Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra hands-on: A snapshot of the MacBook Pro

Samsung announced the Galaxy Book3 Ultra, a 16-inch laptop with a 120Hz OLED display, H-Series Core i7 or Core i9, and RTX 4050 or 4070 GPU.

Samsung makes a number of Galaxy Book models, but this is the first one in the past few years that’s really aimed at the professional user with deep pockets — namely, the core audience for Apple’s high-powered MacBook Pro 16. Pricing will start at $2,399.99 ($100 cheaper than the base MacBook Pro 16), with a release date yet to be announced.

Like its siblings in the Galaxy Book3 line, this workstation’s big draw will be its screen. It’s got a 2880 x 1800 120Hz 16:10 OLED display (a welcome change from the 16:9 panels that graced last year’s Galaxy Book2) rated for 400 nits of brightness, and it looked pretty good in Samsung’s beta territory. I watched several YouTube videos, and the colors looked unusually bright and vibrant. There was a fair amount of glare (it was a bright room), but I still didn’t feel like I needed to crank the panel up to full brightness in order to get a good experience.

Elsewhere, using the device felt quite similar to using any number of other Samsung Galaxy Books, with a satisfyingly clicky keyboard, smooth finish, quality build, and compact body. At 0.65 inches thick and 3.9 pounds, the Ultra is a bit thinner and close to a pound lighter than the 16-inch MacBook Pro Apple just released — all else being equal (which, of course, it’s not), I’d rather be a Samsung machine in my backpack.

I was able to use a number of Samsung’s Continuity features, including Second Screen (which allows you to easily use the Galaxy Tab as a second screen) and Quick Share (which allows you to quickly transfer photos and other files between Samsung devices). For Samsung fans, these seem like useful features that don’t take much hassle to set up.

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The only feature I had issues with was the touchpad—it registered some of my two-finger taps as one-finger taps and wasn’t quite picking up on all my swipes. The units in Samsung’s demo area were pre-production devices, so I’m hoping this is an oddity that Samsung can iron out before the final release.

It’s a nice cover, but there were really a few smudges on the chassis.

The Book3 Ultra’s price is somewhat similar to that of the MacBook Pro; The base Book3 is $100 cheaper than the base MacBook Pro 16 with the same RAM and storage. Potentially, I can see this notch as a slightly cheaper alternative option for professionals with heavy graphics workloads who are looking for something a bit more portable than a MacBook.

Unfortunately, we don’t yet know how it will stack up when it comes to battery life. The M2 generation of MacBooks is very strong on this front — and given that the Galaxy Book3 Ultra sports a higher-res display and power-hungry H-series processor, and very Power-hungry RTX GPU, I’m a little nervous about it. If Samsung can pull off a device that lasts nearly as long as Apple does, given these factors, hats off to them.

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