When Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Tab S8 series last year, the largest 14.6-inch Ultra model was understandably the center of attention. It had some of the best specifications we had seen on an Android tablet, including 512GB of storage, 16GB of RAM, and a gigantic Super AMOLED screen that was larger than laptops. Then the price tag appeared, a whopping $1,279 that would have shocked any gullible buyer.
That’s why, if you’re looking for the greatest Android tablet, the middle child, the Tab S8 Plus, is equally deserving of your consideration. On Samsung’s website, the Plus size, equipped with capabilities akin to those of the Ultra, is presently available for $829. Except for the additional front-facing camera and bigger screen and battery size, you can have almost the exact same experience with a premium tablet for hundreds of dollars less.
|285 x 185 x 5.7 mm
|572 g (1.26 lbs)
|12.4” Super AMOLED (2,800 x 1,752) at 120Hz
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
|8GB RAM with 128GB/256GB (expandable via MicroSD)
|13MP wide, 6MP ultra-wide, and a 12MP front
|10,090 mAh with up to 45W fast charging
|1x USB-C 3.2, 1x MicroSD card slot, keyboard pins
It’s excellent that, when comparing the base versions alone, the Tab S8 Plus and the Ultra are on par. It features a big 120Hz-refreshing Super AMOLED panel, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 engine, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of expandable MicroSD memory that can be expanded to 1TB. The device is also powered by a robust 10,090mAh battery that supports 45W rapid charging. (However, the charger is an additional purchase.) The AT&T 5G variation that I tested let me to connect to the GSM network when I was out and about.
The Tab S8 Plus feels exactly like a high-end tablet should in the palm. Although the weighted full-aluminum unibody is extremely thin at 5.7mm, it is robust and comforting. Using less expensive tablets can make you feel as though there is nothing behind the screens. Here, however, Samsung isn’t cutting corners with regard to internal or external components.
Even so, I doubt that the Tab S8 Plus’s design will cause much controversy. It’s just a plain piece of metal and glass that fulfills its function as a portable work and entertainment device. Silver, graphite, and pink gold are the available colors; each is equally subdued and unremarkable as the others. (That’s still one color more than the iPad Pro is available in from Apple, so I suppose it might be worse.)
Four Dolby Atmos-compatible speakers, a USB-C connector, a MicroSD card slot, a power button, a volume rocker, and pegs for attaching the optional keyboard cover are all positioned around the tablet. Although it’s not a “must-have” for the Tab S8 Plus, I would heartily suggest the first-party accessory to professionals or students who want 2-in-1 capabilities. Along with the Tab S8 Plus, Samsung included a $59 S Pen stylus. The S Pen is incredibly useful for a freebie and adds more capability to the Tab S8 Plus. With 4,096 pressure sensitivity levels, the stylus immediately establishes a connection with the tablet. This implies that the way you move the stylus across the screen and the amount of pressure you apply to it will determine how well you write.
When it comes to display technology, Samsung has always been in the forefront, and the Tab S8 Plus is no exception. The colors on its 12.4-inch Super AMOLED panel are among the nicest I’ve seen on a tablet to date. Furthermore, the display vividly depicts both brighter and darker situations with accuracy, reaching a maximum brightness of 400 nits, all thanks to the power of OLED. To me, the ability of a display to maintain color integrity in varying lighting conditions is a definitive indicator of quality. When tilting the device in any direction, neither of the blue nor grayish tints that are characteristic of lower-quality panels appeared.
The tablet functions better in landscape mode than in portrait mode because of its bigger 16:10 aspect ratio. (That’s in contrast to the iPad Pro’s square 4:3 proportions.) Tablets are still trending in this way, but I find the bigger form factor difficult to use.
Please understand that the Tab S8 Plus is an incredible entertainment device (see image below). However, for daily usage, windows and apps aren’t optimized for the aspect ratio (and I largely blame Google/Android for this). Most of the time, websites like Asana and some others made with Google Chrome aren’t designed to make the most of the available space.
One of the main issues with Android is that apps are still not optimized for tablets. There is still work to be done for Android as a whole, even if Samsung has done a fantastic job aligning its batch of in-house programs, such as Notes, Internet, and Calendar, with the tablet platform.
As I previously stated, popular apps like Instagram and Slack merely resemble larger-than-life versions of their smartphone equivalents. Of course, not all programs are like this; I’ve had positive experiences with Google Drive, Microsoft Outlook, and even the Google Feed on the home screen. However, considering how much money these tablets cost, users ought to have more customized software.
Positively, the Tab S8 Plus is one of the few S tablets from the series that are covered by Samsung’s five-year update guarantee. (Technically, it’s five years of security patches and four years of significant OS upgrades, but still, that’s a big commitment.) This gives the Tab S8 Plus an advantage over other Android manufacturers and increases its dependability over the next years.
The Tab S8 Plus can run and handle most apps, if not all of them, thanks to its Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 CPU and 8GB of RAM. During my testing period, I found that the tablet could function as my go-to computer (Slack, Zoom, Google Maps), secondary monitor (Calendar, Google Drive, Outlook), and background media player (YouTube, Netflix, Spotify). The 8GB RAM on the Plus is more than enough, and the 12/16GB RAM options are only available on the Tab S8 Ultra.
The Tab S8 Plus’s AKG-tuned speakers produce impressively high levels of volume and sharpness as well. The positioning of the side speakers, which are readily obscured when holding the tablet, is my sole gripe.
When it comes to using the Tab S8 Plus, I mostly used Samsung DeX. Instead of the typical Android home screen of apps and widgets, DeX, short for desktop experience, changes the tablet’s user interface to resemble a desktop. This alteration extends beyond the home screen, since applications can now be launched in separate windows for navigation and multitasking. With scaling included, a tablet with up to five apps open at once is possible. (However, I was happy with two or three.)
Because of the extra 6MP ultra-wide lens, the Tab S8 Plus’s camera capability surpasses that of its smaller sister. The tablet’s standard 13MP wide lens works well for casual viewing and document scanning. However, considering its weight of 1.26 pounds, I wouldn’t advise utilizing it as a primary camera, and its slick matte surfaces don’t aid in stabilization either.
Notable features include the recently released 12MP front-facing camera, which offers auto framing and facial tracking (think of it as Apple’s Center Stage on steroids). It makes sense that the new lens has a larger field of view as well—120 degrees as opposed to 80 degrees for the old one.
The Tab S8 Plus’s 10,090mAh battery has shown to be dependable and cost-effective. The tablet lasted me three days on average throughout a typical week, maybe a little longer depending on what I was doing. I would predict two days of endurance at best, if you intend to use the tablet as a dedicated workplace and/or link it to mobile broadband.
Samsung packs a USB-C to USB-C connection in the box for charging, but no power adapter. Though I’m not as particular about smartphones doing away with the charging brick, getting a tablet in a scaled-down packaging feels like a heist. Fortunately, the Tab S8 Plus could be powered at its 45W maximum using my current 65W phone charger, which was more than adequate.
I firmly think that a product should never be purchased on the basis of the promise of future updates. The exception is the Tab S8 Plus. In addition to its impressive hardware, the Samsung tablet offers software features (including support for a stylus!) that are unmatched by any other Android vendor. And this mid-sized Galaxy tablet has a lot more potential with up to five years of software support.
Should I buy one?
The Tab S8 Plus is priced starting at $899, which puts it in the premium flagship range. That implies that it shouldn’t be contrasted with less expensive products like Apple or even Amazon. For power users who prefer a tablet that is less hefty than the Tab S8 Ultra, the Tab S8 Plus is a better option. I would even wait to see if Samsung offers an improved Tab S9 series later this year if you’re not in a rush. Should the business adhere to a comparable rollout plan, the most recent tablets ought to arrive shortly.