The new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is the current tablet flagship and also the best Android tablet currently tested. It presents itself as a powerful tablet with a great AMOLED display and above-average features.
Class features and new functions
Samsung wants to revitalize its tablet portfolio with the Tab S3 and combines good-looking hardware without relying on revolutionary new features. The tablet can now be operated with a stylus (included) and an optional keyboard is also available.
An important innovation compared to the old Note tablet: The pen is no longer integrated in the device, but it is now much larger and lies in the hand like a real (but still quite compact) pen. The tip no longer feels so hard on the screen, but simulates the feeling of real writing better. Although Samsung sees the Tab S3 as predestined for media consumption, it has a 4:3 screen like the iPad. So if you watch widescreen movies, you have wide black bars. However, the format is very suitable for digital newspaper reading.
Glass meets metal
The design is strongly based on the Galaxy S7 or Note 7. The Tab S3 shows itself in a slim glass housing, which is framed in a metal frame. It fits well in the hand, feels narrow, and the rounded edges (both at the corners and at the edges) look pleasing and provide for a more pleasant pressure in the palm. However, the latter is more important with a smartphone, which is often held closely in one hand, than with the Tab S3, which is usually held with two hands. The Galaxy S7 also features a slim camera mount that hardly protrudes – its weight is slightly higher than the very light Xperia Z4 Tablet. However, this should not have a disturbing effect in the long term.
Chic, but no longer beautiful
However, the cleaning cloth should always be within easy reach of the user, as the glass housing collects unparalleled grease streaks. Allegedly Samsung uses a coating to prevent this, but after a few inputs with the finger not much could be seen in the test. Reflections and grease streaks are the order of the day here; in addition to greater susceptibility to breakage and scratches, they are the disadvantages of glass housings. In return, it looks chic and modern and minimalist. Overall, therefore, a successful design, albeit with slight weaknesses.
Beautiful display, good running times
The AMOLED of the Galaxy TAB S2 measures 9.7 inches and has a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. This results in an above-average pixel density of 264 ppi. The tablet also has stable viewing angles and a great contrast of 8,995:1 and a display brightness of 468 candelas per square meter, making it easy to work outdoors.
Compared to its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S3 finally scores with good runtimes: When displaying a white web page, the Samsung Galaxy TAB S2 9.7 broke down after only 9 hours (Galaxy Tab S2:about 4 hours). If you mainly watch movies, the battery lasts for about 8 hours. Only the charging time is with about 3 hours a little high, but still within limits.
CPU and stereo sound system in the Galaxy Tab S3
Unfortunately, Samsung uses last year’s high-end system-on-chip, the Snapdragon 820, not the Refresh 821 or even its successor, the Snapdragon 835, because the Snapdragon 820 is proven and powerful enough. We didn’t notice any Ruckler in the test, the performance was fast as expected, the system reacted smoothly. Nevertheless, it is a pity, especially in view of the higher price, above all because users want to use a high-quality tablet for several years, and the latest SoC generation increases future security.
For good sound on the go or on the couch, the AKG Quad speaker system, whose stereo output even adapts to the holding direction of the Tab S3 – similar to the speakers in the current iPad Pro. The sound is, for a tablet, overall very good, but does not come close to middle class Bluetooth speakers. We find it nice to be able to wake up the screen with a pen to take notes. To do this, press a button on the pen once while touching the screen. With this feature, Samsung wants to offer the comfort of a notepad – and eliminate it. And: The tab S3 can convert handwritten notes into text.