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TECHnalysis Research Blog

February 1, 2023
Samsung Looking to Impact the PC Market

By Bob O'Donnell

As with many major tech vendors, Samsung has developed a fairly regular cadence of updates for its major product lines. So, in a surprise to absolutely no one, the company unveiled its latest generation S series smartphone, the S23, at its recent Galaxy Unpacked event in San Francisco. As expected, it offered several nice incremental enhancements to the previous version, including a new 200 Mpixel image sensor for the main camera, a special speed-bumped version of the latest generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SOC (system on chip), a modestly refined design, and a few new colors.

What was more surprising, however, was that the company also unveiled its latest generation Galaxy notebook PCs at the same event. While the company has held events for its PC launches in the past, it has never chosen to include PCs in its high profile, mainstream phone launches. Between that philosophical choice as well as the increased focus that the company placed on software tools to ease the process of using your phone alongside your PC (and tablet), it’s clear Samsung is making a more serious effort at becoming a bigger player in the PC market.

Of course, given the widely acknowledged challenges the market is expected to face this year, the timing is not ideal. Still, Samsung has been an intriguing, though little-known entrant to the PC space for some time now. If the company continues to follow through on the statement it made at this Unpacked Event, it could end up becoming a serious PC competitor in the premium market.

To start with, the company unveiled a pretty complete set of offerings in its third-generation Galaxy Book line with a few interesting Samsung-specific twists. Leveraging 13th Gen Intel Core processors across the board, Samsung now has lightweight traditional clamshell notebook designs in 14” and 16” (the Galaxy Book3 Pro), 2-in-1 convertible designs (the Galaxy Book3 Pro 360), and an Nvidia GPU-enhanced Galaxy Book3 Ultra. All four designs include a Samsung built 3K (2,880 x 1,800) resolution Dynamic AMOLED 2X display running at 120 Hz that offers a very impressive color range and extremely low blue light levels, making the screens very easy on the eyes.

This screen technology made its first appearance in Galaxy phones, so it’s a good example of the kind of technology transfer between products that Samsung is uniquely able to do. Along the same lines, the company is also using a version of the vapor chamber cooling technology from last year’s S22 smartphone in its latest PC designs. Moving forward, I’d also like to see Samsung do things like integrate the selfie camera from its phones into PCs, as well as make an integrated 5G modem standard across all models. (Some models of the Galaxy Book3 Pro 360 will apparently have optional sub-6 capable 5G modems in certain markets, but that configuration unfortunately won’t be available in the US.) These are the kinds of changes that I believe potential customers would expect from Samsung. In addition, I think they could really make the hardware designs stand out from the crowd. Still, it’s good to see them start to take steps in the direction of leveraging their mobile technology DNA into PC designs.

In addition to hardware, Samsung made a big point to emphasize both some of its own software and its joint efforts with Microsoft and Google to make the process of using Windows-based PCs and Android-based phones together easier and faster. Windows Phone Link continues to be preinstalled on all the latest Galaxy smartphones and the latest version adds a few new features, notably the ability to automatically turn on your Galaxy phone’s mobile hotspot when a Galaxy Book3 is nearby. While this Instant Hotspot feature still doesn’t replace built-in 5G for a PC, it should work well in many situations. Samsung also discussed the ability to share open browser tabs from your Galaxy Phone to a PC, but it’s unfortunately currently limited to working only with Samsung’s own little-used Internet browser on the smartphone. Let’s hope support for mobile Chrome and Edge browsers comes along soon, because that could be a very useful feature.

On top of this, Samsung demonstrated how its Multi Control and Second Screen features now let you use your Galaxy Book3 Pro’s keyboard and mouse on nearby Galaxy smartphones and tablets and let you extend your PC screen wirelessly onto Android-based Galaxy tablets. Admittedly, they’re probably not functions you’re going to use all the time, but they are the type of handy little conveniences that can help bridge the usability gap between devices. Finally, the company also debuted a new Expert Raw photo utility for the S23 and other recent Galaxy smartphones that works in conjunction with the company’s Quick Share utility on the PC for easily transferring high-quality raw photos from the phone onto the PC for editing in applications like Adobe Lightroom.

With prices starting at $1,449 for the 14” Core i7-equipped Galaxy Book3 Pro to $2,399 for the 16” Core i9 CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU-equipped Galaxy Book3 Ultra, Samsung clearly isn’t going for the mainstream PC market with its latest offerings. These are premium devices with sleek, premium designs and high-end components. For buyers seeking these kinds of machines, the Galaxy Book3 line presents an intriguing new option. More importantly, it seems to represent the start of a more serious effort to break into the PC market, and that’s something that is going to be interesting to watch.

Here’s a link to the original column:

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on LinkedIn at Bob O’Donnell or on Twitter @bobodtech.