Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 First Impressions

Posted on July 25, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 10 with 16 Comments

In August 2012, I attended the opening of the first Microsoft Store in Boston, and I purchased the first PC that store ever sold, a 15-inch Samsung Series 9 notebook. Amazingly, I still have that computer, though that’s about to change as it’s now slated to be donated to a church group as part of a massive decluttering effort. But I’ve always been impressed by its thin, light, and attractive design, even when compared to more modern PCs.

Samsung Series 9 (2012, top) vs. Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (bottom)

And now that I’ve received a Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 for review, I’m experiencing déjà vu and it’s almost as if this new PC is nothing less than the Series 9’s spiritual successor. Like that older laptop, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 is a 15-inch design, but in a similar thin, light, and attractive design. It’s even coated in a similar blue metal color—now called Mystic Navy—that I’m particularly fond of. (There’s also a Mystic Bronze option that’s also quite striking.) The only thing ruining the illusion, and, potentially, the experience, is the damn numeric keypad on the Galaxy Book Pro 360. Ah well.

Samsung Series 9 (2012, top) vs. Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (bottom)

But this is an impressive-looking PC. For years, I’ve been waiting for PC makers to apply what they’ve learned from shrinking 13.3-inch designs into what used to be 12- or even 11-inch bodies. But most modern 15-inch designs are still big, bulky, and heavy, even in the premium space.

Not so the Galaxy Book Pro 360. Despite its 15.6-inch display, this PC is both thin—at just 0.47-inches (!)—and light, at just 3.06 pounds. For perspective, ~3 pounds is about as light as a premium 14-inch Ultrabook/ultra-light PC is these days. But the Galaxy Book Pro 360 isn’t just 15-inches, it’s a convertible design, too—yes, the display can be flipped around so it can be used like a giant tablet—so this light weight is even more impressive. It seems almost magical.

The display is expansive, bright, and beautiful, but it’s held back by its 16:9 aspect ratio, which I now believe to be unacceptable in the premium PC market, and its low Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution. As with the Lenovo ThinkBook 15 I recently reviewed, this resolution is problematic at this panel size, and I can see some jaggy text and graphics. A 4K/UHD display, even as an option, would be nice. The bezels, at least, are small, especially on the sides.

The internal specifications land exactly where you’d expect, as this is an Evo-certified PC. It comes with an 11th-generation Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor and two RAM/storage configurations: 8 GB/512 GB (NVMe SSD) and 16 GB/1 TB; the review unit has the latter, more expensive configuration. There is apparently a 32 GB RAM option coming, but I don’t see it yet on Samsung’s website.

Communication is modern and mostly as expected: The Galaxy Book Pro 360 offers Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, but no cellular data, at least on the 15.6-inch models. If you choose a 13.3-inch model, 5G is available as an option.

Expansion is predictably modern and limited due to the thin design. There are three USB-C ports, but confusingly, only one of them offers Thunderbolt 4 capabilities and there’s no indication on the PC as to which is which.

I’ll figure that out for the review, but any of them can be used to charge the system using the bundled (and pleasantly small) USB-C charger.

Beyond that, there’s a microSD card slot and a combo audio jack.

The Galaxy Book Pro 306’s backlit keyboard is interesting. It has very short throws—not Apple butterfly keyboard bad, but short—and of course that numeric keybad, which could trigger some of the same issues I had with the ThinkBook 15.

But so far, I like it, and I believe I could adapt very quickly to the typing experience.

And I like the integrated power key, with its Windows Hello fingerprint reader.

The glass precision touchpad is enormous, but in my light testing so far—mostly just installing applications and making configuration changes—I haven’t had any unusual false detections. I also like that touching the touchpad doesn’t turn on the keyboard backlighting, as is the case on many PCs.

In a nod to Samsung’s Galaxy ecosystem, the Galaxy Book Pro 365 includes an S Pen. In the good news department, it’s larger than the tiny styli bundled with some Samsung handsets and some convertible PCs. But it’s also too large for a garage in this thin and light PC, and there’s not even a magnetic connection for carrying them together. (Oddly, the S Pen from my wife’s Samsung works fine with the Galaxy Book Pro 360, but the PC’s pen does not work with her phone. Curious.)

While I am mostly impressed by what I see here, if the Galaxy Book Pro 365 has an Achilles Heel, it’s one that will be familiar to Samsung smartphone users: There is far too much Samsung crapware on this PC. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many spurious utilities and other applications pre-bundled on a PC, like ever.  I counted almost 30 (30!) Samsung-branded or Samsung-supplied applications in the Start menu, and it’s going to take many days to go through it all. I have no idea what’s going on there, but it’s concerning.

Pricing, however, is reasonable, given the premium nature of the Galaxy Book Pro 360. The “entry-level” configuration, with 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage, is $1300 and the review configuration—8 GB/1 TB—is $1500. But remember, this is Samsung, and this firm offers some good trade-in values on smartphones, tablets, and even PCs, so you may be able to save some money that way too. And if 15.6-inches is too big for you, there are less expensive 13.3-inch versions as well. They start at $1200.

I really like this form factor, and while I would very much prefer an option for no numeric keypad, I’m surprised we don’t see Lenovo, HP, or Dell offering anything quite like the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360. I’m looking forward to reviewing it.

More soon.

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Comments (16)

16 responses to “Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 First Impressions”

  1. phil_adcock

    That's an astonishing number of crap-ware loaded apps. I thought HP was bad, but seriously a Samsung settings app instead of just using the built in setting of Windows?

    • Paul Thurrott

      Yeah, I've never seen anything like this.

      • miamimauler

        I'll go further Paul. I will not purchase one of these purely on your review and will be loathe to ever do so in the future without first checking out Samsung's bloat.

        A year ago I purchased an Acer 2020 Gen 10 i7 laptop and was surprised by the lack of bloat and just last month I purchased a HP 2021 i7 Gen 11 laptop and while it had much more bloat than the Acer it was nothing compared to this Samsung nonsense.

        This Samsung rubbish shouldn't be allowed.

    • markld

      Kinda wonder how much all that crapware is worth and did it impact its price like lowering it.

      Personally I think a manufacturer can put 1 maybe 2 utility apps, zero would be best, on their product.

      My Dell laptop has, lol, I think one!!! 30 almost is just freaking amazingly ridiculous.

    • spiderman2

      I agree, but if they're packaged apps installed from the store, I'm not too upset because you can easily totally and clean uninstall them with 2 clicks (on the contrary of android or classic win32 apps)

  2. Daekar

    I guess they take the same philosophy to Windows as they do to Android - put Samsung software everywhere.

    I might be in the minority, but I LOVE the fact that there is a number pad on there. One of the many reasons I loathe doing real work on any laptop I've ever had is the lack of that number pad.

  3. tghallin

    I see the Samsung Gallery app. Are there other apps that are designed to work with Samsung phones? If so, there may be some that are not crapware for Samsung phone owners.

    As I get older and big PCs get lighter, this may be a good option for my next PC. I had an earlier 15 inch Samsung PC that had great internals, but weighed in at over 5 pounds. Great on the desk, but not a traveler.

    • peterc

      Yup, just watch Samsung windows laptops tightly integrate to their mobile platform and app store. Smart move.

  4. cnc123

    I bought two of their last gen Galaxy Flex Alpha 13.3" laptops with 12 GB of RAM for about $500 each on sale. They've been excellent computers - thin, fast, well built and excellent displays (though still 16x9). Took maybe an 45 minutes to remove the crapware.

  5. waharris007

    I took a serious look at this when it launched, but I was shocked at how poor the resolution was. As someone who works in Word all day, I knew I couldn't handle all the jagged text everywhere--both in docs and all through the UI. That, plus the 16:9 resolution, off-center keyboard (due to the number pad), and a surprising amount of flex in the chassis sent me happily back to the 15" SP4, which I love.

  6. JH_Radio

    If this PC were sold in the Microsoft store today, would they sell it bloat free, like they used to sell PCS? I know the signature program isn't around anymore, and know MS still sells some PCs in their store that is not surface brand.

  7. rbwatson0

    Paul, you don't mention what specifically is wrong with the number pad. Is it just that's its there?

    • Paul Thurrott

      Yeah. It's unnecessary for most people, takes up space, and moves the keyboard off-center. Plus, the keys on the right edge of the normal keyboard are harder to hit accurately since there are keys next to them, which is unusual.

    • BigM72

      I guess this is a YMMV/"horses for courses" thing - if you write mainly with letters, you care about centering that part of the keyboard. For those who spend a lot of time with numbers, a dedicated numpad is very valuable.

      I have the Surface Studio keyboard (just the keyboard, not the PC) which comes with integrated numpad which I use now and again only but grateful it is there. I used my laptop docked and closed with external monitor so can shift the keyboard to the right and centre the space bar between my hands but I understand how you can't do that when actually using the laptop itself.

  8. caseyp80

    I was really excited to buy this when it was first announced. But a "premium" device with that screen resolution is unacceptable... even a mid-range device with that resolution is unacceptable. I could live with the 16:9 format, if it was 4k. I wish it wasn't the case - but I'm definitely passing on this.

  9. QueenAng

    i Don't Know if all of you are just clueless or what. Yes the Stylus works on phones as well, yes it does have a magnetic spot, at the very top center of the back of the display, And All of the software it comes with is part of the device. you buy this both for the good build design and specs, but also all its features. like being the only set of windows Devices with smart things, Smart Things find, Samsung Notes, Quick Share, e.t.c