When Apple released the iPad Pro last year in late 2015, it fundamentally changed what people expected of tablets. With a razor-sharp visual display, pinpoint precision of the Apple Pencil and booming speakers, previous iPads and their competitors resembled kids’ toys. Samsung and its engineers took their time to respond, scrapping and rethinking everything that worked in its Galaxy Tab series to regroup with a quantum leap beyond its previous efforts. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 may not be an iPad Pro killer, but it can stand toe to toe with Apple’s beast in most of the meaningful ways. Now Samsung has put its kids’ toys away and is ready to slug it out with the big boys, producing a tablet that can work well as a streaming or gaming device, as well as an artist’s sketchpad and netbook replacement.
Console: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
Release Date: March 23
As soon as you power it on for the first time, the Galaxy Tab S3 seduces you with its knockout display. The 2,048 x 1,536 screen is one of the few tablets capable of nailing HDR visuals. The colors pop with a grab-you-by-the-eyelids blast of authenticity that’s tough to match, even on a giant 4K TV display. With a responsive multitouch screen optimized for gaming and the precision sensitivity of the included S-Pen stylus, it’s a wannabe sketch artist’s dream companion. While the $599 price tag asks as a rude wake-up call, you feel where the money has gone when you hold this beauty in your hands. A hefty, sturdier metallic feel separates it from the plastic lightness of its predecessors, and the robust sound that pumps from its speakers feels more than a generation removed from the perfunctory like of the Tab S2 and iPad Air.
No matter how good the tablet looks and feels, it would be worthless without a battery capable of keeping you from running to a wall charger every few hours. That’s exactly the sort of ambition that got Samsung into trouble last year with the exploding Note 7 phone debacle, but it’s clear that the company has learned from its mistakes with the Galaxy Tab S3, which runs cool and steady even during heavy use. Its 12-hour, heavy-use battery life keeps you streaming, gaming and editing documents without worrying about the low-battery indicator scolding you, or coaxing you to dim the brightness settings to squeeze some sad pseudo-life out of the machine. While it’s quite a leap to use any tablet — including the vaunted iPad Pro — to replace a laptop, it’s completely reasonable to do so with this device. With a comparably svelte form factor and rapid responsiveness of its app suite, workaholics may find themselves reaching for the tablet to pound out quick tasks rather than wait for a laptop to wake out of sleep mode. If you need to sign a document or touch up an art project, the tablet makes much more sense than a traditional notebook.
Although the first-party keyboard add-on is optional, it’s something you’ll absolutely need if you plan on using the Galaxy Tab S3 as a laptop. Dropping $130 on the accessory completes the package, offering you a more streamlined way to tap out documents on its productivity suite, protect that beautiful HDR screen and provide a docking spot for the stylus. If you’re going to spend $500 on a professional-level tablet, you may as well cough up $130 more to turn it into an optional laptop. Unlike many similar cases, the keys flow naturally into the design, making the case feel like a natural add-on rather than a bulky piggyback.
No matter what Samsung does with its tablets, there’s little chance of it grabbing the notice of devoted Apple geeks. The best-case scenario is to please the Galaxy-geek base while turning the heads of brand-neutral techies willing to pay big money for the best and brightest the company has to offer. The Galaxy Tab S3 certainly nails that wow factor, and maxes out its technical specs to the point that it’s tough to imagine it being made obsolete by a follow-up any time soon. Sadly for bargain hunters, that also means you probably won’t see a price drop any time soon. If the Galaxy Tab S3 intrigues you, and you have the resources to bring it home, there’s no sense in waiting, because neither Apple nor Samsung is likely to top it this year or next. With the Galaxy Tab S3, Samsung plays to win and shows off its capabilities like a pro.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Around The Web:
“The Tab S3 is a good tablet and nothing more.” –The Verge
“Great, but not $600 great.” –Laptop Magazine
“Samsung has gone a ways toward justifying the price here, packing the slate full of all sorts of features, including an HDR screen, quad-speakers and an S-Pen that ships in the box.” –TechCrunch
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Screenshots
The publisher provided a review unit.
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