Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 Review

It’s true that Chrome OS can run on less powerful hardware than Windows 10 or 11. However, the most recent trend in Chromebooks has been a spike in models with CPUs more powerful than an Intel Celeron, RAM greater than the basic minimum of 4GB, and solid-state drives more generous and capable than a meager 64GB of eMMC flash storage. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 defies the trend, hoping that you will notice its eye-catching Fiesta Red color and high-quality QLED display instead of any of the above. Those are fantastic features, but the decision to pay $549 for a Chromebook that is otherwise equipped like one half the price is yours.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 Review
7
The snazzy chassis writes a check its components can’t cash
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

PROS

  • Snazzy Fiesta Red design 
  • QLED touch screen 
  • Wi-Fi 6 support

CONS

  • Celeron processor, little memory and storage
  • Poor value for money performance
  • There are no HDMI or USB Type-A connectors, and there is no stylus.

SAMSUNG GALAXY CHROMEBOOK 2 SPECS

Laptop ClassChromebook
ProcessorIntel Celeron 5205U
Processor Speed1.9 GHz
RAM (as Tested)4 GB
Boot Drive TypeeMMC Flash Memory
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)64 GB
Screen Size13.3 inches
Native Display Resolution1920 by 1080
Touch ScreenYes
Panel TechnologyQLED
Variable Refresh SupportNone
Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz
Graphics ProcessorIntel UHD Graphics
Wireless NetworkingBluetooth, 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)
Dimensions (HWD)0.55 by 12 by 8 inches
Weight2.71 lbs
Operating SystemGoogle Chrome OS
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)8:02

Mind you, that’s ‘QLED,’ not ‘OLED.’

The Galaxy Chromebook 2 is a more inexpensive version of Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook, which debuted in early 2020 for $999 and featured a stunning AMOLED screen with 4K resolution. The touch screen on this variant is the same size (13.3 inches), but the resolution is full HD (1,920 by 1,080-pixels).

Instead of the OLED technology that is increasingly being used in high-end laptops, the QLED design is an improvement on a standard LCD. It features an LED backlight, so black pixels aren’t completely dark, but QLED technology uses a quantum dot filter to boost contrast and make colors more vibrant.

It’s a good compromise, but the Galaxy 2’s other compromises may not be as appealing. It sports a dual-core Celeron 5205U processor rather than the Core i5 of its predecessor. It’s heavier than the previous Galaxy Chromebook—2.71 pounds against 2.3 pounds—and it doesn’t come with an S-Pen stylus. To be fair, the new Samsung is more compact than another recently reviewed 13.3-inch convertible, the 2.97-pound Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook; it measures 0.55 by 12 by 8 inches vs 0.67 by 12.2 by 8.4 inches for the Lenovo.

Our test unit is a Best Buy setup that costs $549. A model with a 10th Generation Intel Core i3 CPU and double the memory (8GB) and storage (128GB, however it’s still eMMC flash instead of an SSD) is also available from the retailer. Mercury Gray is also available in both forms. The Core i3 is expected to deliver faster performance (see the benchmark results below), but at $699, it’s well into premium consumer Chromebook territory.

The Galaxy 2 has a dimly lighted keyboard, but no privacy shutter for its webcam, and no fingerprint reader to prevent inputting passwords. On the plus side, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth are included, and the bright red chassis with black keyboard stands out visually, aided by low screen bezels (except for the thick bottom bezel). The laptop is plastic with an aluminum lid; there isn’t much flex if you hold the screen corners or press the keyboard deck, yet the screen wobbles in clamshell mode, as with many 2-in-1 computers.

Because this laptop lacks an HDMI connector on the borders, you’ll need a USB Type-C DisplayPort dongle to connect an external monitor. One on each side of the Samsung is a USB Type-C port that can handle the small AC adapter. A volume rocker, a headphone jack, and a microSD card slot are all located on the left edge. The power button is located on the right side of the device.

Friendly Characteristics

With rich, well-saturated colors and wide viewing angles, the Galaxy 2’s QLED touch screen is by far its best feature. The contrast is strong, with excellent details and no pixelation around the borders of lettering, and the white backgrounds look spotless rather than dingy.

Brightness is adequate, however after setting a laptop’s screen to its highest brightness setting, I usually always wish there were one or two more notches left in reserve. If you think the display’s native 1080p resolution makes screen elements and text look too small, you can choose from multiple faux or “looks like” settings, much like on most Chromebooks. (The default setting is 1,536 by 864 pixels.)

Galaxy Chromebook 2 (Google Storage)

As previously stated, the keyboard illumination isn’t that bright, but it does make the letters on the keys look more contrasty. The keyboard follows the typical Chromebook layout, with system and browser functions on the top row and a search/menu key in place of Caps Lock. One annoyance: it took me two or three taps to get the menu bar to stay on the screen instead of displaying quickly and then disappearing.

The keyboard is responsive and nice to type on. The sound of keystrokes is audible, but not too so. With a stiff click, the compact, buttonless touchpad glides and taps smoothly.

Meanwhile, the 720p webcam is standard for low-cost laptops. With a little noise or static, it captures reasonably well-lit and colorful photographs. The bottom-firing speakers are similarly in the middle: they create loud but not tinny sound. Although there is no bass, overlapping tracks can be heard.

Testing the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2: Last in the Chromebook Pack

I compared the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 to four other Chromebooks for our benchmark charts. In clamshell and convertible forms, the Google Pixelbook Go and the previously mentioned Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook both have a 13.3-inch screen size. The 11.6-inch Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is a convertible laptop. The HP Chromebook x2 2021 version is an 11-inch detachable or tablet-and-keyboard hybrid. The table below shows their fundamental specifications.

Galaxy Chromebook 2

We put Chromebooks through their paces with three different performance benchmark suites: Chrome OS, Android, and internet. The first, Principled Technologies’ CrXPRT 2, assesses how rapidly a system can complete common tasks such as applying photo effects, charting a stock portfolio, analyzing DNA sequences, and building 3D shapes using WebGL. The second, UL’s PCMark for Android Work 3.0, uses a smartphone-style window to do various productivity tasks. Finally, Basemark Web 3.0 combines low-level JavaScript calculations with CSS and WebGL content in a browser tab. All three produce numerical results; the larger the number, the better. (To learn more about how we test laptops, go here.)

The Galaxy 2 held its own against the HP detachable’s Qualcomm ARM CPU, but fell short of outshining the Acer (with its older, ostensibly slower Celeron) and the Lenovo’s 11th Generation Intel Core i3. If you limit yourself to two or three apps or open browser tabs, the Samsung isn’t too slow, but it’s a slug by Chromebook standards. Even opening the Files app takes a long time instead of being instantaneous.

Test System Configurations

PROCESSORGRAPHICSRAMSTORAGE
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2Intel Celeron 5205U (1.9GHz)Intel UHD Graphics4GB RAM64GB eMMC
Acer Chromebook Spin 311Intel Celeron N4000 (1.1GHz)Intel UHD Graphics 6004GB RAM32GB eMMC
Google Pixelbook GoIntel Core i5-8200Y (1.3GHz)Intel UHD Graphics 6158GB RAM256GB SSD
HP Chromebook x2 (2021)Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c (2.4GHz)Qualcomm Adreno 6188GB RAM64GB eMMC
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook (2021)Intel Core i3-1115G4 (3.0GHz)Intel UHD Graphics8GB RAM128GB SSD

The CPU and GPU are the focus of two more Android benchmarks. The Primate Labs GFXBench 5.0 stress-tests both low-level routines like texturing and high-level, game-like image rendering that exercises graphics and compute shaders, while Geekbench uses all available cores and threads to simulate real-world applications ranging from PDF rendering to speech recognition to machine learning. GFXBench counts frames per second, while Geekbench gives a numerical score (fps).

Finally, we loop a 720p movie file with screen brightness set to 50%, audio volume set to 100%, and Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting disabled until the device shuts down to evaluate a Chromebook’s battery. We play the video from an external SSD plugged into a USB port if there isn’t enough internal storage.

Galaxy Chromebook 2

Again, we consider the IdeaPad’s Core i3 to be a typical Chromebook processor nowadays (many systems have Core i5 or AMD Ryzen chips that outperform it), but the Samsung only has a third or a quarter of the power—fine for a $199 or $249 Chromebook, but difficult to swallow for a $549 Chromebook. Its battery life in our battery test was adequate but not extraordinary, despite the fact that, like the HP and Acer, it had to power the external SSD with the 70GB video file.

Compare with similar items

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2Google Pixelbook GoSAMSUNG Galaxy ChromebookSAMSUNG Galaxy Chromebook 2 (Renewed)
Customer Rating4.4 out of 54.5 out of 54.2 out of 5
Computer Memory Size8 GB8 GB8 GB8 GB
Connectivity TechnologyWi-Fi, Bluetooth, USBWi-Fi, BluetoothWi-Fi, Bluetooth, USBWi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB
CPU ModelCore i3Core m3-8100YCore i5-10210UCore i3
CPU Model ManufacturerIntelIntelIntelIntel
CPU Speed2.1 GHz01.6 GHz2.1 GHz
Display Resolution Maximum1920 x 1080 pixels1920 x 1080 pixels3840 x 2160 pixels1920 x 1080 pixels
Screen Size13.313.3 inches13.3 inches13.3
Display TechnologyQLEDAMOLEDQLED
Graphics CoprocessorIntel UHD GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics
Graphics DescriptionIntegratedIntegratedIntegratedIntegrated
Hard Disk DescriptionHDDssdHDD
Hard Disk Size128 GB64 GB256 GB0 TB
Hardware PlatformChromebookPCChrome
Human Interface InputTouchscreen, Keyboard, MicrophoneTouch Pad, Microphone, Touchscreen, KeyboardTouchscreen with Stylus SupportMicrophone, Keyboard, Touchscreen
Item Dimensions12 x 8 x 0.6 inches12.2 x 8.1 x 0.5 inches11.92 x 8 x 0.39 inches12 x 8 x 0.6 inches
Operating SystemChrome OSChrome OSChrome OSChrome OS
Processor Count1111
RAM TypeDDR3 SDRAMUnknownDDR4 SDRAMDDR3 SDRAM
Wireless Communication Standard802.11ax802.11a/b/g/n/ac802.11ax, Bluetooth802.11ax
Wireless Communication TechnologyWi-Fi, BluetoothWi-Fi, BluetoothWi-Fi, BluetoothWi-Fi, Bluetooth

Conclusion: Avoid the Celeron.

Overall, we can’t suggest the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 Celeron configuration—you’ll be much happier with the faster Core i3 model, while $699 can get you any of numerous faster, more desired Chrome OS or Windows laptops. The Samsung’s sleek design and stunning QLED screen are undeniably appealing, but its chassis writes a check that its components are unable to cash.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 Review
7
The snazzy chassis writes a check its components can’t cash
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

PROS

  • Snazzy Fiesta Red design 
  • QLED touch screen 
  • Wi-Fi 6 support

CONS

  • Celeron processor, little memory and storage
  • Poor value for money performance
  • There are no HDMI or USB Type-A connectors, and there is no stylus.


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