SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB S8 ULTRA
Beautiful, fast and vast, this is a remarkable – in the truest sense – bigscreen Android tablet.
128GB, $1,799 | from samsung.com/au
If you think the 12.9in Apple iPad Pro and the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro are enormous, you haven’t seen anything yet. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra takes the prize as the biggest mainstream tablet of the moment, with a whopping 14.6in screen that gives it a similar footprint to a slimline 14in laptop. It’s almost comically massive. Use it on the train or on your next flight and you’ll soon become used to people’s stares and smirks.
Of course, that size also has its pluses. For a start, there’s ample space for multitasking, or for working inside complex image or video-editing apps. Streamed movies and TV shows look spectacular; you might actually prefer it to your TV set. Most importantly, put the Tab S8 Ultra inside Samsung’s Tablet Case & Keyboard and the tablet can switch to Samsung’s DeX environment and give you something very close to a conventional laptop experience, complete with floating windows and proper multitasking features. Samsung has been working on this stuff for a while now, and it’s streets ahead of the Android competition and, in some respects, Apple too.
One thing Samsung does bundle in is its S-Pen stylus, even providing a space in the rear of the tablet where it fits, holding on magnetically and charging while in situ. It’s another mature piece of tech, and Samsung supports it with good note-taking and sketching apps.
The screen itself is a thing of beauty. Based on Super AMOLED technology, it can reach a peak brightness of over 580cd/m2 with SDR content and go even higher in HDR. And, thanks to AMOLED’s deep blacks, contrast is unbeatable. Colour accuracy is also close to faultless, and the wide-gamut screen spreads even further than the DCI-P3 space (55 percent further, to be precise). Whether you use the default Vivid setting or the more colour accurate Natural, any app you use or any content that you watch is going to look great. It runs at a 120Hz refresh rate as well, so you’re assured that all your scrolling and zooming will be as smooth and wobble-free as you like.
This is a top-notch tablet in just about all other respects. It supports Wi-Fi 6E, along with 5G if you buy the cellular version, and charges over a USB-C connection that supports up to 45W charging. Battery life is impressive, too, with the Tab S8 Ultra lasting 12hrs 35mins in our rundown tests. Plug in a 45W charger, and you can have 40 percent of your charge back in half an hour. It would have been nice to have USB 3.2 Gen 2 or even USB 4 connectivity, but we’ll cope with the 5Gbits/sec of USB 3.2 Gen 1.
Thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, the Tab S8 Ultra puts in the best performance of any Android tablet in the Labs. From Geekbench through to the WebXPRT browser benchmark, it scored impressive results that put it near the top of the table. It’s a good option for 3D gaming, too, though you’ll struggle with that big screen for any games where a controller isn’t an option. The only issue is that it can’t compete with the desktop-class performance of the M1 and M2 processors in the Apple iPad Air and iPad Pro. If the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is in a different league to the chipsets found in other Android tablets, then the M1 and M2 are playing at a higher level still.
The iPads have other advantages in their more comprehensive software support, but strong tabletoptimised apps are beginning to emerge on Android, and there’s hope that, between Android 12L and the push around Google’s upcoming Pixel Tablet, more will arrive. If so, the Tab S8 Ultra’s already strong position will only become stronger. It’s big with a price tag to match, but also a brilliant