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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Tablet Review

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (SM-T825) Tablet Review

Samsung has finally introduced a new tablet – the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3! Their last tablet, the Galaxy Tab S2 debuted in September 2015 and ran on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. Now, find out what’s new in the Galaxy Tab S3, and what it offers over its predecessor!

Updated @ 2017-09-06 : Updated various parts of the review with additional information and some corrections.

Originally posted @ 2017-07-03

 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Specification Comparison

Unlike the Galaxy Tab S2 (which comes in 8″ and 9.7″ models), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) only comes in the 9.7″ form factor. Here, we compare the specifications of the new Galaxy Tab S3 (SM-T820) against the 9.7″ model of its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S2 (SM-T819).

SpecificationsSamsung Galaxy Tab S3Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (9.7")
Display9.7" Super AMOLED display
- 1536 x 2048 pixels (~264 ppi)
9.7" Super AMOLED display
- 1536 x 2048 pixels (~264 ppi)
Operating SystemAndroid 7.0 NougatAndroid 5.0.2 Lollipop
System PlatformQualcomm Snapdragon 820Samsung Exynos 7 Octa (5433)
Processor2 x Qualcomm Kyro cores (2.15 GHz)
2 x Qualcomm Kyro cores (1.6 GHz)
4 x ARM Cortex-A57 cores (1.9 GHz)
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 cores (1.3 GHz)
Graphics ProcessorQualcomm Adreno 530 GPUARM Mali-T760
Memory4 GB LPDDR4 SDRAM (933 MHz)3 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM (800 MHz)
Storage32 GB internal flash storage
microSD slot (up to 256 GB)
32 GB internal flash storage
microSD slot (up to 128 GB)
Front Camera5 MP sensor with f/2.2 lens2.1 MP sensor with f/2.2 lens
Rear Camera13 MP sensor with f/1.9 lens
- Up to 4K video recording
8 MP sensor with f/1.9 lens
- Up to 1440p video recording
Audio4 AKG-tuned speakersTwo speakers
Connectivity4G LTE (LTE-enabled model only)
WiFi : 802.11 a/b/g/b/ac
Bluetooth 4.1
USB : USB 3.1 Type C
4G LTE (LTE-enabled model only)
WiFi : 802.11 a/b/g/b/ac
Bluetooth 4.1
USB : USB 2.0
S PenIncluded
Pen tip : 0.7 mm
Pressure levels : 4,096
None
Battery6,000 mAh lithium ion (non-removable)5,870 mAh lithium ion (non-removable)
Dimensions169.0 mm wide
237.3 mm tall
6.0 mm thick
169.0 mm wide
237.3 mm tall
5.6 mm thick
WeightWiFi only : 429 g
LTE-enabled : 434 g
WiFi only : 389 g
LTE-enabled : 392 g
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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Book Cover

Our review sample came unboxed, with the optional Book Cover, so there’s no unboxing video. However, you will get to check out how it works with the Book Cover.

As you can see, the Book Cover works just like the Apple iPad Smart Cover. It locks magnetically to the Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada), protecting the front and back glass covers against damage. Flipping it open automatically turns on the Tab S3. It also serves as a stand with three viewing angles.

The Book Cover offers much needed protection for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada). In fact, anyone who gets the Galaxy Tab S3 should at least The only downside is that, like other similar covers, you need to let the flip cover hang loose to use the rear camera. It also does not come with a stylus holder. If a stylus holder is a must, then you need to consider the Keyboard Cover option.

Next Page > The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Up Close, Cameras & S Pen

 

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Up Close

Superficially, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) looks like its predecessor, the 9.7″ Galaxy Tab S2. If you are hoping for a “bezel-less” display like the Infinity Display of the Galaxy S8 smartphone, you’re out of luck. It doesn’t come with the iris scanner either, just the same fingerprint sensor embedded into the Home button.

Like its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) comes in two variants – a WiFi-only model (SM-T820), and an LTE-enabled model (SM-T825). Our review sample is the SM-T825 LTE-enabled model, so it comes with a tray for a nano SIM card as well as a microSD card. The microSD card support, incidentally, has been doubled to 256 GB.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 also retained the front fingerprint sensor embedded into the Home button, as well as the dedicated capacitive touch buttons.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3’s biggest improvements are “hidden” from sight. It boasts the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, which offers 18% better CPU performance and 3X better graphics performance. It also has a longer battery life of up to 12 hours, partly due to its slightly larger battery and a more power-efficient design.

In addition, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) now boasts a quad-speaker setup, which works great in the horizontal mode, when used with the optional Book Cover or Keyboard Cover. The four speakers have also been tuned by AKG.

 

The Cameras

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) also offers upgraded cameras. The puny 2.1 MP front camera of its predecessor was replaced by a 5 MP Samsung S5K4E6 ISOCELL sensor with f/2.2 lens. This is the same sensor used in the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge and the more recent HTC 10. The upgraded camera allows you to also record 1080p videos, and support Full HD video chats.

The main camera at the back was upgraded with a 13 MP Sony IMX260 sensor, up from the 8 MP shooter. This is the same excellent sensor used in top-of-the-line smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. It can record videos at up to 4K resolution, but does not support optical or electronic image stabilisation. We will share with you photo and video samples from this camera later in this review.

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The S Pen Stylus

New to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S series is the S Pen stylus. This is a redesigned S Pen with a thinner nib (0.7 mm) and 4,096 pressure levels. The S Pen is electromagnetically-powered by close proximity to the Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada), so there is no need to worry about batteries – which is just awesome.

It is thin at just 9.4 mm, and has a rectangular profile for a better grip. The metal clip at the end locks on to the magnets along the left side of the Galaxy Tab S3.

Next Page > Initial Setup, Ergonomics, Available Memory & Storage

 

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Setting Up The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) runs on the latest Android 7.0 Nougat operating system, and is very easy to set-up. If you are setting it up as a new device, it should take you only about 5 minutes to finish the setup process.

 

The Ergonomics

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) is now clad in glass, which gives it a more premium look and feel. However, the glass covers are very susceptible to fingerprint smears, and add about 10% more weight. The Galaxy Tab S3 with the Book Cover weighs just under 500 g, which is a significant amount of heft.

The glass covers are a little slippery to handle too, especially if you have oily or wet fingers. So it is recommended that you use it with the Book Cover, or the Keyboard Cover, for better grip.

 

Available Memory & Storage

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) comes with 4 GB of LPDDR4 memory, of which just 1.7 GB (42.5%) is free to use. This is far less free memory than other 4 GB devices we reviewed recently :[adrotate group=”2″]

That said, 1.7 GB of free memory is still more than what 3 GB devices have, so you don’t need to worry about running out of memory. Even so, we hope Samsung will seriously reduce the amount of bloat with their upcoming Android Oreo update.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) comes with just 32 GB of internal flash storage, of which 22.8 GB (71%) is free to use. For a 2017 tablet at this price point, we feel that Samsung should have given it at least 64 GB of storage. Of course, you can always top it up with a microSD card (up to 256 GB).

Next Page > Camera Performance – Photos & Videos

 

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Camera Performance – Photos

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) uses the Sony IMX260 sensor for its main camera, paired with an f/1.9 lens. However, it lacks any optical or electronic image stabilisation. The full 12.8 MP resolution (usually quoted as 13 MP) is attained with the 4:3 aspect ratio. Each picture has a resolution of 4128 × 3096, with a file size between 2.8 MB and 4 MB.

Here are ten full resolution, unedited photo samples for you to check out. Click on them to load the full-sized photos which you can download to examine.

This is the same sensor used in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, so there’s no surprise that the pictures are excellent. The f/1.9 lens also allowed for very good low-light performance.

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Camera Performance – Video Recording

Thanks to the Sony IMX260 sensor upgrade, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) can now record videos at up to 2160p (4K) at 30 fps. Officially, it does not support any form of optical or electronic image stabilisation. However, our tests show that it actually performs some electronic image stabilisation at 1080p or lower resolutions. Take a look…

Test #1 : Piano (1080p)

The image quality is excellent, with great control of the bright background. The recorded audio was also quite clear. Surprisingly, the amount of handshaking was minimal.

Test #2 : Piano (4K)

When we recorded this clip in the 4K resolution, we noticed that there was significantly more handshaking. From this, we can surmise that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 actually performs some electronic image stabilisation at lower resolutions.

Test #3 : Street Market (1080p)

Even though this test involved walking down a street market, the video was surprisingly smooth. That is quite unexpected for a camera that officially does not support any form of image stabilisation.

Test #4 : Street Market (4K)

The jerkiness of the 4K video is readily apparent. The image quality is excellent, but the complete lack of image stabilisation (for real this time!) is nausea-inducing!

Next Page > Work Performance, Battery Life & Recharging Speed

 

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Work Performance – PCMark

We tested the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3’s performance using PCMark, which simulates work applications like web browing, playing video, writing text and editing photos.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Huawei Mate 9 ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra HTC 10
Work Performance Score
(Average)
6434 7593 6313 6105
Web Browsing 6294 8717 6257 5782
Video Playback 3903 4987 4287 3321
Writing 6584 7883 7166 7463
Photo Editing 10599 9702 8262 9694

Not surprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) performed well, matching top-0f-the-line smartphones like the ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra and HTC 10.

 

Battery Life – PCMark

We then tested the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3’s battery performance using PCMark. It basically ran the PCMark work tests until its battery capacity dropped to 20%.

Samsung claims that the Galaxy Tab S3 has a battery life of between 8 hours (Internet use time) to 12 hours (video play time). This battery test shows that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) will last about 8.5 hours of non-stop work – web browing, playing video, writing text and editing photos.

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Battery Recharging Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 comes with a 10 W fast charger and a USB Type C cable. Take a look at how fast it recharged the 6,000 mAh battery.

It took the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) about 114 minutes (1 hour 54 minutes) to recharge its battery from 17% to 100%. Overall, it has a battery life : recharging ratio of about 4.4 : 1, which is rather low. Samsung should have packaged it with an 18 W fast charger.

Next Page > Gaming & Overall Performance, Our Verdict & Lowest Prices

 

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Gaming Performance – 3DMark

We tested the Galaxy Tab S3’s gaming performance using 3DMark, using the Ice Storm Unlimited test.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Huawei Mate 9 ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra HTC 10
Gaming Score 17878 27853 17719 23171
Graphics 18515 36605 21124 27512
Physics 15958 15164 11328 14925
Graphics Test 1 88.8 fps 202.5 fps 115.2 fps 136.6 fps
Graphics Test 2 73.6 fps 131.1 fps 76.3 fps 106.4 fps
Physics Test 50.7 fps 48.1 fps 36.0 fps 47.4 fps

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) is not the fastest gaming tablet, but it has good gaming performance.

 

Overall Performance

AnTuTu is a nice benchmark for testing various performance aspects of Android devices.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Huawei Mate 9 ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra HTC 10
TOTAL SCORE 131430 123167 76096 113813
3D SCORE 57553 40114 18816 50700
– 3D (Marooned) 36690 23313 10861 34778
– 3D (Garden) 20863 16801 7952 15922
UX SCORE 43151 39975 26794 30890
– UX Data Secure 6524 7943 5077 6319
– UX Data Process 3534 6985 4198 3379
– UX Strategy Games 9054 11860 7503 5433
– UX Image Process 21022 5580 6879 9521
– UX I/O Performance 3017 7607 3137 6238
CPU SCORE 24024 31992 23689 21915
– CPU Mathematics 8532 9680 6950 8494
– CPU Common Use 6041 11139 6311 5931
– CPU Multi-Core 9451 11173 10428 7490
RAM 6702 11086 6797 10308

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) did well in AnTuTu, coming in top actually. It bested even top-of-the-line smartphones like the Huawei Mate 9 and HTC 10.

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Our Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) is a long-awaited upgrade to the Galaxy Tab S2. If you are hoping for revolutionary changes that have been the hallmark of the Samsung Galaxy S smartphones, you will be sorely disappointed. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S team retained the same familiar design.

So there is no Infinity Display or iris scanner, as some of us have hoped for. Instead, they clad the Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) in glass, and focused on internal improvements. It now boasts a faster processor, a much faster graphics processor, more and faster DDR4 memory, and a quad-speaker system tuned by AKG.

Also upgraded were the cameras. The puny 2.1 MP front camera was replaced with the 5 MP camera used in the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge and the more recent HTC 10. The main camera also saw an upgrade to the excellent Sony IMX260 sensor used in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.

Other less obvious upgrades include the display and battery. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) used the same excellent Super AMOLED display, but it is now capable of displaying HDR images and videos. The battery also saw a slight increase in capacity, allowing the Galaxy Tab S3 to achieve a rated battery life of 8 to 12 hours. Needless to say, the  battery has also undergone the new Samsung 8-point battery safety check.

Arguably the biggest upgrade the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 introduces is the improved S Pen. This is the first time a Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablet comes with the S Pen. The new S Pen is still powered electromagnetically, but now has a thinner nib and 4,096 pressure levels.

The only issues we have with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) are the memory bloat and its rather limited internal storage. At its launch price of RM 2,999 (US$ 599 in the US), we would have expected at least 64 GB of internal storage, or a Book Cover (RM 199 / ~US$ 47) thrown in.

If you find the Galaxy Tab S3 too pricey, you will be glad to note that the older Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is now on sale at almost half the price! Now that’s a really great deal!

 

Availability & Lowest Prices

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (Amazon | Lazada) is now available in Black and Silver colour options. The Pogo Keyboard Cover comes in Gray colour and retails at RM499 / ~US$119.

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The Book Cover is available in Black, White and Green colours, and retails at RM199 / ~US$47. Check out the latest offers below :

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 LTE (Black) : Amazon | Lazada
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 LTE (Silver) : Amazon | Lazada
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Keyboard CoverAmazon
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Book Cover (Black)Amazon | Lazada
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Book Cover (White)Amazon | Lazada
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Book Cover (Green)Amazon | Lazada

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The All-New Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Tablet Is Here!

30 May 2017 – Samsung Malaysia Electronics today announces the availability of Galaxy Tab S3, a stylishly designed tablet with advanced computing technology offering a premium mobile experience. Equipped with an S Pen designed to feel and write like your favourite ball pen, the Galaxy Tab S3 delivers versatile usage as a productivity tool, without needing to recharge.

Don’t forget to read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Review!

 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

Building upon a signature design, the Galaxy Tab S3’s minimal and refined design was achieved by affixing glossy, reinforced glass panels to an aluminum frame, resulting in a seamless aesthetic. The Galaxy Tab S3 provides premium Galaxy technology including:

  • Refined S Pen: With an enhanced S Pen, the Galaxy Tab S3 allows users to be more productive, creative, and do multiple things at once. For a natural writing experience, the S Pen has a smaller 0.7mm tip and increased pressure sensitivity. The S Pen also includes convenient features such as Screen Off Memo to quickly jot down notes, PDF Annotation for easy editing and professional-level drawing with Advanced Drawing Tools.
  • Powerful Quad Stereo Sound Speakers Tuned by AKG: The Galaxy Tab S3 is the first Samsung tablet to boast such a design, which places powerful quad-stereo speakers crafted by AKG by Harman in each corner of the device. The speakers’ ‘Auto Rotate Stereo’ function allows the tablet to redirect sound based on its orientation, creating a more accurate and consistent listening experience.

  • Brighter and Better Display: Boasting a superb 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display with HDR (High Dynamic Range) video content support, the Galaxy Tab S3 displays stunningly vivid images with true-to-life colours.

Unveiled at Mobile World Congress this year, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 delivers on Samsung’s legacy of innovative Galaxy technology including a 13-megapixel rear camera with auto focus and a 5-megapixel front camera for high-quality photos. The tablet also includes expandable storage[1] and more power efficiency with fast-charge capabilities, supporting up to 12 hours of video playback on the Galaxy Tab S3. With fast charging technology and longer battery life, the Galaxy Tab S3 is designed to keep users always connected.

Mobile Entertainment

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 takes mobile entertainment to the next level providing a cinema-like experience with 4K video playback and a stunning Super AMOLED display. Highly optimised for gaming, the Galaxy Tab S3 also comes equipped with Vulkan API for superior graphics and the new Game Launcher for an enhanced user interface and personalised gaming experience, as well as modes like ‘Do Not Disturb’ for uninterrupted gameplay.

Safe & Secure Login

For a safe and secure login, Samsung Flow uses biometric authentication to log-in and can wirelessly tether compatible devices to transfer documents from a mobile device to a tablet. It also syncs message notifications so users will never miss an important text message, whether they are using a smartphone or their tablet – making working on the go seamless.

Keyboard & Case Options

For power users always on-the-go, the Galaxy Tab S3 also supports Pogo keyboards as no charging or pairing is required. The tablet’s dedicated Pogo pin-connected keyboard locks into place securely so users can get to work quickly, and features a streamlined layout that optimizes key spacing to promote accurate typing. USB Type-C compatibility, meanwhile, provides more convenient cable connections as well as much faster data transfers. The Pogo Keyboard Cover comes in Gray colour and retails at RM499 / ~US$ 119.

A new selection of Galaxy Tab S3 covers will give stylish users the option to pair their tablet with soft-coloured Book Covers that feature powdery matte finishing and lightweight design to complete the device’s stylish look. Its dual usage mode – Viewing Mode or Touch Mode – makes it perfect for propping the tablet up to touch with ease or standing it up to watch movies comfortably. The Book Covers are also designed to magnetically attach the S Pen for quick access. Available in Black, White and Green colours, the Book Covers retail at RM199 / ~US$ 47.

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Availability

The Galaxy Tab S3 is available in Malaysia at Samsung Experience Stores nationwide, including e-commerce partners Lazada and 11street, as well as authorised dealers starting 1st June 2017. Offered in understated Black and Silver colours to suit the refined tastes of modern millennials, the powerful tablet retails at an attractive recommended retail price of RM2,999 / ~US$ 719 inclusive of 6% GST.

[1] Expandable storage units sold separately from the device.

Don’t forget to read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Review!

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