The first word that may come to mind once you hold the Galaxy Tab S7+ is ‘premium’. That’s no coincidence for a company going head to head with the market leader, Apple, and their iPad Pro line. More importantly, they may have just succeeded in making the most desirable Android tablet out there.
Historically, tablets and Android never really seemed to be the perfect partners. The OS hasn’t ever been created with the larger form factor in mind, unlike something like Apple’s iOS which has now gone one step further with its own Tablet OS. The Tab 7+ doesn’t deviate from using Android as a base, Android 10 is here in all its glory, but their own UI, One UI 2.5, is part of the reason it works. The other part is a new improved version of Dex, Samsung’s PC-like experience.
Before you even turn the tablet on you can see and feel just how much Samsung have worked on making this new tablet stand out. The casing, now in colours that match Samsung’s Note 20 line including the fantastic Bronze which will no doubt become the most popular colour this year, is a slim shiny metal thing of beauty. It looks as if it’s designed to be help in landscape after years of Android tablets that, for one reason or another, felt more awkward in that perspective. The camera lenses sit longways across the top in landscape with the new S Pen sitting comfortably next to this on a magnetic strip that also charges it. The right hand side houses a USB C port while the top has the power, volume and micro SD slot (also doubling as the Sim card tray in the 5G model).
In operation the startup, coming from any other Android tablet, including the S6, the S7+ feels snappy and both the face ID and under-screen fingerprint readers have been improved. That said, the face recognition is still only flat 2D face recognition and a long way from Apple’s 3D scanning that remains the most secure system available on any phone or tablet. General scrolling, reading emails and browsing are all smooth and scrolling is helped by the adaptive 120Hz screen refresh that really does make a difference (turning it off completely is certainly noticeable).
The Non-US markets finally get a Samsung product with a Snapdragon CPU, as opposed to the inferior Exynos Chip that we are usually stuck with for Samsung’s mobiles. This tablet and its smaller brother, the Tab S7, both have the new Snapdragon 865+ which is a pretty powerful CPU that hasn’t broken a sweat with anything I’ve thrown at it. The chip powers a device that boasts a brilliant looking AMOLED screen with impressive colour depth and brightness. It copes well in both dark and sunny conditions, so ideal for taking around with you for a quick browse outside (though given the size, I’m not sure how many people would be carrying these around unprepared). It’s backed up with 8GB of RAM to keep things going even when multitasking. The 10,090mAh battery is large enough to keep the tablet going for around a day and a half of light use or an average 14 hours of more intensive use. Four good quality speakers sit on the upper and lower sides of the tablet, another design decision that shows Samsung were thinking of those who want to use the tablet in landscape. They’re compatible with Dolby Atmos and the surround effects need to be heard to be believed. Given this is a pretty thin tablet, the sound quality from these tiny speakers is great.
Cameras are something I really don’t bother with on tablets, apart from video calling, but both Apple and Samsung seem to be serious about providing at least a fairly decent setup on their respective tablets. A 5MP Ultra Wide camera and a 13MP Wide lens are included here on the Tab S7+ and give pretty good results in daylight. Taking close up or standard pictures with the 13MP lenses produces some good results with a lot of detail. Night Mode fares less well, though, certainly compared to Android phones with the same feature. The lower quality ultra wide panoramic shots are noticeable up close but anyone serious about taking a good quality picture will more likely use their phone or an SLR camera for these type of shots. Consider the cameras a nice extra with a perfectly serviceable quality during the day.
Using the Tab S7+ as an Android tablet, then, feels pretty good, especially where viewing media or playing games is concerned. Streaming Netflix, Youtube or even playing the early Xcloud Xbox beta (a special version of which is on the Samsung Store now) looks and feels great. But Samsung also have another trick up their sleeve; Dex. Dex is basically Samsung’s answer to using their tablet (and recent phones) as a sort of Android/PC hybrid. it changes the screen to a more PC-like structure with a taskbar at the bottom and the basic icons on the top left. The biggest feature of Dex, though, is that it can properly multitask, with resizable windows for each app open and working at the same time. While Android 10 does have limited multitasking, it’s got nothing on Dex. There are apps that aren’t compatible but most of the big names seem to work, you can type something in word while checking your email, watching a video and keeping an eye on the news, for instance. The powerful Snapdragon CPU impressively deals with all of this in its stride.
The keyboard case (yet to be released and, sadly, unavailable to me at the time of writing) will enable Dex to be opened as standard or at the press of a special button, but you can also use the drop down menu to turn it on and use it with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse instead. Dex on the S7+ also has a wireless option, so you can quickly send your picture to a compatible TV (which should be most smart TVs) while using either the screen, keyboard case or keyboard and mouse to control it.
Finally, the included S Pen is another step up from the S6 and S6 lite pens with better latency and a really comfortable design. It can handle motion commands such as taking a screenshot or a selfie from a distance as well as being great for taking notes. The handwriting recognition on both Samsung’s note software and OneNote is impressive, as is using the pen for art. I’m not keen on how it sits precariously on the back of the device via a magnet, though, it can easily be knocked off, but the use of the book case or keyboard case should help here as they both have built in solutions in the form of flaps on the back to keep the pen in place.
Samsung have created a premium tablet experience in the Tab S7+ and one that surprisingly matches the iPad Pro for design and function, while adding its own twists. With support from Microsoft for Office and Xbox streaming, a great AMOLED screen, S pen and excellent use of its four speakers, it’s hard not to recommend the tablet to anyone looking for a new larger Android device.