Thin and classy design
Android software experience is sub-par
Keyboard is hit-and-miss
It’s a shame. The Galaxy Tab S7+ may get obvious design cues from the iPad Pro, but with slick performance and an incredible display, I really wanted to like it. But ultimately, app support really matters, and while it’s no fault of Samsung's, the support just isn’t there.
About the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and S7+
The latest Samsung Galaxy Tab is available in two sizes, the 11-inch S7 and the 12.4-inch S7+. The latter is the model we’re reviewing with a boosted 256 GB of storage. Pricing varies depending on which extras you add. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S7: $650 for 128 GB, $730 for 256 GB, $830 for 512 GB, $850 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model (confined to Mystic Black and 128 GB of storage)
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+: $850 for 128 GB, $930 for 256 GB, $1,030 for 512 GB. $1,050 for Wi-Fi + Cellular model (confined to Mystic Black and 128 GB of storage)
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Keyboard Cover: $200 for the Galaxy Tab S7 model, $230 for the Galaxy Tab S7+ model
The devices have near-identical specifications, but there are a few minor differences. Along with a different display size and battery, there’s also an in-display fingerprint sensor on the Tab S7+, while the standard Tab S7 has a fingerprint sensor in the power button. Here are the basic specs:
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
- RAM: 6 GB (for 128 GB storage model), 8 GB (for 256 GB and 512 GB storage models)
- Storage: 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB
- Rear-facing camera: Dual 5-megapixel ultrawide and 13-megapixel wide
- Front-facing camera: 8-megapixel wide
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6, GSM / HSPA / LTE / 5G (cellular model)
- Biometric authentication: Fingerprint sensor (in-display in Tab S7+, power button in Tab S7)
- Display: 11-inch 2560 x 1660 LCD display with 120 Hz refresh rate, or 12.4-inch 2800 x 1752 display with 120Hz refresh rate
- Connections: USB-C
What We Like
A classy design
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and S7+ take obvious design cues from the iPad Pro, especially in the Mystic Black color—and that's a good thing. They have an edge-to-edge display with half-inch bezels around it, and a super thin build that helps induce a premium feel.
As mentioned, we reviewed the Mystic Black color, which really just looks like the iPad’s Space Gray. But it’s also available in Mystic Bronze or Mystic Silver color. Call me boring, but I prefer the Mystic Black of the three.
Samsung has paid attention to detail here, too. For example, the front-facing camera is on the right side—meaning it’s at the top when in landscape orientation. That’s exactly where it should be, considering the fact that, unlike a phone, tablets are more likely to be used for video chatting than for taking selfies. Apple could take a page out of Samsung’s book there.
On the right side, there’s a power button and a volume rocker, while on the bottom there’s a USB-C port. Unfortunately, there’s no headphone jack here. Such is 2020, but we can’t help but feel that, like laptops, tablets should hold on to the jack, especially considering they're more likely to be used as content creation and consumption machines.
The Galaxy Tab S7+ offers a quad-speaker system, with two on the top and two on the bottom (or two on either side in landscape), and they sound quite good. There’s a lot more depth than what you’ll get from an average phone, with solid bass response and a decent amount of clarity, for tablet speakers. A pair of solid headphones or an external speaker are still going to sound better, but in a pinch these do a great job.
On the back of the device is a dual-sensor camera, which is vertically aligned and found on the top-left. Like the iPad Pro, you’ll get antenna lines on the back which follow the shape of the tablet and there's also a magnetic strip for charging the new S Pen. It's a weird spot for it, and you can only attach it so the pen is pointing towards the camera. Once you realize that it's easy to remember, of course, but the small touch Apple adds to the iPad Pro that lets you attach the Apple Pencil in either direction is handy.
Performance for productivity and more
Samsung is positioning the Galaxy Tab S7 series to be an alternative to the iPad Pro, which means it needs to offer high-end performance. Thankfully, it does. There’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor under the hood, coupled with either 6 GB or 8 GB of RAM, and the result is that the device can handle pretty much anything you throw at it, from heavy multitasking to mobile gaming.
We wrote this review on the Tab S7+, which involved keeping Google Docs open with an internet browser and way too many tabs open in the browser (12, at one point). The tablet easily handled the load without skipping or stuttering. We also put the tablet through some mobile gaming, namely on Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9, and again, there was little to complain about. This tablet is a workhorse with flagship specs, and it performs as such.
If benchmarks are your thing, you'll be impressed there too. Our configuration achieved 586,900 on AnTuTu and 2,675 in GeekBench 5's multi-core score. That's not really close to the iPad Pro's 4,695, but it's still impressive, and about on par with the most powerful phones out there.
A beautiful display
Perhaps the very best thing about the Galaxy Tab S7 and Tab S7+ is the display. It’s beautiful. The smaller device keeps an LCD display, and the result is that it may not offer as-deep black levels, but on the OLED-equipped Galaxy Tab S7+ we reviewed, blacks are inky and colors are vibrant.
Ultimately, while the Tab S7+ is obviously built with productivity in mind, it absolutely excels in the entertainment world. Netflix’s new David Attenborough documentary, A Life on Our Planet is an incredible experience, while gaming is immersive and natural-looking. The device has a pretty high resolution too, measuring at 1752 x 2800 with a 266 pixel density, which is nearly identical to the iPad Pro.
One thing we didn’t appreciate about the display is its 16:9 aspect ratio. While that does make sense for watching movies and TV shows, it doesn’t for productivity, where a taller display can help show more content.
Like the iPad Pro, the Tab S7 and S7+ also have a 120 Hz refresh rate, which makes for smooth animations and a buttery feel when you’re scrolling through menus and switching between apps. It’s really nice, and helps make the software feel a lot more natural.
Put simply, the Tab S7+ easily has one of the best displays on the market.
Good enough battery
The battery life on the Galaxy Tab S7+ isn't ground breaking, but it's pretty solid. Samsung rates the tablet at 14 hours of video use, which is about what we experienced. That’s pretty solid, and better than the iPad Pro on paper. But the iPad Pro's battery seems to be a little more consistent. Issues arise with the Tab S7+ depending on how you use the device. For example, if you use it in DeX mode, the battery seems to drain a lot quicker, and with heavier multitasking I had to plug the tablet in before the end of the work day.
The battery on the Tab S7+ is pretty huge, coming in at 10,090mAh, and charging takes a while. That issue is made worse by the fact that while the device supports 45W fast charging, it ships with an 18W charger. Considering this is a premium product, Samsung should have included a 45W charger here.
What We Don't Like
The software kills the vibe
The hardware on the Galaxy Tab S7+ is beastly, but it’s hard to truly take advantage of that hardware considering the software is such a letdown. The reality is that Android apps just don’t really support tablets that well, and that’s an issue that Samsung can’t fix.
The company does try to fix it, but its desktop-like interface, Samsung DeX, is a mixed bag. It has definitely gotten better over the years, but it’s still lacking features and touches that you would expect from a productivity-first device. You can’t select text with the trackpad, for example, and windows don’t snap to the side like they should, so if you want a window to be on the edge of the display, you have to perfectly align it. Apps like Twitter and Microsoft Teams don’t have columns like they do on other platforms, or even in the browser. Instead, they just stretch to fit the display, which is an incredibly awkward experience.
Some apps don’t work at all. For example, when you try to sign in to an app, if you have LastPass installed you’ll see a prompt to use it, but when you tap on that prompt you’ll be told that it doesn’t work in DeX.
There are advantages to DeX, though. Because apps are windowed, they don’t have to take up the whole screen, so they act more like they would on your phone when you don’t have them in full screen. Settings and features are where you would expect them; the app drawer is on the bottom right and the quick settings are on the bottom left, a la Windows.
But the software is a tough hurdle. Hopefully, Samsung will continue to develop DeX into a better interface and, for their part, Android developers need to start building apps that can take advantage of the big-screen. Until then, software on Android tablets is sub-par at best, and unusable at worst.
Accessories are hit and miss
The iPad Pro’s Magic Keyboard is expensive, but it works great in pretty much any scenario, including typing on your lap. Samsung has taken a different route though. If you solely work at a desk, you’ll love the Galaxy Tab S7+’s keyboard cover, which offers an excellent typing experience, with a good amount of travel and enough space to include a function row, at least on the larger Tab S7+ model. But try and take it anywhere but a desk, and you’re out of luck.
The actual keyboard is held to the tablet's base with a thin, flimsy piece of material that moves around when you try and tap on your lap. Of course, that’s an issue that most kickstand-style keyboards face, but it doesn’t change things. The placement of the S Pen in the back of the case is also awkward. It’s nowhere near as satisfying or as convenient as being able to plop the Apple Pencil on the edge of the device, even if it ensures that it’s more safely stored.
Speaking of the S Pen, however, it is handy. Unlike Apple, Samsung includes the S Pen with the tablet for free, and it’s enjoyable to use. Latency is down to 9 ms, matching Apple, and as a result using the pen feels very natural. The Samsung Notes system works very well, and the tablet is really good at handwriting recognition, which can come in handy as a way to convert even messy writing into text you can manipulate.
Should You Buy It?
Only if you must have Android
With powerful internals, fast response, and a gorgeous display, Samsung's Galaxy Tab S7+ is the best Android tablet out there. But that's an important qualifier. It’s still limited by Android's awkward tablet software and incredible hardware can’t really solve that.
If you want the actual best tablet on the market right now, you’re going to have to spend a little more cash for the iPad Pro, or you could wait for the similarly spec'd 2020 iPad Air (from $599), which is due any time now. If you’re not much of an Apple fan, you could also opt for Microsoft's Surface Pro 7, which may technically be a 2-in-1, but for all intents and purposes can be treated like a tablet.
If you really want to stick with Android, the Galaxy Tab S7+ is the way to go. It’s a solid entertainment machine too, considering the beautiful display and excellent performance. Just be ready to deal with some quirks if you want it for productivity.
Meet the tester
Christian de Looper
Originally from Australia, Christian has long had a passion for gadgets and consumer electronics. Christian has experience reviewing products in all areas of the consumer tech world, and is dedicated to helping people find the best products for their lifestyle.
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