Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra preview: Is this Samsung’s MacBook Pro Killer?


13th Gen Intel CPUs, RTX 4000-series GPUs and a stunning 3K OLED display top what could be Samsung’s best laptop yet

Samsung usually reserves its big January launches for its Galaxy smartphones and occasionally the odd tablet but this year the side dish is the powerful and sleek Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra.

It isn’t the only laptop Samsung has just announced (you can read about the latest Samsung Galaxy Book3 Pro and Book3 Pro 360 models here) but it is the most interesting as it’s taking on Apple’s just-announced MacBook Pro machines head on. And, from what I’ve seen so far, Apple should probably be a teeny bit worried.

Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra preview: Key specifications, price and release date

Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra preview: Key features and first impressions

The main reason (but not the only one) Apple may be concerned is the Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra’s display. This is no ordinary IPS screen with a slightly expanded colour gamut. No, it’s a 2,880 x 1,800 16in full-blooded Dynamic AMOLED 2x display with peak brightness of 500 nits, a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz and the perfect black level response that AMOLED tech usually brings.

I wasn’t allowed to touch the laptop at the pre-launch event (for reasons I won’t go into here) but I was able to feast my eyes on the delights of this display and to say it looks fabulous really doesn’t do it justice. Of course, only testing will tell if it’s colour accurate enough to use with professional workflows without calibration out of the box, but it’s big, sharp, ultra colourful and has so much punch it might just knock you out.

Elsewhere, there’s plenty to like, too. The chassis is smart yet understated, slim and light. It’s finished in dark matte silver and hewn from mostly aluminium. A weight of 1.79kg and a thickness of 16.5mm for a 16in laptop isn’t absolutely incredible – there are others that are lighter, such as the LG Gram 16 at 1.2kg – but it is very good given the serious hardware inside. The Apple MacBook Pro 16in, for context, starts at 2.15kg.

Look to the edges and you’ll find a reasonably broad selection of ports and sockets offering a touch more flexibility than you get on the MacBook, too. On the left towards the rear is a pair of Thunderbolt 4 (with USB 4) USB-C ports, while on the right side is a microSD slot, a 3.5mm headset jack and an old-fashioned USB-A 3.2 port ready for legacy peripherals.

The keyboard is full-sized with flat-topped, chiclet-style keys and a number pad to the right-hand side. There’s a fingerprint reader in the very top right corner for your biometric login. All very standard. The touchpad, on the other hand, is a phenomenon. It’s absolutely huge – one of the biggest touchpads I’ve ever seen – and occupies at least 50% of the area of the wrist rest. I’ll be interested to see how well this works, especially as it’s offset to the left in order to sit centrally below the main keyboard. Let’s hope the palm rejection works well.

Capping all this off are some pretty potent internals. There will be three models available at launch. The base model, which will set you back the £2,449, comes with a 45W 13th Gen Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. The next model up runs the same Core i7 CPU and 16GB of RAM but boosts the storage to a 1TB SSD. Both these machines are endowed with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU.

The third, meanwhile, comes with the most powerful Core i9 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, plus the more powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU. That’s a hell of a specification for a laptop this thin and lightweight, and it will be very exciting to see it paired with such a glorious display, though I do wonder what impact this will have on battery life.§

Add to this a 1080p webcam with “studio quality” microphones, auto-framing and “eye contact correction” and you have what looks like a very impressive overall package that should be competitive with the MacBook Pro on many fronts.

Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra preview: Prices and availability

If you were hoping for a machine that might significantly undercut the MacBook Pro on price, however, prepare to be disappointed.

The base model may be £250 cheaper than the cheapest current 16in MacBook Pro but it’s still a hefty £2,449; you’ll probably find the best “value” comparatively at the top of the range, where prices are unlikely to exceed £3,500, where top-of-the-range M2 Max MacBook Pros begin at a terrifying £3,749.

Either way, with pre-orders beginning on 14 February and the first machines shipping from 22 February, we hope to have samples of this monster in very soon for full and thorough testing.

Original Article