Powered by Android 7.0 and the Snapdragon 820 SoC, the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, successor of the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 (Q4 2015), features an impressive HDR-ready screen that delivers HDR video streaming, which will be provided by Samsung’s content partners (not yet announced). Samsung claims it is the first tablet with HDR (High Dynamic Range) support for display.
Pros: high quality high definition 9.7” AMOLED HDR-ready display for higher quality video playback experience, new S-Pen and well-designed physical keyboard in a light and thin package.
Cons: entertainment machine that cannot be used as a PC replacement except for people who do not need compute intensive applications. It looks like users will have to wait to get HDR videos from content partners.
Bottom line: the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is an impressive Android tablet that gets all the high-end features you need to perform most of work and play tasks while on the go.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Demo
Editor’s note: the demo video below showcases the Tab S3 keyboard, S-Pen, HDR Amoled display and quad speaker audio – we had to remove the clip during the HDR demo due to copyrights, we left the audio to show that we saw the movie and the HDR image quality. We hope to shoot another demo soon with a clip free of copyrights.
What’s New: Galaxy Tab S2 vs. Galaxy Tab S3
The Galaxy Tab S3 is a long overdue upgrade of the now old Galaxy Tab S2 9.7”, introduced in Sept. 2015, The Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB RAM replaces the Exynos 5433 with 3GB RAM, while the display resolution remains the same at 2048×1536 (QXGA) for the 9.7” size. The new display supports HDR video, the front camera offers 5 Megapixel resolution and the rear 13 Megapixel, a nice update from 2.1 Megapixel and 8 Megapixel respectively.
Besides HDR support and the processor upgrade, the major difference with the previous model is the addition of the S-Pen and the detachable keyboard (although you could by optional keyboard accessories for the Tab S2).
Key Specs – Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
- Processor: Snapdragon 820 Quad Core 2.15GHz + 1.6GHz,
- Display: 9.7” 2048×1536 (QXGA) AMOLED
- Network: LTE Cat 6 (300 Mbps)
- Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.2, USB 3.1 (Type C)
- Rear camera: 13 MP AF
- Front camera: 5MP, Flash
- Memory: 4GB RAM
- Internal memory: 32GB, expandable up to 256Gb via microSD slot
- Battery: 6000mAh, fast charging
- Dimensions: 237.3 x 169.0 x 6.0 mm (without keyboard)
- Software: Android 7.0
Industrial Design (Very Good)
With the new Galaxy Tab S3, Samsung delivers the same design language found in the Galaxy S7 and the (defunct) Galaxy Note 7, in the form of a high-quality glass back cover encased in a full metal frame. A hair thicker than its predecessor, at 6 mm, the Galaxy Tab S3 provides very good performance in an elegant and sleek glass body, and it fits nicely in a foldable keyboard cover that has been thoughtfully designed by Samsung.
Display with HDR Video (Very Good)
The star feature of the new Android tablet is the HDR-ready 9.7” Super AMOLED QXGA display, which lives up to our expectations. During the briefing, we watched video clips from a western movie with high contrast scenes, and the image quality was quite impressive. The blacks were very deep, while we could see the fine details in the shadows. The color range in the bright areas of the screen was well rendered. We need to set up a side by side test to really measure how much of the level of quality comes from the HDR-ready display, however, the first impression was pretty convincing.
Audio (Very Good)
With the Tab S3, Samsung is on a mission to deliver the best entertainment experience on an Android tablet, so, to make the audio be on par with the image quality for the video playback experience, the Korean manufacturer added four speakers around the display panel, tuned by AKG.
The quad-speaker system features auto-rotate capabilities that detects the display landscape or portrait position and optimize the sound accordingly.
Keyboard (Very Good)
Knowing that people who play hard, work hard as well, Samsung paid particular attention to the detachable pogo keyboard, and despite the small form factor, it features a 17.25 mm pitch key which is quite good, knowing that the recommended distance in a full keyboard is between 18 and 19 mm. Similar to the keyboard of the new Galaxy Book Windows 10 tablets, the Galaxy Tab S3 keyboard’s offers a travel depth of 1.5mm.
Leveraging the success of the S-pen in previous tablets and smartphones, Samsung included the new version of the S-Pen in the Galaxy Tab S3, the 4096 level of sensitivity enables a drawing experience close to the pen-to-paper feel. For those familiar with the Air Command menu found in other devices, such as the Galaxy Note 7, they will be happy to access a number of actions just by hovering above the menu icon the screen: Create a note, View all Notes, Smart Select, Screen Write, Translate and Magnify.
In the video demo that we will upload soon, you will see the demo of some of the S-Pen features, including Off Screen Memo that allows users to take notes on the display when it is off. The second one is Smart Select, a popular option that lets people create animated GIFs by selecting part of existing videos.
For now, you can check the demo of the S-Pen with the Galaxy Note S7, the S-pen itself is different, but the features are similar and work the same way. Two tasks that are included in the Tab S3 and do not appear in the Galaxy Note 7’s Air Command Menu “View all notes” and “Magnify” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71z6uMnec34
System Performance (Very Good)
Since the Galaxy Tab S3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820. It does have a very good performance level for an Android device. Obviously, if would get an “excellent” rating if it had the latest Snapdragon 835 chip, but the reality is that Snapdragon 835 is still scarcely available, as we explained in the context of why the new LG G6 uses a Snapdragon 82x chip.
Samsung has not communicated pricing details, but based on the Samsung GalaxyTab S2, we expect it to land around ~$400-$450, so it would make sense not to feature the latest and greatest chip in that price range, but instead to use the “sweet spot” model which is the Snapdragon 820.
We will wait until the retail units arrive to run benchmarks, but the results should be very satisfying. Android tablets are typically not aiming for maximum CPU performance, probably because the usage model turns out to be a couch-surfing and basic productivity.
Snapdragon 820 is perfectly capable of running complex 3D games as well, if needed, but most tablets aren’t designed with high-performance as a primary goal, and that makes total sense.
According to Samsung, the 30.4W battery last for up to 10 hours, and we expect of continuous video playback. As we do not know the exact conditions of the battery test, we cannot make any assumptions. We’ll provide a better evaluation of the battery life once we get our hands on the new tablet for a longer period of time.
Pricing & Availability
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 comes in black and silver, and the covers will be available in black, white, and green. At the time of publishing, the timeframe and the price have not been disclosed yet.
Conclusion (Very Good)
While the hybrid PC tablet market has recently expanded again, the mobile tablet market is a shrinking and manufacturers have to really innovate to convince consumers to dedicate several hundred dollars to buy a new device in that category.
With the Galaxy Tab S3 9.7”, Samsung lives up to the challenge, and the Korean manufacturer delivers innovative and effective new features, including the impressive QXGA AMOLED display with high-quality HDR video streaming and top-notch audio, an updated S-Pen with an enhanced drawing experience, and state-of-the-art slim detachable keyboard.