Best Samsung Tablets To Buy In 2018

1) Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 

The Good

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is an elegantly designed tablet that comes with a capable stylus. It has a stunning AMOLED screen, fingerprint sensor for extra security and satisfyingly loud quad speakers. It’s also the first HDR-ready tablet.

The Bad

Despite the hype, HDR content is not available on the tablet yet. Large games take time to load. The keyboard add-on is an expensive extra.

The Bottom Line

Samsung packs buzz-worthy features like S Pen and HDR support into its new premium Galaxy Tab S3, but without a keyboard packed in, it’s still more about content consumption than creation.

It’s a stylish, all-glass tablet with an impressively crisp and vibrant screen and four speakers, making it an excellent portable movie theater. It’s also the first HDR-ready tablet, although there are a few asterisks to that bullet point. (HDR stands for high dynamic range, which means a spectacular, noticeable difference in contrast and color range in comparison to regular HD.)

That type of high-quality video content isn’t even close to becoming as commonplace as HD content is today, yet Samsung is still flexing this future-forward feature as an advantage over high-end tablets such as the Apple iPad Pro 9.7, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and the Google Pixel C.

Included in the $600 base price is the revamped Samsung S-Pen stylus, a real treat for those who still relish good old-fashioned note-taking. The addition of the S-Pen adds a dash of productivity and creativity to a device that’s otherwise best used for leisurely activities. Samsung hasn’t announced official UK and Australian pricing and availability, but that base price directly converts to £480 and AU$790.

For a premium-priced Android tablet, there are a few missteps. Aside from the dearth of available and compatible HDR content, gaming performance isn’t as snappy as it should be for a high-end tablet. The sold-separately keyboard case ($130; converts to £105 or AU$170) is an underwhelming performer. Though it costs the same amount as the Apple iPad Pro 9.7 and Google Pixel C, it’s not at the front of the pack in performance.

But if a sharp screen, great audio and an excellent stylus is on your must-have features list, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is a top choice for indulging in binge-watching style, wherever you go.

Cutting-edge video quality

The Galaxy Tab S3 shines best when watching video. HD content looks razor sharp, colorful and bright. The excellent picture quality is complemented by four speakers, featuring AKG by Harman Kardon’s expert tuning. With one speaker at each corner, they sound satisfyingly loud and clear, though it’s best to avoid cranking it to max volume as the audio tends to sound tinny when pushed to its limit.

According to Samsung, the tablet features positional audio, which rotates what comes through the four speakers as you turn the tablet. It’s supposed to push the dialogue and vocals to the top two speakers, no matter whether you’re holding it in portrait or landscape mode. But I didn’t notice a difference in audio between one orientation and the other.

The Galaxy Tab S3 proudly claims the title of the first (and as of now, only) HDR-ready tablet. This means it’s capable of playing HDR content, which is like HD content but on steroids. HDR video has increased range of color and enhanced contrast between highlights and shadows, resulting in sensationally vivid picture quality.

Display details

  • 9.7-inch Super AMOLED
  • 2,048×1,536-pixel resolution

Those with 4K TVs might be more familiar with HDR, because that’s currently the only way to watch it. At the time of review, there’s no Samsung native HDR content or easily accessible way to view HDR content on tablets. According to Netflix, it doesn’t have any plans to support HDR on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. Amazon and FandangoNow both plan on supporting the feature, simply stating that HDR content will be available “soon.” When reached for comment, VUDU did not clarify whether or not it would make its UHD content available for the tablet.

What’s the point of buying an HDR-ready tablet if there are no HDR movies or TV shows to watch on it? Great question! Buying this tablet for HDR content is like showing up to the hottest new restaurant in town before it’s even been furnished. While it’s an impressive future-forward feature, it’s too new for you to actually take advantage of and enjoy.

But even without a catalog of HDR content, you’re still getting one of the best visual experiences on any screen, because this is an AMOLED display, which is a close cousin of the OLED displays found in the very best TVs, and starting to turn up in some phones and laptops.

Ports and connections

  • Fast-charging USB-C
  • Fingerprint sensor on home button
  • Headphone jack

New and improved S Pen

Similar to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, the Galaxy Tab S3 comes bundled with a stylus — and a few stylus tip replacements for good measure. The revamped S Pen, previously exclusive to Samsung’s Note series, has one button and is short and oblong in shape to prevent it from rolling off a desk. It’s comfy to grip and writes like a silky smooth ballpoint pen. The fact that it never has be to synced or charged is the icing on the cake.

Keyboard? You can keep it

One of the most disappointing things about the Galaxy Tab S3 is its unremarkable Pogo keyboard case. It’s similar to the iPad Pro 9.7’s, connecting magnetically to its edge without Bluetooth.

It feels cramped to type on, doesn’t automatically shut off the screen when closed and can be unresponsive despite being connected properly. Plus the keys aren’t backlit and it only offers one viewing angle, so it can’t be adjusted to your liking if, for example, you’re using it on your lap. Its only redeeming quality is that it offers a place to store the S-Pen stylus.

Better than most, but not the best

When it came to note-taking, surfing the web, checking email, streaming HD video and playing simple mobile games such as Pocket Mortys and Leo’s Fortune, the tablet performed smoothly.

Larger, more complex games such as N.O.V.A. 3: Near Orbit and Hearthstone were a bit slow to launch, but graphics looked spectacular and smooth during gameplay. In comparison to the Google Pixel C and Apple iPad Pro 9.7, it falls behind the pack in 3DMark benchmarks. While games look great on its beautiful screen, its performance isn’t as fast and snappy as the competition’s.

Geekbench 4

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 6787
Apple iPad Pro 9.7  4818
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 3883
Google Pixel C 2965

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 66061
Google Pixel C 40922
Apple iPad Pro 9.7 34794
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 22786

Google Octane

Microsoft Surface Pro 4  27221
Apple iPad Pro 9.7  21420
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3  8612
Google Pixel C  8385

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2) Samsung Galaxy Book (12-inch):

The Good

The Samsung Galaxy Book has an excellent screen, strong performance and long battery life. For a 12-inch tablet, it’s compact. A keyboard cover and stylus are both included.

The Bad

It can get hot if multitasking for a long time. The keyboard case is wobbly if not sitting on a sturdy surface. The kickstand situation isn’t as solid as the Surface’s.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung Galaxy book beats the Surface on value by including a keyboard cover and stylus in the box, but the Surface’s design is still much more refined.

he Samsung Galaxy Book rightfully belongs on the quickly growing list of impressive Microsoft Surface Pro contenders.

It’s a Windows 10 tablet with a stunning 12-inch Super AMOLED display, Intel’s latest processors and detachable keyboard cover with stylus. It starts at $1,130 for the Wi-Fi-only version and $1,300 for the LTE model, sold via Verizon, which was the configuration we reviewed. Samsung offers a 10-inch variant that runs for $630, but this review is of the 12-inch model.

Though it’s seemingly more expensive than the latest Surface Pro’s entry-level $799 starting price, that price doesn’t include the $129-to-$169 keyboard cover or the $99 stylus pen. (Microsoft requires you to buy the must-have keyboard for the Surface line separately.)

The Galaxy Book makes no bones about its price tag — it’s expensive but still roughly comparable in price to the Surface Pro with keyboard and stylus. The bad news is that the Galaxy Book’s design falls short of the Microsoft tablet.

The Surface tablet and its accompanying keyboard’s physical design are among the best. Its perfectly adjustable kickstand and slim magnetic keyboard cover are excellent. Samsung’s large and floppy keyboard stand just doesn’t stand a chance in comparison. If it wasn’t placed on a completely flat surface, it bent easily, and using it on my lap required careful balancing, otherwise it would topple over.

Body like an Android

Unlike other two-in-one Windows 10 tablets, the Galaxy Book’s svelte dimensions make it look and feel more like an Android tablet than a Windows 10 PC.

Removed from its cover, the Galaxy Book is slightly more svelte than the Surface Pro 4. It’s 7.36mm thick and weighs 1.66 pounds (754 grams), versus 8.5mm and 1.69 pounds (766 grams) for the Surface Pro. Smooth, rounded edges help convey the visage of its seemingly slimmer facade.

While its chassis is more iPad-like than Surface-esque, it’s still a big device. As a standalone tablet, it’s too big and heavy to hold in your hands and watch a half-hour of “The Office,” let alone an entire movie. The fanless tablet also got rather hot when used for a long period of time, making it uncomfortable to hold. It all makes the included keyboard case accessory, which doubles as a stand, an even more important addition.

Accessories included

One of the Samsung Galaxy Book’s biggest advantages over the Surface Pro line is that it comes with a keyboard case and stylus.

The tablet magnetically docks into the folio case, and the back flap can fold back into a stand. There are few different configurations, but thanks to the awesome screen quality, viewing angles are great no matter how it’s set up.

While the keyboard chassis is buttery smooth and pleasant to touch, its plastic build lacks the refinement of Surface Pro. One of the perks of the Surface is its well-designed kickstand, which can position the screen at nearly any angle, all the way to 165 degrees. The Galaxy Book lacks a kickstand, instead using its keyboard cover to prop the body up, and it feels floppy and vulnerable to bending if not set on a flat surface.

Because the keyboard covers the entirety of the 12-inch tablet’s screen, it’s pretty big. If it wasn’t placed on a completely flat surface, it would feel wobbly to type on, lifting easily if more pressure was put on one side than the other. When typing with it on my lap, it felt like the keyboard easily bent, and since the tablet leans back onto the stand, it’s sometimes hard to balance.

The Galaxy Book comes with the same S-Pen stylus that’s packaged with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 ($458.00 at Amazon.com). I liked using it with the Android tablet, and I can say the same with this Windows 10 model. It works quite well for sketching and taking notes. The stylus has a precise tip made out of rubber that feels more like drawing on paper than writing on glass, and it supports tilt, for thicker lines when drawing at an angle.

It doesn’t require charging or pairing via Bluetooth, so it’s a conveniently low-key accessory. Unfortunately, the stylus doesn’t magnetically connect to the tablet. Storage is left to the pen holder available on the keyboard case. However, as a concession, the S-Pen has flat sides to help prevent it from rolling off your desk and a built-in clip in case you want to safely store it elsewhere. (You know, like in your nerdy pocket protector…)

High-end internals

The Galaxy Book has an AMOLED display, which is essentially the same as the OLED displays found in the high-end TVs. Image quality looks clear, bright and sharp, even from extreme side angles. A great viewing angle isn’t hard to find.

It makes for a great portable TV, with speakers located on the top-right edge and top-left corner, and sound quality is loud enough for watching with another person, though nothing to write home about.

Performance was robust enough for casual tasks like editing a Word doc, web surfing and HD video streaming, as well as multitasking while doing any combination of the aforementioned activities. Apps launched quickly, even in split-screen mode, and navigation was snappy.

The system stuttered at times, especially when multiple apps were open in the background. Chrome crashed for me a handful of times too. Microsoft’s Edge web browser performed a lot more smoothly.

Specs

  • 2,160×1,440-pixel resolution
  • 3.1GHz dual-core seventh-gen Intel Core i5
  • 4GB or 8GB of RAM
  • 128GB or 256GB of storage
  • MicroSD card slot expandable up to 256GB
  • LTE models available
  • Two USB-Type C ports

Samsung claims that the Galaxy Books lasts up to 11 hours of video playback. After testing, it averaged 10 hours and 40 minutes of streaming video. With heavy use it lasted me about 5 hours — simultaneously operating multiple windows while websurfing, working on Google Docs and streaming video.

Samsung Galaxy Book

Price as reviewed $1,300
Display size/resolution 12-inch, 2,160×1,440 touch-display
PC CPU 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U
PC Memory 4GB DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620
Storage 128GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Multitasking multimedia test 3.0 (in seconds)

Samsung Galaxy Book 458
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 510
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 519
Lenovo Miix 510 618
Huawei MateBook 825

Geekbench 3 multi-core

Samsung Galaxy Book 6,864
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 6.775
Lenovo Miix 510 6,361
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 6,331
Huawei MateBook 5,293

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