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Lifewire / Jason Schneider
Beautiful 12.4-inch AMOLED screen
Tons of processing power and some software tricks
Premium build quality and design
S-Pen comes included
Suffers from non-tablet apps
Slightly odd aspect ratio
There aren’t many premium Android tablets worth a look at, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ is definitely one of them due to the amazing display and design quality.
We purchased the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
It’s hard to overstate how much the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ puts Android tablets on the map. As a category, Android tablets have long been considered the younger, less capable sibling of Apple’s iPad lineup, and that is in large part due to software limitations and lack of tablet-specific support from developers, but it has also historically been because, frankly, Android tablets didn’t look and feel that exciting. Samsung has aimed to (and in a lot of ways, succeeded in) shattering that expectation with the Tab S7+, bringing consumers a truly impressive tablet experience.
From the mind-blowingly vibrant OLED panel to the sleek, curiously iPad Pro-like design language, the Galaxy Tab S7+ looks the part, for sure. Excellent speakers, a tier-one mobile processor, and a powerful, Bluetooth-capable S-Pen that comes at no extra charge bring the premium tablet experience to Android lovers. It isn’t without its shortcomings, which are mostly software related, and though it is quite a bit cheaper than an equivalent Apple model, it is certainly not a cheap device.
And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you aren’t spending the extra $200 on the Samsung-designed keyboard cover, you’re missing a few key buying justifications on the tablet. I got my hands on a keyboard cover and a Mystic Silver model, and tried my hardest to treat this like my only computing device, as well as my tablet-style media consumption workhorse, and here’s how it all panned out.
The first thing you notice when you unbox the Tab S7+ is just how premium it looks and feels. Well, to be fair, if you’re an Apple fan, the first thing you’ll probably notice is how much this slate looks like an iPad Pro. Honestly, that’s not a bad thing; the more that tech giants mimic and riff on each other, the better consumer tech gets for the rest of us. The Tab S7+ is the bigger model, measuring just over 11 inches tall, about seven inches in width, and a shockingly slim 0.22 inches front to back. This makes it look very futuristic and premium.
The Mystic Silver version I got is a color that looks good, but feels tired in a world where most laptops go for a darker gray. You can get a Mystic Black version that looks a little starker and a Mystic Bronze option that feels more like Rose Gold. There are antennas along the side, making for some small plastic lines in an otherwise completely brushed aluminum edge. The texture of that edge is actually quite a bit different than the glossy stainless steel on modern iPhones or the anodized, unibody texture of MacBooks. I think it’s this machined-style edge that gives the tablet its most unique design nod.
Next to the display itself, the build quality of the Tab S7+ is probably the most impressive aspect of the device. I’ve already touched on the finer design points, but the material choices here aren’t just for a premium look. The fully aluminum build feels substantial, textured with a micro-sand blasted process that gives it a slightly softer touch than something like a MacBook Pro. The edges are also more metallic than the rest of the build but have a machined texture that feels really satisfying in the hand.
The display itself is covered in a reasonably sturdy Corning Gorilla Glass 3, making it pretty durable, though the thinness of the device makes me a little nervous to be bringing this around without a case. This fact, alongside the lack of an IP rating (something that plagues most tablets), means that this isn’t exactly a portable device.
It does weigh about 1.3 pounds, meaning that the heft makes it feel substantial, and the material choices will certainly satisfy the expectations implied by the price tag. If you opt for the Samsung Keyboard Cover, the premium, faux-leather materials used and the excellent-feeling keys will help to further the whole package, too.
I’m not at all hesitant to say that this is the best possible tablet display I’ve seen on a device, full stop. Why is that? Well, while the iPad Pro provides an insane resolution and excellent color response, it is still an LCD panel. The Tab S7+ brings with it a Super AMOLED, HDR+-capable panel with a 1752x2800 pixel resolution. Not only is this a denser display than anything out there in the tablet space, but it’s also AMOLED, meaning the blacks are as inky and sharp as possible, and the colors are eye-searingly bright.
The other key differentiator here is the 120Hz refresh rate. This basically means that the display’s portrayal of video, on-screen animations, and touch inputs is about double as smooth as the standard iPhone line up (which sports a 60Hz refresh rate). The latest iPad Pros also have the 120Hz feature, and while it’s hard to explain here in text, you really do see the difference when you start swiping and watching videos on a higher-refresh display.
This is also really important on a display where you plan to do some digital drawing. A higher refresh rate, alongside the fact that the AMOLED is laminated (less of a “glass gap” between your finger and the pixels), makes this one of the most beautiful drawing tablets around. Samsung is known for the sharpness and vibrancy of their screens, but the colors do feel a little exaggerated at times, so if you want a more natural art tablet, an LCD will be a little closer. But for design, video watching, and general browsing alike, this screen is an absolute joy to interact with.
Like any Android mobile device, you’re prompted to start with a Gmail account, and because it’s a Galaxy device, you’ll also have an extra Samsung account step. From there, you’re basically fully into the experience, unless you opt to clone the settings from another device.
One thing I noticed here is just how many settings Samsung offers to customize. It’s a standard fact that Android is a more customizable experience than most other operating systems, but something about the Tab S7+ with so many S-Pen options, so many settings buried deep in the menu, makes it feel a bit complicated. I recommend, at the very least, choosing between dark and standard mode, perusing the ways you can customize the S-Pen, and setting up all the biometrics. Otherwise, most of the stock Galaxy settings will suffice.
The performance of the Tab S7+ hinges entirely on the capabilities of Android for tablets. The Tab S7+ is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 865+ chipset, which is an octa-core processor capable of truly laptop-like speeds. Not pro-level speeds, mind you, but this is likely faster than most of the mid-level AMD and Intel chips you’ve used.
The Adreno 650 graphics processing is also pretty capable here. I ran a Geekbench test and scored an 866 on the single-core side and just above 1800 on the multi-core side. To put it in perspective, a comparable iPad Pro will get about 50 percent more on the single-core and nearly double on the multi-core. This makes sense because Apple designs its processors for their software, and have optimized the chip for the iOS environment.
When paired with the additional keyboard cover, operating in DeX mode looks and feels almost like a hybrid of a Chromebook and a Windows laptop experience.
Despite the Geekbench scores, in practice, the S7+ is among the snappiest devices I’ve ever used (including mobile phones and laptops alike). This is, in large part, thanks to the ultra-responsiveness of the 120Hz display, but it shows its power in multitasking, too. I was easily able to run a dozen Chrome tabs (a task that is notoriously heavy on systems), watch Netflix in the background, type this very review using Google Docs and have a couple of art apps up at the same time. I never saw any stutters, and I can confidently say that basic use won’t choke this powerhouse up.
Even the base model of the slate comes with 6GB of RAM, though if you plan to do any pro-level work, such as running Adobe apps or doing any light video editing, you might want to go with the 8GB option. This is all contingent on the apps you’re using, as many Android apps aren’t exactly optimized for every device, and you might notice some app-level stutters due to this fact. But this is not based on raw power.
The stylus that comes bundled with this device is one of the reasons it’s such a joy to use. And yes, it does come bundled in—which is refreshing because to get the equivalent stylus with an iPad, you’ll have to pay an extra $129 for the Apple Pencil. The S-Pen was originally released with the Galaxy Note series of large-format phones, and the version that comes with the Tab S7+ is pretty similar, though it is a bit larger and a bit heavier. This is important to make it a capable art-focused peripheral, and I really found it satisfying to use it for quick sketching on Autodesk Sketchbook or taking simple notes as needed.
The Bluetooth features further enhance the functionality, allowing you to call up menus with the touch of the button on the side, and even to snap pictures as a shutter remote or control a Powerpoint presentation. When you’re done, the pen snaps onto a magnetic panel on the back of the device to charge, or along the side of the tablet (though this latter position doesn’t charge the stylus).
If I had to choose, I would say the Apple Pencil feels better, because it has more weight and has a bigger, firmer tip. But because the S-Pen sports a 9ms latency time, the 120Hz display is laminated, and because Wacom has been tapped to build out the tech functionality of the pen, it really feels as close to writing on paper as can be achieved on a smooth glass screen.
Keeping with the Galaxy line’s prowess, you’ll find a decent pair of lenses on the rear: a 5MP ultra-wide system and a 13MP wide-angle system. Because it’s powered by Samsung’s software, you’ll get great pro-level control and a solid Night Mode. I found the rear cameras great for document scanning and basic shooting.
Not only is this a denser display than anything out there in the tablet space, but it’s also AMOLED, meaning the blacks are as inky and sharp as possible, and the colors are eye-searingly bright.
The front-facing camera (an 8MP capable of 1080p video) is an important standout feature because it’ll be used in a lot of video calls. Plus, because it is positioned in the middle of the top bezel when the tablet is in landscape orientation (rather than portrait), it’s actually a better perspective for this use case.
Samsung promises up to 14 hours of video playback on the Tab S7+, and that’s as good of a benchmark as any. If you are, in fact, just watching videos at a reasonable brightness setting, then 14 hours is pretty accurate based on my tests.
However, most people don’t just watch videos on their device. There are a few things that will drag your battery life down. First, the massive screen. Because it is so large and so pixel-dense, sporting HDR+ capabilities, if you push the brightness past about halfway, it’ll show its battery limitations, bringing your totals closer to 8 hours. This will also be the case if you’re doing any processor-intensive work, such as design, video editing, or gaming. I also found that connecting a lot of different Bluetooth devices (a frequent expectation, with productivity peripherals and the lack of headphone jack), the device also suffers a bit with battery life.
I was able to work nearly a full day without much issue, and it all made this tablet feel a lot more like a laptop than any other tablet I’ve seen (iPads included).
One way to save some juice is to opt for dark mode. Because it’s an AMOLED panel, the dark backgrounds will help to not drive the pixels so hard. With all this, Samsung is trying to bolster the longevity by offering 45W super-fast charging support, allowing for almost half a full charge in just over 30 minutes. Though, it’s important to note, that the power brick included in the box is not a 45W one, so if you want to take advantage of the fast charging, you’ll have to bring your own.
The tablet runs Android 10.0, with Samsung’s One UI version 2.5 laid over-top. This makes it a modern-feeling experience when it is in tablet mode. Thanks to some split-screen multitasking features and a decent optimization of landscape mode, the software is pretty friendly for productivity. However, the Tab S7+ suffers from the same plagues as any other Android tablet, and that is that Android apps are simply not always meant for the bigger display. They’ll all work, but some of them will look stretched. One particularly egregious example is Facebook, so I’d recommend going with the browser version when you’re scrolling your feed.
This tablet really feels like a differentiated device when you kick it into DeX mode. This software experiment developed by Samsung originally began as a way to dock your Samsung Galaxy smartphone and run it in a taskbar-based, desktop-like experience. This idea is cool for a phone but becomes infinitely more practical and intuitive when you can tap into it using the beautiful, 12.4-inch display on the Tab S7+. When paired with the additional keyboard cover, operating in DeX mode looks and feels almost like a hybrid of a Chromebook and a Windows laptop experience.
You can open all your apps in draggable, overlapping windows, and resize as needed throughout your workday. It’s not without its glitches (some apps won’t go into fullscreen mode automatically, and others will suffer from some visual glitches), but at the end of the day, my DeX experience was truly remarkable. I was able to work nearly a full day without much issue, and it all made this tablet feel a lot more like a laptop than any other tablet I’ve seen (iPads included).
Samsung’s rudimentary Face Unlock is here, though it isn’t as safe and accurate as Face ID on the iPad. There’s an in-display fingerprint sensor that is really secure but just a hair slower than I’d like. Folded in with Samsung’s other security features, this is a pretty compelling offering as far as privacy is concerned.
I was searching for functionality that would push the device over the edge as a must-buy and that’s where Xbox Game Pass comes in. This gaming giant’s subscription-based service allows you to pay a monthly fee and play a slate of really amazing Xbox games on your console or PC. But, the Ultimate level of the subscription actually allows you to stream those games to an Android device using an app. On a smaller phone, the screen and processor will bottleneck this experience, making it novel at best. But on a tablet with this top-tier processor and this gorgeous display, it makes it a really impressive way to play triple-A games.
It really feels as close to writing on paper as can be achieved on a smooth glass screen.
I spent a few days using my DualShock 4 controller to play a Halo 4 campaign, a slew of indie sidescrollers, and a lot more. Other than a few streaming-based hiccups (probably more due to my Wi-Fi bottleneck than the tablet itself) the games play smoothly and feel every bit as console-quality as, well, if you’re playing on a console. And because this service is not available on iOS this is the only way to get a truly impressive mobile-based Xbox gaming experience.
Because Tab S7+ comes bundled with its stylus, it’s perfectly reasonable to plan on just buying the base unit, giving you the option to have a seamless tablet experience with full artist functionality, right out the box. But, if you want to truly bring the Tab S7+ into the laptop-style productivity space, you’ll need a keyboard.
There are a lot of portable Bluetooth keyboards that will work well, but as far as third-party accessories go, there just aren’t that many keyboard cases out there. So, you’ll virtually be forced to buy the Samsung-made keyboard cover, which costs about $230 and is basically imperative to get the most out of this tablet, especially in DeX mode.
This keyboard feels great, connects directly via Pogo pins, and includes a back cover to protect your premium purchase. The trackpad on the keyboard case, on the other hand, is pretty clunky, creating a stuttery scrolling experience and an imprecise click. So, I also recommend investing in a small Bluetooth mouse. When you factor in that you’ll likely need Bluetooth headphones here, too (are we ever going to see a headphone jack again?), this package becomes expensive.
At a base price of about $850, the S7+ is certainly not affordable. But, if you pit it against something like the full-sized iPad Pro, you’re actually saving a few hundred bucks. The near-necessary keyboard cover is pricey, but the included S-Pen means you could reasonably get started right out of the box with the base package.
I would like to point out that the smaller version, the Galaxy Tab S7, is about $200 cheaper, and offers nearly all the features of the S7+ in a smaller format. If price is a sensitivity for you, but you want this class of device, the better value can be found in the smaller size. But for the quality of this AMOLED screen alone, that $850 is a reasonable price.
Apple’s biggest iPad is the most direct competitor to the Tab S7+ due to the fact that both have high refresh rate displays, both have massive gorgeous displays, both work well with their keyboard accessories, and both have insanely premium build qualities.
However, the 12.9 iPad Pro starts at about $1,000 whereas the Tab S7+ starts at about $150 cheaper. That saving is further exaggerated when you factor in the included S-Pen vs. the additional price on the Apple Pencil. The iPad’s software does have an edge because of the number of optimized apps available, but Samsung DeX shouldn’t be overlooked here if productivity is a priority for you.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best Samsung tablets.
An excellent tablet with some concessions.
A gorgeous build, top-tier design, class-leading display, responsive, 120Hz touch input, and the ability to fully game making the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ an incredibly compelling tablet. And for well under the price of a comparable iPad Pro, you’re actually saving quite a bit of money and getting a S Pen in the bargain.
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