DOES THE WORLD really need another Android tablet? That’s a question the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 hopes to answer with an unequivocal yes. But me personally? I’m not so sure.
It looks good, as do the specs, but when you see the incredible innovation in the Galaxy S8, the Tab S3 looks like a relic, albeit a handsome one.
Combine that with the fact that today, neither pen input nor banging speakers are really USPs for tabs and, I’m not going into this review with a great deal of optimism. Will a week with the Tab S3 change my mind?
It isn’t really fair to compare this tablet to a flagship smartphone like the Galaxy S8, at least not in terms of the design. It makes more sense pitting it against the likes of the Apple iPad and Lenovo Yoga Book, and compared to these, the Tab S3 more than holds its own.
For starters, it’s relatively unique. Thanks to two sheets of Gorilla Glass, one spread across the front and one across the back, it feels expensive and looks sleek. It’s also a waif at just 6mm thin, feeling more like a sliver than a traditional tablet. The matte metal frame compliments things nicely, while playing host to all the key ports.
At the base is a USB-C and headphone jack. Bookending these ports are two of the four AKG-tuned speakers, with the other two speakers at the top of the tab. On the right side of the Tab S3 are the slots and power/volume buttons, while the left plays host to a magnetic dock connector. This connects to the keyboard folio cover, which can be picked up separately for £119.
Underneath the screen, you’ll find a traditional old school Samsung ‘home button meets fingerprint scanner’ set-up, along with two capacitive buttons either side.
This is my first gripe with the Tab S3’s design – with the same physical buttons as last year’s flagship Samsung smartphone, it’s a tablet that lives alongside the Galaxy S7, not the new S8.
The tablet isn’t exactly light on bezels either, and its glass front and back love fingerprints, especially in black.
But inspite of these niggles, at face value and indeed, alongside other key tablets out now, this one looks great – let’s just forget that the S8 exists for a second.
At 9.7in with QXGA (2048×1536) resolution, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is relatively traditional in its size and dimensions. Still, the display manages to look standout due to it’s Super AMOLED technology and 264ppi sharpness.
There are plenty of options to bolster the visual experience, from customising colour balance and swapping display modes through to activating a blue light filter. The Tab S3 also supports HDR video, which is smashing, but given the 4:3 aspect ratio the tablet is not really built for video playback.
This means that a good chunk of the Tab S3’s display is nothing short of wasted for a good chunk of media consumption. This realisation has once again left me wishing that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 was actually just a blown up Galaxy S8.
Add to the fact that Samsung is shouting so loudly about 18.5:9 aspect ratio displays for media consumption, a 4:3 tablet just feels incongruous with the current messaging. I mean, just imagine a tablet with an 84 per cent screen to bezel ratio.
Next: S-Pen, software, camera and multimedia
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