After having us standing in the line, and leaving us without it for a year (2016), the last delivery of line S of Samsung in Tablet format is among us. This Galaxy Tab S3 is a smashing device since it is taken out of the box and the first sensation it gives you is to have in your hands a very high quality product, with an unseen category so far in the segment. Does this model have any weak point? We are going to examine it below. Without verifying it before, once we saw its specifications and the love/dedication with which Samsung described the different aspects of its Galaxy Tab S3 along the MWC 2017, it was already complicated for us not to think that that was not the best Android tablet so far. After taking some days with it and having it examined thoroughly, the sensation is confirmed, and it, Inclusive, goes beyond our initial expectations. The only one “but” that reasonably we could put on it (and we state is from now), is the price. You ought to have it very clear to invest 670 Euros, keyboard not included, in an Android tablet.
Nevertheless, in its ecosystem, this Galaxy Tab S3 is what the iPad Pro is to iOS or what the Surface Pro 4 is to Windows. It is, the best equipment to run Android with in the great format. Those who aspire to the best of the best regardless the price, should not have any doubts right now; especially since the high gamma in the segment shows few agitation. Samsung has done a noticeable effort to develop a product that fitted perfectly in the tablets boom moments and that is why this device is so special nowadays.
It is simply, a spectacular aspect of the tablet. The Galaxy Tab S3 offers some fine and forceful lines, improving the length we had seen in its predecessors. At last, Samsung leaves aside the plastic for its high gamma tablet, the same way it did it with the smartphones in 2015. This model reproduce in a good measure the Korean firm new scheme of design related to the usage of materials. The profiles are finished in aluminum and the back part is made of crystal (black or gray).
Although the equipment seems to be kind of fragile, because of the breakable material it is covered with in a great part of its surface, the frontal and the back part are incased in Gorilla Glass 4, what made us not to be afraid of a fall or the usual scratches. Even so, those who go for the keyboard, will have a more complete protection for their Tablet. The only one problem in this sense, we would say, is the one of firgerprints and of dust, which easily stay adhered in the back cover.
As you will also know, besides the keyboard, the Galaxy Tab S3 has another luxury accessory. In the case of S Pen, besides, it is not necessary to buy it separately, but in comes in the box with the tablet. It is the same evolution showed up with the Note 7, and is able to recognize until 4.096 pressure levels. Maybe, it is, it had been useful some kind of anchorage or union between the tablet and the S Pen, in order to transport both of them together.
Finally, we must emphasize the integration of the four speakers signed by AKG (an affiliated of Harman Kardon). We will talk about the audio later, but what is interesting here is that absolutely, this factor does not condition the design. We have seen tablets with an impressive sound that they ought to have been thickened, or to place pretty visible outputs. In the Galaxy Tab S3 the speakers go practically unnoticed, unless we search for them. Definitely, the line is elegant and sober with neither specially disruptive nor striking elements of any kind.
The measures of this tablet are 27,7 cm x 16,9 cm x 6 mm i.e, smaller than the Ipad Pro or than the new iPad 9,7 inches, with the same size screen, in all its stroke. The frames are markedly lower, even when in a tablet they will not bother as much as in a smartphone. It is, maybe, a simple demonstration of power. Samsung may have taken the design one further step than Apple, even if it is a matter of just millimeters.
Having the device in your hand is a real joy: compact and consistent while extremely light. Its weight is merely 429 grams, or 434 grams in the LTE version. In this respect, the only thing left for the next generations is having Samsung introduce the Edge concept in their tablet segment. Imagine how nice a Galaxy Tab S4 would look with a slight curve in its edges and the Infinity screen. In this case, also, the fingerprint sensor should be incorporated in the panel.
Connectivity, ports, buttons
In the front, in a very classic style (or at least in a pre-Galaxy S8 style) we have the mechanical home button with a fingerprint sensor and two on the sides: a multitask and a back button.
In the upper side, we find only two speakers with eight small orifices each. The lower side presents the same together with the mini jack and the USB-C port. This one is a bit to the side, it doesn’t occupy a central position as it happens in a big portion of mobile devices.
In the left side, we can see the base or dock to connect the device to the keyboard. This may be the element that makes the bigger difference between the aesthetic of this device and the aesthetic of the Galaxy Tab S3, although it’s well integrated. It includes the port itself and two magnetic anchors at the sides.
The right side is left for the volume and power buttons. Below that we can see the micro SD card slot as well as the SIM card slot in the case of the 4G variant.
The device also includes other resources such as Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, GLONASS, accelerometer, gyroscope and compass. This year, once again, there’s still no NFC.
Screen and Multimedia
What can we say about this Galaxy Tab S3 that the professional analysis haven’t already said? Even though it has more or less the same core technology as the Tab S2, it’s practically unbeatable for the other manufacturers. This time, Samsung has added dynamic range visualization to video playback. This feature, basically, shows a similar color evolution as the HDR found in photographic cameras, balancing and giving more vibrancy to colors.
Here, we should also say that we can choose between different screen settings. The default setting is the Adaptative Display (which is not necessarily optimal in every situation), but we can change it to Cinema or Photo or, in my opinion, to the one that we should have as reference: Basic.
Going into the technical details, the panel is a SuperAMOLED with 2048 x 1536 pixels of resolution (264 dots per inch) and 4:3 format, which covers approximately 73% of the front. The colors are precise and realistic. The black, logically, is spectacular. The distance between the maximum and minimum level of brightness is really broad and the visibility angles are extraordinary, as it is usual with the company. Moreover, the OLED screen lets us play with dark themes and backgrounds to reduce power consumption.
In terms of the audio, the Galaxy Tab S3 now includes 4 speakers. This is one of the fields in which they have advanced the most compared to the last generation. Samsung had been working for some time with AKG to develop this device, this shared work started even before the South Korean company bought Harman Kardon.
The result – what else can we say? – is impeccable. From our point of view, this tablet can effortlessly compete with any soundbar. You don’t even need to use Bluetooth speakers to enhance the experience, you’ll hardly get a better one. Even though the Huawei MediaPad M2 10 surprised us in this same field, the Galaxy Tab S3 is less thunderous (it doesn’t reach such a high volume) but the sound is more clear and balanced in general.
Operating system and interface
The Galaxy Tab S3 comes with Android 7.0 Nougat, although is decorated with the traditional TouchWiz layer. In a few years,from having a bad reputation and beeing considered something to avoid, the personalization of Samsung has become one of the most powerful and better optimized on the market. In 2013 it maybe supposed a point against, but it’s not a surprise that every time there are more users who even prefer it over the AOSP style interface of Nexus (or Pixel).
As it happened with the Tab S2, this new generation has a place for the most important Microsoft tools, together with Google’s and Samsung’s own tools. In the rest of the device, we hardly find any bloatware. Logically, the app repertory is oriented to the use of the S Pen.
On the Samsung side, we find PEN.UP, an app that besides of teaching us tricks and other useful techniques to learn to draw in digital, it allows us to share our creations with other users. There is also the classic Samsung Notes, adapted to the times and optimized to take advantage of our pencil, and SoundCamp that will be the delight of the music lovers and will allow us to generate and record melodies with numerous instruments, including drums, keyboard, bass, guitar or synthesizer.
Other of the star apps of this Galaxy Tab S3 is the Game Launcher. This is one of the services in wich Samsung delved more during the presentation of this table. Its operation is simple, although we have to activate it from the menu Settings> Advanced functions. During our games we will see a small bubble on the screen from which, we can record the game, take a screenshot, block the touch or the capacitive controls to not affect the game if we touch by mistake,or even disable the notifications if we want these to not intercede with our enjoyment time.
In short, for some years Samsung devices would come loaded with applications which surely most of us would not use more than in passing. Today, the Korean brand only includes by default things which any intermediate user can truly take part in and that is something that one can appreciate enormously.
Rendering and Memory
After a while speaking to you of different possible options for the processor of this Galaxy Tab S3, at last has yielded Qualcomm, something that seems positive to us, although It has not been with the Snapdragon 835. In this case, we have the top of the line from the 2016 generation, which is to say, the Snapdragon 820, with four cores at 2,15 GHz, very powerful and perfectly balanced to sufficiently handle any content that may be around it.
The tablet is extraordinarily quick, and we do not encounter the slightest bit of lag; neither in games nor throughout the Android/TouchWiz interface. In the same fashion, the fingerprint reader is enormously efficient by all metrics. A true beast of equipment whichever way you look at it, as the different benchmarks which we have used demonstrate in this analysis.
The graphics rendering of Vulkan, added to the GPU Adreno 530 is the top of the line for the game mode. The Tab S3 is a perfect tablet to play games on, as much in options and tools as in graphics power. For the moment we have tried three or four titles (Mario Run and Deux Ex: The fall of Injustice 2 being among them) and the smoothness and performance have seemed incontestable to us.
For RAM, we count 4GB of memory, which is the maximum that Android is prepared to work on. In this sense, enough with looking at the Galaxy S8. If it needed any more (6GB), we have no doubt that Samsung would have involved themselves with it, but from that estimate, it becomes a waste. We have 32GB initial storage, however we count on the possibility of using MicroSD cards of up to 256 gigabytes and manage them as internal memory.
Another part of this model will not falter. The battery has grown a bit with respect to the previous generation, up to 6,000 mAh, and that does inevitably increase the thickness. Even so our trials in PC Mark left us a record of more than 8 hours of continuous work; for that it can be said that the change has indeed been worth it.
Beyond Doze, we find Samsung’s power saving mode that works at two levels and that can serve to scratch some hours of use in case we find ourselves rushed. In addition, we have the option of stopping processes in the background of any of the apps that we have installed when we are not utilizing them directly. The same that will happen to make Android O, TouchWiz already offers us information on energy consumption generated by the distinct tools of our equipment.
Normally, there isn’t much that we can say about the camera on a tablet, however, this is an exception; And it’s because, depending on which smartphone you have, it isn’t difficult to find that the Galaxy Tab S3 takes better pictures. We have on the equipment a 13-megapixel sensor with an aperture f/1.9. In this generation, furthermore, the tablet brings flash, although it also captures images with great quality when there isn’t much light. The forward camera meanwhile, offers a resolution of 5 megapixels, with an aperture f/2.2 and is also outstanding.
The autofocus is very quick and accurate while the camera catches an impressive level of detail, with little noise, that one practically will not fail to zoom in on any of the captures.
Galaxy Tab S3: Price and Conclusions
The Galaxy Tab S3 has an official price of 669 euros, although if we add 4G LTE connectivity to the equipment we are up to 769 euros. This said, Samsung’s prices have been going down as time goes on, and even considering that the equipment has finished to go for sale, already one can find both variants on Amazon for 639 and 700 euros respectively. As we say, the S Pen comes included, but if we want to acquire the keyboard case, we would have to spend another 135 more euros.
To a certain extent, these prices aren’t casual, already marking an identical level to the iPad Pro of 9, 7 inches. From our point of view, both apparatuses are very similar in terms of product quality, so then, it is logical that they go for a similar price in the market.
Even though we think this Galaxy Tab S3 is worth its price, we ought to say that it is a price we are not used to see for an Android tablet, especially when the Tab S2 was 500 euros. This device won’t be affordable for everyone although we hope, as we’ve already said, it gets cheaper and more affordable in the future. This is really the only weak spot to be found in this device, besides the issue of the fingerprints in the back.
The Galaxy Tab S3 nears perfection, not only as a tablet but also as an Android device in general. We have great finishes, powerful audio, the best visual experience available in tablets and a high performance in every other aspect. The battery, without being especially great, also accompanies the performance level, in spite of the huge density of pixels. Even the camera, which is not too important in a tablet, is quite good, better than most of the cameras in smartphones.
Samsung has designed an amazing product that surpasses its predecessor by far. We’ll have to see how the Android tablet market develops and we hope this device is not the last one from the S line. The challenge for the next generation: nailing the Edge formula.