I never thought I would want a large 15-inch tablet. Mind you, I'm still not wholly convinced. However, I'm definitely open to the idea after trying out the humongous Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. Despite being ridiculously thin, it's not the easiest to handle. But that large and beautiful screen is such a draw. It's almost enough to make one forget this slate's hefty price tag.
- 14.6-inch Super AMOLED (2,960 x 1,848 pixels, 120Hz)
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage
- 11,200mAh battery
- 728g (5G model)
At just 5.5mm, the Tab S8 Ultra is thinner than most phones. It's crazy how Samsung still managed to fit a decent-sized 11,200mAh battery in its ultra-slim profile. I guess the 14.6-inch size helps. Battery life is good — it lasted 10hr 6min in our usual video playback test. However, you do end up with a sleek but unwieldy tablet. I can't hold it for long with just one hand due to the weight (728g). It's also too large to use comfortably in portrait orientation. Thankfully, the slate comes with a protective cover with a built-in kickstand and a detachable keyboard. This kickstand feature makes the tablet manageable in landscape mode — you simply open it and prop it on the lap or tablet while watching videos or playing games. Minecraft, for instance, is a delight to play on this tablet. It feels snappy, and you get that big screen.
The lush Super AMOLED screen gets my vote as its best feature. It's bright with vibrant colours, a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, and a crisp resolution. Basically, everything you'd expect from a flagship Samsung mobile device. With HDR enabled and its Dolby Atmos quad speakers firing, this tablet is perfect for bingeing on Netflix shows. The enormous display is also useful for multi-tasking. You can have up to three apps active and open at the same time. More importantly, I can switch back easily to a specific trio of apps — the arrangement is saved in the Edge panel. Of course, there's also Samsung's DeX Windows-like desktop mode if you want to eke more productivity from the tablet. It has enough storage (256GB on my review set) to match laptops, and you can expand that further with a microSD card.
As a notebook, the S8 Tab Ultra — with its removable keyboard — is not the most stable on my lap. The screen jiggles slightly if I type too forcefully, while the keyboard has a fair amount of flex. The experience is much better on a desk, though the overall footprint (due to the kickstand) is greater than a 15-inch notebook. The bundled S-Pen attaches securely (and is charged at the same time) at the back of the slate. It's great for doodling and sketching with near-zero latency. The tablet also excels in video calls because of the excellent dual front cameras (including a 12MP ultra-wide for group shots). Not only can these cameras shoot 4K videos, the built-in mics also come with noise cancellation. Add in its 5G connectivity, and the tablet seems like a good fit for a road warrior.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is not for everyone. Its size, for one, will divide opinions. I recommend trying it out at a store. But the hardware and performance are undoubtedly among the very best for an Android tablet. Samsung has also done more than most Android vendors to optimise its flagship tablet for productivity. But for most users, I feel that a Windows 2-in-1 convertible like the HP Spectre x360 16 makes more sense for work. Nevertheless, the Tab S8 Ultra is a desirable, luxury item for those who can afford it. At S$2,188, it's about as expensive as a premium notebook. Get it now from Lazada or Shopee.
Note: Review unit provided by Samsung.
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