MacBook Air vs. Samsung Galaxy Book Pro: What $999 buys for each
They may have similar specs, but the same configuration means different things for Windows and MacOS.
Lori GruninSenior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
ExpertisePhotography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Samsung's recent generation of its Galaxy Book family tackles Apple head on, right down to the attempt to get its Galaxy phones to integrate with Windows and the rest of its products as deeply as Apple's iOS devices integrate with each other. So it's no surprise that Samsung's new thin-and-light clamshell Galaxy Book Pro laptop bears some resemblance to its opposite number, the MacBook Air. Like Apple's model, it starts at $999 (£999 in the UK, but it doesn't seem to be offered in Australia).
For instance, there's a custom Bluetooth implementation that lets Galaxy Buds instantly connect, Quick Share for near-instant transferring of files and content between Galaxy devices, SmartThings Find to locate a Galaxy phone, tablet or wearables and ways to use a Galaxy tablet as a second screen, answer calls and check notifications on your phone, run Samsung Android apps on your laptop from your Galaxy phone and more.
Watch this: Samsung's new Galaxy Book laptops add AMOLED screens, promise future 5G
There are naturally some significant differences between the two. Notably, Samsung's use of Intel's 11th-gen CPU while Apple has switched over to its home-grown Apple M1, but otherwise the feature sets of the two look quite similar.
And in some cases, similar specifications don't mean the same thing on Windows as they do on MacOS. For instance, while the base offering of 8GB is common on budget Windows systems, we've seen much better performance out of that 8GB in MacOS than you get under Windows. But the Galaxy Book Pro is lighter, with a broader selection of ports and potentially longer battery life than its Apple competitor. For instance, the Samsung's Thunderbolt 4 port can handle more video devices than the Air's Thunderbolt 3 -- but the Air has two of them, so that might be a wash; the Galaxy Book Pro's USB-A connection and miniSD card slot can come in handy, though.
The Galaxy comes in two sizes as well, 13-inch and 15-inch, and Samsung offers same-price two-in-one convertible versions of both, the Galaxy Book 360. The starting $999 price for the laptop is for the entry-level 13-inch model. The company touts a $450 price, but that's with a maximum-value trade in; in fact, if you're willing and able to trade in a Galaxy Z Fold 2, you can get $600 off. Otherwise, the only device worth that $550 off is the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus.