Samsung is primarily identified for its telephones and TVs, but it surely’s turn into clear that the corporate needs to turn into one of many default laptop computer producers. A string of 2020 releases included the Galaxy E book Flex, a high-end convertible with built-in S-Pen. Our 9/10 assessment put it on the prime of our greatest 2-in-1 chart, the place it has stayed for a lot of months.
Now, Samsung is again with a second era, including Tiger Lake processors, 5G and an additional digital camera to the combo. This is identical laptop computer that launched because the Galaxy E book Flex 5G again in September 2020, but it surely wasn’t till the arrival of the S21 vary in January that the machine made its approach to these shores.
Regardless of demand for reasonably priced laptops hitting unprecedented ranges up to now 12 months, Samsung has opted for the alternative strategy. The Galaxy E book Flex 2 is much more costly than the unique, a tool that was already out of many individuals’s finances. At this worth level, only a few compromises will probably be tolerated.
Design and construct
The Galaxy E book Flex 2 is undoubtedly a high-end machine, however that’s not instantly clear from the design. An aluminium construct is fairly typical of contemporary laptops, however the Royal Silver end doesn’t scream premium in the identical method a MacBook Professional does. I did want the standout Royal Blue color scheme on the unique mannequin, however that’s not obtainable right here. Nonetheless, this minimalist design may not be a foul factor for a £1,649 machine that is seemingly for use in public.
The 13.3in show (which we’ll discuss intimately later) is housed inside some impressively slim bezels, though these are unchanged from the common mannequin. Right here, you’ll discover the identical 720p webcam as final 12 months – it is nice for infrequent video calls however nothing extra, and nonetheless doesn’t assist face unlock. I had hoped that Samsung would prioritise the standard of its webcam this 12 months, though the corporate has added a second 13Mp snapper above the keyboard. That is designed for use as a rear digital camera in pill mode, and affords much better readability and dynamic vary. I nonetheless wouldn’t advocate utilizing this for something past the odd photograph for reference, however it could have been good to see the identical high quality of sensor used within the webcam.
As with the earlier mannequin, the Flex 2 has a 360-degree hinge, permitting it for use in ‘tent’ mode and as a pill of kinds. Home windows 10 nonetheless doesn’t really feel optimised for contact enter, though the hinge is way stronger and fewer wobbly than earlier than.
That keyboard I alluded to earlier has had a pleasant improve. It affords considerably extra journey and a extra convincing typing expertise than its predecessor, regardless of being unchanged aesthetically. The keys are backlit, though there doesn’t look like a approach to customise the brightness stage.
It consists of the identical fingerprint sensor as earlier than, which stays straightforward to enrol and near-faultless in its unlocking of the machine. Nevertheless, one minor criticism of the keyboard is that the operate keys don’t work with a single faucet – you will as a substitute have to carry down the ‘Fn’ key on the similar time. I couldn’t discover a approach to flip this off in settings. The trackpad is barely taller and narrower than the unique, however nonetheless feels cramped at instances. In case you plan on utilizing the machine long-term, I’d advocate connecting a separate mouse.
One other space which has seen important modifications is ports. Whereas many producers are selecting to take away them within the quest for ultra-thin and light-weight units, the Flex 2 is proof which you can retain a full vary of connectivity choices with out compromising on a premium design. Samsung has dropped one of many USB-C ports from the unique mannequin, however changed it with a full-size HDMI and USB-A. The latter’s absence was one of the crucial annoying issues in regards to the unique Flex, so I’m delighted to see it right here. You continue to get a three.5mm headphone jack and SIM card tray too, which is now 5G enabled.
It’s clear Samsung needs the Flex 2 for use for consuming content material in addition to productiveness, making audio system of paramount significance. A continued partnership with AKG meant audio was at all times going to be a powerful level, though there’s a noticeable enchancment to bass and readability right here.
Display and S-Pen
The Flex 2’s design prioritises performance over seems, however the identical can’t be mentioned of the show. The 13.3in Full HD OLED (or QLED, as Samsung calls it) touchscreen is a pleasure to make use of, providing full assist for the sRGB color gamut. You could possibly be forgiven for anticipating larger than the 1920×1080 decision at this worth level, however the wealthy, vivid viewing expertise greater than makes up for it. It’s significantly noticeable when watching TV or different multimedia content material, the place the colors actually pop. Samsung lets you tailor this to your liking with a alternative of six presets, however I used to be very happy to stay with the default ‘Auto’ setting.
The display screen additionally will get impressively vivid – I recorded 426 nits at 100% brightness, whereas a Samsung-specific ‘Outdoor+’ mode boosts this to an unbelievable 600 nits. The settings menu warns you that the latter will drain the battery in a short time, but it surely’s a pleasant choice to name on in direct daylight.
Samsung has moved the S-Pen to the entrance of the machine (or the highest when in pill mode), however its performance is basically unchanged. It connects immediately by way of Bluetooth, providing the identical 4096 ranges of contact sensitivity that the stylus has turn into identified for. Eradicating the S-Pen from its slot opens a Galaxy Notice-style menu, with choices to create notes, seize the display screen and create stay messages. I usually used it as a substitute of the touchpad at instances for a extra exact contact and observed virtually no enter delay. I nonetheless want the chunkier S-Pen you’ll discover with the Tab S7+, but it surely’s an actual bonus to have such a succesful stylus constructed into the machine.
The Flex 2 is powered by Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake processors, with a alternative of i5 or i7 chips. I can solely touch upon the latter, which can value you £200 greater than the bottom mannequin and wasn’t obtainable on the unique Flex. This combines with Intel Iris Xe graphics and as much as 16GB of RAM, though the mannequin I examined solely has eight.
Nonetheless, it provided stellar all-round efficiency, dealing with advanced net looking, multitasking and photograph modifying with ease. The machine isn’t pitched as a gaming machine, however I’d be stunned to see it falter in that space.
This sturdy efficiency has contributed to the Flex 2’s inclusion in Intel’s Evo Platform, a brand new class of premium skinny and light-weight laptops. To qualify, eligible units have to be working Intel’s newest chips, wake from sleep in lower than a second and provide 9 hours of utilization from a single cost. It additionally must have Thunderbolt four and Wi-Fi 6 assist, with the Flex 2 ticking all these bins.
Samsung has additionally added 5G to its laptop computer line for the very first time, however the comparatively restricted rollout of the know-how meant I wasn’t in a position to take a look at this for myself. Nonetheless, it does imply the machine is nicely future-proofed, making it an ideal moveable productiveness machine for a few years to return.
Battery and charging
One of many key causes for that is stellar battery life. The Flex 2 comes with the identical 69.7Wh battery as its predecessor, however affords considerably extra utilization from a single cost. To assist quantify this, I ran a 720p video loop take a look at with the brightness set to 120 nits, to provide an thought of the screen-on time you possibly can count on. I recorded an especially spectacular 19 hours and 44 minutes earlier than the machine put itself to sleep. That’s among the many highest figures we’ve ever had at Tech Advisor, and a full two hours longer than the unique Flex.
Nevertheless, there are a few caveats to pay attention to right here. Firstly, 120 nits actually isn’t that vivid – in a well-lit atmosphere you’ll in all probability need it larger for a snug viewing expertise. Enjoying the identical video on loop, whereas helpful, can also be removed from typical of on a regular basis utilization. It’s virtually sure you gained’t get that lengthy earlier than reaching for the charger, however a full work day must be nicely inside attain.
Speaking of charging, the Flex 2 comes with a 65W quick charger within the field. It connects by way of both of the USB-C ports (having one on both aspect is handy), and I used to be in a position to get 42% cost again in simply 30 minutes.
To assist keep battery well being, Samsung has additionally included a ‘Battery life extender +’ function in Settings. When turned on, the utmost your battery can cost to is 85%, which Samsung says will lengthen the bodily lifetime of the battery. It’s one of some software program tweaks dotted round Home windows 10, however none have a giant impact on the feel and appear of the working system.
Value and worth for cash
Value is the large factor that counts towards the Flex 2. It begins at an eye-watering £1,649 by way of the Samsung web site and Amazon within the UK, with the i7 mannequin I examined coming in at £1,849. The machine is just not presently obtainable within the US.
Whereas there are some clear upgrades over the unique Flex, I hoped for a worth drop with a view to make it extra aggressive. When you think about that many units in our greatest laptop computer chart value barely half the value of the Flex 2, it turns into a lot more durable to justify.
Nevertheless, O2 promoting the Flex 2 on contract could assist soften the blow. Plans begin at £45.99 a month with £20 upfront for 1GB of 5G information. That’s nonetheless a major funding, even should you do get AKG Y500 wi-fi headphones and 6 months’ free Disney+ at no additional value.
The Flex 2 is arguably essentially the most full 2-in-1 laptop computer you should buy, however you’ll pay for the privilege – not less than £1,649 to be precise. In change, you get a stunning 13.3in OLED show, glorious efficiency and really excellent battery life. The brand new secondary digital camera provides versatility to the pill mode, whereas the addition of a USB-A and full-size HDMI port is way welcomed. You additionally get Samsung’s signature built-in S-Pen, whereas the brand new hinge is much sturdier than final 12 months’s mannequin.
Apart from the fairly boring Royal Silver color scheme and a barely clunky trackpad, there’s actually not a lot to complain about right here. I simply want it wasn’t so costly – that alone makes the Flex 2 way more troublesome to advocate.
Try how we take a look at laptops for extra info on what goes into certainly one of our evaluations.
Samsung Galaxy E book Flex 2: Specs
11th-gen Intel Core i5/i7 processor
Intel Iris Xe graphics
13.3in FHD QLED Show (1920 x 1080) with Contact Display Panel
69.7Wh battery with 65W USB-C quick charging
2x USB-C ports (1 Thunderbolt), 1x USB-A, 1x HDMI, three.5mm headphone jack
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