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Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review: The best iPad Pro rival yet

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Android tablet is a great choice for iPad users. When I first saw it, my first thought was “It’s an iPad Pro but for Android.” It’s easy to see why. The Galaxy Tab S7’s beautiful aluminum chassis, screen, and speakers made it an interesting challenger to the iPad.

The Tab S7 isn’t just Apple’s competitor. The Tab S7’s battery life is better than the iPad Pro’s. This is just one reason why the Galaxy Tab S7 tablet is the best Android tablet and the best tablet overall. Its awkward keyboard cover and poor performance limit its potential.

Our guide to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8 will help you find the most recent in the Samsung tablet market. Keep reading to find out how Samsung is catching up to Apple.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Review: Release Date and Price

On September 18, 2021, the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus and S7 Plus were on sale. The Tab S7 is priced at $649 and the Tab S7 Plus at $849.

You’ll pay $100 more for LTE, and $200 more to get 5G connectivity. LTE Galaxy Tab S7 is $749; 5GB Tab S7 is $849; LTE Tab S7 PLUS goes for $949; 5G Tab S7 plus costs $1,049.

You can currently get the Tab S7 on Amazon for $464 (opens new tab), and the Tab S7 Plus at $737 (opens new tab).

AT&T offers the Galaxy Tab S7 5G at $849, or $23.62 per monthly on a 30-month installment plan. Verizon also sells the Galaxy Tab S7 5,G for $849 (or $31.24 per month over 24 month) and the $1,049 Galaxy Tab S7 PLUS 5G for $43.74 per month ($43.74 per month). The tablets are also available from US Cellular and T-Mobile.

The Book Cover and Book Cover Keyboards for the Galaxy Tab S7 are just like the iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard Folio, Magic Keyboard and iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard Folio. The Book Cover Keyboards cost $199 (TabS7) or $229 for Tab S7 Plus, respectively. Book Cover Cases cost $69 (TabS7) and $79 for Tab S7 Plus. They protect the S-Pen’s dock from being damaged.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 vs S7 Plus: Specs compared

Galaxy Tab S7 Galaxy Tab S7 Plus
Display TFT panel 11-inch, 2560x 1600 pixels (up to 120Hz). 12.4-inch Super AMOLED panel, 2800 x 1752 pixels (up to 120Hz). Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus Storage 128GB/256GB 128GB/256GB Memory 6GB/8GB 6GB/8GB Cameras Rear: 13MP & 5MP (Ultra Wide). Front 8MP Rear: 13MP & 5MP (Ultra Wide). Front 8MP Security Side key for facial recognition and fingerprint reader Display with fingerprint reader and facial recognition Connectivity 5G (optional), LTE(optional), Wi Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 5G (optional), LTE(optional), Wi Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 Battery 8000 mAh 10,090 mAh Size 10 x 6 x 0.02 inches 11.2 x 7.3 x 0.02 inches Weight 1.1 pounds 1.3 pounds

Both the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus and Galaxy Tab S7 Plus share similar internals so that you don’t have to compromise performance if you choose a larger or smaller screen. Both are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus chip, which is 9% faster that the 865 chip.

The Tab S7’s performance is not that different from the Tab S7 Plus, which has 5G connectivity. The Galaxy Tab S7 Plus and S7 Plus models come with different amounts of memory, but both start with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review: Design

The Galaxy Tab S7 tablet is all-screen with thin bezels. It also has an aluminum frame. This slate is available in Mystic Black and Mystic Silver, and it looks amazing compared to the 2018 or 2020 iPad Pros.

This is a good thing. When you reduce a tablet to its screen, which is what we want, there’s very little room for modification. Mystic and Samsung’s color options are a little more appealing than Apple’s.

The 11-inch Galaxy Tab S7 measures 10×6.5×0.2 inches and 1.1 lbs. It is slightly thinner than the Surface Pro7 (0.3 inch thick, 1.7 pound), but slightly heavier than the 11inch iPad Pro (0.2 inch thick, 1 pound) or the 10.9-inch iPad Air 2020 (0.22 inches, 1 pound).

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus (Left), and S7 Plus (Right). Image credit: Henry T. Casey.

The back has a place for the magnetically docked S-Pen and a camera bump. We’ll get to that later.

The Tab S7’s right side has a USB-C connector that allows for data transfer and power. On the top edge you will find a power button, which doubles as a fingerprint scanner, and the volume rocker. The bottom has a Pogo connector that can be used to dock the optional Book Cover Keyboard.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review: Display

As I watched a 4K YouTube video, I was struck by the Tab S7’s 2560x 1600-pixel panel. I also saw a hungry squirrel eat. The blades of grass and fur were rendered equally crisply. Meanwhile, the browns and greens of both the animal’s fur as well as the flora looked vibrant and accurate.

While I only saw a tiny bit of the bright video on my screen, the reflections intensified when the trailer for Mandalorian season 2 was pulled up. Although I still saw Sasha Banks as a Jedi, the trailer’s darker shots showed me more about myself than the trailer.

Our Klein K10A colorimeter shows that the Galaxy Tab S7 produced 152% of the sRGB gamut in Vivid screen mode, which is on by default. Natural color produces 111%.

These numbers surpass the Surface Pro 7’s 97% rating, while the iPad Pro 7’s 123% rating is somewhere in the middle. The iPad Air 2020 scored 102.9%. This is consistent with Apple’s preference for a more realistic color palette than Samsung’s default.

The Galaxy Tab S7 has a brightness rating of up to 500 nits. We were able to get very close with our colorimeter, which recorded a maximum brightness of 499 nanoits. The 559-nit iPad Pro is even brighter than the Surface Pro 7 (395-nit Surface Pro 7 and the iPad Air 2020 (440 nit) which are slightly dimmer.

The Galaxy Tab S7’s 120Hz refresh rate display gives it a silky smooth motion. This is in addition to the iPad Pro’s 60Hz display refresh rate. It was easy to see the difference. I disabled and enabled the setting in Settings > Display > motion smoothness and observed how videos moved smoothly and text scrolled more fluidly.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review: Performance

The Tab S7’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ chip provided enough power for multitasking. I didn’t notice any lag when it was split between 12 Chrome tabs, and a YouTube video at 1080p. Spotify and Google Docs were both running in the background. They ran smoothly when I changed the active audio or went into taking notes.

The Galaxy Tab S7’s Geekbench 5-multi-core score 3,074 is not much to be proud of. Scores for the Tab S7 are significantly higher than those of the A12Z-powered iPad Pro 2020 (4.635), A14 Bionic iPad Air (4.262), and the 10th Gen Core i5 Surface Pro 7 (4.7878).

Asphalt 9 ran well on the Galaxy Tab S7. However, I noticed a slight stutter and anomaly here. Although I am not a huge fan of racing games, I was able to take first place in my race with a Mitsubishi around San Francisco.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review: Audio

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is capable of playing the songs well. You can also make them better. Andre 3000’s vocals were clear and loud on UGK’s “Int’l Player’s Anthem(I Choose You)” track. I could hear a little bass, crisp cymbals and clapping as the track’s many drum beats hit.

I was unable to enable Dolby atmos audio in DeX mode. However, when I switched back into normal mode and found the option (Settings> Sounds and vibration > Sound quality & effects > Dolby ATmos), it brought more oompf to Cardi B’s “Please Me” and Bruno Mars’ “Please Me” .

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review: Cameras

Although I do not approve of using a tablet to take photos, the Galaxy Tab S7’s front camera is excellent for video conferencing. The rear camera can also be used in pinches.

The 8MP front camera of the tablet captured perfectly the pinks in my skin, the reds in my t-shirt and the texture of the fabric.

The 13MP rear-facing camera did a great job with still photography. It captured the colors of my Hulk and Fiend Funko Pop figures. The Galaxy Tab S7’s 5MP ultra-wide camera is useful only when you need a larger shot. Otherwise, you lose a lot of detail. The ultra-wide shots make interior shots of the apartment’s saw paintings appear muddyer.

The Tab S7’s rear camera has a slight bump at the back, though it isn’t as prominent as the iPad Pro. The tablet won’t move around if it is placed on a table. The micro-issue is less important for those who dock the S Pen to the back. The stylus is thicker than the camera bump.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review: Security

You get the best of both worlds with the combination of facial recognition and fingerprint reader in the Galaxy Tab S7. It would be more convenient to have the Tab S7 Plus’ in-screen fingerprint reader. This is easier than the slightly recessed power switch that doesn’t display any visual indication of its location. It’s possible to get used to it, but it’s not fun to “get used to” anything.

However, the Galaxy Tab S7’s fingerprint scanner is extremely fast, to the point that I can’t keep up with a stopwatch to see how much time it took to authenticate.

In-bezel facial recognition is another feature that Surface Pro owners are familiar with. If you’re in dark spaces, such as my home office, it may take a while to activate.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review: Software

Samsung’s user interface tweaks are included on the Galaxy Tab S7 slates. These touches are a favorite of Samsung users, who have become more sophisticated over time.

Samsung’s Notes app is so important for note-taking on the Galaxy Note phones and tablets, it is surprising that it took so long for Samsung to sync its apps across all its devices, tablets, and even its PC app. You can also record audio and include it in a note file. This allows you to hear what is being said while taking specific notes.

Samsung Notes can also convert handwriting to legible penmanship. The handwriting recognition can place the converted text in a slightly different way than usual. It moved mine to the left of the PDF I was annotation. Although it is nice to be able to correct handwritten errors (as well as in iPadOS14), I found that it kept some of my flaws, e.g. Some triangles had tiny divots.

Running DeX mode on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus and S7 (Left, right) (Image credit to Henry T. Casey).

Multitasking is not yet possible in DeX mode, as it does with many Android and iPadOS apps. Google Meet opened with the warning that it might not be working properly in fullscreen mode. It was frustrating to me that Meet did not work in fullscreen mode when I tested it for the first time on my Galaxy S7. Now? I can’t put it in fullscreen mode. It will only allow me to use windowed mode.

Another thing that irritates me is the fact that DeX mode searches for apps. I wish the top result could be selected automatically on the screen so that a click of entering could open it. Instead, you can use the touchpad or keyboard, or tap the screen.

There are many things to love about DeX mode, thanks to clever moves to the row at the bottom of your screen. The search/Command button, which is fast and easy to find apps, works in Android mode. However, Samsung expects DeX mode only to be used when the Book Cover Keyboard is docked.

Another thing I love about DeX is the fact that the apps you use in DeX stay open in both modes (mostly) of operation. When I switched from Samsung’s Android flavor to DeX, Spotify kept playing the sounds of Disclosure and Khalid. YouTube videos stopped playing as I changed between them.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review: S-Pen

The S-Pen is not only free but feels heavier and more like a pen than the previous, less substantial versions Samsung provided to Galaxy Tab slates. While I was doodleing in Samsung Notes I noticed the fast input recognition that Samsung rates as 9ms. This is the same rate as the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil.

The sound of a pencil drawing on paper coming out of the Galaxy Tab S7 while I was writing on it wasn’t something I liked. It reminds me of the way quieter cars make fake engine noises through their speakers. This was disabled by turning down System audio.

Apple’s 2nd Generation Pencil is still my favorite (though it does cost $129 more). It’s much easier to dock and remove that pen. To remove the S Pen, you will need to either blindly pull the S-Pen from the back or examine the Tab S7’s rear to locate it.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review: Book Cover Keyboard

On the 10fastfingers.com typing tests, the Galaxy Tab S7’s Book Cover Keyboard ($99 add-on), I was able to type 74 words per min, which is close to my 80 wpm average. This is a strong endorsement of the keyboard as I need to take time to adjust to keyboard formats that I don’t use often or rarely.

This is not only a respectable speed but also a sign of how good the Tab S7 Book Cover Keyboard is at typing. The Tab S7 Plus is more suitable for those with smaller fingers than the Tab S7 Plus. However, the Tab S7’s number keys are smaller and the S7 Plus’ number keys are larger.

The touchpad offers gestures and a row of function keys. The Tab S7 Plus’ window-switching gestures worked very well during my time there.

The Book Cover Keyboard has one problem: it is a two-piece. There is the keyboard on the underside, and there’s the backplate that covers the S-Pen and acts as a kickstand. It’s a little difficult to separate the Tab S7 from the two other pieces because they are two separate pieces. When it’s typing time, the Surface Pro 7 or iPad Pro only have one piece to dock.

I like the iPad Pro’s Magic Keyboard. It is $100-$120 more expensive than the Book Cover Keyboard. The Magic Keyboard is not only easier to attach but also has a floating hinge that can be adjusted and moved more easily than the Book Cover Keyboard’s stand. Surface Pro 7’s $159 type cover is cheaper, but it lacks a right Ctrl button, as the Tab S7.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review: Battery life

The Galaxy Tab S7’s 8,000 mAh battery provides more than just all-day battery power. It can last for 13 hours and 16 minutes in our Wi-Fi surfing-based battery testing. This beats the iPad Pro (10.16) and iPad Air (10.29), and surpasses Surface Pro 7 (7.52) by more than 5 hours.

Samsung rates the Galaxy Tab S7 as capable of playing video for up to 14 hours. The Galaxy Tab S7 will also allow 120Hz refresh rates, which can reduce battery life.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review: Verdict

Samsung has been trying to make its Galaxy Tab S-series slates a big thing for a while. While the Tab S6 Light was the company’s first real home run, the Tab S7 is a second homer with a few runners. This tablet is not only a tablet Apple fans might call a clone of the iPad Pro, but it’s also a top-of-the-line design that Android users should consider.

This tablet would have been a great choice if the Tab S7’s keyboard was not so awkward and the Snapdragon 865+ could keep pace with Apple and Intel’s big guns, the Tab S7.

The Surface Pro 7 is a great choice for those looking for speed and tablet-optimized applications. However, the Core i5 model, which we tested, costs $460 more at $1.109 and lasts a lot longer on a single battery. The iPad Pro’s Magic Keyboard is a joy to use, but the package with the keyboard costs $250 more than the Tab S7 — and Apple doesn’t include a stylus as Samsung.

Samsung offers a great deal for tablets that are mid- to high-end. The Galaxy Tab S7 tablet is still an excellent Android tablet, even with the Galaxy Tab S8 or Galaxy Tab S8 U currently on the market.

 

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