In what was the first major announcement since Samsung was forced to discontinue the Galaxy Note 7, the tech giant chose to break a four-year tradition and not unveil a flagship smartphone at MWC 2017. Instead, the presentation focused on two new tablets: The Galaxy Tab S3 and the Galaxy Book.
The 9.7-inch Tab S3 is the smaller of the two devices, while the Book comes in two sizes, 10.6-inch and 12-inch. The tablets are aimed at different consumer niches, but they share a few traits across the board, including design features, enhanced S-Pens, and support for detachable keyboards.
Galaxy Tab S3
The Galaxy Tab S3 is an update to 2015’s overly successful Tab S2 and, despite having big shoes to fill, the Tab S3 comes out bold and confident.
With a design that makes it look and feel like a blown-up Galaxy S7, the Tab S3 is as elegant as ever. Gorilla Glass covers both the front and the back, and an aluminum metal frame runs around the edges of the device.
The 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display is great. As expected, Samsung didn’t make the leap to 4K. Regardless, the 2,048 x 1,536-pixel QXGA resolution is enough to maintain excellent visual output in both images, video, and text. The display is also HDR-ready to support videos with high dynamic range.
Below the screen, and seemingly the only similarity the Tab S3 has with its predecessor is the Home button, equipped with a fingerprint scanner. Upon examining the sides, you’ll find two pairs of speakers, which according to Samsung auto-calibrate to adapt to how you hold the tablet.
Some preliminary reports had indicated that the Tab S3 would pack a Snapdragon 821 CPU and 6GB RAM, but Samsung opted to keep things rather cool, with a Snapdragon 820, complemented with 4GB of RAM. This is the same hardware configuration we saw in the S7 Edge last year, so it’s obvious the Tab S3 is a fast performer.
A more significant point of concern is the limited 32GB internal storage. Thankfully, there’s a micro-SD card onboard, and Samsung is planning on a 64GB follow-up version.
Rear cameras have a rather insignificant role in tablets, but that hasn’t stopped Samsung from armoring their latest flagship tablet with a 13-megapixel shooter. On the front is a 5-megapixel camera that will be enough for video calls and selfies.
Although the updates were warmly received, it’s new accessories that stole the show at MWC. The S-Pen brings new functionality to Android Nougat, such as Air Command and screen-off memo, the latter which lets you scribble notes when the screen is off.
The keyboard is just as impressive, with well-spaced keys, great travel, and a firm magnetic port for attachment to the main body.
Samsung’s other new release, the Galaxy Book, is meant to compete with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. Designed for college students and professionals, the Book features PC-level specs, runs Windows 10, and comes with a foldable keyboard as a must-have accessory, not just a casual addition.
As mentioned above, Samsung announced two versions of the Galaxy Book. The 10.6-inch Full-HD model is seemingly the low-cost version, packing a 7th generation dual-core Intel Core m3 CPU, 4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage.
The 12-inch model, on the other hand, is more impressive, sporting a QHD AMOLED display, and a 7th generation Intel Core i5 under the hood. Customers will also get to choose either a 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD and an 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD configuration.
The other significant difference is with the cameras. While the 12-inch Book comes with a 13-megapixel camera on the back and a 5MP sensor at the front, Samsung chose to leave out a rear camera on the 9.7-inch version, which only has the front camera. Nonetheless, both tablets come with a microSD card slot, Wi-Fi and LTE capability, and S-Pen support.
Samsung dazzled the audience when it demonstrated one of the Galaxy Book’s best feature, Samsung Flow; which allows one to unlock the tablet with the fingerprint sensor on their Samsung phone, and even use it to receive phone calls and reply to texts.
Samsung’s new tablets are nothing short of incredible. The Galaxy Tab S3 is a brilliant multimedia device that competes well with Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro, while the Galaxy Book is a stunning 2-in-1 that gives the Surface Pro 4 a run for its money.
Samsung hasn’t said anything about pricing, or when the two devices will be available for purchase, but if you’re looking for a new tablet, both seem like great choices to keep an eye on.