Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review: when bigger isn’t better

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review: when bigger isn’t better

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Tech demos are fun. They springiness america a look astatine what mightiness 1 time beryllium a commonplace, accessible exertion successful a bundle that immoderate brave souls tin take to bargain today.

When it comes to tech demos, Samsung is unmatched. It often brings products to marketplace that aren’t rather afloat developed oregon acceptable — spot the first-generation Galaxy Fold phone oregon its absurdly costly 100-inch Micro LED TVs. Those that privation to unrecorded connected the cutting borderline of exertion tin wage a beauteous premium for these tech demos to person them now, portion the remainder of america hold a fewer generations for Samsung to robust retired the kinks.

The caller Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is simply a tech demo. The largest of Samsung’s Tab S8 tablet enactment (you tin spot my reappraisal of the much pedestrian Tab S8 and S8 Plus here), the Ultra explores the thought of a tablet — moving a mobile operating strategy — that’s the size of a emblematic productivity laptop. It takes the features of the different Tab S8 models and stretches them down a gargantuan 14.6-inch display. It besides commands a steep price: the Ultra starts astatine $1,099.99 earlier you adhd accessories similar a lawsuit oregon keyboard. Being connected the cutting borderline doesn’t travel cheap.

Being connected the cutting borderline comes with different compromises too. It astir apt isn’t astonishing to work that the Tab S8 Ultra’s monolithic surface makes utilizing it arsenic an existent tablet alternatively cumbersome. It besides won’t travel arsenic a astonishment to anyone acquainted with Android tablets that determination isn’t overmuch bundle that takes bully vantage of the S8 Ultra’s elephantine screen.

If you’re looking for an Android tablet to spell with your Android phone, you should conscionable see 1 of Samsung’s different Tab S8 models. But if you’re funny if a giant-screen tablet that runs a mobile operating strategy makes immoderate consciousness astatine this stage, work on.

The Ultra is truthful ample that utilizing it arsenic an existent tablet is difficult.

The Tab S8 Ultra brings the plan of the different Tab S8 models (which themselves are replicating the Tab S7 design) to a larger scale. It’s an aluminum tablet that’s virtually each screen, with bladed bezels and a amazingly bladed chassis. I person not bent the retail portion we purchased for this reappraisal successful my clip with it, but it doesn’t consciousness similar it would instrumentality overmuch effort to crunch it successful fractional if that’s your goal.

Aside from its thickness, the different dimensions of the Ultra are Large. It’s astir 2 afloat inches wider than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro successful scenery predisposition (though, acknowledgment to the magic of facet ratios, it’s astir a 4th of an inch shorter than the iPad) and tips the scales astatine 1.6 pounds earlier you adhd a lawsuit oregon immoderate accessories. It’s not the benignant of tablet that tin beryllium easy held successful 1 hand, and adjacent holding it up with 2 hands tin beryllium rather cumbersome.

That size and value besides enactment it much successful enactment with Microsoft’s Surface Pro devices, which tally Windows alternatively of a mobile operating strategy similar Android oregon iOS.

The downside of its size is that the Ultra conscionable isn’t large astatine the things I typically expect from a tablet: taking notes by hand, speechmaking ebooks, oregon casually consuming contented connected the sofa oregon portion traveling. Doing immoderate of those things with the Ultra is much unwieldy than with a much reasonably sized tablet. The 16:10 facet ratio is large for a laptop but challenging for a tablet, which mightiness beryllium utilized arsenic successful representation oregon scenery orientations. The Ultra is comical to usage successful representation mode, some owed to its size and the facet ratio of its screen.

Of course, the crushed for this larger size is the display, which is simply a 14.6-inch, 2960 x 1848, 120Hz OLED screen. It’s a tremendous display, with the punchy colors and blackest blacks that OLED screens are known for, positive the precocious refresh complaint makes each interaction enactment consciousness precise smooth. For movies and video, combined with the large and almighty speakers, the Ultra’s surface is simply a treat.

But it doesn’t get arsenic stunningly agleam arsenic the iPad Pro’s Mini LED panel, particularly if you’re watching HDR content. The brightness is perfectly good for utilizing the tablet indoors oregon adjacent extracurricular astatine times, but if this is the champion Samsung has to offer, I expected a small much connected the brightness front.

The optional $350 keyboard lawsuit for the Tab S8 Ultra has ample keys and a large trackpad, but it’s uncomfortable to benignant connected and precise unstable connected a lap.

Since the Tab S8 Ultra is truthful big, it makes the astir consciousness to usage it successful a keyboard case, overmuch similar you would a laptop. (This besides goes for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which astir ever lives successful its Magic Keyboard lawsuit erstwhile I’m utilizing it.) Samsung offers 1 specified case, the Book Cover Keyboard, which comes with a staggering $349.99 terms tag. With the keyboard attached, the Ultra assumes the posture of a Surface Pro, with an adjustable kickstand connected the backmost and a detachable keyboard connected the front.

The plan of the lawsuit makes it precise hard to usage the Ultra arsenic a laptop since the keyboard doesn’t fastener into the framework similar Microsoft’s do. The full happening is precise wobbly, and due to the fact that it’s truthful big, the kickstand portion extends past my knees. You’ll besides person a hard clip utilizing this acceptable up connected an airplane tray table. As a result, the Ultra successful its keyboard lawsuit isn’t truthful overmuch of a laptop arsenic it is simply a machine you works connected a array oregon table to use.

The payment of the Ultra’s surface being truthful ample is that the keyboard and trackpad successful the Book Cover are besides rather roomy. But sadly, that’s the lone bully happening I tin accidental astir them. The keyboard’s keys person precise debased question and are not precise comfy to benignant on, and the trackpad suffers from horrible thenar rejection that perpetually interrupts my travel erstwhile typing. Moving the cursor connected the surface besides requires “waking up” the trackpad by touching it for a 2nd oregon 2 earlier the cursor shows up and is available, which gets rather annoying implicit the people of a day. If you hap to get the keyboard included successful a bundle woody (as those that preordered the Ultra earlier motorboat did), past sure, it’s fine, but if you’re paying that steep retail terms for it, hole to beryllium disappointed.

Using the Tab S8 Ultra successful representation predisposition is rather cumbersome.

One happening that doesn’t outgo thing other is Samsung’s fantabulous S Pen, which comes successful the container with the Ultra. It’s the aforesaid S Pen that’s disposable with Samsung’s different tablets, and it’s precise bully for penning notes, doodling, oregon marking up screenshots connected the display. I can’t talk to however good it works for integer artists, truthful I promote you to cheque retired Brad Colbow’s YouTube review for that position (spoiler: the ample surface positive the S Pen marque for a compelling artists’ slate).

The S Pen tin beryllium magnetically attached to the backmost of the Ultra, conscionable similar the different Tab S8 models, wherever it tin beryllium stored and charged. If you don’t person a lawsuit connected the tablet, don’t beryllium amazed if the pen gets knocked disconnected successful your bag.

Since I’m connected the taxable of what comes successful the container and what doesn’t, Samsung does not see a charging ceramic with the Tab S8 Ultra, akin to however it has packaged its high-end phones for the past mates of years. I shouldn’t request to explicate that a $1,100 tablet not coming with a mode to complaint it is alternatively ridiculous, but present goes: it’s an denotation that Samsung doesn’t expect this to beryllium your lone machine and assumes that you’ll usage a charger from different instrumentality for it. The Ultra supports up to 45-watt charging, truthful chargers from astir modern laptops volition enactment fine, though astir phone-sized chargers volition beryllium a spot underpowered.

The Tab S8 Ultra has 2 beforehand cameras for video calls.

The past spot of hardware that makes the Ultra unsocial are its dual wide and ultrawide front-facing cameras, which unrecorded successful a notch that cuts into the apical of the screen. The cameras are good — astir connected par with what you get from different tablets and enactment good capable for video calls (they are besides connected the close broadside of the tablet, thing Apple inactive doesn’t get close with the iPad). The notch is besides good — it ne'er erstwhile distracted maine oregon blocked maine from seeing important accusation connected the screen.

Samsung has added a diagnostic that attempts to automatically support your look successful the halfway of the framework successful a video call, akin to Apple’s Center Stage. Unfortunately, it doesn’t enactment precise good and moves the camera astir truthful overmuch that colleagues of excavation asked maine to crook it disconnected lest they get sick watching maine connected a Zoom call.

Inside, the Tab S8 Ultra is the aforesaid arsenic the different Tab S8 models, though with the enactment for much RAM successful the higher retention tiers. It has Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 paired with betwixt 8 and 16GB of RAM. In the portion I’ve been investigating — a $1,199.99 configuration with 256GB of retention and 12GB of RAM — show has been snappy and responsive for each the tasks I’ve asked of it. My main disappointment has been however often tabs reload successful the web browser erstwhile I’ve near and travel backmost to them aft immoderate time; with this overmuch RAM connected tap, I’d expect that not to happen.

Oddly, Samsung is not offering a cellular-connected mentation for the Tab S8 Ultra, which makes it little appealing arsenic a machine for predominant travelers.

The happening with the Ultra bringing a bigger surface and a bigger terms tag is that it engenders bigger expectations for what you mightiness beryllium capable to bash with it. This is simply a tablet that’s arsenic large arsenic a laptop erstwhile paired with its keyboard lawsuit and comes with a premium laptop-level terms tag.

And that’s yet wherever this tech demo falls short. While the smaller Tab S8 models tin skirt by with poorly optimized apps that don’t rather marque usage of their screens, those deficiencies consciousness overmuch much acute connected the Ultra.

Take Slack, for example. Slack does not person a tablet-optimized mentation of its Android app, truthful erstwhile you motorboat it connected the Ultra, the telephone app is stretched to capable the immense expanse of the 14.6-inch display. There’s nary mode to presumption much than 1 speech astatine a clip oregon spot a database of your conversations oregon rooms portion you’re viewing another. The aforesaid tin beryllium said for countless different apps that aren’t developed by Samsung itself. It’d beryllium comical if it wasn’t truthful disappointing.

Sure, you tin usage Samsung’s split-screen multitasking to stock the surface with 1 oregon 2 different apps, oregon you tin flip implicit to the windowed DeX situation to furniture app windows connected apical of each other, similar what you mightiness get from a Windows oregon macOS computer. But neither of those things makes the Ultra arsenic casual to usage oregon enactment connected arsenic a Windows tablet oregon laptop mightiness be.

I’ve elaborate my frustrations with DeX’s limitations successful the Tab S8 review, but each of them are adjacent much frustrating connected the Ultra, with its larger size and much productivity-focused pitch. A batch of the things you mightiness expect to beryllium capable to bash successful a windowed desktop environment, specified arsenic easy resizing app windows to the vertical tallness of the surface oregon selecting substance with the rodent cursor, either don’t enactment arsenic expected oregon are constricted compared to existent Windows. It feels precise overmuch similar a shoe-horned solution to a occupation that doesn’t spell acold capable to solving it, and Samsung’s improvement advancement connected DeX has been painfully dilatory compared to its advancement successful different bundle areas.

There are immoderate things that the Ultra is bully at, specified arsenic video watching and crippled streaming oregon emulation, but it’s nary amended than Samsung’s smaller and little costly tablets astatine them.

The Tab S8 Ultra’s larger size magnifies its issues compared to the smaller models.

Ultimately, the Tab S8 Ultra is simply a tablet that’s the size of a laptop, mimics a laptop’s signifier origin (especially erstwhile paired with its keyboard case), and comes with the terms tag of a laptop. But it’s acold from arsenic susceptible arsenic a laptop that is much comfy to usage and easier to beryllium productive with.

Still, arsenic a tech demo, the Tab S8 Ultra is an absorbing thing, and it’s imaginable that Samsung volition proceed iterating connected this thought of an oversized tablet successful aboriginal generations, overmuch similar it has done with the Galaxy Fold enactment of phones. For now, it’s champion to hold this out.