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Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the largest Android tablet Samsung has ever built. Anyone who thought the 12.9-inch Apple iPad Pro was big for a tablet will be confronted with an enormous 14.6-inch in the eternal competitor. At the same time, Android also competes against the established operating systems Windows and MacOS in our review. In the case of the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, it is already in the latest Android 13 version with Samsung’s latest One UI 5 interface. The goal is clear: to combine the advantages of a slim, light tablet with the productivity of a notebook.

Samsung digs deep into its bag of tricks for this. On the one hand there is Samsung DeX, which can wirelessly mirror your display and exchange files with compatible notebooks. On the other hand, Samsung offers various optimizations in terms of multitasking with One UI 5. And then there’s the S Pen, which has some extra tricks up its sleeve and is included in the box. But productivity also hits its limits, especially when apps are viewed in small phone form or only work in portrait mode on a device. Our Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review clarifies whether the tablet works just as well on the desk as on the couch.

Unboxing

Despite being a tablet that retails for around $1,000, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra doesn’t come with many accessories. As mentioned above, the S Pen is included in the package. On the other hand, you have to do without a charger. There is a USB-C-to-C cable, though, and a comfortably long one at that.

Design

The 14.6-inch AMOLED display is the heart of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. Samsung’s biggest and best mobile OLED panel has slim but symmetrical bezels, apart from the small notch for the two front cameras. This seems to have become necessary because Samsung has opted for an ultra wide angle in addition to the normal selfie camera. The edges aren’t necessarily narrow, but apparently still didn’t offer enough space for the two cameras. As with all notches, this one is no longer noticeable after a short time.

Like the Galaxy Tab S8+, there is an optical fingerprint sensor under the right side of the display. The sensor works just as well as all Samsung A-series phones with the same optical technology. This works quickly and accurately, but not as well as the ultrasonic sensors in the Galaxy S phones.

Samsung includes the S Pen with the tablet and it’s a fantastic pen. Responsiveness is better than on previous Samsung devices with just 2.8ms latency. The feeling of using it on the screen is intuitive and working with it is extremely fun. As always, the added value is determined by the app support outside of Samsung’s preinstalled software. And unfortunately that still has its limits.

The S Pen charges wirelessly on the back of the tablet, although alignment with the glass insert sometimes requires a bit of finesse. However, the magnet is strong enough to hold the pen securely in place. The included battery only takes on the S Pen functions such as gestures and shortcuts. You can also scribble and write without battery life.

As mentioned, the Tab S8 Ultra is even larger than Apple’s largest iPad Pro. In addition, there is the widescreen display, so that the tablet looks a bit unwieldy, especially in portrait format. The weight of 726 g is also definitely noticeable when holding it for a longer period of time. However, the aluminum body is only 5.5mm thick and feels lighter for the size. There are also four speakers, which probably sound better than most notebooks at higher volumes.

Display

The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra’s AMOLED display is one of the best panels out there on a tablet. With a resolution of 1,848 x 2,960 pixels, the images are crystal clear and, thanks to the refresh rate of 120 Hz, they also display fast movements smoothly. Thanks to OLED technology, the colors are powerful and the contrast is perfect. The brightness range is better than you would expect from a screen of this size. However, you can also set the brightness extremely low, which means that the Tab S8 Ultra also works well in dark rooms.

At the other end of the scale, however, outdoor use is also possible without any problems. The maximum brightness is around 600 nits in normal mode and around 1,000 nits with adaptive brightness. Extremely good values for a tablet. However, Samsung’s top smartphones shine even brighter. The same applies to the iPad Pro’s miniLED display. However, as long as you don’t work in direct, intense sunlight, the panel does an excellent job.

Software

When it comes to the operating system and software, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra also makes no compromises. Immediately after switching on for the first time, the update to Android 13 and Samsung’s latest interface One UI 5 arrived. Even if Android 12L, which is optimized for large displays, might be more suitable here, there were no problems in terms of multitasking in the review. Samsung’s own multi-window functionality, which has developed significantly in the last update cycles, also makes a strong contribution to this. The huge AMOLED panel of the Tab S8 Ultra benefits enormously from this and displays multiple apps side by side and floating apps smoothly.

We were particularly impressed by the view with three apps in a split screen in our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 review. On the Tab S8 Ultra, however, all apps are still large enough for real productivity. With a few taps, you can swap out apps, rearrange the ones you have, or split them into floating windows. So much for the good news. The bad is that many apps insist on full screen mode. And in this, they usually don’t look particularly good on the extremely large display. This even applies to many of the Google apps. The problem is even more obvious on a 14.6-inch display. But generally apps run well and smoothly thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset.

The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra also takes on numerous tasks that you would normally have used a notebook for. You can file your tax return, fill out documents with the S-Pen, manage folders full of PDFs and add up numbers with a floating calculator. And you don’t even have to resort to DeX, as many features like Samsung’s improved multi-window and S Pen support get the job done just as well.

The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra scored more points in the review when it came to updates. There are at least four years of major operating system updates and five years of security patches. In terms of both the duration of support and the speed with which the updates come, Samsung is currently not competing with any other Android manufacturer. For months now, the new firmware updates for premium devices such as the Tab S8 Ultra have usually come before the start of a new month and before Google itself updates its devices.

CPU / performance

In terms of performance, you could almost say that the review bored the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. With normal apps anyway, but even demanding games run without any worries. However, throttling can occur under constant load, which also happens with the Samsung’s S22 series with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. This only keeps the maximum performance as long as the cooling system allows it. Thanks to the larger surface, the tablet at least has more options for dissipating the heat. Overall, typical behavior for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Nevertheless, you will rarely, if ever, encounter these limits.

GeekBench 5 single-core-test

In contrast, the benchmark tests showed the big picture in terms of tablets. Here Apple is still far ahead of the competition, both with the old A16 processors and with the new M1 and M2 chips. The new iPad Pro 11 (2022) and the iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) are unbeatable in the single-core test. But the Pro models from last year and the current iPad Air also clearly set themselves apart – more clearly than the Galaxy Tab S8 series can set itself apart from the Galaxy Tab S7 series. The difference becomes more obvious in the multi-core test. Even last year’s iPad Pro 11 (2021) and iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) are more than twice as fast as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra.

GeekBench 5 multi-core-test

A somewhat more balanced picture emerges in the AnTuTu benchmark, which also includes the GPU, memory performance, and UX in addition to pure CPU performance. This doesn’t change anything in the ranking – here, too, the five Apple devices are at the top in the same order. The Galaxy Tab S8 series follows at a much smaller distance and leaves the Galaxy Tab S7+ well behind.

AnTuTu 9 test

In daily use though, you will hardly notice anything. As said, the only scenarios where the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra comes up against its limits is when gaming. Or in benchmarks.

Battery

Even with intense multitasking, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra easily lasted more than a day with its 11,200 mAh battery. With mixed use, about two days are possible with one battery charge. It basically supports Samsung’s 45 watt charging standard, but just missed these speeds in the review. Instead, a maximum of 28% ended up in the battery after 30 minutes. A full charge takes a minimum of 1 hour 25 minutes, which is only three minutes longer than specified by Samsung. Wireless charging is not available.

Camera: photos

Most tablets have cameras, which usually appear as if the manufacturer would rather not have installed one. The Tab S8 Ultra’s cameras, on the other hand, are significantly better, but far from what a smartphone delivers for a similar price. There are two main cameras on the back. On the one hand the 13 megapixel wide with 26 mm focal length, f/2.0 aperture, a 1/3.4 inch sensor, 1.0 µm pixels and autofocus. On the other hand, a 6 megapixel ultra wide angle with an aperture of f/2.2.

Selfies

Samsung also installs two 12-megapixel cameras in the notch on the front. Here, the wide-angle camera also has a focal length of 26 mm, but the f/2.2 aperture is slightly smaller. The ultrawide camera has an aperture of f/2.4 and a field of view of 120 degrees. Accordingly, Samsung seems to consider selfie cameras to be more important, for example for video chats.

In fact, we’d follow that line of reasoning, since it’s hard to imagine someone walking around taking photos with such a large tablet. Therefore, a stand or a suitable case is definitely recommended for video conferences.

Camera: videos

Here is a test video of the ultra wide camera of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. Hand tested at 1080p 30fps.

And another short clip of the main camera including digital zoom. Also hand tested at 4K 30fps.

Verdict

8.6Expert Score
Verdict Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

In our review, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra scored with an excellent display, a lot of performance and a long-lasting battery.

Design
9
Display
10
CPU / Benchmarks
9
Battery
8.5
Camera photos
7.5
Camera videos
7.5
Pro
  • great AMOLED display – high definition, super bright, high refresh rate
  • very fast chipset
  • included S Pen offers real added value
  • dual front/main cameras each with ultra wide
  • long-lasting battery
  • four stereo speakers with great sound
Kontra
  • expensive

When Samsung first announced the new Galaxy Tab S8 series, you could hardly believe your eyes when you saw the 14.6-inch Tab S8 Ultra. Android 13 and One UI 5 also do great and are optimally tailored to the tablet. The hardware itself is beyond doubt with the Super AMOLED display, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset and the great workmanship. The S Pen is a useful addition and is included in the delivery.

As practical as the size of the tablet is for working, it is bulky to store it. There’s no denying that at the size of the Tab S8 Ultra you could easily also carry an Ultrabook or MacBook Air around. The operating system is clearly the decisive factor here – if you don’t feel like using Windows, MacOS or iOS, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is currently the best option when it comes to mobile productivity.

Stefan Andres

Stefan Andres

Contact | Android, iOS, Apps | Cell phone: Google Pixel 7

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