If there is a frustrating thing about our job, it is to go around fairs and events, sometimes attending presentations of fantastic products that arrive in our area after too long or do not arrive at all, a bit the same feeling that we felt months ago at the sight of the new Samsung laptops and the Galaxy Book Flex. For once, however, our wishes have been fulfilled, with a return in style on the market – after years of hiding – which starts from three particular and unique machines, capable of immediately pushing on the accelerator.
The timing could not be better, smartphone sales are in fact displeasing virtually all major manufacturers while the numbers made to mark the notebook sector reflect the needs found, made manifest by the emergency. Reopening this chapter, even in our part, therefore seems the right move and doing it with the Galaxy Book Flex (which we will call only “Flex” for convenience) could not be more appropriate.
Calling it portable is an understatement; Samsung has really put together its know-how to create something sophisticated, capable of blending the benefits of the S Pen with those of a convertible, all without forgetting even for a moment of design and attention to aesthetics. But let’s go in order.
Design and Premium Materials
Before going into more detail, it is important to point out one thing: it is a high-end laptop, a refined, complete and elegant terminal that can afford certain attentions because it costs 1399 dollars. In this case, therefore, they did not try to create the most powerful, performing and capable of breaking some hardware records, far from it; on the Flex everything has been measured to offer that mix of functions in a slim, elegant body.
Squared lines, flat, precise and without any risk, in its simplicity Flex manages to immediately give the idea of something modern and at the same time functional, complete. Aluminum chassis with matte finish and Royal Blue color that closely resembles other shades already used by the Korean manufacturer, but the side edges are silver, almost chromed. No expense was spared to make the body and you immediately felt something refined as soon as you pick it up, also counting the fact that in the 13-inch version it weighs only 1.16 kg and boasts a thickness of 12.9mm.
Despite being so minute, it can count on two hinges that allow you to completely overturn the touch panel, thus take advantage of the Flex in both stand and tablet mode. Too bad they are a little weak , in fact it takes little to rotate the display and this thing can be annoying at times if we move the laptop for example and we find it without warning “flat” at 180 °. Here is one of the few criticisms that we can make today at Samsung, hoping that in future versions we can count on firmer and more precise hinges, also because the Flex is touch and touching the display always moves too much. It should also be noted that ours is a “sample print” and may have been mistreated more than normal; we will investigate these details by trying to get our hands on other units.
To close the circle there is the S Pen, a carbon copy of the one used on the latest Galaxy Note 10 positioned on the right side and removable with a click, an element that we could also define as the classic icing on the cake and that I will tell you in more detail in the dedicated chapter.
The first in the world with QLED display: What a light!
The advantage of multinationals like Samsung is to be able to count on their excellence gained in the various sectors, making them at times converge on products that are more exclusive. The Flex, a laptop that catches the eye on smartphones and instead steals QLED technology, used for the display, falls into this picture more than any other . Not a little detail, so much so that at this precise moment, I am writing from an uncomfortable table on the balcony with a very high ambient light and I can perfectly distinguish everything.
In fact, the panel boasts a record brightness that touches 600 nits, a value that in our surveys we have even slightly exceeded (605nits to be precise) in outdoor mode. Normally you get to the maximum just above 400nits, which are already many, but activating this option (just the Fn + F10 combination) you can enjoy an additional boost – practically unprecedented on laptops. Which is why I can easily write despite the 15:00 summer sun being all around me.
The brightness is so high that at times it can even become “a problem”; in the evening, in fact, I usually take a look at the PC before falling asleep to check the latest things and, in complete darkness, I find that the minimum level is too high and tends to annoy me. Through the special section, within the Samsung customization, it is however possible to change the profile and adapt it to your needs, activate HDR +, select the “Read” and much more.
However, the “BOE087A” coded display has not been calibrated to the best, the detections reveal very saturated colors tending slightly to green (delta E 4.44) and gray scale above the norm (delta E of 7). To balance a large color volume with 99.9% sRGB coverage as promised by the manufacturer. Of course, it is a touch panel, laminated, with very thin side and top frames.
The S Pen: The added value
How many times have you heard of productivity, referring to the world of PCs and notebooks in particular? I imagine infinite, pity that we often limit ourselves to repeating the marketing slogans of the manufacturing companies, without really motivating certain evaluations. We could thus say that on the Flex the term takes on a completely different meaning, because it brings to this category of product all the advanced functions that we have already seen for the smartphones of the latest Note series and something more.
Once the pen is removed, for example, you enter the “Air Command” menu, where there are many of the functions already discussed (and appreciated) for smartphones: we can therefore create a note or read them, select an area using the three options “rectangle”, “oval” or “animation”. The latter is my favorite because it allows me to create GIFs in seconds’ high quality or standard. Just like on Galaxy Notes. We can then activate screen writing, trivially a screenshot that enables quick writing and sharing; pity that unlike smartphones, there are not certain apps available immediately, therefore I do not have “Telegram Desktop” or “WhatsApp Web”, but OneNote, Posta, Skype, Samsung Flow and other less known solutions. You just need to save the created content and then share it traditionally.
To close we find Live Messages and, above all, the “Show Window” function ; just connect an external monitor via one of the two Thunderbolt 3 ports and switch to extend mode to activate it and thus decide which portion of your homescreen to show and customize using the pen. I imagine how useful it can be in working situations such as meetings, presentations and insights that require this type of interaction.
The S Pen, then, being the “smart” one already seen on the Galaxy Tab S6, is active and allows you to take advantage of the so-called “Air Actions”, to start or stop for example a reproduction, browse a presentation or a photo gallery, the all following the classic gestures and the button integrated in the pen.
As mentioned, its destination is certainly not that of a machine to push to the limits, as demonstrated by the choice of a tenth generation Intel Core i5-1035G4 platform (Ice Lake), a 3.7GHz quad-core built at 10 nm and respectable, but that certainly cannot worry the finest chips. It matters little; the computing power is enough to make everything run at the right speed, with the natural limit of more complex software that requires a completely different thrust.
To support there is no dedicated graphics card but the excellent Iris Plus G4 (48 EU) with maximum dynamic clock at 1.05GHz, slightly less performing than the G7 version (64 EU) and comparable in broad lines to the Radeon RX Vega 8 view already on many AMD laptops. This means being able to play even with some slightly more demanding titles but without demanding too much. For example, I delighted with F1 2018 but I had to compromise to reach 30fps, which means HD resolution and very low details.
Samsung opted for a more conservative chipset and at first glance, it did well, because inserting everything in such a small, thin and light machine meant sacrificing the dissipation system. Mind you, the fan works and pushes the hot air out of the main slit that runs laterally between the two hinges, but it is also true that under stress the CPU quickly reaches 95°C, and then stabilizes around 80°C. Certainly not very few but the positive note is that this heat is not transmitted entirely on the chassis, so much so that, with the thermal chamber, we were unable to record temperatures higher than 39.5°C under maximum stress.
Technical features galaxy book flex
- Operating system: Windows 10 Home
- Dimensions: 302.6 x 202.9 x 12.9mm
- Weight: 1.16 Kg
- Display: FHD (1920×1080 pixels) QLED with 13.3″ and 600nits touchscreen
- CPU: Intel Core i5-1035G4 1.10 GHz up to 3.70 GHz 6 MB L3 Cache (Ice Lake) at 10 nm
- Graphics: Intel Iris Plus G4 (48 EU)
- 12GB of LPDDR4x RAM
- 512GB of storage (NVMe)
- Connectivity: WiFi-6 (Gig +), 802.11 ax 2×2
- Camera / microphone: 720p HD, Dual Array Microphone
- Audio: AKG stereo speakers with Smart Amp (Max 5 W x 2)
- Security: fingerprints
- Accessories: Integrated S-Pen
- Backlit keyboard
- Battery: 69.7 Wh
- Ports: 2x USB-C Thunderbolt 3 | 1x USB-C | 1x Combined UFS / MicroSD | 1x Headphones / microphone
- Color: Royal Blue
- List price: $1399
Keyboard that does not warm up and completely positive experience, it is likely that an Intel Core i7-10xxx of the latest generation could be “excessive” for this machine, not surprisingly in the USA they also thought of the 15-inch model that we still do not have it shows. Large, firm and well-spaced keys, the stroke is limited by the thickness so contained but the feedback is excellent, writing on this Flex is a pleasure. I really liked the backlighting because it focused on only the keys, three increasing levels that create the perfect contrast with the blue and no perimeter light that sometimes misleads the view. There is also enough space for the palm rests and the structure is rigid, without any flexing of the chassis at the pressure of the hands.
In my opinion, the audio sector should be reviewed; the two 5W side speakers are not able to express a particularly enveloping sound, you do not get banal at the top and this could be one of the few other limits due to this refined construction. We could therefore call it sufficient but not much more.
Autonomy well above the average
Given the size involved, I was pleasantly surprised to find a 69.7 Wh battery, capable of offering autonomy that exceeded expectations. As said, this is not a particularly powerful machine, the management of consumption has been optimized to have the right power and an above average duration in all the scenarios in which I have tried it …
- Productivity (improved battery) – web browsing (Edge) with about 16-20 open tabs, Desktop telegram, some YouTube videos and WiFi connection weigh 11% per hour
- Gaming (maximum performance) – 30 minutes of play at F1 2018, in low detail HD have accounted for 17% of hourly consumption
- Netflix HD streaming (battery saving) – more conservative scenario that led to a discharge of about 8% per hour, with 50% display
65W supplied charger that can be attached to any of the three USB-C ports. Always useful then the additional functions that we now also find with other competitors such as Lenovo and Dell, I’m talking about the ” Battery Life Extender + ” capable of simulating the removal of the battery when connected via the cable so as to preserve it. Yet the “Extra Battery” mode that reduces the operating frequency to extend the life of the battery, with performances that are clearly reduced to a minimum.
The icing on the cake is the Wireless PowerShare, a recurring name on the top of the range Samsung smartphones that we find on Flex with an epicenter in the TouchPad. The latter is in fact glass, sliding and precise like few others and with the possibility of wirelessly recharging any device compatible with the WPC Qi standard, practically all the best smartphones of the Korean house and also smartwatches, Galaxy Buds headphones.
All functions easily accessible through Samsung Settings and combinations of function keys, a detail that is certainly not negligible compared to other machines that are just as complete but often less accessible due to flaws in form or unclear dashboards.
Complete and customized software
After anticipating it in several places, it seems right to me to put the emphasis on the personalization that Samsung has brought to this terminal: in addition to the many functions of the Air Command and the Air Actions, to all the possibilities that you have thanks to the S Pen, there is it is also something else. In the application bar, we find the Samsung Settings, a section that allows you to act on some of the main sectors, such as energy management, the network, the screen, the audio, the pen and much more.
Nothing transcendental, but the mere fact of having simplified everything in a window that integrates perfectly with the design of Windows 10 Home I find an advantage; in fact, we often find ourselves in front of complex dashboards and therefore underutilized in practice. Combining the function key and F12 also activates Quick Search, an internal search engine alternative to the Microsoft one, from what I have seen it is quick and graphically pleasant.
To close the circle the possibility of interaction with Samsung smartphones, which further increases the idea of ecosystem already, mentioned several times during this test, but in this case, it is necessary to report a mechanism of first connection all too cumbersome. So many steps, too many, in the era of NFC tags you could certainly think of something smarter and immediate.
Samsung has never stopped making laptops and we, with the drool in our mouths, have always told them in the past few years, even knowing that they would never come to our parts. You certainly do not get to a Galaxy Book Flex out of thin air, the will to dare and create something different, complete, flexible and at the same time elegant is evident. This is the notebook that really opens up to creativity and, thanks to S Pen and optimization, also to something else; putting all this into play and ensuring such high autonomy is not something to be underestimated.
Certain compromises are not lacking as usual, on the other hand, perfection is a utopia, but it is difficult to complain about an Intel CPU “only” Core-i5 or a not really exciting dissipation. What really matters is how it runs, how all these functions made available are managed and how long a cycle of use lasts before having to resort to the charger, three conditions that Samsung has managed to keep great.
We could therefore say without too many hesitations that the Galaxy Book Flex is one of the most exclusive laptops in circulation, just a pity that a SIM card slot is missing, and a detail that would have truly crowned him King. High positioning, it is by definition a machine intended for a demanding public who can spend more than the average and do not want to be satisfied with the “usual” Windows 10 laptop.