The Best Android Tablet Yet? Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Review and Giveaway
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Apple is still dominating the tablet market, but Samsung is taking aim at the iPad Pro Powerful Things, Small Packages: iPad Pro 9.7" Review Powerful Things, Small Packages: iPad Pro 9.7" Review For some people, a 12.9" screen is the main draw of Apple's first iPad Pro. For others, size was the main barrier to entry. Read More with their new Galaxy Tab S3. It’s about the same size and weight as an iPad Pro, it’s the same price, and it comes with a free stylus (unlike Apple’s tablet).

And there really aren’t many Android tablets competing for this spot. While the Android smartphone market has exploded with high quality offerings, your options for a tablet are still quite limited.

So is the Galaxy Tab S3 really the iPad Pro competitor to beat? Read on to find out – and at the end of this review, we’re giving ours away to one lucky reader!

Specifications

  • Color: Silver
  • Price: $500 on Amazon, plus optional $130 keyboard cover
  • Dimensions: 237.3mm x 169.0mm x 6.0mm (9.34in x 6.65in x 0.24in)
  • Weight: 429g (15.1oz)
  • Processor: Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Screen: 9.7″ (2048 x 1536) AMOLED display
  • Cameras: 13MP rear-facing camera and 5MP front-facing camera
  • Speakers: Quad speakers, two on the top and two on the bottom
  • Battery: 6,000mAh battery, charged using USB Type-C
  • Operating System: Android 7.0 Nougat with Samsung’s custom interface
  • Extras: Fingerprint scanner, microSD card slot, included stylus, optional keyboard

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 9.7-Inch, 32GB Tablet (Silver, SM-T820NZSAXAR) Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 9.7-Inch, 32GB Tablet (Silver, SM-T820NZSAXAR) Includes the Samsung S Pen Stylus Buy Now At Amazon Too low to display

Hardware

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Put simply, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is a gorgeous tablet. By hardware alone, it has to be the best Android tablet currently available. The only possible exception to this is the Google Pixel C Google Pixel C Review Google Pixel C Review Google has released the Pixel C tablet to paint the Android tablet experience in a whole new light -- but is the whole idea just academic in a world with affordable Windows 10 tablets and... Read More , but it’s well over a year old now.

So until Google updates their tablet offering, Samsung can claim the title of best Android tablet hardware.

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The Tab S3 has a glass back and aluminum sides that give it a premium feel. You’ll find the volume rocker, power button, and microSD card slot on the right side of the device, while the USB Type-C port What Is USB Type-C? What Is USB Type-C? Ah, the USB plug. It is as ubiquitous now as it is notorious for never being able to be plugged in right the first time. Read More and headphone jack are along the bottom. The left side has connectors for the optional keyboard cover.

There are four speakers total on the Tab S3 — two on the bottom and two on the top. Thanks to this quad speaker setup, audio played from the tablet is more than sufficiently loud and immersive.

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Oddly, Samsung has decided to stick with a physical home button for the Tab S3. After dropping it on the Galaxy S8 The Greatest Smartphone You Shouldn't Buy: Samsung Galaxy S8 Review (and Giveaway!) The Greatest Smartphone You Shouldn't Buy: Samsung Galaxy S8 Review (and Giveaway!) The $800 Samsung Galaxy S8 is, without question, the best smartphone ever made. But you probably shouldn't buy one. Read More in favor of software keys, it’s bizarre that Samsung’s flagship tablet would keep the tradition alive.

The physical home button is also a fingerprint scanner, and it’s flanked by the Recents and Back keys. That setup is probably the Tab S3’s biggest weakness. Navigation with the small physical and capacitive buttons is just a hassle on a tablet, especially in landscape since the buttons are clearly oriented for portrait.

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The screen is a gorgeous AMOLED panel that has vibrant colors and wonderful contrast. It has a resolution of 2048px by 1536px, which means that text and images are sharp (this is the same resolution as the iPad Pro’s screen).

All of this, by the way, is packed into a frame that’s only 6mm thin.

On the back of the Tab S3, you’ll find a 13MP camera that sits flush against the device. It’s definitely not as good as the camera on Samsung’s Galaxy S8, but it’s better than pretty much any other Android tablet. The front-facing camera is 5MP, and it’s similarly just above average.

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The glass back of the tablet does attract fingerprints, but that won’t be a problem if you purchase the optional $130 keyboard.

It attaches magnetically to the Tab S3 in a way that’s both sturdy and convenient. It’s then easy to prop the tablet up into work mode — though, unfortunately, you can’t adjust the angle at which it sits.

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The keyboard cover holds strong; you can easily lift the tablet into the air by the keyboard, and it doesn’t detach. But it’s easy enough to pry off with your fingers.

It’s powered by connectors that run along the side of the tablet, so there’s no worrying about keyboard batteries or Bluetooth connections 6 Reasons Why You Should NOT Buy a Bluetooth Keyboard 6 Reasons Why You Should NOT Buy a Bluetooth Keyboard Before you commit to buying a Bluetooth keyboard, consider these drawbacks and issues that may cause you to change your mind. Read More . Somewhat annoyingly, though, if you remove the tablet from work mode, the tablet senses it and automatically turns off the screen. That can make switching from work mode to tablet mode a little annoying. Even weirder is that shutting the keyboard case over the tablet doesn’t turn off the screen.

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The keyboard’s keys are clicky, and it didn’t take me long to get used to typing on them. That being said, it is a small keyboard constrained by the fact that this is only a 9.7″ device.

If you don’t like small keyboards, you won’t like this one. But for what it is, it’s great.

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And to top it all off, the Tab S3 comes with an active stylus out of the box. It’s a full-sized pen that feels fantastic in the hand and has a skinny 0.7mm rubber tip. It also has 4,096 pressure sensitivity levels, meaning you can use all sorts of apps to draw, illustrate, or just take notes.

Internally, the Tab S3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage — making it plenty powerful. It also has a 6,000mAh battery that easily kept it chugging along all day in my testing. It can even get back to a full charge in less than three hours.

So the Galaxy Tab S3 undoubtedly has some great hardware, but is the software just as good?

Software

This tablet is running Android 7.0 Nougat, but it looks very much like a Samsung device. App icons are rounded and colorful (though this can be adjusted in the settings), there are splashes of color throughout the design, some menu icons are replaced by text, and there is a good number of Samsung-specific apps.

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Some of these apps include: a file explorer The 7 Best Free File Explorers for Android The 7 Best Free File Explorers for Android There are a bunch of file management and file exploring apps out there for Android, but these are the best. Read More called My Files, a proprietary browser called Internet, Kids Mode, Samsung Kids, Samsung’s own app store called Galaxy Apps, Samsung Flow, PEN.UP, and Samsung+. I imagine a lot of people will see these as bloatware, but some of the them can be uninstalled, and the others can be disabled.

As far as features go, there’s a built-in blue light filter Get a Good Night's Sleep by Filtering Your Phone's Blue Light Get a Good Night's Sleep by Filtering Your Phone's Blue Light Your phone's screen is keeping you awake. Don't let it. These apps will help you rest well. Read More to help you sleep, Smart Stay (which keeps the screen on while you’re looking at it), Game Launcher for organizing your games, Game Tools for adjusting your games while playing, Smart Capture (which gives you better screenshot options, like scrolling to get a long screenshot), and more.

You can even change the screen zoom, font size, and font style from within the Settings app.

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There’s a lot going on in terms of customization, but once you have your tablet setup the way you like it, it’s a breeze to use. If you buy the optional keyboard, you can navigate around menus using the arrow keys and the enter key. If you use the stylus, you can easily jot down notes or scribble over screenshots.

And that stylus is a dream to use. It’s smooth and natural to write with, and the pressure sensitivity is fun to play around with when doodling. Thanks to the built-in Multi-Window feature, you can even jot notes on one half of the screen while watching a video on the other half.

Win a Galaxy Tab S3!

That right, we’re giving ours away to one lucky reader. Enter below for your chance to win!

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Giveaway

Should You Buy It?

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 9.7-Inch, 32GB Tablet (Silver, SM-T820NZSAXAR) Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 9.7-Inch, 32GB Tablet (Silver, SM-T820NZSAXAR) Includes the Samsung S Pen Stylus Buy Now At Amazon Too low to display

It’s hard to be critical of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 mostly because it doesn’t have any competition. Android hardware manufacturers have essentially given up on tablets and focused all their energy on smartphones. So you don’t have a lot of options in the 10″ tablet range.

However, that didn’t stop Samsung from pushing the limits with this tablet. It may be expensive at $550, but it comes with a pen, which already makes it a better value than the iPad Pro.

Our verdict of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3:
If you want a 10″ Android tablet, this is the best option currently out there. It’s not perfect, though. It’s expensive, its physical and capacitive keys are awkward, and it’s loaded with too many Samsung apps, but aside from that, it’s a solid choice.
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  1. Lombard
    July 7, 2017 at 9:47 am

    I just bought mine today I hated the battery drain it was drained from 100% to 77 % in just about 30 minutes of just browsing the internet only. Thus means that I will have to charge it 3times plus a day. Other issue is that no LTE or 4g connection available thus makes it stupid and dumb. But am still watching battery if this continues I'll send it back and go for iPad

  2. Reyco
    June 24, 2017 at 1:03 am

    I like to draw on it. I wish and imagined I got it.

  3. princess broke
    June 22, 2017 at 9:26 am

    i love samsung company and i would love to win this as i dont have any samsung products and would love to have this tablet and treasure it <3<

  4. Val Bourke
    June 20, 2017 at 5:03 am

    I would love to win this as I have never won anything and this is something I think I could use daily

  5. Karen Bockman
    June 20, 2017 at 12:08 am

    Sounds interesting.

  6. Gaz
    June 11, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Quote "The physical home button is also a fingerprint scanner, and it’s flanked by the Recents and Back keys. That setup is probably the Tab S3’s biggest weakness. Navigation with the small physical and capacitive buttons is just a hassle on a tablet, especially in landscape since the buttons are clearly oriented for portrait."

    I have no idea what you are talking about here as I much prefer the idea of having the buttons right where Samsung put them, ESPECIALLY in landscape mode - I find that they are clearly orientated for landscape (I can hold with one or two hands and have no trouble using the buttons, yet in portrait, I have to hold with one hand so I can use the buttons). I can easily reach them with my thumb just as I do on our old Asus TF300 10" tab.
    Plus I would not like the fingerprint sensor in the middle on the back - I have a Note 5 and have no trouble at all using the home button on the front since I usually hold it with one hand and use the other for pressing the buttons, icons, et cetera. I tried pretending to use a sensor on the back by sticking a small pad there and even with my big hands (can span over an octave on a piano), I still had trouble. With a 10" tablet, how hard would it be to use the sensor hidden around the back - you would have to turn it over just to find the sensor every time - what a hassle.
    I hope that Samsung keeps them there on the front.

    Apart from that, I found the review to be good and thanks for the giveaway, I would be very happy to update.

  7. karan
    June 11, 2017 at 11:40 am

    ohhh this is great thing

    lets see if we can get this.

  8. karan gadhavi
    June 11, 2017 at 11:38 am

    thansk for the giveaway

    i really really really like to win this tab.

    hope i win

  9. Toma
    June 11, 2017 at 3:49 am

    Best giveaway in awhile. Thanks for the opportunity.

  10. Gaz
    June 10, 2017 at 3:25 am

    Quote "The physical home button is also a fingerprint scanner, and it’s flanked by the Recents and Back keys. That setup is probably the Tab S3’s biggest weakness. Navigation with the small physical and capacitive buttons is just a hassle on a tablet, especially in landscape since the buttons are clearly oriented for portrait."

    Not sure why you said that??????
    I have a Samsung Tab S2 9.7" and it is perfect in landscape with the buttons as I can use them with my thumb.
    And if the fingerprint sensor is put on the back in the middle, I would find that a hassle and I have big hands (I can span on a piano keyboard - 1 full octave and 2 extra keys). I prefer the home button, et cetera, on the front, like my Note 5.
    So I would have to totally disagree with you on that.

    I really like this new tablet from Samsung and I thank you for the opportunity to win this

  11. so
    June 8, 2017 at 3:00 am

    ive been a big fan of samsug tablets for awhile now, and was quite dissapointed b/c they havent been really focusing on tablets anymore. I got the Samsung tab A with S pen (2016) version for my college note taking, but now i wish i wouldve waited a little more to get this tablet...rip

  12. Frank
    June 7, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Waiting for it to become available in Thailand.