The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is now available in Malaysia, and as far as Android tablets go, the Tab S3 is one of the best in the market. With a beautiful display and a capable processor, Samsung’s latest tablet is an impressive one, but is it good enough to be a laptop replacement?
Well, not exactly, and that comes down to several key points.
First up, specifications. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 comes with a gorgeous 9.7-inch 2048 x 1536 Super AMOLED HDR-capable display, a powerful – although not Qualcomm’s best offering this year – Snapdragon 820 processor paired with 4GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage, 13MP rear and 5MP front-facing cameras, and a 6,000mAh battery. Naturally, the Tab S3 also ships with Android 7.0 Nougat of the box.
Much like Samsung’s flagship smartphones in recent years, the Galaxy Tab S3 has a glass back too, which gives the tablet quite a premium look and feel. Sure, it’s a fingerprint magnet, but I have the tablet connected to the Keyboard Cover – which is sold separately for RM499 – most of the time, so it’s not really a big issue in that respect.
However, the Galaxy Tab S3’s Keyboard Cover is…not the most user-friendly keyboard. While it has enough key travel and tactility for a pleasant typing experience, the Keyboard Cover’s layout feels very cramped; the short shift button is particularly troublesome. I tried writing a couple of articles with the Keyboard Cover, and I ended up firing my laptop after being frustrated with the odd layout.
On a brighter note, Samsung’s well-regarded S Pen works very well with the Galaxy Tab S3 – it is Samsung’s first tablet that supports the stylus. Thanks to its 0.7mm tip and support for over 4,000 levels of pressure, the S Pen is particularly fun to use. If you’re wondering, yes, the S Pen is bundled along with the tablet.
And then we have the 9.7-inch 2048 x 1536 Super AMOLED display of the Galaxy Tab S3, and what a gorgeous display it is. Not only is it HDR-capable, it’s also one of the most impressive display I’ve seen – the Samsung Galaxy S8’s Infinity Display notwithstanding. Really, Samsung knows how to produce good-looking panels, and the Tab S3’s Super AMOLED display really shows.
Before I got my hands on the Galaxy Tab S3, I was particularly interested to try out the tablet’s AKG-tuned quad-speaker setup – my excitement quickly dwindled after playing a short video on the tablet. For one, the speakers are not the loudest, and the four speakers are placed on the top and bottom of the tablet; watching videos in landscape mode means I will almost always cover one or two of the speakers’ grilles.
As a whole, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is a pretty compelling Android tablet. It is fast, it has a beautiful display, and it’s pretty well-designed too – I really, really like the slim chassis and glass back of this tablet. But the Tab S3’s biggest hurdle is its high asking price.
Retailing at RM2,999, the Galaxy Tab S3 is in the same price point as other budget-friendly – but still very capable – Windows tablets and laptops; that’s not a good thing. Windows is simply the superior platform for productivity-focused tasks when compared to Android, and the Tab S3’s cramped keyboard and limited performance (in comparison to proper Windows machines) really doesn’t justify its RM2,999 price tag.
If all you’re looking for is a polished, sleek Android tablet with a gorgeous display for media consumption and mobile gaming, the Galaxy Tab S3 definitely fits the bill. But if what you want is a portable tablet that can potentially replace your laptop, it’s best to look elsewhere.
Photography by Terry Bass and Leon Lam.