The Korean electronics giant announced two new tablets at the trade show in Barcelona: The Android-powered Galaxy Tab S3 and the Windows 10-powered Galaxy Book, which will be available in 10.6- and 12-inch models.
Despite the different operating systems, both tablets share common traits borrowed from Samsung’s Galaxy phones. They also come with enhanced S Pens and support for detachable keyboards.
Galaxy Tab S3
One look at the Galaxy Tab S3 and it’s clear Samsung designed it to go head-to-head with the iPad Pro.
The first thing you’ll notice as soon as you pick it up is the new metal and glass design. It looks and feels like a blown up Galaxy S7, which is both good (it’s pretty and only 6-millimeters thick) and bad (the glass backside is a fingerprint magnet).
The Tab S3’s 9.7-inch (2,048 x 1,536) Super AMOLED display is excellent — it’s both bright and crisp, and text and photos look fantastic. The screen is also HDR-ready, making it the first tablet to support videos with greater dynamic range.
Underneath the hood is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage (expandable up to 256GB via microSD), and a 6,000 mAh battery with Samsung’s Fast Charging support via its USB-C port. Along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the tablet’s also got built-in LTE.
On the back you’ll find a 13-megapixel camera with autofocus, and on the front, a 5-megapixel camera for selfies. There’s also a fingerprint sensor built into the home button below the screen.
For sound, Samsung’s crammed in quad speakers tuned by the audio specialists at AKG.
All these features are great upgrades for a premium tablet, and Android 6.0 Marshmallow with TouchWiz is plenty smooth and responsive, but the new S Pen and attachable keyboard are the real stars.
In a nutshell, the Tab S3’s S Pen is basically the same as the Galaxy Note7’s with 4,096 levels of pressure and a 0.7 millimeter tip for pinpoint precision. The Tab S3’s display is also able to detect when the S Pen is tilted at different angles.
Combined with Samsung’s signature S Pen software like Air Command (especially the GIF maker) and screen-off memo, which lets you write notes when the screen’s off, I could see students and creatives really liking what the Tab S3 offers.
The only thing that kind of sucks is the S Pen can’t slot into the tablet for storage because of its larger size. It’s not a deal breaker, and for what it’s worth, it does come with a metal clip that magnetically attaches to a section on the back of the Tab S3, but it’s not the most elegant design.
Likewise, the keyboard (sold separately) is also one of the better ones I’ve used with any tablet. The keys have good travel and the keyboard attaches to the Tab S3 via a magnetic “Pogo” port.
No word on pricing or release date for the tablet or the keyboard, but given the specs, I wouldn’t bet on it being cheap. Still, if you’re looking for a new Android tablet, the Tab S3 looks like a good one to keep an eye on.
The Galaxy Book is the other tablet Samsung trotted out — it’s more of a Surface Pro competitor since it runs Windows 10.
As I mentioned earlier, the Galaxy Book is available in two sizes: 10.6-inch (1,920 x 1,280) LCD and 12-inch (2,160 x 1,440) AMOLED displays.
They’re thicker and heavier than the Tab S3, but they’re also beefier tablet computers.
Supports S Pen
Nice, roomy keyboard
The 10.6-inch Galaxy Book has a seventh-generation 2.6GHz Intel Core m3 dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage, and a single 5-megapixel front-facing camera.
The 12-inch Galaxy Book has a seventh-generation 3.1GHz Intel Core i5 dual-core chip, 4GB of RAM with 128GB of SSD storage or 8GB of RAM with 256GB of SSD, and two cameras (13-megapixels on the back with autofocus and 5-megapixels on the front).
Both Galaxy Books come with microSD card slots for storage expansion up to 256GB, and feature Wi-Fi direct, Bluetooth, LTE and Fast Charging.
I didn’t get too much play time with them, but from what little I did, they felt pretty solid. The keyboards are large and roomy with responsive trackpads, and S Pen support with all of Samsung’s Air Command features is a nice bonus.
I didn’t notice any slowdown with Windows 10 on either machine, but then again, I didn’t exactly get to put them through a “normal” workload.
The tablets are a little too large and unwieldy for shooting photos and videos, but it’s good to see improved cameras, nonetheless.
One of the Galaxy Book’s best features is Samsung Flow. If you own a Galaxy phone you can use its fingerprint sensor to unlock the Galaxy Book and even reply to messages and take phone calls on the tablet.
Are the Galaxy Books better than a Surface Pro 4? Hard to say right now, but they’re definitely very capable work machines, especially the larger one with the Core i5 processor.
Like the Tab S3, Samsung hasn’t announced pricing or a release date for the Galaxy Book, but I’d expect them to be competitively priced.