Pocket-lint) - Samsung laptops have had a patchy run over the last couple of years. A lot of the company's top models had a few glaring issues like wobbly screens, too-shallow keyboards, or terrifyingly high prices. Thankfully the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G skirts past almost all of these issues, and is one of the more compelling ultra-portable laptops of 2021.
It is exceptionally light and very thin, yet feels solid and is comfortable to work on all-day, everyday. You even get 5G connectivity, which Samsung is pushing in its laptops more than just about every other manufacturer at the moment.
You'll pay a pretty penny for the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G, though, considering it's only got a mid-range Intel Core i5 CPU and 8GB RAM. But when you factor in the 5G and its super-convenient design, it isn't too badly priced at all.
Two issues remain though: the keyboard is still on the shallow side, although we find it better to type on than the majority of Samsung laptops we have reviewed recently; and while the OLED screen is as bold as they come, the pixel structure is more obvious here than in rival 1080p LCDs.
- Dimensions: 302.5 x 202.0 x 11.5 mm / Weight: 1.07kg
- 360-degree hinge
We're accustomed to thin and light laptops. We take them for granted. But every now and then a laptop comes along that feels remarkably portable. The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G is one of these laptops.
It has a trio of portability-boosting features and, unlike some recent Samsung models, one doesn't negatively affect the others. The 1.07kg weight and mere 11.5mm thickness is impressive for a laptop designed with a 360-degree hinge.
Add 5G to the mix and you have one of the most travel-friendly laptops of 2021. Heck, it's one of the most travel-friendly laptops ever.
Samsung has been mining this angle for a while, but the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G pulls it off more successfully than others. Crucially, the hinge is not so wobbly it becomes distracting whenever you work with the laptop on your knees. A swift move can still send the screen reeling backwards, but Samsung does seem to have tweaked its hinge tuning for the better.
General build quality is good too. Judging by their feel, the keyboard surround and base are magnesium alloy, while the outer-most layer of the lid is aluminium. There also appears to be a canny strip of plastic around much of the base's perimeter, which is likely there to improve the signal of the 5G mobile internet antennas.
If we were still attending events across the world to report on the latest tech innovations, the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G would be a superstar laptop to use for the job.
- 15.6-inch OLED panel, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 373 nits brightness, 98.7% DCI P3 coverage
- Glossy glass surface
There's one part that doesn't quite looking cutting-edge though. See that black border below the screen? It's a lot larger than some. This is here because the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G has a 16:9 aspect widescreen display but does not crunch up the base's depth, as seen in the likes of the HP Envy 13.
It's a 1080p OLED screen, which offers all the wonderful benefits of this type of panel. OLED means the black parts of an image can stay perfectly black even if other areas are as bright as is possible.
Colour depth is superb too, far outclassing virtually every LCD-based laptop, regardless of cost. Brightness is solid, too, and an anti-reflective layer makes it somewhat easier to work outdoors despite the glossy display surface.
There is an issue with the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G's screen, though. Samsung's OLED screens have a more glaring pixel structure than LCDs of the same size and resolution. This problem is far worse in Samsung's 15.6-inch 1080p OLED laptops, but it's still noticeable here, and means the first impression you get is nothing like that of a 4K OLED panel.
It means that, despite a bunch of admirable characteristics, you might not be bowled over by the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G's screen compared to, say, a MacBook Pro. It might have shallower colour and lower contrast, but the higher pixel density more than makes up for it. Samsung Display really needs to work on a laptop-ready panel with resolution somewhere between 1080p and 4K for models like this.
The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G supports an S-Pen pressure-sensitive stylus too - and one comes in the box. However, our review sample didn't include one. This is a neat addition but we have one concern here: the hinge is so easy to articulate that it's likely to move under all but the lighted pen pressure.
Keyboard and touchpad
- 3-level white LED backlight
- Textured glass touchpad
Samsung seems to have a similar relationship to its keyboards as Apple. They want to make them disappear completely, but eventually come to the realisation some people who buy laptops actually need to type stuff out on them.
The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G has, finally, what we'd describe as a more than adequate keyboard, after several models that just didn't offer enough feedback. It's still a shallow keyboard, but the actuation feel is very well defined, letting you feel confident as you type away. In this respect it is similar to the keyboard of the Apple MacBook Pro 16.
We've written perhaps 6000 words for various articles on the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G, and are still not all that bothered about switching to another machine. Would we like greater key depth? Absolutely. But judging by Samsung's recent designs we're not going to get that any time soon.
The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G keyboard has an elegant-looking three-stage blueish-white backlight, which is neat.
Samsung has also resisted doing anything too silly with the touchpad. Recently we've seen some alarmingly expensive laptops with plastic touchpads, which just don't cut it in four-figures and upwards models.
This one is a mid-size plate of glass with a smooth finger glide and a fairly consistent clicker feel across its surface, bar a small dead zone at the top, which is to be expected of a non-haptic pad. The click feel is bright, and a little loud, but again we'd be happy to use it all day for work.
Overall the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G is not quite a pad and keyboard superstar. Microsoft's Surface Laptop 4 outclasses it on both counts, by quite a distance. But do consider we're talking from the perspective of people who spend more time than most typing.
- Intel Core i5 CPU (1130G7)
- 8GB LPDDR4x RAM
- 256GB SSD
Some of you might initially be surprised when you see the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G's spec. It has an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD.
That is not a particularly high-end array considering the starting price. However, we need to consider this laptop has 5G, which remains a much more expensive upgrade in laptops than it is in phones.
The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G is not the laptop to buy if you are keen on getting the absolute best performance per spend. This was never Samsung's intention anyway, as shown by its use of the Core i5-1130G7 rather than the more common i5-1135G7. They sound similar but this processor has a much lower power ceiling. It's here to get you decent performance and longevity in a very thin and light laptop.
Most probably won't notice the hit to general performance all that much. Windows 11 runs very well, and this is among the very first laptops to launch with that version of the OS.
However, it does dull the impact of the generally great Intel Xe graphics, which dramatically improved how well baked-in Intel graphics could handle once high-end games like The Witcher 3.
We have no real issue with the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G's performance, as long as you approach it with expectations suitable for the kind of laptop this is. However, its fan noise is often more noticeable than those of its peers.
The fans often start up with very little instigation. And while actual decibel count is never especially high, one of the fans is high-pitched, creating a trebly whine that can be distracting. If you're looking for the most obvious way this Galaxy Book's slim construction acts against the laptop, this is it.
- 63Wh battery
- 1x Thunderbolt 4
- 2x additional USB-C
Thankfully, you don't see any major hit to battery life, no doubt thanks to Samsung's use of a processor specifically designed for low power use. It lasts for nine hours 50 minutes of video streaming.
This is the maximum you can expect it to last, when doing very light work. We also tried absolutely maxing it out to see how short the battery life can be. You can drain it in 169 minutes, or two hours 49 minutes. You'll get better results under strain from a MacBook Pro with M1 CPU.
The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G speakers aren't quite as good as a MacBook's either, but they are excellent for a tiny Windows laptop. There's a hint of bass, treble clarity is good, and there's solid structure to the sound. Just make sure you switch the Dolby sound optimisation mode on, as otherwise the scale and volume just aren't in the same league. The processing adds significantly to the loudness of these internal speakers though.
Want to know about connectors? There's three USB-C ports and microSD. One of the USB-C ports is a Thunderbolt 4 connector. As versatile as fast USB-C ports can be, we still appreciate classic USB-A sockets and video outputs. But we already knew we weren't going to get them from an ultra-slim Samsung laptop in 2021.
The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G manages to side-step many of the issues we've raised in some Samsung laptops of the last couple of years. It's one of the best Samsung models in recent memory.
However, its keyboard is still a little shallow and Samsung OLED panels need higher pixel density to give them the impact their contrast and colour deserve.
Above all else, though, you can't complain about the portability. The Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G is light, tidy, offers all-day battery life, a solid build, and that all-important super-fast connectivity - which is what you're paying for.
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Dell's alternative is a more powerful laptop, as it has the less power-frugal version of Intel's Core i5. And it's cheaper with a similar spec. However, it's thicker, around 300g heavier, and does not have 5G. For ultra-portable use it's not quite as ambitious.
No, it's not a hybrid, there's no touchscreen either, and it's heavier than the Samsung. However, we'd probably suggest it for heavier-duty portable use if the software you need to run works well with Apple's M1 processor. Its battery will last significantly longer under strain when, for example, editing video.
Writing by Andrew Williams. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published on 18 October 2021.