Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Review
Tablets may not be as popular as smartphones nowadays but these mobile computing devices are still very handy in terms of productivity and entertainment. In Samsung’s case, it’s the new Galaxy Tab S3 — with its 9.7-inch QXGA display, Snapdragon 820 processor, Quad-Stereo speakers, S-Pen, and Android Nougat operating system. Is this the next tablet to have? Find out in our review below.
Design and Construction
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 first made its debut in February during MWC 2017. It’s a large slate which can be attributed to its 9.7-inch Super AMOLED screen with QXGA resolution which equates to 264ppi.
Placed above the display are the 5MP front camera and light sensor. Down below are two lit capacitive keys for Recent Apps and Back. Found in between is the physical home button that also functions as the fingerprint scanner. Looking at the back, we have the 13MP camera and LED flash.
Placed on the right side are the volume rocker, power/lock button, the tray for the SIM and microSD card, as well as a couple of pinholes for the microphones.
Look at the left and you’ll see the pogo pins and two guiding slots for when you dock it on the keyboard cover.
Up top are two antenna bands and a pair of speakers, while down below are is another set of speakers, which completes the quad setup, and antenna bands. Also located here are the headset and USB-C port.
On the hands, the Tab S3 is definitely something that you would need to use with two hands, or more comfortably, placed on the lap or on a flat surface. It’s large and hefty but the 6mm thin frame makes up for it.
The bezels might look thick for some but it’s necessary since it provides space for your thumbs when held. It’s also premium, thanks to its metal frame and glass front and back. Although the rear is prone to smudges and fingerprints.
Display and Multimedia
This the department where the Tab S3 shines the most. The 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display with QXGA resolution is vibrant with punchy colors. Pixel density, on the other hand, is decent at 264ppi. It features an Adaptive Display feature which automatically adjusts the color range, saturation, and sharpness of the display depending on your activity whether it’s watching a movie or viewing photos. At night, you can also activate its blue light filter to reduce eye strain.
What may not be everyone’s favorite though is the 4:3 aspect ratio. It’s good for browsing the web or running two apps side by side, but when watching 16:9 videos, the black borders can be really distracting and stretching the video to fill the screen can be unattractive.
If you’re concerned about audio quality, its quad-speaker system got you covered. Quality is better than most tablets equipped with single or double speakers. It sounds best in landscape mode as it provides a stereo experience which feels immersive when watching videos or gaming.
The S Pen is what separates the Tab S3 from most tablets in the market. It’s very handy for those who need to make handwritten notes or create a quick doodle of something. We even used it to sign the digital documents, which is convenient since we can skip the whole print, sign, then scan process.
For power users, a quick push of the button will launch the Air command with options like Create Note, View All Notes, Smart Select, Screen Write, and Translate. You can even add a new shortcut if you want.
Performance is great, glides smoothly over the glass, and feels like you’re just holding a regular pen. You don’t even have to charge it so you have one less thing to worry about. The tip is also pressure-sensitive so artists can also create amazing work on it. Check out a couple of quick samples below.
We’re still not fond of using tablets as a primary shooter but it’s understandable if it’s for productivity purposes like video calling. In the case of the Tab S3, the cameras enhance its creative features as users can take a photo of something, doodle over it, then share it with someone. That should come handy for designers and planners.
As for the specs, it has a 13MP main shooter accompanied by a LED flash, then there’s the 5MP camera on the front. Camera performance is okay for a tablet and can produce photos of decent quality with natural colors. It even has Beautify with face tracking, filters, Pro mode, Hyperlapse, HDR, and Wide Selfie mode. You can even download a few more features within the camera itself. Check out some samples below.
When it comes to video recording, the Tab S3 can shoot videos in 4K resolution at 30 fps. The quality is comparable to the photos and will suffice for posting on social media sites. It also starts to get warm when you record for more than a minute.
OS, UI, and Apps
Running the software department is Android 7.0 Nougat with Samsung’s UI skin on top. We don’t have any problems with it as it looks and navigates just like most Android devices out there and uses an app drawer to show all the apps in its arsenal.
What’s noticeable though are the number of pre-installed apps. We have Microsoft’s productivity suite which is expected since Samsung has a partnership with them. We don’t mind them though as we’ve been using them to edit and view documents. Google is, of course, present here, as well as Samsung’s own apps.
Storage-wise, it has 32GB on board but with around 23GB usable upon boot-up. Considering that this is a multimedia-centric device, we would have liked it better if it started with 64GB. To compensate, the Tab S3 can accommodate microSD cards up to 256GB, but that’s an additional expense of course.
Performance and Benchmarks
Performance is not an issue with the Tab S3 thanks to its Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB RAM. It may not be using the latest SoC from Qualcomm but it’s beefy enough to handle all the tasks we threw at it including gaming. We didn’t experience any lags, crashes, or high temperatures during our time with it which is good.
Check out the benchmark scores below:
AnTuTu – 91,684
Geekbench – 1,453 (Single Core), 3,832 (Multi Core), 7,032 (Compute)
Note: Futuremark apps like PC Mark and 3D Mark crashes on the Tab S3 hence results are not available.
Given the Tab S3’s hardware and features, it’s only logical that Samsung equips it with a large battery. That said, we’re glad that it carries a large 6,000mAh power pack. We manage to squeeze over a day of battery life when used mostly for browsing the web on WiFi, streaming videos and music, and some gaming on the side. Our video loop test got us almost 15 hours of playback which is good.
The Galaxy Tab S3 has proven itself to be a powerful tablet for work and play. If you like watching videos on-the-go or at the comforts of your home, this device won’t disappoint. The S Pen feature is also a strong point but you’ll have to be a digital artist or someone who regularly takes handwritten notes to fully take advantage of its features. It can also turn into a sort of substitute for a laptop using the pogo keyboard cover. However, it’s not included in the package and is sold separately.
As for the price, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 will cost you Php37,990 and already includes the S Pen. Its main competitor is the iPad Pro 10.5 which starts at Php36,990 but without the Apple Pen. To sum it up, the Tab S3 is a great but pricey device, and only recommended for those who can fully utilize the S Pen features.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 specs:
9.7-inch Super AMOLED QXGA @ 2048 x 1536 pixels, 264ppi
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 2.15GHz quad-core CPU
up to 256GB via microSD
13MP AF rear camera w/ LED flash
4K video recording @ 30fps
5MP front camera
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2×2 MIMO
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU, GALILEO
USB 3.1 Type-C
Quad-stereo speakers tuned by AKG by Harman
Android 7.0 Nougat
6,000mAh battery w/ fast charging
237.3 x 169 x 6 mm (dimensions)
429 grams (weight)
What we liked:
* Great display
* Slim build
* Good performance
* Long battery life
* Comes with S Pen
What we didn’t like:
* Quite Expensive
* Storage starts at 32GB only