India’s tablet market isn’t going through the best of times. In fact, a recent report recorded over 20 percent year-on-year drop in tablet shipments in the first quarter of this year. That however hasn’t deterred Samsung to launch a high-end tablet. Yesterday, Samsung launched its Galaxy Tab S3 tablet in India. Aimed at Apple’s iPad Pro 9.7-inch, this tablet is as premium as it can get, and at Rs 47,990, it is not easy on your pockets either. I spent sometime with the new Galaxy Tab S3 at the launch event today, and here are my first impressions.
The Galaxy Tab S3 oozes premium-ness from all angles. With a thickness of just 6mm and weight of 434 grams, the tablet is a delight to hold. Buyers can choose from two color variants – black and silver. Now while the glossy black variant is the more premium of the two, its surface is as reflective as a mirror, and it is a fingerprint magnet as well. In the short time I spent with the tablet, I had to constantly wipe the device with a cloth. The silver variant, while being less reflective, is not as premium. Given a choice, I would opt for the black variant despite the apparent issues.
The front of the tablet is dominated by the display with the navigation buttons and physical home button placed below. A fingerprint sensor is embedded into the home button as well. The back is quite spartan with just the rear camera, LED flash, and logos for Samsung and AKG. On the sides you will find the power button, volume rocker, microSD card slot, and pogo pins to connect accessories.
The Galaxy Tab S3’s 9.7-inch display is among the highlights of the tablet. The Super AMOLED display runs at QXA (2048×1536 pixels) resolution, and it also comes with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) videos, making it future-proof. At the event I got to watch a couple of videos meant to show how good the display is, and they did look fabulous. During normal usage as well, the screen looked bright and crisp with good viewing angles. It will be interesting to test the display’s legibility outdoors under direct sunlight.
Samsung is touting the Galaxy Tab S3 as a multimedia powerhouse, and even goes to the extent of calling it a portable home theater system. Besides the capable display, the tablet also boasts four stereo speakers that are tuned by AKG. These speakers were loud enough despite the background noise at the launch event. Samsung has included a feature called ‘Auto Rotate Stereo’. As the name suggests, this feature determines the orientation of the tablet and accordingly adjusts the audio output.
Another highlight is clearly the S Pen stylus that is bundled with the tablet. Samsung has drastically improved the stylus, while retaining most of the features seen on Galaxy Note smartphones. The company says that the S Pen now features 4,096 level of sensitivity that comes close to replicating the experience of writing with a pen on a paper. The stylus did perform well enough to back Samsung’s bold claims, and I was quite impressed with its overall responsiveness.
Apart from the S Pen, Samsung has also introduced a Keyboard Cover for the Galaxy Tab S3. This cover attaches to the pogo pins on the side of the tablet, and comes in handy when doing office-related work. The Keyboard Cover for the Galaxy Tab S3 is priced at Rs 8,499.
Under the hood of Samsung’s new tablet is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 quad-core chipset. As I have already mentioned in my previous hands-on experience with the tablet, the choice of processor is a tad disappointing. Looking at the high price tag, it isn’t much to expect the latest processor. The SoC is paired with 4GB of RAM, and in my time with the tablet, performance was a breeze. Opening and shutting apps, screen transitions, and a couple of pre-installed games were handled with ease. Speaking of which, the tablet boasts Vulcan API support, which helps in offering optimum gaming performance. This API was introduced last year with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 edge.
The tablet comes with 32GB internal storage that can be expanded up to 256GB using a microSD card. Fuelling this tablet is a massive 6,000mAh battery with fast charging support. Samsung claims, this battery is good enough to offer up to 12 hours of usage on a single charge. On the software front, the tablet runs on Android Nougat-based TouchWiz UI.
While tablets are not really meant for hardcore photographers, the cameras on the Galaxy Tab S3 felt quite capable despite the ambient lighting conditions. At the back is a 13-megapixel auto-focus camera with f/1.9 aperture, while up front is a 5-megapixel camera with f/2.2 aperture that is good enough for selfies and video calling. I will however reserve the final judgments until we have reviewed the tablet.
In the short time with the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, there wasn’t much I could complain about. It ticks the right boxes if you are looking for a tablet that is good for watching videos or listen to music. It also ticks the boxes if you are looking for something portable to do your office work while on the move. But the Rs 47,990 price tag puts it out of reach for most of us. Whether you should buy this or Apple’s iPad Pro 9.7-inch though is a question for another day. We will have an answer when we put the Galaxy Tab S3 through an extensive review. Stay tuned.