Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra first look review: Is bigger better?
Before the launch of the Galaxy Tab S8 at Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event, I had some hands-on time with the brand-new Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra as well as its smaller siblings, the Galaxy Tab S8 and Galaxy Tab S8+.
Samsung is going large both in the range of tablet sizes available and in the screen size of the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. Nobody can possibly ignore a 14-inch tablet, but does that translate to a tablet you should actually buy? I only had a limited timeframe to essentially play with the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra – I'd never call what I'm doing here a "review" in real terms – but it did give me some insight into what's good – and not so good – with Samsung's tablet strategy.
You can read more about the Tab S8 specs, Australian pricing and release date right here.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra first look review: Early upsides
- There's big, large, humongous and then there's the Tab S8 Ultra. It's one thing to think "sure, this is basically a notebook with the keyboard ripped off", but somehow, the Tab S8 Ultra feels even larger in the hand. If you're looking at it as a pro-grade graphics tablet, or just for your next Disney+ binge, there's a whole lot of appeal here. Samsung makes really good AMOLED displays, and while I couldn't quite sneak in an iPad Pro to do a side-by-side mini-LED comparison, I had few complaints from what I could briefly see of the Tab S8 Ultra's colour presentation.
- Multi-window looks good. I only had the briefest chance to really play around with the multi-window app display features, but I can see the utility there. There's still a gap between the full utility of an actual Windows 10 laptop and Android, but the gap is closing, and it's easy to see the work that Samsung put into multi-window on the Folds paying off here.
- It is surprisingly light (for its size). 726 grams for a tablet is on the heavier side… but for a device that's intended to replace your laptop, it's very light. Holding the Galaxy Tab S8 with both hands does leave you holding a device that feels lighter than it has any real right to be.
- Smart cameras (for a tablet). Sure, nobody should be using a tablet as their primary camera, and especially not a behemoth like the Galaxy Tab S8. However, the use of dual front-facing cameras does give it a lot of scope for video conferencing, with smart focusing features on your face that worked quite well during my brief hands-on play. Of course, the downside of this is that you can't blame your crappy laptop webcam if your boss notices you dozing off during your eighth meeting of the day.
- S-Pen is included. Apple and Microsoft, take note. If you're going to sell a pro-grade tablet for those who like to draw, this is how you do it. The S-Pen works as prior S-Pens on larger Samsung devices have been wont to do, which is to say that I'm a lousy artist, but I can 100% appreciate who this is for. They'll like it, though they may struggle to find somewhere to place it without an accompanying S-Pen compatible case.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra first look review: Early downsides
- Big is BIG. 14 inches isn't immense when you're talking about a laptop, and if you do pair it with the optional $499 keyboard case, it effectively becomes one. However, for a tablet that you might also want to use for Netflix binges in bed, it's a big ask and a bit of a tricky balancing act. I was trying to hold it and photograph it at the same time and came perilously close to dropping it a few times. When only using a single hand, I definitely started to feel the strain of every one of those 726 grams in play. I'd say if you're going to buy the Tab S8, it would make sense to also invest in a standing case for it. It would have been nice for Samsung to include an integrated kickstand with a tablet this size.
- You can have any colour, as long as it's Graphite. Black is quite a standard colour for a professional tablet… but it's also all you can get if you want the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. This wouldn't fuss me so much if it weren't for the fact that the smaller Galaxy Tab S8+ and Galaxy Tab S8 come in Silver or Pink Gold options as well. Sure, Pink Gold ain't my personal style, but more choice is always better.
- It is quite pricey. I didn't drop the Tab S8 in the end – I'm sure the Samsung folk gathered around me were happy about that – and so was I because in Android tablet-land, this thing is seriously premium priced. If I were kitting it out as a productivity machine with the optional keyboard case, it would cost even more.
Early verdict: Samsung wants to kick Apple where it hurts
OK, I could have come to that conclusion without ever viewing the Tab S8, but it's so very clearly an assault on the market that might otherwise buy an iPad Pro first and foremost. It won't make anywhere near as much sense if all you want is a tablet for your streaming or Android gaming binges. Not because it can't handle those, but fundamentally because that's what devices like the Galaxy Tab S7 FE are for.
|Device||Galaxy Tab S8||Galaxy Tab S8+||Galaxy Tab S8+|
|Display||11-inch, 2560x1600, (WQXGA) 276ppi LTPS TFT, up to 120Hz||12.4-inch, 2800 x 1752, (WQXGA+) 266ppi Super AMOLED, up to 120Hz||14.6-inch, 2960 x 1848, (WQXGA+) 240ppi Super AMOLED, up to 120Hz|
|Dimensions||165.3 x 253.8 x 6.3mm||185.0 x 285.0 x 5.7mm||208.6 x 326.4 x 5.5mm|
|Weight||503g (Wi-Fi) / 507g (5G)||567g (Wi-Fi) / 572g (5G)||726g (Wi-Fi) / 728g (5G)|
|Rear Camera||13MP AF + 6MP Ultra-Wide + Flash|
|Front Camera||12MP (Ultra-Wide)||12MP (Ultra-Wide)||12MP (Wide) + 12MP (Ultra-Wide)|
|Storage||128GB/256GB + microSD||128GB/256GB/512GB + microSD|
|Processor||4 nm 64-bit Octa-Core Processor|
|Charging||Up to 45W||Up to 45W||Up to 45W|
|Connectivity||5G, LTE, Wi-Fi 6E ((802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax), Wi-Fi Direct Bluetooth v 5.2|
|Colour||Graphite, Silver, Pink Gold||Graphite|
|Connectors||Type-C USB 3.2|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, Geomagnetic, Gyro, Light, Fingerprint, Hall Sensor|
|GPS||GPS+GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo|
|Sound||Quad Stereo Speakers with Sound by AKG, Dolby Atmos|
|Video recording||4K @ 30fps|
|Video playback||8K @ 60fps|
|Security||Samsung Knox including Samsung Knox Vault|
|Biometric Authentication||Fingerprint with Side Key||Fingerprint On Display|
|Accessories||S Pen (BLE, Inbox) Book Cover Keyboard, Book Cover Keyboard Slim, Book Cover, Protective Standing Cover, Note View Cover, Strap Cover||S Pen (BLE, Inbox), Book Cover Keyboard, Book Cover, Protective Standing Cover|
We'll have our full Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review up at Finder very soon, so stay tuned.