Galaxy Tab S3 review: The high price of a well-rounded Android tablet


Video shot/edited by Jennifer Hahn.

Samsung continues to compete with Apple’s iPad with the revamped Galaxy Tab S3. Two years in the past, the corporate launched eight.Zero-inch and 9.7-inch fashions of the Tab S2, however Samsung is now simplifying with only one 9.7-inch mannequin of the up to date pill. The $599/£599 pill has an HDR-ready show, a modern glass design, a sooner processor, a fingerprint sensor, and an included and improved S Pen, simply to call just a few of its options.

The new S3 continues Samsung’s efforts to steer those that need a high-end, all-purpose pill to decide on its Android machine over an iPad, and Samsung padded this try with a few options geared towards customers of its Galaxy smartphones. But Android’s pill app hole, amongst different issues, continues to make premium Android tablets a tough promote.

Look and really feel

The Tab S3 appears to be like deceptively just like the Tab S2, however Samsung made the machine appear and feel subtly extra high-end than its predecessor. Now the again is not fabricated from soft-touch plastic, however as an alternative of shiny glass that is barely reflective. The black mannequin reveals fingerprints extra simply than our smooth silver mannequin, however the glass makes the pill really feel extra luxurious normally. The Tab S3 has the identical steel rim that the S2 had, and it has equally sized bezels surrounding the 9.7-inch, 2048×1536 AMOLED show.

Specs at a look: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Wi-Fi solely mannequin)
Screen 9.7-inch 2048×1536 AMOLED
OS Android 7.Zero
CPU Quad-core Snapdragon 820 (2.15GHz + 1.6GHz)
Storage 32GB, expandable to 256GB
Networking 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth four.2
Ports One USB Type-C port, microSD card reader
Cameras Rear: 13MP AF f/1.9), Front: 5MP (f/2.2)
Size 9.three” x 6.7″ x Zero.2″ (237.three x 169.Zero x 6.0mm)
Weight Zero.96 kilos (429g)
Battery 6,000 mAh
Starting value $599 / £599
Other perks 4K video recording (3840×2160 @ 30fps), HDR video help, included S Pen

At 429g (just below a pound), the S3 shouldn’t be as gentle because the Tab S2 (372g) or the Nexus 9 (425g), however it nonetheless manages to be lighter than the iPad Air 2 (437g) or the brand new $329 iPad (469g). On its edges are a microSD card slot, the amount rocker and energy buttons, a headphone jack and one USB Type-C port for charging, and two small, oval-ish indentations. These ovals encompass magnetic nodes that assist the pill connect to the keyboard deck.

While the keyboard is non-obligatory, the Tab S3 contains the improved S Pen within the field. This mannequin of the stylus appears to be like like an extended, barely fatter model of the pen discovered within the Samsung Chromebook Pro, and it options an all-rubber, .7mm tip and a singular aspect button. The pill can sense when the pen is hovering over it, and the aspect button brings up the pen menu by default. That button additionally acts as a fast eraser, letting you turn extra freely between pen enter and eraser negation.

Samsung nonetheless has the bodily house button on the base of the show panel, which is hugged by a touch-sensitive app drawer and again buttons. The fingerprint sensor is just like what’s on the Tab S2 within the sense that it is not the simplest approach to unlock the machine, like a fingerprint sensor ought to be. The setup course of asks you to rotate your finger as you’d to unlock the machine in portrait and panorama mode, however that does not appear to assist the sensor determine your fingerprint when it is at an odd angle. At least half the time, I used to be requested twice for my fingerprint as a result of the sensor did not acknowledge it the primary time.

While the show decision did not change, now it is an AMOLED panel that helps HDR. Once you see the visible variations between HDR and non-HDR video, the Tab S3 clearly produces extra vibrant colours and richer blacks than its non-HDR counterparts. It’s a pleasant perk, particularly in a tool meant for video and (in some methods) artwork content material. But at the moment HDR is simply that—a nice perk and never a necessity.

Inside the Tab S3 are quad audio system tuned by AKG, which sense the orientation of the pill to supply the most effective sound. Four speaker grills are seen on the highest and backside edges of the pill, and the speaker software program will change the way in which sound comes out of these audio system relying on the way you’re holding the pill. There’s an audible distinction as quickly as you turn from portrait to panorama mode whereas listening to music-based content material, reminiscent of a music video: every thing is barely amplified when in panorama mode, with stronger vocals and pronounced background devices which are usually nothing greater than faint echoes. But when watching one thing extra dialogue-based, like a Netflix present, the distinction is much less obvious.

Keyboard case and S Pen

The improved S Pen that comes with the Tab S3 has an excellent skinny tip that can help as much as four,Zero96 ranges of strain sensitivity. The soft-touch, rubbery really feel of the pen makes it grippy and simple to carry, and it is a few third longer than the Chromebook Pro’s stylus, so you do not really feel such as you’re writing with a twig. But the stylus additionally lacks the decreased latency of the Chromebook Pro’s stylus, so you may discover a second-or-so lag between your strokes and the digital ink showing on the pill. Arguably the most effective factor in regards to the S Pen is that it does not take any batteries, and you’ll by no means must cost it.

Either urgent the S Pen’s aspect button or hovering over the pill’s show will convey up the stylus’ menu. By default, the menu has quick-access icons to create a word, entry all of your notes, sensible choose (for capturing a portion of the display screen), display screen write (for taking a screenshot and making notes on it), and translate. You can edit the shortcuts on this menu by altering the Air Command settings, and you’ll add a shortcut for practically any app you need. This makes it simpler in the event you’re within the zone with the S Pen and also you need to entry regularly used apps extra rapidly.

My favourite Air Command is Translate. If you need to translate a phrase from one language to a different, simply hover the tip of the S Pen over that phrase and Translate will present you the equal in one other language. This function would have been extremely useful for me in faculty, once I would search for each different phrase whereas attempting to finish assignments for my basic Italian literature courses.

The Tab S3’s keyboard case is an extra accent you should buy for $130. It’s a typical tablet-companion keyboard that attaches magnetically to a strip alongside the highest of the S3’s keys, and the again flap attaches to the pill’s again magnetically as effectively. The Tab S3 must be positioned completely on this strip to be absolutely linked to the keyboard, and generally making that connection was simpler stated than carried out. The strip itself is a protracted indent within the keyboard deck with six magnetic nodes within the center and two oval-ish protrusions on both aspect of the nodes. These nodes match into the indentations on the Tab S3, however I usually discovered them getting in the way in which of my capability to completely safe the pill into the strip. When this occurred, the keys did not perform regardless that the pill was secure and standing within the case, and the on-screen keyboard popped up as the one enter possibility. This is mounted by eradicating the pill and putting it down onto the magnetic nodes as straight as doable.

The keyboard deck does not have a lot house, which positions the Tab S3 as rather more of a pill than a two-in-one of any variety. The chiclet keys are satisfying to sort with, and, even with them being so small, I used to be capable of sort at a reasonably regular pace. Where the keyboard tripped me up was numbers: the numeral and image characters are the top-most row, and every secret’s about half the scale of an everyday key. I by no means typed a multi-digit quantity appropriately the primary time, and I grew to become more and more irritated on the ever-so-slightly bigger Backspace key that was additionally tough to hit correctly. As I really feel with most tablets: simply because I might sort this assessment utilizing the keyboard case doesn’t suggest I ought to.

To make up for the dearth of S Pen holder on the Tab S3, Samsung added an non-obligatory holster to the keyboard deck. This small piece of rounded plastic has a flat adhesive strip hooked up to it that permits you to stick the holster on to the pre-positioned indent on the again of the keyboard deck. I want Samsung had merely constructed this into the keyboard deck, as a result of anybody buying the non-obligatory keyboard deck is already doing lots with the Tab S3, and so they seemingly want the S Pen accessible always.

Listing picture by Valentina Palladino

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