The Samsung Chromebook 4 is actually minus 4—minus 4 inches—when compared to the Samsung Chromebook 4+ that we previously evaluated. It is a little 11.6-inch Chromebook as opposed to a large 15.6-inch panel in the style of a desktop replacement. These are basic economic systems, but this Chromebook ($229.99 starting price; $242.51 as tested) performs a little better than its larger sister. In addition to being lighter and having a longer battery life, the smaller size makes up for the lower screen quality. If you’re a student or simply on a tight budget, it’s a passable grab-and-go laptop, albeit it’s not exactly delightful.
Screen and Sound
Barely Making It Acceptable laptop screens moved on to 1,920 by 1,080 pixel or greater resolutions years ago, but you can still find 1,366 by 768 panels in the 11.6-inch sector. Because of the Samsung’s low pixel count, small details won’t be visible, and lettering will appear slightly fuzzy. If you wish icons or other screen elements to seem larger (as with most Chromebooks), you can dial in a lower “looks like” resolution scaling setting. Moreover, the Chromebook 4’s outdated twisted-nematic (TN) screen technology, as opposed to in-plane-switching (IPS), results in limited viewing angles and dishwater-murky hues.
Your images will appear weakly contrasted, pale, and dingy at the same time due to the display’s low brightness. Despite this, the screen’s small size makes it seem sharper and more manageable than the Samsung Chromebook 4+’s 15.6-inch width. It’s below par yet not atrocious. While browsing the web and sending emails feel cheap and compromised, they don’t feel like a punishment as the large, and figuratively awful, 15.6-inch panel did.
Even at maximum intensity, the bottom-mounted speakers’ sound feels muffled or muted, with hardly audible overlapping tracks and only a faint trace of bass. The 720p webcam records hazy blurs in Google Duo and dim, barely coloured (instead of vivid) images in the Camera app.
The Chromebook 4 is being tested; patience is a virtue
I compared the Samsung Chromebook 4 to three other coat-pocket-sized Chromebooks for our benchmark charts: the Lenovo Chromebook 3, the 12-inch convertible HP Chromebook x360 12b, which (like the Samsung) has Intel Celeron power, and the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, a 10.1-inch detachable tablet and keyboard combo that relies on a MediaTek ARM processor.
That left one open spot, which I filled with our consumer Editors’ Choice winner, the Intel Core i5-based Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (much like in my Samsung Chromebook 4+ review), a far better-equipped and more expensive ($629) mainstream model. (Learn more about the laptop and Chromebook testing process.)
We have expanded our Chromebook testing regimen to include UL’s PCMark for Android Work 2.0. This test suite simulates productivity tasks like text and picture editing, data charting, and video playback in a tiny smartphone-style window.
Although their screens (with the exception of the 13.5-inch Acer’s) are too small to use comfortably for that long, any of these Chromebooks will get you through a full day of work or school. By lasting nearly eight hours longer than the Samsung Chromebook 4 and being $70 less expensive, the Walmart-exclusive Lenovo Chromebook 3 makes a compelling case for itself.
Display for a Samsung Chromebook 4
Our main gripe with the Chromebook 4 is its screen. First off, this Chromebook lacks a touch screen, which is noticeable given how commonplace Android app integration is on Chrome OS computers today. The Lenovo Chromebook C330 and Dell Chromebook 3189 both have touch screens, however the Samsung Chromebook 3 does not.
Let’s move on to brightness next. I tried to adjust the brightness setting on the Samsung Chromebook 4 as soon as I opened it, but I was unsuccessful. When I was watching a video for Jumanji: The Next Level, I noticed that the panel’s white color muted every color, including the red bandana around Kevin Hart’s neck, the green plants that surrounded the characters, and the brown of the snake that bit Jack Black in the head.
The Chromebook 4 scored only 64% of the sRGB gamut when we scanned it with our colorimeter, almost matching the performance of the Samsung Chromebook 3 (63%). That’s lower than the 75% rating for the Lenovo Chromebook C330 and the 81% rating for the Dell Chromebook 3189, as well as the 83% average for Chromebooks.
Samsung Chromebook 4’s touchpad and keyboard
The typing experience on the Chromebook 4 is pretty good, in my opinion. Although the keys seemed a little shallow, they are by no means awful. On my first attempt, I completed the 10FastFingers exam at 71 words per minute, which isn’t too far behind my 80-wpm average.
Chromebook 4 sounds from Samsung
The Samsung Chromebook 4 produced sound that was just about passable while playing Run the Jewels’ “Legend Has It” in a moderately sized room. Voices from Killer Mike and El-P were audible enough, instrumentals were fairly accurate, and… bass? There was some, I suppose. On kick, it’s not quite empty. If you intend to get the Chromebook 4, I’d advise going with a set of headphones or specific computer speakers.
Performing Samsung Chromebook 4
The Samsung Chromebook 4’s Intel Celeron 3000N processor and 4GB of Memory give adequate multitasking power, especially for the price. The only time I experienced latency was when I returned to the Giphy page after switching between 12 Chrome tabs, which included those for Giphy, a Google doc, and a 1080p YouTube video (Nick Offerman’s Hot Ones episode is delightful). My notes on the system’s performance were still accessible in the Google doc.
The Chromebook 4 was able to run Asphalt 9 at playable frame rates while I was playing the racing game. There was occasionally some clipping and tearing, but it never caused me to veer off the road.
The Lenovo Chromebook C330 scored 2,934 on the Geekbench 4 general-performance benchmark, while the Samsung Chromebook 4 scored 3,613, below the category average of 5,128. (MediaTek MT8173C CPU, 4GB of RAM).
The Samsung Chromebook 4 is a respectable choice for a low-cost Chromebook due to its durability, keyboard, and performance. If only its display weren’t so subpar, with scant color and little brightness.
The Lenovo Chromebook C330 is the correct choice if you want a device with a better screen that yet offers a respectable battery life and reliable performance. Although it may cost $50 extra, the Samsung Chromebook sorely needs a touch screen. The Samsung Chromebook 4 is recommended if you only need a Chromebook for using Google Documents and the most basic web browsing.