At Samsung’s Unpacked event Wednesdaythe electronics giant announced the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra laptop alongside its latest flagship Galaxy S23 phones.
Like Samsung’s top galaxy ultra phones and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra tablet, the Ultra laptop will have the best performance, a ton of features and a killer display. But like the other Ultra devices, the Ultra laptop might be more computer than you need. Samsung also has the Galaxy Book 3 Pro and Pro 360, which are a notch below the Ultra in performance, but have a lot of features in common, along with their own added extras.
The Galaxy Book 3 Ultra is the star, though, and thankfully it fixes two things I didn’t like about the otherwise excellent Galaxy Book 2 Pro models. One issue was their displays. While they had great-looking AMOLED panels, they were 16:9, 1080p widescreens; most premium laptops use higher-resolution 16:10 panels that give you more vertical space. The 16-inch Galaxy Book 3 Ultra makes the jump to 16:10. It’s still an AMOLED panel, too, so you’re going to get amazing color and contrast. Plus it has a 120Hz refresh rate for smoother-looking video; its resolution is 2,880×1,800 pixels.
The second issue I had with the Book 2 Pro was that Samsung didn’t offer any options for discrete graphics and frankly, if you’re going to call something “Pro” you should offer something stronger than integrated graphics. That doesn’t change with the Book 3 Pro models, but the Ultra will have either an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 or 4070 graphics chip and they’ll be paired with a 13th-gen Intel Core i7 or i9 processor, respectively, giving the Ultra some pro-level laptop performance.
Those components drive the price up considerably, with the Core i7 and RTX 4050 configuration starting at $2,400 and the Core i9 and RTX 4070 pairing going for $3,000. (Pricing and availability weren’t announced for the UK or Australia, but the entry price converts to £1,950 and AU$3,400.) You get a lot of other great features for those prices like a 1080p webcam, a quad-speaker audio system, a fingerprint reader on the power button and a larger 76-watt-hour battery. The Ultra also has more ports than the Galaxy Book 2 Pro, with a USB-A port and HDMI 2.0 output joining its two Thunderbolt USB-C ports, microSD card slot and headphone jack.
The good news is almost all of these things trickle down to the Pro models, with the big exceptions being the Core i9 processor and the discrete graphics. The nice thing about that is the 16-inch Galaxy Book 3 Pro laptop is 4 millimeters thinner and it’s about a half pound lighter than the 16.5-mm thick, 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) Ultra. The Galaxy Book 3 Pro will also be available in a 14-inch size that’s just 2.6 pounds (1.2 kilograms).
There’s also a 16-inch Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 two-in-one, which is large for a two-in-one, but since it comes with one of Samsung’s excellent S Pens, you’ll have a lot of room to draw or take notes, plus it’ll make a nice digital whiteboard for meetings. And again, all of the features like the high-res webcam, port assortment and quad speakers on the Ultra are here, too. It’s also the only model to come with optional 5G wireless.
Also, just like earlier Galaxy Books, the new Ultra and Pro laptops are made to work with other Galaxy devices. Things like sending files back and forth between your phone and laptop are easy. You can, for instance, start working on a file on your Galaxy phone and finish up on the Galaxy Book. Or you can use the Galaxy Tab S8 as a wireless external display to extend the laptop’s screen. Your Galaxy Buds can automatically switch between devices as well. This extra layer of interoperability is something Apple does well with its iPhones, iPads and MacBooks, and Samsung is quickly catching up with help from Intel and Microsoft. These laptops have enterprise-level security, too, since they meet Microsoft’s secured-core PC requirements.
There is one thing that Samsung kept the same as the previous generations and that’s the overall look. They’re nice and clean, if a bit unexciting, especially compared to Samsung’s phones, which come in several colors — these come in graphite or beige. Build quality is improved, though. They’re sturdier, stiffer and stronger, which is certainly a plus even if they’re a bit heavier because of it.
The Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra and Pro and Pro 360 laptops are available to preorder now through Samsung’s website and the Pro models are expected to start shipping on Feb. 17.