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Samsung Galaxy Book Flex and Ion laptops first with QLED displays, wireless charging touchpads

You'll have to wait until 2020 to get your hands on them, though.

samsung-galaxy-book-flex-01

The Flex is Samsung's 2020 flagship premium two-in-one. 

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Samsung's done with 2019 -- at least as far as its laptop lineup is concerned. While we're still waiting on the Qualcomm-powered Galaxy Book S to arrive (Samsung says it's coming soon), the company announced its first two laptops coming in 2020: the two-in-one Galaxy Book Flex and clamshell Galaxy Book Ion. 

Both available in 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch sizes, the Flex and Ion will be the world's first laptops to use Samsung's QLED displays in 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. The displays on the preproduction models Samsung showed us looked amazing and they'll cover 100% sRGB and DCI-P3 color spaces and have a brightness up to 400 nits. But there will also be a setting for an Outdoor mode that pushes them up to 600 nits. And if you need more graphics power than Intel's integrated solutions, the 15-inch size will be available with entry-level Nvidia GeForce MX250 discrete graphics. 

Samsung Galaxy Book Flex


Galaxy Book Flex 13 Galaxy Book Flex 15
Dimensions 302.6 x 202.9 x 12.9 mm 355.0 x 227.2 x 14.9 mm
Weight 1.15 kg 1.57 kg (External graphics model) 1.52 kg (Internal graphics model)
Display 13.3-inch QLED FHD Display (1920 x 1080) 15.6-inch QLED FHD Display (1920 x 1080)
CPU 10th-generation Intel Core processor (Ice Lake) 10th-generation Intel Core processor (Ice Lake)
Graphics Intel Iris Plus Graphics or Intel UHD Graphics Nvidia GeForce MX250 and Intel Iris Plus or Intel UHD
Memory Up to 16GB (LPDDR4x) Up to 16GB (LPDDR4x)
Storage Up to 1TB SSD (NVMe) Up to 1TB SSD (NVMe)
WLAN Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+), 802.11ax 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+), 802.11ax 2x2
orts Thunderbolt 3 (2), USB-C (1), MicroSD reader, combo jack Thunderbolt 3 (2), USB-C (1), MicroSD reader, combo jack

Both the Flex and Ion are part of Intel's Project Athena program. Running on Intel's 10th-gen processors -- Ice Lake in the Flex, Comet Lake in the Ion -- these laptops will function a bit more like phones, giving you that instant-on experience and responsiveness. They'll also have longer battery lives and have Wi-Fi 6 (Gig Plus) and Thunderbolt 3, so you get fast wireless and wired connections, too. 

Also, both models will let you use their touchpads as wireless PowerShare chargers. Press a function key and it'll shutdown the pad so you can charge any Qi-enabled device on it. You clearly can't use the touchpad while you do it, but it's a nice extra to top off your battery while you're in a meeting or streaming video, or just use your laptop as a wireless charger instead of having a separate charger. Also, both the Ion and Flex have fingerprint readers in the keyboards for fast sign-ins when you're ready to work. 

Samsung Galaxy Book Ion


Galaxy Book Ion 13 Galaxy Book Ion 15
Dimensions 305.7 x 199.8 x 12.9 mm 356.1 x 228.0 x 14.9 mm
Weight 0.97 kg 1.26 kg (External graphics model) 1.19 kg (Internal graphics model)
Display 13.3-inch QLED FHD Display (1920 x 1080) 15.6-inch QLED FHD Display (1920 x 1080)
CPU 10th-generation Intel Core processor (Comet Lake) 10th-generation Intel Core processor (Comet Lake)
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics Nvidia GeForce MX250 or Intel UHD
Memory Up to 16GB (DDR4) Up to 16GB (DDR4) + 1 Sodimm
Storage Up to 1TB SSD (NVMe) Up to 1TB SSD (NVMe) + 1 SSD expandable slot
WLAN Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+), 802.11 ax 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+), 802.11 ax 2x2
Ports Thunderbolt 3, USB-A 3.0 (2), HDMI, MicroSD card reader, combo jack Thunderbolt 3, USB-A 3.0 (2), HDMI, MicroSD card reader, combo jack
samsung-galaxy-book-ion-01

The Ion is made from magnesium and weighs less than 2.2 pounds. 

Joshua Goldman/CNET

No pricing is available on these yet, but Samsung said the Ion is going to be more affordable than the Flex. Still, it definitely looks and feels like a premium laptop. Samsung used magnesium for the chassis so it's really light -- less than 2.2 pounds -- and has a lifting hinge design so your keyboard is at a better angle for typing, which is something we've seen before on Asus and HP laptops. It doesn't have a touch display, but that hole is filled with the Ion two-in-one. 

The blue aluminum Ion comes with one of Samsung's S Pens that stores in the body so you always have it for writing or sketching on the screen. And there's support for new air gesture controls like those for its Note 10 phone and Galaxy Tab S6 Android tablet

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I wasn't a huge fan of the direction Samsung took its laptops at the start of 2019, and these seem like a return to form. The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is good, for example, but lacks the unique charm of these 2020 models that I expect from Samsung. Do you think the Flex and Ion are worth waiting for?