Every year in January, companies big and small descend on Las Vegas to attend the annual CES conference for consumer electronics. If there’s one name that is almost ubiquitous in the sector, it’s Samsung. From TVs, to phones, to appliances, Samsung has a well-established place in many, many consumers’ homes. An area where it has pushed further into in recent years is PCs with its notebooks and Chromebooks (a trend I first noticed at CES 2017—see my coverage here). At CES 2020 (which I attended along with several other Moor Insights & Strategy analysts), Samsung continued that push. Today I wanted to share my take on some of the bigger news items.
Project Athena-certified Galaxy Chromebook
The star of the show, in my opinion, was Samsung’s newly announced Galaxy Chromebook. At 9.9mm thick, Samsung says the premium 2-in-1 is the thinnest Samsung Chromebook to date. It features a 13.3” AMOLED display (a Chromebook first) with 4K UHD resolution. Additionally, at 3.9mm, its bezel is quite thin. Upping the visual experience, Samsung says later this year the Chromebook will feature HDR400 high-contrast graphics and Ambient EQ abilities. The company says these features will make the display easier on the eyes, reducing eye strain.
Make no mistakes, this 2-in-1 is intended to be a premium device. It features the latest 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, and was co-engineered with Intel through its Project Athena initiative (announced last CES). Project Athena, for the unfamiliar, is an effort to bring “a new class of advanced laptops” to market that can enable and accelerate next generation technologies such as 5G and AI. In order to achieve the Project Athena designation, Samsung says the Galaxy Chromebook had to undergo rigorous testing to hit various hardware and experience targets. These include but are not limited to responsiveness, instant wake, and battery life specifications. Additionally, the device features Intel Wi-Fi 6 connectivity.
Since it is a Galaxy product after all, the device seeks to incorporate popular features from Samsung’s Galaxy line of mobile devices. These include the ability to sync files automatically across all Android devices via Google Drive, and the ability to use Click-to-Call and Messaging apps. Samsung also touts the device’s Instant Tethering feature, which it says enables boot times as fast as 6 seconds. The Chromebook, obviously, runs on Chrome OS, and users can enjoy the full benefits of its Google Assistant functionality.
Additional features include a backlit keyboard, a built-in pen for productivity, two cameras (1MP on the front, 8MP on the keyboard deck), stereo speakers, a fingerprint reader for security and an internal digital dual array and mono mic. As far as I/O goes, it includes 2 USB C ports, a 3.5pi HP/Mic input, and a UFS/MicroSD reader. It comes with up to 16 GB LPDDR3 memory, and up to 1TB SSD storage.
To top it all off, the Galaxy Chromebook looks snazzy. It’s made of aluminum, and available in both Fiesta Red and Mercury Gray color options. Looks aren’t everything, but when marketing a premium device, they certainly don’t hurt.
I’m personally not a big Chromebook user, but it sure looks like Samsung and Google are more serious than ever.
Galaxy Book Flex α “alpha”
The other new PC announcement I wanted to hit on was the unveiling of the Galaxy Book Flex α (alpha) 2-in-1. Not unlike the Galaxy Chromebook, this device represents a further blurring of the lines between mobile and PC—a task that Samsung is uniquely suited for. It is light (1.19kg), thin (13.9mm), made of sturdy aluminum, and claims an impressive 17.5 hour battery life on MobileMark (with fast charging capabilities). Like the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, it also features a 10th generation Intel Core Processor and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. It also sports a 13.3” QLED FHD display and Intel UHD graphics. Users can choose between 8GB or 12GB of DDR4 memory, and between 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD (NVMe) storage.
The device also includes a backlit keyboard, a fingerprint reader, stereo speakers, and a 720p HD camera with a Dual Array Digital Mic. Unlike the Galaxy Chromebook, the device’s Active Pen must be purchased separately. Lastly, as far as I/O goes, the Galaxy Book Flex α features a USB-C port, 2 USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, a MicroSD reader, and a 3.5pi HP/Mic input. As of now, it only comes in Royal Silver, and will begin shipping in the U.S. during the first half of this year.
6.7 million Galaxy 5G smartphones and counting
The last thing I wanted to mention was some important numbers that Samsung shared at CES 2020. The company revealed that it has already shipped over 6.7 million Galaxy 5G smartphones globally, all of which will be ready to take advantage of the benefits of 5G networks as they roll out over the coming year. For that matter, Samsung claims that as of this past November it accounted for approximately 53.9% of all of the global smartphone market. The company also emphasized that it leads the market in terms of number of 5G offerings—currently 5 different Galaxy 5G devices. 2020 is going to be a big year for 5G devices, and Samsung already has a jump on many of its competitors.
I was glad to see Samsung continue its push further into the PC arena, especially with these two compelling-looking devices with unique feature sets. I am surprised the company didn’t get more aggressive before, but with the smartphone market lack of growth, the company is smart to improve its line.
I cannot wait to get my hands on the Galaxy Chromebook and try it out for myself. The company continues to blur the lines between mobile and PC, with these sleek, lightweight 2-in-1s. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Analyst Anshel Sag covered some of the gaming-related Samsung announcements here.
Note: Moor Insights writers and researchers contributed to this analysis.