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When it comes to tablets, Apple has been the dominant player in the segment for years. The Cupertino company has launched multiple iPad models across different price points catering to the needs of many. Android manufacturers, on the other hand, struggled to even play catch up. Samsung, however, is one company that has been regularly launching tablets under its A-series and the premium Tab S-series. The company’s latest premium range of tablets is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series, which was launched in Ireland alongside the Samsung Galaxy S22 series.

We have been using the premium tablet sent by Samsung Ireland for a few weeks now and have put it t. After streaming content, trying to use this as a work machine, playing games, etc., here is our Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review.

Design & Build Quality

I’ll be honest, when I first unboxed the Tab S8 Ultra, I was suspicious about how comfortable and convenient would it be to carry such a huge tablet. While it does consume a lot of space given its giant footprint, it is quite thin and lightweight in comparison. The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra weighs 728 grams and is only 5.5mm thick. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra | TheEffect.NetThere is no compromise on the build quality either. The body is made up of what Samsung calls ‘Armor Aluminium’. At the top edge, there’s the volume button and power key. I would have liked the placement to be slightly more on the left for better reach. Also, the volume buttons, although click-y, are too small. Many times, I mistakenly pressed the power button assuming it to be the volume up button. A minor inconvenience but it is what it is. 

The in-built fingerprint scanner on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra | TheEffect.Net

The in-built fingerprint scanner on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra | TheEffect.Net

There is a dual-camera setup on the back for wide and ultrawide shooting that is more than good enough to scan photos.

A sample photo from the rear wide camera on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra | TheEffect.Net

A sample photo from the rear wide camera on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra | TheEffect.Net

Below the camera module is a black magnetic strip that holds the S Pen. Alternatively, you can also keep the S Pen on the top and bottom edges of the Tab S8 Ultra when held in horizontal orientation.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra | TheEffect.Net

And you will hold the tablet horizontally 99.9 per cent of the time due to its 16:10 aspect ratio and that tiny bath tub-like notch on the top bezel. It has two 12MP sensors that are quite good for video calls and occasional selfies.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra | TheEffect.NetThe bottom edge of the tablet (when held horizontally) has magnetic pins in the centre for connecting the keyboard cover. This brings me to the productivity side of things. Alongside the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series, the company launched a book keyboard cover that can be attached to the magnetic pins and connected via Bluetooth. You also get a magnetic kickstand that can be used to tilt the Tab S8 Ultra as per your preference.

Unfortunately, we weren’t sent this additional keyboard cover during our review period but, as you can imagine, if you really hope to get the most out of this giant tablet and to change it into what is basically an Android powered laptop (Thanks to DeX, more on that later), you’ll definitely want to pick this up.

S-Pen Functionality

While we are at it, I can definitely say that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the best device for the S Pen. The 14.6-inch canvas offers more than enough screen estate for those into sketching or doodling. What makes the combination even better is the 2.8ms response time, which might often make you feel like you are writing or drawing using a pen/ pencil on paper. Like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, the Tab S8 Ultra gets a bunch of S Pen features.

For starters, there is an option to convert handwriting to text. You can also perform some air actions to initiate tasks. These include going back to the home screen, opening the camera app and clicking a photo, etc. I might not be the best person to use the S Pen to its full potential but for those who draw, sketch or are hobbyist doodlers, this one would certainly not disappoint.

Display

Without a doubt, the biggest USP of the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is its screen. The tablet is unusually large with a 14.6-inch display that is bigger than my 13-inch MacBook Pro, which I have been using as my daily work machine for years. I have used some tablets in the past, with the iPad ninth-generation being among the recent ones. However, none of them has been as big as the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra.

Prior to using the tablet, I had several questions around the overall form factor and if it does actually make any sense to buy a 14.6-inch tablet. My perception changed after I started using the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra as my media consumption device.

I watched a number of shows and films on Netflix and Disney+ during my Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review period and, given its massive size and incredible OLED tech, the tablet does make you feel as if it is your own personal theatre that you can carry anywhere. Be it in my bedroom or on a flight, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra was fantastic for media consumption.

As with most OLED screens, you get vibrant colours that look pleasing to the eye. Adding to the multimedia experience is the quad-speaker setup that is among the best I have ever used on any tablet. The display isn’t the brightest at under 400 nits but you really don’t have to squint either to read something on the tablet even under outdoor lighting conditions.

Performance & Software

Samsung has packed top-of-the-line hardware in the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. You get a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, which means there is no room for any lag while playing games or performing any day-to-day tasks. I played many games on this one, including Marvel: Future Revolution, which plays and looks great on the Ultra. The large slate offers an immersive gaming experience and, thanks to the 8 Gen 1 chip, I was able to crank all the visual settings up to the max. In case you are wondering, no, there wasn’t any major heating issues that we experienced during our Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review period.

In terms of software, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra boots Android 12-based One UI 4.1 out of the box. OneUI is among the most polished skins available for Android devices that comes with smooth animations and a ton of features. However, most Android apps are not optimised for such a large form factor. The Twitter Android app, for instance, is basically a stretched version of the mobile app, making everything look unusually large. The same is the case with the Instagram app. Select apps like Disney+ loaded in portrait/vertical orientation as well which isn’t ideal. Hopefully, Samsung works with app developers, especially for popular apps.

Samsung DeX on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra | TheEffect.Net

Samsung DeX on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra | TheEffect.Net

Meanwhile, users can make use of DeX mode as a middle ground. It was the first time that I was using DeX mode, which will essentially provide a Windows laptop-like interface. There is a dock at the bottom with the apps you set as per preference. You also get icons of the apps you use on the home screen, just like on a Windows PC or Mac.

You can open multiple apps in this mode and then resize the window as per your liking. This also helps you look at multiple apps at the same time when they are kept open simultaneously on the same screen. Again, like I said earlier, to really get the most out of DeX, you’ll need the additional keyboard cover as using it via touch wasn’t as streamlined as it could have been.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra | TheEffect.NetThe tablet is promised to get four years’ worth of software upgrades and five years of security updates, which will be appreciated by those who intend to use the tablet for years.

Battery

Despite being only 5.5mm thin, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra packs a beefy 11,200 mAh battery. That is also possible because of the large form factor that the tablet sports. Based on my use case, the tablet lasted for seven hours and thirty minutes at max. This is the screen-on time (SoT) and the overall battery might last for more than a day based on your use case.

Since the display is not an LTPO panel, it remained constantly at 120Hz, thereby consuming slightly more battery. Also, the display brightness was set to almost full during my Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review period.

The tablet also supports 45W fast charging and much like its smartphones, Samsung did not provide the charging adapter in the box. I used an adaptable Anker charger capable of 45W and it took slightly over an hour and 30 minutes to recharge the battery completely.

Conclusion

So, is the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra worth buying? The answer will differ based on what you want from the tablet. If you want a top-notch multimedia experience, this one is a no-brainer. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to fully test the tablet as a comprehensive laptop replacement device as we didn’t get to test with the additional keyboard but, seeing how ‘laptop-like’ DeX can be and the amount of power delivered by the 8 Gen 1 processor, we’d be comfortable in saying it should be more than capable of replacing a number of entry level and even mid-range laptop offerings.

If you’re a big fan of mobile games, the tablet won’t disappoint either. Again, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor under the hood, you can rely on the tab to offer a lag-free experience. Software support for up to five years also means that you will continue to get new features via OTA updates.

That being said, the tablet is undeniably massive so it might not fit the bill for everyone. If that’s the case, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus offers almost the same set of specs in a slightly smaller body but, that also means you get a smaller battery.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra Pricing & Availability

The new Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series comprises three premium tablets which are all available now on Samsung.ie or through the majority of electronic retailers in Ireland. The Wi-Fi variant of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 (128GB + 8GB RAM) starts at €779 whilst, on the other end of the scale, you’ve got the 5G capable Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra (512GB + 16GB RAM) which we’ve covered in this review, and this comes in at an eye-watering €1629, and that’s without the optional 2-in-1 keyboard cover case which will set you back an additional €369.00.

While we are at it, I would not mind saying that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the best device for the S Pen. The 14.6-inch canvas offers more than enough screen estate for those into sketching or doodling. What makes the combination even better is the 2.8ms response time, which might often make you feel like you are writing or drawing using a pen/ pencil on paper. Like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, the Tab S8 Ultra gets a bunch of S Pen features.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra | TheEffect.Net

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
  • Design & Build Quality
  • Display
  • Performance & Software
  • Battery
4.5

Summary

So, is the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra worth buying? The answer will differ based on what you want from the tablet. If you want a top-notch multimedia experience, this one is a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to fully test the tablet as a comprehensive laptop replacement device as we didn’t get to test with the additional keyboard but, seeing how ‘laptop-like’ DeX can be and the amount of power delivered by the 8 Gen 1 processor, we’d be comfortable in saying it should be more than capable of replacing a number of entry level and even mid-range laptop offerings.

If you’re a big fan of mobile games, the tablet won’t disappoint either. Again, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor under the hood, you can rely on the tab to offer a lag-free experience. Software support for up to five years also means that you will continue to get new features via OTA updates.

John Reilly

John is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheEffect.Net. His favourite gaming series is Uncharted and his favourite film is Interstellar. He is also known to quote 'Father Ted' and Keith Lemon more than is normal. John@theeffect.net