Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G 13-inch review: Affordable 5G never looked so good

With an ultra-thin design, excellent keyboard, and OLED display, Samsung built an affordable and gorgeous 5G laptop.

Samsung Galaxy Book 5g 13 2021
(Image: © Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

In May 2021, I reviewed the Galaxy Book Pro 360. A 15-inch laptop with S Pen and a convertible design brought a slick, fresh look to Windows laptops while also adding a lot of value via its plethora of Galaxy apps.

Besides the 15-inch model, Samsung also had a 13-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360 design, with a promised 4G LTE with a 5G variant due later. Well, that device is now available as the Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G with either an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor. I've been using the Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G 13.3-inch for the last few months over the holidays, and I'm pretty smitten with what Samsung has pulled off here for a few reasons. I also have a few recommendations on how Samsung could make it even better.

But the real killer feature of this laptop is one you can't see. It's the ability to turn this laptop into a fanless ARM-like PC with a flick of the key. Let me explain …

Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G: Price and availability

Samsung Galaxy Book 5g 13 2021

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G 13.3-inch is available directly from Best Buy and Samsung. Pricing starts at $1,400 for the Core i5 version with 8GB of RAM and 256GB storage. Pricing goes up to $1,600 for the Core i7 model with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, although that version is more difficult to find.

Pricing has been mostly consistent. However, both Samsung and Best Buy have dropped the Core i5 version to just below $1,000 for short sales, which is a very compelling price if available.

Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G: What you'll like

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G 13.3-inch is similar to the 15.6-inch version except for no number pad and a much smaller overall design. I have used both extensively, but I prefer the 13-inch model due to its size and a better balance of features.

The Mystic Silver colorway with all black keys is also preferable to the 15-inch version's blue, which looked great but was a fingerprint magnet. The build quality is exceptional, with no creaks or flexes with the keyboard deck. That keyboard has very little travel at just 1mm, but the size of the keys and the actuation make it a joy to type on without the need for much effort. There is three-stage backlighting for those keys, which is sharp and excellent. Changing the brightness brings up an on-screen display to take the guesswork out of knowing that level.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G 13Galaxy Book Pro 360 15
OSWindows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro
Windows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro
Processor11th Gen Intel Core i5
11th Gen Intel Core i7
11th Gen Intel Core i5
11th Gen Intel Core i7
RAMUp to 16GB LPDDR4xUp to 16GB LPDDR4x
GraphicsIntel Iris XeIntel Irs Xe
StorageUp to 512GB NVMe SSDUp to 1TB NVMe SSD
Display13.3 inches
1920x1080 (FHD)
S Pen for inking
15.6 inches
1920x1080 (FHD)
S Pen for inking
PortsThunderbolt 4
3.5mm audio
microSD card reader
5G SIM (optional)
Thunderbolt 4
3.5mm audio
microSD card reader
AudioAKG speakers
Dolby Atmos
AKG speakers
Dolby Atmos
Connectivity5G (optional)
Wi-Fi 6E Ready
Bluetooth 5.1
Wi-Fi 6E Ready
Bluetooth 5.1
CameraFront-facing 720pFront-facing 720p
SecurityFingerprint readerFingerprint reader
65W AC adapter
65W AC adapter
Dimensions11.9 x 7.95 x 0.45 inches
(302.5mm x 202mm x 11.5mm)
13.97 x 8.98 x 0.47 inches
(354.85mm x 227.97mm x 11.9mm)
Weight2.29 pounds (1.04kg)3.06 pounds (1.39kg)
ColorMystic Navy
Mystic Bronze
Mystic Silver
Mystic Navy
Mystic Bronze

Ports are limited to just three Type-C, with two on the left and one on the right. Only one port (on the left) supports Thunderbolt 4, while the other two are standard USB C. A 3.5mm headphone jack is on the right side, while the microSD reader is on the left.

But the real selling point of Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G is, obviously, the combo 4G LTE and 5G modem (carrier unlocked), which, when combined with the super thin and light design, makes this laptop a fantastic choice for those who need productivity on the go. The Intel 5G Solution 5000 M.2 module (developed with MediaTek) diverges from the usual Snapdragon 5G chipsets, but it gets the job done. Performance with 4G LTE and Sub 6GHz 5G (no mmWave) was fast and reliable with little effect on battery life compared to Wi-Fi.

Oddly, while this Intel modem technically can support e-SIM, Samsung only leverages a physical nano-SIM (on the right side) for that 4G/5G connection.

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The 13.3-inch Super AMOLED display is on the low side for resolution at "just" Full HD (1920x1080) and peaks at just 283 nits of brightness (well below the typical 400 these days). But don't let that fool you. Super AMOLED blows away any standard LCD with similar specs. Screen brightness (along with a decent anti-reflective coating) is good enough for overcast days or in the back of a taxicab.

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G's color gamut is exceptional, with coverage for 100% sRGB, 96% AdobeRGB, and 100% DCI-P3 making it one of the most color-accurate laptop displays we have tested.

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Besides excellent color representation, this display also supports touch and inking via the Samsung S Pen. I find the S Pen often superior and more fun to use than Microsoft's Surface Pen, which applies here. Mixing Samsung's excellent assortment of Galaxy apps and this is an outstanding 2-in-1 laptop for taking notes, primarily because of its unparalleled thin-and-light design.

Speaking of those Galaxy apps, here is the complete list, all of which are user-removable:

  • Air Command
  • Clip Studio
  • Connect
  • Galaxy Book Experience
  • Galaxy Book Smart Switch
  • Link Sharing
  • Live Message
  • Live Wallpaper
  • Online Support (S Service)
  • Quick Search
  • Quick Share
  • Samsung Bluetooth Sync
  • Samsung Care+
  • Samsung DeX
  • Samsung Flow
  • Samsung Gallery
  • Samsung Notes
  • Samsung PC Cleaner
  • Samsung Recovery
  • Samsung Security
  • Samsung Settings
  • Samsung Studio Plus
  • Samsung TV Plus
  • Samsung Update
  • Samsung Voice Note
  • Samsung Screen Recorder
  • SmartThings

I think Samsung's Galaxy apps, especially if you have a matching Galaxy phone, are among the best PC and smartphone ecosystems around (besides Apple).

Samsung Galaxy Book 5g 13 2021 Hero

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The 720P webcam is merely OK. This laptop came out before Intel 12th Gen was announced, so OEMs didn't scramble to put in a Full HD camera. While there is no facial recognition to log you into Windows 11 Home automatically, a very reliable fingerprint reader is built into the power button on the keyboard deck.

Audio is handled by the bottom-firing AKG Speakers featuring Dolby Atmos. While not my favorite location for speakers, they perform pretty well with excellent clarity and fidelity despite the lack of bass and resonance.

But besides the 5G modem, one of my favorite features is one you don't see or hear. Samsung provides its own custom performance profiles for this laptop including Silent, Balanced, and Performance. Each one of those alters the fan speed to better match your environment. Fan profiles are not new, per se, but Samsung has a fourth one here I've never seen before: Fanless. Whereas Silent only uses the fan minimally, Fanless completely disables it.

As you would expect, turning the fan off will throttle the CPU to prevent overheating, which is reflected in benchmarks. But the result is still impressive. Geekbench performance for single-core is a good 500 points higher than Surface Pro X (SQ2) running a fanless ARM processor, although the Galaxy Book Pro 5G's multi-core falls score is about 1,000 points behind it. On PCMark 10, the Pro X takes the lead at a 5,088 score, while the Galaxy Book Pro only gets 3,555.

But the cool thing here is this is all user-choice. The option to take an x86 laptop with a simple keystroke basically makes it a fanless ARM PC to maximize battery life and keep things quiet is rather remarkable.