Tablet

Superb sound and sumptuous visuals

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ is great for watching YouTube videos and high dynamic range Netflix shows, and playing video games.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ is great for watching YouTube videos and high dynamic range Netflix shows, and playing video games.

The Galaxy Tab S7+ is one of the new devices unveiled during the Samsung Unpacked virtual event on Aug 5.

It is the flagship tablet of the Samsung Galaxy Tab series, replacing last year's top-tier Tab S6. The 12.4-inch tablet also has a smaller sibling - the 11-inch Tab S7.

Apart from having a larger screen than the Tab S7, the Tab S7+ also has a larger battery (a 10,090mAh unit compared with the Tab S7's 8,000mAh one).

It uses an on-display fingerprint sensor, unlike the Tab S7, which has a fingerprint sensor on its side button. The Tab S7+ comes with 5G connectivity, while its smaller sibling has only 4G (both have Wi-Fi-only versions too).

Otherwise, both S7 tablets share the same specifications, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, 120Hz display refresh rate and Wi-Fi 6. Both also include the same improved S Pen stylus.

Design wise, the Tab S7+ looks similar to the 10.5-inch Tab S6, with a sleek and premium-looking grey metallic chassis. The Tab S7+ also retains its predecessor's excellent quartet of speakers.

While bigger than its predecessor, the Tab S7+ is still thin and lightweight, measuring 5.7mm thick and weighing 575g.

The front-facing camera is now at the top of the display when the tablet is in landscape mode - great for video-conferencing as you will be in the centre of the frame.

This also means face recognition works better as your hand will not be blocking the camera, which might happen often in, say, the Apple iPad Pro. I find the face-recognition feature to work faster in unlocking the tablet than the on-display fingerprint sensor.

Similar to the Tab S6, the included S Pen stylus can be magnetically attached to the back of the tablet. The stylus is said to have been improved with decreased latency.

Writing or drawing with the S Pen is as fluid as it gets - it feels like using pen on paper.​

  • FOR

    • Best Android tablet currently

    • Great for multimedia consumption

    • Sleek, lightweight and portable

    • Improvements in productivity

    AGAINST

    • DeX platform needs improvement

    • Optional keyboard does not have much "lapability"

    • Not cheap

    TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $1,598 (Wi-Fi, 256GB), $1,798 (Wi-Fi + 5G, 256GB; version tested); available from Aug 21

    PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus (Single-core 3.09GHz, triple-core 2.4GHz and quad-core 1.8GHz)

    DISPLAY: 12.4-inch Amoled, 2,800 x 1,752 pixels, 120Hz refresh rate

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 10

    MEMORY: 256GB (microSD expandable up to 1TB), 8GB RAM

    REAR CAMERAS: 13MP main (f/2.0), 5MP ultra-wide (f/2.2)

    FRONT CAMERA: 8MP (f/2.0)

    BATTERY: 10,090mAh

    WEIGHT: 575g

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4.5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4.5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

But the thing I love most about the Tab S7+ is its gorgeous Amoled display. Browsing websites or just swiping on the screen feels smooth, thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate.

Whether YouTube videos, high dynamic range Netflix shows or video games, the content displayed on the Tab S7+ looks just lovely and sharp. Games run fast too. Furthermore, the built-in speakers offer superb stereo output to go with the sumptuous visuals.

For this review, Samsung sent the optional Keyboard Cover ($358 for Tab S7+), which consists of a rear cover and a front keyboard cover.

The rear cover includes an adjustable kickstand and it magnetically attaches to the back of the tablet, while the front cover connects to one side of the tablet via pogo pin connectors. The rear cover also has a flap to hold the S Pen.

And you will want to get this cover to turn the Tab S7+ into a laptop. The keyboard has a small but sufficiently ample touchpad for you to control the "mouse cursor".

On the downside, the kickstand design, which is similar to Microsoft Surface's, does not provide much "lapability" - the ease of using a device with it resting on the lap. The keyboard also lacks backlight.

In terms of productivity, the Tab S7+ shows marked improvements from its predecessor. It now allows up to three concurrent supported apps (previously only two) in split screen mode in Android, so you can multitask better.

A new App Pair feature allows you to combine three apps to launch at one go. The feature is accessible via the Edge screen - found in Galaxy smartphones - which lets you quickly access your most used apps with a swipe on the display's right edge.

You can also switch to Samsung's DeX mode, which replicates the Windows experience. The feature works wirelessly, so you can mirror the tablet to compatible smart TVs and monitors without needing to use a cable like in the past.

However, the DeX mode still does not give you the productivity of a Windows tablet. For instance, app windows turn small when you switch to DeX and you will have to manually resize them afterwards.

Plus, you cannot use the touchpad to highlight text in the Chrome browser in DeX mode. These are the little irritations that need to be improved.

The Tab S7+ should easily get you through a working day. In The Straits Times' video-loop battery test with the display set at the 120Hz refresh rate, it lasts 11 hours 24 minutes.

In comparison, the Tab S6 manages 11 hours 40 minutes with a smaller display and 60Hz refresh rate, though with a smaller battery.

The Tab S7+ is undoubtedly the best Android tablet on the market right now. But with prices starting at $1,598, it is not cheap. Add the Keyboard Cover and you are looking at spending about $2,000 - as good as buying a laptop.

But if you pre-order the Tab S7+ before its launch on Aug 21, you can get the Keyboard Cover for free.

With the latter, it means you are effectively getting a laptop as well as a tablet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2020, with the headline 'Superb sound and sumptuous visuals '. Print Edition | Subscribe