With the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra 5G, is Samsung finally able to compete with Apple’s 12.1” iPad Pro? Apple and its iPads monopolize the tablet market. The Californian certainly did not invent the concept, but he knew how to make it evolve intelligently.
Among the few manufacturers still present in this market, Samsung continues to widen its neurons to offer a coherent range. The Galaxy Tab S at the top of the range, we find the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra 5G, supposed to bring together the best of current technologies. Can it compete with the high-end 12.9” 5G iPad Pro from who-you-know? Let’s check out! The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra 5G that we have (12 GB / 256 GB expandable).
See detailed review: iPad Pro M1 12.9 (2021)
|Dual front-facing cameras||Large size can be unwieldy|
|Efficient multitasking in Android 12||No charger in the box|
|Performance is responsive||Hugely expensive|
|Giant OLED screen||Average battery life|
|S Pen is included|
|Android 12 with One UI 4.0|
|Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra||iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch)|
|$||CHECK PRICE||CHECK PRICE|
|Released||2022, April 30||2021, May 21|
|Dimensions||326.4 x 208.6 x 5.5 mm||280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4 mm|
|Weight||726 g (Wi-Fi), 728 g (5G) (1.60 lb)||682 g (Wi-Fi), 685 g (5G) (1.50 lb)|
|Colors||Graphite||Silver, Space Gray|
|Display||14.6-inch, 120Hz||12.9 inches|
|Resolution||2960 x 1868 pixels||2732 x 2048 pixels|
|DPI||240 dpi||264 dpi|
|RAM||8 GB, 12 GB, 16 GB||8 GB, 16 GB|
|Storage||128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB||128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1024 GB, 2048 GB|
|Back Camera||13 + 6MP||Sensor 1: 12 MP|
Sensor 2: 10 MP
|Front Camera||12 + 12MP||12 MP|
|Chipset||Snapdragon 8 Gen 1||Apple M1|
|GPUs||Qualcomm Adreno 730||Apple GPU (8-core graphics)|
|Assistant||Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby||Siri|
|Battery||11,200mAh (45W)||Li-Po (40.88 Wh)|
|Fast charging||45 watt||18W|
|SIM type||nano-SIM||Nano-SIM, eSIM|
|WiFi standard||WiFi 6E||Wi-Fi 6 (ax)|
|USB||USB Type-C 3.2, magnetic connector||USB Type-C 4 (Thunderbolt 4), DisplayPort; magnetic connector|
|Fingerprint sensor||Under the screen||Face ID|
|Ambient light sensor||Yes||–|
Let’s have a look at the specs. The majority of the main tenets of each tablet are the similar, but there are a few differences to consider, such as display sizes and technology, battery size, measures and weight, and camera.
Tab S8 vs Tab S8+ vs Tab S8 Ultra
|Galaxy Tab S8||Galaxy Tab S8+||Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1|
|Resolution||2560 x 1600 pixel||2800 x 1752||2960 x 1868 pixels|
|Rear camera||13MP + 6MP||13MP + 6MP||13MP + 6MP|
|Front camera||12MP||12MP||12MP + 12MP UW|
|Software||Android 12||Android 12||Android 12|
|Wifi||Wi-Fi 6E||Wi-Fi 6E||Wi-Fi 6E|
|Bluetooth||5.2||5.2, 5G||5.2, 5G|
|Dimensions||253.7 x 165.3 x 6.35 mm||284.9 x 184.9 x 5.5||326.4 x 208.5 x 5.5|
|Weight||1.10 lb||1.27 lb||1.60 lb|
|Misc||S Pen (in box), power button fingerprint scanner||S Pen (in box), in-display fingerprint scanner||S Pen (in box), in-display fingerprint scanner|
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen1
It uses Qualcomm’s latest chipset, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, for superior processing performance.
Memory capacity: 16GB
With 16 GB of memory, this is a fairly high specification considering that most of the entry-level tablets use 3-4 GB of capacity. The capacity is large enough to perform multiple tasks at the same time, such as high-end games or video editing.
Memory interface: LPDDR5
It is a product with a memory interface of LPDDR5 and is mainly used for high-end tablets. It is a type of memory that allows for comfortable work during multitasking due to its fast data transfer speed.
Screen size: 14.6 inches (37.084 cm)
A 14.6-inch tablet with a screen diagonal of 37.084 cm. This is one of the largest screen sizes of tablets on the market today.
16:10 aspect ratio: It has the most common 16:10 aspect ratio on tablets.
The advantage of being able to view the video on a full screen is that there is less letterboxing, which is a wasted part of the screen at the top/bottom, when playing the 16:9 ratio video adopted for most videos.
Slim bezel: It is a slim bezel product that is thinner than 1cm in the area surrounding the top, bottom, left and right of the tablet screen. The thin bezels have the advantage of making the screen look wider.
The resolution is 2960×1848 (QHD level), which is mainly used in mid-range/high-end tablets, which is the highest level among currently sold tablets.
The screen is clear, and it is a resolution that can be used for drawing/video/photo work as well as viewing high-definition video and contents.
Panel: Super AMOLED
It is a product using the Super AMOLED panel with the highest image quality currently.
It has excellent contrast ratio and color gamut compared to LCD, and the thin panel also makes the tablet thinner. However, there are some reviews that say that the color does not display properly when used for a long time and that ‘burn-in’ occurs on the screen.
Refresh rate: 120Hz
It is a product with a high refresh rate that is used only for the highest grade among currently available tablets.
Faster touch response speed and smoother screen expression are possible compared to the entry-level 60Hz.
Eyes adapted to 120Hz show smooth screen movement, with some reviewing that they are not satisfied with 60Hz again.
HDR: HDR 10+ support
Supports HDR 10+ standard. This is a standard supported by products with excellent display performance, and it is a product that can express richer colors than products that do not support it.
Number of speakers: 4 (quad speakers)
This product has 4 speakers. The number of speakers in a mid-range tablet Considering that there are usually two speakers, you can enjoy richer sound with more than four speakers.
Speaker Position: Top, Bottom
When the tablet is placed vertically, the four speakers are placed at the top and bottom.
Speakers are placed on both sides, so you can enjoy a richer sound with a sense of space than products with speakers on only one side.
Dolby Atmos: Yes
With Dolby Atmos support, you can enjoy rich and spacious sound. Dolby Atmos is a system that creates stereophonic sound by mixing not only left and right, but also top and bottom.
Storage capacity: 512GB
With a storage capacity of 512 GB, it is the largest storage capacity of any tablet currently on the market.
Storage type: UFS
This interface is mainly used for mid-range/high-end tablets. Compared to eMMC, which is mainly used for tablets of other brands, the read/write speed is fast, and the app launch speed is relatively fast compared to other products in the same class.
Whether the storage space can be expanded: Yes It is a product that can expand the capacity up to 1TB through a micro SD card.
Camera Lens: 4
12 megapixel front camera: With a front camera of 12 megapixels, it is the highest front camera pixel among tablets on the market today, which is similar to that of the iPhone 12.
High-definition video calls, video conferences, and selfies are possible.
13 megapixel rear camera: The 13-megapixel rear camera is a typical camera pixel in high-end tablets sold today.
It can take sharp pictures similar to that of the latest smartphone, the iPhone 12. This product has a rear camera flash.
Battery capacity: 11200mAh
The battery capacity of this product is 11200mAh, and the usage time announced by the manufacturer is 8 hours.
There may be differences depending on the usage environment such as brightness and internet connection type.
Fast charging: This product supports fast charging over 15W.
Terminal type: USB Type-C
This product uses a USB Type-C terminal. Currently, this is the most commonly used terminal for Android smartphones, tablets, and wireless earphones.
Network / Bluetooth
Wi-Fi + Cellular data combined
This product works with both Cellular data and Wi-Fi networks. You can use LTE or 5G data by inserting a SIM chip.
Bluetooth Version: 5.2
This product supports the latest specification, Bluetooth 5.2, and is the version commonly used in the latest high-end tablets.
GPS sensor: It has a GPS sensor, so it is possible to use navigation or maps.
Fingerprint Recognition: This product supports fingerprint recognition unlock function.
Face Recognition: Front camera face recognition
It unlocks by recognizing your face with the front camera. Compared to the infrared method, the accuracy is low and it is difficult to unlock without light.
Pen Included: Included
This product includes a pen in the basic configuration.
Dedicated pen: S Pen
This product can be used with the S Pen.
With a 14.8” diagonal screen , the Tab S8 Ultra is impressive. However, it remains transportable in a bag, its wasp waist (5.5 mm thick) and its contained weight (728 grams) allowing it to be forgotten. Samsung has designed it around a perfectly machined metal chassis, the front side being covered with a sheet of Gorilla Glass 5 from Corning. A fingerprint reader takes place under the screen. Of optical technology, we consider it reliable and reasonably fast.
The USB-C port keeps company with a drawer that can accommodate a micro SD card as well as a nano-SIM. The good old 3.5 mm audio jack is absent, the finesse of the device does not allow its integration.
We find on one of the sides the traditional mechanical control keys (volume and power), its opposite receiving a discreet proprietary magnetic connector. It would be to connect an optional keyboard.
Note also the presence on the sides of four groups of perforations passing the sound generated by as many speakers.
Consisting of two modules, the front camera takes place in a notch housed on one of the long sides of the screen. This choice is explained by Samsung’s desire to favor using the S8 Ultra 5G horizontally rather than in portrait mode.
The back side houses the back camera as well as a magnetic slot for the S-Pen. It allows it to be recharged and stored when not in use. Even if it is not very practical, this mechanism has the advantage of reducing the risk of losing the stylus and avoiding the passage through a cable to recharge it.
The minimalist design, the impeccable finish and the quality of construction of the Tab S8 Ultra 5G make it a very pleasant object to use on a daily basis. On this aspect, Samsung is almost flawless in our opinion, the only downside being the stylus attachment mechanism, which is not always easy to use.
It is bright enough to remain visible in the sun and produces a contrasting image in all circumstances. As always with Samsung, the default color setting boosts the colors a bit to make them more pleasing to the eye. This will be corrected or not, depending on your needs by adjusting the system parameters.
The black borders surrounding the screen are quite thin, but not non-existent: so much the better, it avoids accidentally touching the touch screen when holding the tablet. They are however not thick enough to fully accommodate the front camera, thus explaining the presence of a slight notch. This is in no way bothersome in daily use.
The screen of the Tab S8 Ultra 5G is a success, but does it compare to that of the iPad Pro? The latter uses a mini-LED LCD panel, also excellent, but a little less efficient on the contrast and the depth of the blacks. Its 4/3 format brings it closer to an A4 sheet, which may be more convenient than the 16/10th of the Samsung screen, except for video enthusiasts. After long hesitations, our preference on this aspect still goes to the Tab S8 Ultra 5G… But not by much!
Unsurprisingly, the Tab S8 Ultra 5G uses Android 12 accompanied by the OneUI house overlay. Clean and intuitive, it cleverly overcomes the weaknesses of the standard interface of Google’s system. Better still, it brings a very well thought out set of applications. If you have already used a Samsung smartphone, you will not be out of place since the applications are strictly identical.
Some are almost useless (Samsung Members, Samsung Shop, etc.) and can be uninstalled without regret. Others are much more interesting, such as the alternatives offered to standard Google applications. Good point for the calendar manager and the Samsung Internet browser (based on the same engine as Chrome).
Our preference goes without a doubt to the perfect integration of the S-Pen into the OS . Supplied as standard with the tablet (hello Apple), it allows you to take advantage of the Samsung Notes electronic notebook and functions specially developed for it. Best of all, the app syncs seamlessly with Microsoft’s OneNote so you can share your notes across different devices (including Apple’s). Writing, doodling or drawing with the S-Pen is a very pleasant experience, the stylus proving to be very responsive, precise and perfectly manages the different levels of pressure.
Last but not least , DeX turns the tablet into a real notebook. To do this, you will need to connect a keyboard and a mouse via Bluetooth. Another possibility is to use the very successful Book Cover Keyboard. Both protective case, keyboard and pointing device (integrated trackpad), it connects via the proprietary magnetic port fitted to the tablet.
Thus equipped, the Tab S8 Ultra 5G can easily replace a notebook for office tasks, multimedia and even image editing. DeX gives Android apps a windowed environment that makes multitasking a little easier. A success.
The photo is clearly not the most important part on a tablet. That said, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra still has four cameras in total, two on the back, two on the front.
On the back, we have a main sensor of 12 megapixels and an ultra wide-angle of 6 megapixels. The photos produced are quite satisfactory as long as you remember that you are using a tablet. The colors stand out well and the level of sharpness remains at a fairly good level. If you have nothing but the Tab S8 Ultra to immortalize a scene, it will do just fine. Don’t expect superb dynamics management.
The two 12-megapixel sensors (wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle) are surprisingly well cared for on the front. You will be able to take a photo of your reel with complete peace of mind. Above all, the chances are that you will have the best image quality during a videoconference if your colleagues are using somewhat rotten webcams. For video, you can shoot up to 4K at 30 fps.
The Tab S8 Ultra 5G is built around a Sanpdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC accompanied by 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of internal storage (expandable by micro SD card). The set provides more than enough processing power to run the most demanding applications.
The 12 GB of RAM allows for advanced multitasking. The most demanding games run smoothly, even when the level of detail displayed is very high.
The Tab S8 Ultra 5G does not have the processing power of an iPad Pro equipped with Apple’s Silicon M1 chip. It is getting closer, of course, but is not yet at the level.
This will be seen especially in the next two or three years when new generations of applications requiring even greater computing power will be available. At this time, the tablet from Samsung may be a bit struggling because it does not have the power reserve of an M1 chip.
Some may find this reasoning far-fetched; others will accuse us of pro-Apple bigotry. This is not the case: we believe that a product marketed at nearly 1500 USD must be efficient for more than two or three years.
Evaluating the battery life of a tablet such as the Tab S8 Ultra 5G is not easy. Depending on the use made of it and the energy saving parameters selected, it can vary from simple to triple… We finally opted for two scenarios of use, very different from each other.
In intensive use (multimedia, graphic creation with the stylus, game, internet, etc.), we were able to use the tablet for 1.5 days. Note that we used the 5G connection during this test for a few hours when we were on the move. That’s not bad at all, considering the on-board equipment.
In reasoned mode (no 5G, mainly office automation, viewing videos, listening to music), we easily exceed 2.5 days. We can further improve things by reducing the brightness of the screen and by activating the energy saving mechanisms present in the settings.
We note with sadness that Samsung no longer provides an electrical adapter with the tablet. Under cover of ecological gesture, it is obviously a question of saving money in order to maximize profits, which even Apple has not yet dared to do with the iPad (unlike the iPhone). In order to benefit from the “super fast” charge, it will be necessary to acquire an optional power supply which will recharge the battery in just under 90 minutes.
It is clear that the Tab S8 Ultra 5G has a very satisfactory battery life. In this respect, it does as well as Apple’s 12.9” iPad Pro.
Excellent screen, top performance, satisfactory battery life and well done software: Samsung’s high-end tablet is successful on all counts. We appreciate the possibility of extending its capacity using a micro SD card as well as the standard supply of the S-Pen stylus. This is precise, responsive and pleasant to use, Samsung having very wisely adapted the OneUI 4.1 overlay to its use.
We also appreciate the DeX mode which transforms the tablet into a real notebook provided you add the Book Cover Keyboard (or at least a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse).
Undoubtedly, Samsung achieves here a near-faultless for its first large format tablet. We can legitimately fall for it instead of an iPad Pro, certainly pleasant to use, but sometimes less attractive.