Tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

TabS3

 

I received the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 early for review and have been incredibly pleased with it thus far. All versions include the S Pen. Mine also came with the new Keyboard Cover, which works phenomenally well.

I have tried other Android tablets before but always felt disappointed. This is the first Android tablet I’ve tried that I really liked. It’s very smooth, has good sound, the screen is terrific, and it looks and feels like a premium device.

Basic specs:
-Android 7.0 Nougat
-Snapdragon 820 processor
-4GB RAM
-32GB HD
-Micro-SD slot (supports up to 256GB)
-13Mp rear camera w/autofocus
-5Mp front camera w/LED flash
-6,000mAh battery
-USB Type C charger
-Fingerprint scanner (in the home button)
-4 stereo speakers
-9.7 Super AMOLED screen that supports HDR content
-Resolution of 1536 x 2048 pixels
-Dimensions are 237.3 x 169 x 6 mm
-Weight is 429g
-Uses Wi-Fi 802.11ac dual-band
-Includes S Pen with 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity

As Android tablets go, the reported price looks to be at the upper end, but the tablet is an excellent device and matches up very well with the most premium tablets in the market. I am surprised they used only an 820 processor. I really thought Samsung might want to push the envelop a little more, or at least use the 821, which offers better power management. I also had hoped for up to 8GB RAM instead of just 4GB. And I prefer a base 64GB drive instead of the 32GB Samsung included. But those are minor quibbles.

Setup was relatively painless. Although, to be fair, I prefer stock android, so I try to set up my devices as close to stock as possible. Samsung’s native launcher is inobtrusive and does a nice job, but I still swapped it out due to personal preference. I did find it funny that the setup guide notes kept referring to the device as a “phone” instead of a tablet. I presume that an editing update  will correct that error shortly.

Once set up, it connects easily to Wi-Fi and holds the signal very well. There is an LTE version, but I have used it only on Wi-Fi. I have been impressed by how strong the signal is compared to other devices. Samsung must’ve included some nice internal antennas.

The Tab S3 is a gorgeous device. The all metal and glass construction feels very solid and gives the tablet a great premium feel. The front glass seems more prone than some others to fingerprints, but then again, it’s one of the bigger tablets on the market right now; so maybe it’s just due to surface area.

Everything runs smoothly. Everything works exactly as it should. Even the speakers sound pretty good (actually, better than many laptops). They are tuned specially to change the orientation of the sound when you move the tablet. I couldn’t tell a huge difference in that regard, but 4 stereo speakers is a nice touch.

I don’t use tablets for photos, but the cameras here do an impressive job. Samsung’s camera app is easy to use with intuitive swipe gestures.

The screen is rich and immersive. I REALLY like this screen. Everything looks sharp, clear, and deep. It’s not oversaturated, either. There is currently no HDR content to watch on it, though, which is a bit of a bummer. You’d think Samsung would have at least pushed some stuff out themselves.

I’m used to using a pen with another device. The included S Pen works very well and feels good in the hand. Samsung has an excellent interface for accessing and taking quick notes by hand with the pen. It feels pretty natural and smooth on the screen. I was very impressed.

The keyboard is not part of the review, but if you are getting the Tab S3, I encourage you to consider the Keyboard Cover, as well. It works very nicely and adds another layer of productivity to an already excellent tablet. Yes, it’s cramped. Yes, it only works at one angle. But it really does change the entire functionality of the tablet for the better.

My only actual complaint in terms of use is the thumbprint reader. It is built into a physical home button at the middle of the bottom bezel, which is the location that makes the most sense. It is thin and takes some time to set up. In my use thus far, it recognizes my thumbprint only about 60% of the time. I am accustomed to using fingerprint readers, so I am completely confident the setup was correct. In fact, I even did it twice, just to make sure.

Battery life is solid. It easily lasts me through two or three days of light use with no issues.
Despite my quibbles about processor and RAM, the tablet moves effortlessly through all tasks I’ve attempted.

At the end of the day, if you are in the market for a strong Android tablet and are willing to pay a little extra to have the best tablet available, I heartily recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. It is far and away better than other Android tablets I have tried and has quickly found a place in my heart. I have never been much of a tablet guy, but I use this one every day.

Final: Love

Note, the Tab S3 was provided to me free for review by Best Buy and Samsung.

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