Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra Hands-On: This Giant Tablet Could Be A Serious IPad Pro Rival

Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra Hands-On: This Giant Tablet Could Be A Serious IPad Pro Rival

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Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S8 series aims to improve on our pick for the best Android tablet with sleeker designs, more powerful internals and better cameras for video calls and family selfies. The lineup has also gotten bigger this year — both figuratively and literally.

Joining the $699 Galaxy Tab S8 and $899 Tab S8 Plus (which build on the previous-gen models) is the beefed-up $1,099 Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra: a 14-inch tablet that, when paired with a keyboard, could be a worthy laptop alternative.

Wondering if Samsung’s new slates are for you? We got some hands-on time with all three of them and here are our early impressions.

Where to preorder the Galaxy Tab S8, Tab S8+ and Tab S8 Ultra The Galaxy Tab S8, S8+ and S8 Ultra are all available for preorder now on Samsung’s website as well as select retailers. The Tab S8 is the cheapest of the bunch starting at $699, while the Tab S8+ and Tab S8 Ultra go for $899 and $1,099 respectively.

Galaxy Tab S8
Colors: Graphite, silver, Pink Gold
Storage options: 128GB or 256GB
Pricing: From $699 at Samsung

Galaxy Tab S8+
Colors: Graphite, silver, Pink Gold
Storage options: 128GB or 256GB
Pricing: $899 at Samsung

Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
Colors: Graphite
Storage options: 128GB, 256GB or 512GB
Pricing: $1,099 at Samsung

Note that preordering any of these tablets from Samsung’s website will get you a free keyboard. Galaxy Tab S8 and S8+ buyers will get a Slim Book Cover Keyboard, while those who go with the Tab S8 Ultra will get a Backlit Book Cover Keyboard on the house.

Jacob Krol/CNN

The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra was the big standout in Samsung’s latest tablet lineup, with a plus-sized design that could easily pass as a standard laptop when connected to a keyboard. But once we got our hands on it, we quickly realized how versatile this extra-large slate could be for everything from working from home to doing some casual sketching and doodling with the included S Pen.

At 1.6 pounds and just 0.22 inches thin, Samsung’s highest-end tablet is lightweight and looks slick for such a big slate. The model we tested was outfitted with Samsung’s Backlit Book Cover Keyboard, which both functions as a kickstand for the tablet (like Microsoft’s Surface line) and securely houses the S Pen that attaches to the back of the slate magnetically. We only got to test the attached keyboard briefly.

The Tab S8 Ultra immediately caught our eyes with its 14.6-inch display with Super AMOLED — that’s Samsung’s take on the fancy OLED screen technology that allows for deep blacks and extra-bold colors. We quickly noticed that the bezels around the display are thinner than that of the Tab S7 family, which could make it easier to get immersed in TV shows and movies now that there isn’t a thick black border around the screen. This comes at the expense of a small notch near where the front camera sits, but we didn’t find it distracting.

Jacob Krol/CNN

Images looked sharp and colorful on the Tab S8 Ultra, whether we were swiping through the home screen or watching movie trailers on YouTube. The tablet’s four speakers were surprisingly loud, to the point where a Samsung rep on the other end of our large event space was able to hear the teenage yelping of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. Swiping and scrolling felt especially smooth thanks to the screen’s 120Hz refresh rate (the latest standard that’s more fluid than the 60Hz displays of old), and taking notes and doodling with the S Pen likewise felt natural.

The Tab S8 Ultra’s front-facing camera was another major standout during our hands-on time. The 12-megapixel shooter looked fairly crisp enough by default, but it really grabbed our attention when we activated an ultrawide mode that captured us, a colleague and much of the room we were in. This could make Samsung’s biggest tablet especially ideal for taking video calls from home — or in a conference room where you need to cram a few people on screen.

Samsung’s newest tablet runs Android 12 and packs a new 4nm octa-core Qualcomm processor inside, and while we’ll have to run our usual tests to see how it stacks up to the best tablets, basic things like swiping around and opening apps felt snappy. You’ll once again be able to take advantage of DeX mode, which allows the tablet to behave more like a PC and will now be supported when you’re using the slate both vertically and horizontally. The Tab S7 series got us upwards of 15 hours of battery life, so we’re hoping the new slates can at least match that.

Galaxy Tab S8 and S8 Plus: First impressions Jacob Krol/CNN

While the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra gives shoppers a new extra-large option for serious computing, the Galaxy Tab S8 and Tab S8+ look like solid upgrades to our current favorite Android tablet. The designs are similar across the board, just in smaller packages that come in at 11 inches for the Tab S8 and 12.4 inches for the Tab S8+.

If you decide to go with one of the smaller, cheaper Tab S8 models, there are a few key differences worth keeping in mind. The standard Tab S8 has a standard full HD screen as opposed to the Super AMOLED displays on the S8+ and S8 Ultra, so you might not get quite as rich color and contrast on the smaller models. The two starting S8 tablets are the only ones that come in a silver and Pink Gold option — we’re a bit bummed that the promising Tab S8 Ultra is limited to a dark graphite color.

Those looking for as much storage and multitasking muscle as possible will want to go with the UItra — the two smaller Tab S8 options max out at 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, whereas the Tab S8 Ultra offers a maximum of 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The Tab S8 and Tab S8+ also have slightly smaller batteries than their bigger sibling, so we expect battery life to differ between the three models.

Still, the Tab S8 and Tab S8+ looked sleek and felt snappy in our short hands-on time, and the responsive S Pen experience was once again the highlight here (props to Samsung for actually including a stylus in the box across the board — something you won’t get on the iPad).

As a whole, the Galaxy Tab S8 range looks like it will build on what we loved about the Galaxy Tab S7 series with a more seamless display, a slicker design and most significantly, an extra-large option for folks that want a tablet that can double as a laptop. We’re eager to see how the whole range stacks up — not only to competitors like the iPad Pro, but also to our favorite notebooks — so stay tuned for our full reviews.

Galaxy Tab S8, Tab S8+ and Tab S8 Ultra specs Galaxy Tab S8

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