Samsung just gave the Android tablet space a big boost by launching three devices in its new Galaxy Tab S8 series. The Galaxy Tab S8, Galaxy Tab S8+, and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra are targeted at different price points to cater to a wide audience. Samsung's Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is one of the most powerful Android tablets you can get in the market, as it is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC. It is also one of the biggest Android tablets out there, with a massive 14.6-inch display. Is the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra the best Android tablet money can buy, or has Samsung gone a bit too far? Let's find out.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra price in India
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is available in a single configuration with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. You can choose between a Wi-Fi only and a 5G-enabled version, and these are priced at Rs. 1,08,999 and Rs. 1,22,999 respectively. The tablet is only available in a single Graphite colour.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra design
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the biggest tablet I have ever used. It has a massive 14.6-inch display with a small notch on the top (when held in landscape orientation). The notch houses a dual camera setup and is barely even visible when using the tablet in landscape mode. However, you will notice it while holding the tablet in portrait orientation. Samsung has kept the bezels thin, which looks good, but this does make it tough to hold the tablet without touching the screen. The 726g weight is noticeable, and I often found myself resting the tablet on a table or on my lap when using it.
The S Pen Stylus latches on to the back of the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra magnetically
Samsung has managed to keep the tablet surprisingly thin at just 5.5mm. In landscape orientation you'll find the power and volume buttons in the top left corner and the SIM tray on the top-right. You get four speakers on the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra with two on either side. In addition to this, the left side has a microphone while the right has a USB Type-C port. There's an in-display fingerprint scanner that's easy to reach with your right thumb when holding the tablet. The bottom has a proprietary three-pin connector with notches on either side to latch on to compatible accessories such as the Book Cover Keyboard that Samsung also sent for this review.
The back panel is made of metal which gives this tablet a premium look and feel. There's a camera module at the top with two camera sensors, and a glossy black strip extends below it. This is the wireless charging mechanism for the S Pen, which can be latched on here magnetically. Samsung bundles the S Pen along with a long USB Type-C to Type-C cable, but you don't get a charger in the box.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra specifications and software
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra sports a Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2960 x 1848 pixels. It has a 120Hz peak refresh rate and is set to that by default. Four AKG-tuned speakers complement the massive display. Powering the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC which is the most powerful SoC you can get on an Android tablet at the moment. In India, it only comes with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, however storage is expandable thanks to the microSD card slot.
You get support for Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6E, and five satellite navigation systems. It also supports the WiDi (Wireless Display) standard so you can use the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra as a secondary screen with compatible Windows machines, The cellular model works with 5G as well as existing 4G networks. The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra packs in a massive 11,200 mAh battery and supports 45W fast charging, but you'll need to buy a charger separately.
The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra runs Android 12 out of the box
In terms of software, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra runs Android 12 with OneUI 4.1 on top. It was running the February 2022 Android security patch which is slightly dated. The UI is polished and very easy to use. Samsung offers the traditional three button navigation layout and you can switch to swipe-based navigation. Multitasking is very easy; you can split the screen with two different apps or open multiple apps in their own windows. You can take full advantage of the big screen by opening multiple apps at once.
The S Pen allows you to perform actions much like on Samsung's Galaxy Note phones, such as taking notes, selecting part of the screen to capture in a screenshot, and even launching your favourite apps. Air Actions allow you to perform certain actions by holding the button on the S Pen and moving it around. You can also sketch or colour using the S Pen, in compatible apps. Colouring felt therapeutic, and the S Pen surprised me with its low latency. It almost felt like colouring on paper.
The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra lets you call and text if you have a recent Samsung smartphone, just like you can with Apple's ecosystem. This requires you to sign in with the same Samsung account on all devices. Another noteworthy feature is the ability to use the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra as a second screen with a Windows laptop or as an input surface for drawing, using the S Pen. This should be handy for artists.
The Book Cover Keyboard case makes the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra more versatile
Samsung's Dex feature gives you a near-PC-like experience on the tablet. Samsung is selling a Book Cover Keyboard case for Rs. 22,999 in India. While the price is on the higher side, this accessory almost lets the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra pass off as a 2-in-1 convertible laptop. This Book Cover Keyboard case comes in two parts. One attaches magnetically to the back of the tablet as a stand and has a neat pocket for the S Pen stylus. The other is the keyboard which lines up with the connectors on the bottom of the tablet to function. I typed part of this review on the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and found the keyboard to have good key travel and feedback. The trackpad on the Book Cover Keyboard case was also decent but it wasn't as comfortable as using a standard laptop.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra performance, cameras, and battery life
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra packs in a seriously powerful SoC, and so it can run pretty much anything you throw at it. You can run any game or app from the Play Store on this device without any issues. Apps load quickly and the tablet could multitask effortlessly thanks to the 12GB of RAM it has. The big Super AMOLED display with its thin bezels offers an immersive experience and I enjoyed watching videos. The high refresh rate made scrolling feel fluid. Samsung's AKG-tuned quad speaker setup was loud enough to fill a small room with sound.
Samsung's in-display fingerprint scanner was quick to unlock the tablet, never needing more than one attempt. This tablet also allows face recognition which is super convenient when using it along with the Book Cover Keyboard case.
The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is just 5.5mm thick
I ran synthetic benchmarks and the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra returned some impressive scores. In the AnTuTu benchmark, it scored 8,62,739 points which is even higher than what the Galaxy S22 Ultra's (Review) score. It also managed 11,972 points in PCMark Work 3.0 benchmark while maxing out 3DMark's Sling Shot and Sling Shot Extreme tests.
I personally found the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra too big for playing first-person shooter games such as Call of Duty: Mobile on. That aside, it was capable of running the game at the ‘Very High' graphics setting with the frame rate set to ‘Max'. I did not notice any lag or stutter during gameplay, and the tablet did not show any signs of heating even after playing for 20 minutes. I noticed a five percent drop in the battery level after my gaming session.
After using the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra for over two weeks I can say that it offers decent battery life. Idle power drain is low, which helps the tablet conserve power when it's not in use. However, pushing it to its limits resulted in a higher battery drain than I anticipated. With my casual usage, which also included remaining idle at times, the battery lasted me between two and three days before the tablet needed to be plugged in.
The notch at the top of the display houses the 12-megapixel dual camera setup
Heavy users should still be able to get a full day out of this tablet. In our HD video loop test, it could only manage 10 hours and 9 minutes, but given the size of the display I will cut it some slack. Samsung does not bundle a charger in the box, which to me is unacceptable for a tablet that costs over one lakh rupees. The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra supports 45W fast charging. I used a 68W USB-PD charger which managed to charge it to 29 percent in 30 minutes and to 57 percent in an hour. It was completely charged in under two hours.
Coming to the cameras, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra has dual-camera setups at the front and the back. You get two 12-megapixel cameras at the front, one with a wide-angle lens and the other with an ultra-wide-angle lens. At the back, it has a 13-megapixel primary camera and a 6-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera. Given the size of this tablet, it is best to avoid taking photos with it, but it does manage decent shots indoors. The selfie cameras are quite capable and the video recording resolution goes up to 4K. These cameras have an auto-framing feature that automatically pans and zooms on the subject, just like the Center Stage feature on certain Apple iPad models. I could use this auto-framing feature while recording video as well as during video calls, and it was quite handy.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the biggest and most powerful Android tablet that you can buy at the moment. The Book Cover Keyboard case (which needs to be bought separately) makes it way more versatile. If you own a Samsung smartphone, you will get a few ecosystem benefits. This tablet will appeal to digital artists and graphics designers who could benefit from the S Pen stylus, and that might justify its high cost.
For users who want a tablet for media consumption and don't mind splurging, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra could be worth considering as well. However, I'm of the opinion that it would be overkill for such use cases, in terms of both size and cost. This is the perfect example of how good Android tablets can get, but it has a very niche appeal. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ offers the same hardware in a more manageable size, and that would be my recommendation to most people. Those open to alternatives can consider the 12.9-inch Apple iPad Pro instead.