Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 review: Second time’s the charm

Samsung wowed everyone during CES 2020 when it debuted the svelte Galaxy Chromebook — a fire-engine-red Chrome OS laptop with top specs, an S Pen stylus, and an eye-watering $999 price tag to match. The Chromebook ended up hitting the market with two defining features: an amazing 4K display and utterly abysmal battery life. With the Galaxy Chromebook 2, Samsung reset its priorities. It dropped the 4K display and other features favoring all-day battery life and a lower price tag. Was the trade worth it? Find out in the Android Authority Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 review.


$699
.99
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2


Buy it Now


Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

Buy it Now



$699
.99

About this Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 review: I used the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 (Intel Core i3) for five days running Chrome OS 90. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 review unit was purchased by Android Authority for this review.

What you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 closed up

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 (Intel Celeron): $549/€449/£399
  • Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 (Intel Core i3): $699/€599/£499

Calling the new Galaxy Chromebook 2 a sequel to the first-generation Galaxy Chromebook is a bit misleading. Without the original’s signature 4K display, stylus, and speedy Core i5 processor, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 is more like a second take than a true follow-up. Naming conventions aside, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 does carry over (most of) the high-end, two-in-one design, the solid specs, and the can’t-miss-it red coloring. It’s also available in gray if you lean to the conservative side when it comes to computing hardware.

See also: The best Chromebooks to buy

Two basic variants are available, one with an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage, and a second with an Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. The lesser model sets you back $549 and the ramped-up model comes in at a more costly $699. The Galaxy Chromebook 2 is available from Best Buy and Samsung.com. It competes with options from Google, Acer, and others.

How is the design?

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 fully open

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 is a boxy machine. It’s not as thin nor as sleek or lightweight as the original Galaxy Chromebook, but it still has its charms. The super bright red color option, for instance, is available to the new machine, as is the high-end look thanks to the aluminum lid and striking sharp side edges. I like the bevel that’s been cut into the top edge of the Chromebook. It’s thin and subtle but still catches the light from time to time. Samsung’s logo is etched deep into the metal so it stands out properly. The gray model is classy looking, too, though it lacks the visual wow factor of the red one.

See also: The best Chromebook you can get

Beyond the aesthetics, the Chromebook 2 is a spinning convertible. It acts in laptop mode, as well as tablet, tent, and presentation modes. Two metal hinges connect the top and bottom halves of the device and are strong enough to hold the Chromebook at whatever angle you set. I had total faith in the hinges, which were fluid and easy to manipulate, yet exacting and firm. There’s no included stylus with the Chromebook 2 as was with the original device. The screen supports an active digitizer if you care to supply your own.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 left edge
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 right edge

Samsung’s newest Chromebook looks more high-end than it really is, but that’s enough.

The Chromebook 2 is fairly compact thanks to the 13-inch screen size. It measures 305 x 203 x 15mm (12 x 8 x 0.59 inches) and weighs in at 1.23kg (2.71lbs). I wish it weighed just a little less, but the dimensions are nice. Shame about the pointy corners, which can poke you in the back if your backpack lacks padding.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 thin

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The lid may be metal, but the rest of the chassis is a heavy plastic material. This is most obvious when interacting with the keyboard, as the deck is plastic. I’d call it all well put together. The seams are all as tight as they need to be and everything about the laptop lines up perfectly. Samsung’s newest Chromebook looks more high-end than it really is, but that’s enough.

How are the display and keyboard?

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 display

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

It’s no 4K OLED, but the Chromebook 2’s Full HD QLED still impresses. It’s a 13.3-inch touch panel with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Those more interested in productivity may have preferred a 16:10 aspect ratio for more vertical space, but media lovers will enjoy the more traditional 16:9 setup. The screen has thin bezels on the top and sides, but there’s a fair amount of black framing below the screen.

More reading: Best Chromebooks under $300

Full HD resolution is more than enough for a screen this size. Items on the screen are clean and smooth. Text was easy to read, and I found the display to be sharp and crisp, with plenty of brightness for indoor and outdoor use. It has a glossy finish, which tends to be a bit reflective, but the brightness is enough to overcome those reflections. It’s quite good for watching movies.

The screen is a full touch panel, meaning you can use your finger or an optional stylus to interact with on-screen elements, apps, and such. It was certainly responsive enough in my testing.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 left keyboard profile

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Samsung’s keyboard design apes that of another popular laptop maker, if you know what I mean. The keys are thin and offer minimal travel and feedback, just like Apple’s MacBook series. I like the spacing of the keys and their profile, which allowed my fingers to glide over the keyboard quickly and accurately. If you’re a fan of big mechanical keyboards, this one likely won’t make you happy. If you like low-profile designs, you should find this one appealing.

If you like low-profile keyboard designs, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 has you covered.

The backlight feature isn’t quite as impressive. The characters on the individual keys light up when the keyboard senses it is in a dark environment or when you start typing something. You won’t see a traditional backlight, which would outline the actual keys themselves. This move likely uses less battery power, particularly since the keyboard is fairly aggressive at turning the key lights off after a few seconds of non-use. Moreover, the lighting isn’t particularly bright — it’s just enough to allow you to see the keys for orientation purposes. Lastly, you don’t have any control over the backlight feature, so you’re stuck with it.

The glass trackpad works well, though I wish it were just a bit bigger. That said, it’s responsive and accurate, which is what you want from a trackpad.

Also read: The best Chromebook accessories you can buy

Does the battery hold up?

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 tablet mode

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Samsung outfitted the Galaxy Chromebook 2 with a 5,920mAh, 45Wh battery. The four-cell power supply is rated to last all day long and it pushes through without issue.

Samsung says the battery should last 13 full hours. Over the course of using the Galaxy Chromebook for five days, I logged an average of 12.8 hours of battery life each day. It only matched the full 13 hours once, and never exceeded it.

Thirteen hours is about as much as you can ask from a modern Chromebook, and it’s certainly enough to get you through a work or school day. The only downside is it takes around two hours to charge back up from zero.

How powerful is the Galaxy Chromebook 2?

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 with optional red pen

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook comes in two configurations. There’s the entry-level Intel Celeron model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and the full-powered Intel Core i3 model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. We tested the latter variant. You get eMMC with both models instead of SSD drives, but it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker unless you want to copy large files.

Intel’s Core i3 chip is a solid engine for any Chromebook. We recently put it through its paces on the Asus Chromebox 4 and found it to deliver excellent performance. The same is true of the Core i3 in Samsung’s Chromebook. It delivered excellent day-to-day performance throughout our time with it. I was particularly pleased with how quickly Android apps opened and ran, and Chrome’s browser performance was quite good.

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 has more than enough power for everyday computing needs.

Running some benchmarks, the Chromebook scored well. It spanked the Qualcomm 7c-powered Acer Chromebook 513 and rated on par with the Core i3-enabled Asus Chromebox 4.

Suffice it to say, the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 has more than enough power for everyday computing needs. Of course, this only applies to the Intel version we tested, however. The lesser Celeron version with reduced RAM will likely be only suited to light browsing and productivity.

Anything else?

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 tent mode

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Ports: The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 is limited to just two USB-C ports, with one on each side. It also sports a microSD memory card slot and a combo 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack. I wish at least one USB-A port were available.
  • Speakers: The machine has two downward-firing speakers and they deliver quite a sonic punch. They sound best when the Chromebook 2 is placed on a hard surface, such as a table or desk. I was worried placing them on a soft surface, such as a couch or bed, would wreck the sound, but enough comes through the keyboard that you get solid sound no matter how you use the device.
  • Video camera: Samsung equipped the Chromebook 2 with a 720p webcam. I would prefer to see Full HD at this price point. That said, the camera does a fairly decent job even in low light.
  • Chrome OS: Chrome OS is a fortified platform that runs swiftly on this machine. Samsung and Google will supply security updates for a period of five years. Android apps are fully supported and the Google Play Store is on board.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 specs

  Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2
Display 13.3-inch QLED
Full HD 1,920 x 1,080p
16:9
Processor Intel Celeron
Intel Core i3
RAM 4GB, 8GB
Storage 64GB, 128GB eMMC
Battery 5,820mAh
45Wh
Four-cell
Lithium ion
Camera 720p webcam
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 6
Dimensions 305 x 203 x 15mm
(12 x 8 x 0.59 inches)
Weight 1.23Kg

Value and competition

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2
The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 packs a lot of tech into its flashy form factor. This 360-degree, 2-in-1 boasts a 13.3-inch QLED display, Intel Core i3 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, up to 128GB of storage, and plenty of battery power.

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 is a solid amount of machine for the money. It’s not the most machine for the money, but $699 for the preferred Intel variant is a fair price tag for what this device delivers. You’ve got a gorgeous Full HD screen, all-day battery life, and solid everyday performance. The convertible 360-degree hinge allows the device to be used in various modes, which further improves its value. Toss in premium sound and Wi-Fi 6 and you’ve got a very good Chromebook on your hands.

One of the primary competitors you’ll find in this space is the Google Pixelbook Go, which comes in an Intel Core m3 version for $649. There’s also the Asus Chromebook Flip C436, which comes with a Core i3 processor for $799. The C436 is one of the best out there.

Related: The best Chromebook deals

You’ll also find Samsung playing in the $799 space with its original Galaxy Chromebook, which has received a permanent cut from its original $999 price. The Galaxy Chromebook nets you a sharper screen and a faster processor at the expense of battery life.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 review: The verdict

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 rear profile

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Samsung made the right choices with the Galaxy Chromebook 2. Perhaps the company realized that its original machine didn’t deliver the right mix of performance that people require. The Chromebook 2 is a more complete Chromebook, even if it isn’t as exciting as last year’s device.

Related: Chromebook vs laptop; Which should you get?

In the plus column, Samsung managed to assemble an attractive Chromebook that exceeds on covering just the basics. The red model won’t be for everyone, but you can’t deny that it stands out from the crowded field of silver, gray, and black Chromebooks in the market. The QLED display assures bright, crisp action on the screen, the 5,920mAh battery powers through the day, and the Intel Core i3 chip pushes enough performance to keep tab hoarders happy.

Samsung managed to assemble an attractive Chromebook that exceeds expectations for this class of device.

There are some minor gripes. The short-throw keyboard is an acquired taste, there aren’t many ports, and the webcam is restricted to 720p. You should also avoid the cheaper Celeron model unless you’re a light user as you may encounter performance issues.

Taken as a whole, however, the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 is a competitive offering that could steal sales from Asus, Google, and other Chromebook makers.

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