There are two types of Android tablets: Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S line and everything else. That’s because while most Android tablets don’t go beyond simple media browsing and casual gaming consoles, Samsung has done more than any other company to turn Android into a true multitasking platform. While Samsung is nearing the limits of Google’s mobile operating system, the combination of Dex mode and high-end hardware creates a high-end tablet in its own class.
hardware and design
The $ 900 Tab S8 +, with its 12.4-inch OLED display, is Samsung’s new Tab S8 mid-lineup, between the $ 700 11-inch Tab S8 and $ 1,110 Tab S8 Ultra, which has a 14.6-inch large screen.
Without shocking differences from previous records, Samsung has once again pulled down its latest high-end tablet, giving the Tab S8 + its thinnest bezels. Measuring only 0.22 inches thick and weighing 1.24 lbs, it’s generally very stylish. Meanwhile, Samsung claims the new Armor aluminum frame is 33 percent stiffer than the one used on the Tab S7 series. The S8 + Tab features quad speakers with Dolby Atmos in every corner of the chassis, so audio sounds rich and full no matter how you hold it.
The highlight of the Tab S8 + is its 2,800 x 1,752 screen, which offers rich, catchy colors and a 120Hz refresh rate that makes scrolling through websites and switching between apps feel smoother. One of my complaints is that I want Samsung to opt for a wider 3: 2 aspect ratio display rather than sticking with 16:10.
If all you do is watch a movie or play a game, 16:10 makes a lot of sense. But in terms of productivity, the extra vertical screen real estate you get from a 4: 3 or 3: 2 monitor makes multitasking or having two windows open side by side more useful. Since Apple and Microsoft have already moved to 4: 3 and 3: 2 screens on iPads and Surfaces, I question why Samsung hasn’t done the same.
The S8 + Tab also has decent performance thanks to the inclusion of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, 8GB of RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB of storage. And, unlike Samsung’s flagship Galaxy phones, you even get a microSD tray for extra storage. The downside is the lack of a headphone jack, which is somewhat frustrating as it’s hard to believe that Samsung couldn’t find a 3.5mm port space on such a large device.
Finally, Samsung has perfected the design of the Tab S8 + with a magnetic strip on the back to charge the stylus. There is a pogo pin on one side for attaching the keyboard cover; and an in-screen quick fingerprint sensor that is better than the side mount option.
While most Android tablets are still waiting for Android 12L to receive many much-needed multitasking features, the Galaxy Tab S8 series has a customized solution in Dex. By touching the Dex button in Tab S8’s quick settings (or using the CMD + W keyboard shortcut), you can switch from the standard Android user interface to a more powerful desktop view, along with a multi-window taskbar and support. There’s also a system tray for easy access to features like WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, while the Android app drawer sits behind a handy icon in the lower left corner.
I wrote most of this review using the Tab S8 +, and after starting in Dex mode, I found myself feeling at home almost immediately. I was able to snap windows on each side of the screen just like on a Windows PC, and the S8 + Tab also supports many of the familiar keyboard shortcuts. You don’t get all the commands you need in Windows or macOS, but some basic ones like Alt-Tab and Alt-F4.
Now, hopefully I don’t need to switch between Dex and a standard Android plan. And in less popular apps that aren’t optimized for the Tab S8’s larger screen, you might run into some clunky and awkward experiences, apps that don’t make the most, or games that don’t works well in the background.