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Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G review: In need of improvement

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,849
inc VAT (Core i7 model)

A 2-in-1 laptop that seems to have it all, but the Galaxy Book Flex2 5G is undermined by two major issues

Pros 
Integrated 5G
Comes with a stylus
Very good battery life
Cons 
Rattly keyboard
Very expensive
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Samsung has made quite a splash since re-entering the UK laptop market in 2020 and its latest model – the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G – is making more waves. It’s the first 5G-enabled laptop we’ve reviewed to date and it’s also the firm’s first laptop to be equipped with Intel’s latest 11th gen CPUs.

Wearing Intel’s EVO badge firmly on its sleeve, the Galaxy Book Flex2 5G is a thoroughbred among 2-in-1 laptops but can it match the success of its older sibling, the Galaxy Book Ion, which has spent a solid year on our best laptops list?

READ NEXT: The best gaming laptops to buy right now

Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G review: What you need to know

The Flex is nothing if not well equipped. In addition to 5G connectivity, it also comes with a 360-degree hinge that allows the display to be folded over back on itself so you can use it in a variety of different modes. Despite the extra hinge mechanism, however, it’s slim, sleek and lightweight and no thicker or bulkier than most “normal” laptops.

It has a 13.3in Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) QLED touchscreen, with support for the bundled stylus, which stows away neatly in a slot on the front edge of the laptop. In addition to its 720p webcam, the Flex2 also has a 13MP camera embedded in the keyboard deck, just above the F1 key.

Inside, it comes with a choice of 11th gen Intel CPUs – the Core i5-1135G7 or the Core i7-1165G7 – 8GB of RAM and either a 256GB or 512GB PCIe SSD.

Buy now from Samsung


Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G review: Price and competition

Prices for the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G range from £1,649 for the Core i5 model (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) to £1,849 for the Core i7 model (8GB, 512GB SSD), so it’s definitely on the pricey end of the 2-in-1 spectrum.

You might be able to justify these prices in light of the 5G support and the 13MP camera but be aware that there’s plenty of quality alternatives available for a lot less cash if these features aren’t a requirement.

One of those is the Lenovo Yoga 9i, which starts at £1,000 (Core i5-1135G7, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD) and tops out at £1,700 (11th gen Core i7-1185G7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD) and also comes with a built-in stylus.

We’re also fans of the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, which you can get hold of from £1,149 with an Intel Core i5-1135G7, plus 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Both are far cheaper than the Samsung and, in my view, better laptops, notwithstanding the lack of extras.

Buy the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 from Dell


Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G review: Design and key features

If you’re stuck on the 5G and camera capabilities, however, how does the rest of the laptop stack up?

In terms of its size, weight and general design, there’s nothing wrong with it at all. It weighs a mere 1.26kg without the charger and at 14.9mm thin you’re not going to be complaining about its bulk either. Other laptops are lighter and thinner, but not by a huge amount and the general build quality is exceptional, especially in the hinges, which feel robust and smooth.

The blocky sides and slab-like profile means that there’s plenty of room for a practical selection of ports and sockets, too. On the right edge, next to the SIM slot and small, rectangular power button, are full-sized USB-A (3.2 Gen 1) and HDMI connectors. On the left you get a pair of USB-C ports (one Thunderbolt 4 enabled), a 3.5mm headset jack and a microSD card slot.

With the stylus stashed in a slot at the front edge, a selection of Samsung’s own note-taking software applications to go with it, the 13MP camera and 5G connectivity, the Flex2 is certainly better equipped than most laptops.

The question is, do you need those extra features? Not really. For data on the move, you can simply tether to your phone. And I simply cannot see the point of being able to snap photos or capture video with a laptop. The quality is quite good but why on earth would you fumble around attempting to take a photograph with a 1.26kg laptop when the phone in your pocket is easier to use and more than likely does a better job?

The only “extra” feature that’s genuinely useful is the stylus and even then I’d hazard you’ll use it less than you think you will.

There are more serious issues than these and the main one is that the keyboard is disappointing. The keys have very little travel to them and they’re loose, rattling as you type. They also buzz worryingly when you turn up the speakers. The backlight, too, is rather patchy and although the touchpad works reliably, it isn’t particularly large.

READ NEXT: The best gaming laptops to buy right now

Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G review: Display and audio

That’s a shame, because I have no complaints whatsoever about the display. It’s a 13.3in FHD QLED touch panel that’s calibrated to DCI-P3 and it’s colour accurate within that colour space, too.

It performed well in our technical tests with brightness peaking at around 417cd/m2 – bright enough to remain readable in most situations, even outdoors – a contrast ratio of 1,320:1 that ensures colours really pop off the screen. It also has a decent colour accuracy average delta E of 1.43 (within the DCI-P3 colour gamut).

In short, it’s a stunning laptop to watch movies and TV on. So good, in fact, that you may forgo your TV in favour of folding the Flex around into stand mode and donning your headphones.

The speakers and microphone quality both do a pretty good job, too. The former go loud and clear and produce sound with a decent amount of body, although they’re spoiled by the rattly, buzzy keyboard when you turn them up loud. The microphone picks up voices clearly and works well whether on your lap or a desk.

Buy now from Samsung


Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G review: Performance

As detailed above, you can buy the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G in a couple of different configurations. It comes with either a 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5-1135G7 or a 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-1165G7 and 8GB of RAM, backed up by either a 256GB or 512GB PCIe SSD.

I was sent the top-end model with the Core i7 on-board and it performed exactly as I would expect it to perform with this setup. It’s a little slower than the Lenovo Yoga 9i overall, which has the slightly faster Core i7-1185G7 inside. It’s a lot slower than the Apple MacBook Air 2019 and it’s better than the disappointing Asus ZenBook Flip UX371E, whose thermal management issues caused it to throttle much earlier under sustained load.

I’ve also included results in the graph for both the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 and the 2019 Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 to demonstrate how big a jump in performance there has been between the 10th gen and 11th gen Intel CPUs. An impressive 15% to 20% boost for CPU workloads and nearly double the performance in games thanks to the Iris Xe GPU.

Perhaps even more welcome than the uplift in raw speed is the impressive level of stamina on offer from this little Samsung all-in-one. Just like the Galaxy Book Ion last year, the Flex2 5G performed magnificently, lasting 13hrs 37mins in our video rundown test. That’s even longer than the Galaxy Book Ion and not far behind the sensational M1 Apple MacBook Air.

READ NEXT: The best gaming laptops to buy right now

Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 review: Verdict

On the face of it, the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G has it all: impressive performance and battery life, a high-resolution camera and 5G capability, plus a built-in stylus and well-made 360-hinge. Its display is excellent and it’s about as slim, light and attractive as 2-in-1 laptops get.

Alas, all the good work is undermined by two major issues. The first is the keyboard, which is hugely disappointing; it’s rattly, shallow and the backlight is patchy.

And the second is the price, which at £1,649 for the Core i5 model and £1,849 for the Core i7, is very high. For that sort of cash you’d rightly expect perfection, or nigh on it. Alas, the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G falls a little short of that.


Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G specifications

vs Lenovo Yoga 9i

vs Asus ZenBook Flip UX731E

ProcessorIntel Core i7-1165G7Intel Core i7-1185G7Intel Core i7-1165G7
RAM8GB16GB16GB
Additional memory slotsNoNoNo
Max. memory8GB16GB16GB
Graphics adapterIntel Iris XeIntel Iris XeIntel Iris Xe
Graphics memorySharedSharedShared
Storage256GB512GB1TB
Screen size (in)13.314.013.3
Screen resolution1,920 x 1,0803840 x 21603,840 x 2,160
Pixel density (PPI)166315331
Screen typeQLEDLCD IPSOLED
TouchscreenYesYesYes
Pointing devicesTouchpad, stylusToucpad, Active PenTouchpad
Optical driveNoNoNo
Memory card slotYes, microSDNoNo
3.5mm audio jackYesYesNo (USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter supplied)
Graphics outputsHDMI, Thunderbolt 4USB-C (Thunderbolt 4)HDMI 1.4, USB-C (Thunderbolt 4)
Other portsUSB Type-A 3.1, 2 x USB Type-C Thunderbolt 41 x USB-A (3.2 Gen 1); 2 x USB-C (Thunderbolt 4)
Web Cam720p720p720p
SpeakersStereoStereo Dolby AtmosStereo
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
BluetoothBluetooth 5.1Bluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.1
NFCNoNoNo
Dimensions, mm (WDH)305 x 202 x 14.9mm318 x 211 x 15mm305 x 211 x 11.9-13.9mm
Weight (kg) - with keyboard where applicable1.261.341.2
Battery size (Wh)69.76067
Operating systemWindows 10 HomeWindows 10 HomeWindows 10 Pro

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