Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

Monster Tab Madness

₹ 1,22,999

(5G model)

Samsung has gone big this year and really embraced the ‘Ultra’ moniker. If the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the King Kong of the smartphone world, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is surely the Godzilla of the tablet world. 
At 14.6 inches, it is as big as a laptop, and it’s got some serious power under the hood that will put some laptops to shame. But all this comes with a monster price tag (notice the theme?), especially when you opt for the 5G-enabled model with the accompanying accessories. Having spent the past few days using it, we tell you if the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the best out there and whether it can be a practical buy.

Design: Elegant giant

The moment you take it out of the box, the rectangular tab looks like a big black glass slate. It is visibly thin (5.5mm), but feels a bit weighty. The 14.6in display takes centerstage up front with thin bezels around, except the notch housing the front cameras. Like all notches, it is an eyesore for the first five minutes, and then magically becomes invisible. 
The back is quite minimalist with a glossy strip leading to the camera housing. This strip is where the excellent S Pen magnetically attaches. There are four speakers placed on the corners of the squared-off edges, and pogo pins at the bottom for attaching Samsung’s Book Cover Keyboard.

There’s nothing revolutionary about the design, but the tab is built really well. Despite being big and remarkably thin, the tab doesn’t feel like it will bend or snap. The large dimensions and weight are also what make it difficult to hold the tab in your hands for long periods of time. You’ll want to attach the keyboard, prop it against a wall or rest it on your thighs.

Display: Eyegasmic

The plus side of the big dimensions is the 14.6in Super AMOLED display, which is simply stunning. Everything from text, images to videos look sharp with punchy colours and great viewing angles. 120Hz refresh rate makes everything smooth, and brightness levels are enough whether you’re indoors or outdoors. 
By virtue of being so big, everything from videos to comic book pages look beautiful. We must admit that even emails have become fun to read since there’s no need to scroll when in portrait mode. It’s not far-fetched to say that this is the best display we’ve seen on a tablet. Period.

Samsung bundles the S Pen with the tablet, and the fantastic stylus makes full use of the large display. It is extremely responsive with no visible latency. Whether you’re a genuine artist or you like to scribble on the screen and take notes, the S Pen is impressive.

Performance: Powerhouse

There is more power on offer than a Ford Roadster hot rod. The tab barely breaks a sweat when asked to play graphics-intensive games at max settings, use three apps in split-screen mode or just app-hopping. 
The tab draws its power from a 11,200mAh battery, and the resource hogging display and innards do drain the battery. But it manages to survive the office hours on a single charge. There’s no charger bundled with the tab though, which is a shame. You’ll need to rely on a third-party brick or use one from a Samsung tablet. With the right charger, the battery can juice up at up to 45W, which takes a couple of hours to reach 100%.

There are four cameras on board, which seems like an overkill - but then what part of this tab isn’t? At the back is a pair of 13MP primary and 6MP ultra-wide cameras, and honestly there’s not a lot to write home about. For one, the tablet itself is too bulky to carry around and hold it up to click a photo. 
The front two 12MP cameras are arguably more important, especially in this WFH era. Despite the world adopting a hybrid working style, laptop webcams are embarrassingly low res. But when using this tab for video calls, you’ll look clearer than your future in a crystal ball.

Software: Wide off the mark

Which brings us to the Galaxy Tab’s versatility. Needless to say, it’s well suited for gaming and OTT chill sessions. Everything looks great on the large screen, and it’s difficult to go back to normal sized screens. But the same can’t be said about work. 
Android 12, in its current avatar, continues to falter at trying to make the most of larger screens. Opening individual apps often leads to awkward stretching and making them look like the elastic Mister Fantastic. Split-screen comes to the rescue, and you can have up to three apps open at a time. Working on all three apps may not be the most seamless experience, but hey, at least it works.

Samsung’s DeX mode makes the tablet a bit more useful, especially when you want to work in a pseudo-laptop mode. The UI changes to replicate a Windows laptop, and this works really well with Samsung’s Book Cover Keyboard. But there are a few issues.
For one, the cover is a separate purchase, and will set you back by ₹22,999. Secondly, not all apps are compatible with the DeX mode. Third, in this mode, you miss out on the functionality of the excellent S Pen.

Verdict: Should you buy?

Do you want it? If you’re an Android user, then heck yes. We enjoyed using the tab more than we would like to admit. But should you buy it? We’re not so sure. 
It’s clearly among the best tablets out there with a jaw dropping display, oodles of power, and with the accompanying accessories it can rival most laptops. But where it falters is the software. Android feels like years away from being optimised for tablets – large screened or small.
Then there’s the price tag. With prices starting on the dark side of ₹1,00,000, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra faces a huge task of convincing you to buy it over a full-fledged laptop. 

Stuff Says

Big on size, features and price tag. It may not be the most practical, but it’s the best darn Android tab there is.
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Sleek design

  1. Brilliant display to look and touch

  1. Oodles of power

  1. S Pen bundled with the tab

  1. Expensive

  1. Too big for a tablet

  1. Android OS is not optimised for tablets

Screen: 14.6in AMOLED 2960x1848 px, 120Hz, HDR10+
Chip: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 octa-core
Memory: Up to 16GB RAM / Up to 256GB storage
Rear cameras: 13MP primary + 6MP ultra-wide
Front cameras: 12MP primary + 12MP ultra-wide
OS: Android 12 (OneUI 4.1)
Battery: 11,200mAh
Dimensions: 326.4 x 208.6 x 5.5 mm
Weight: 726g