There's an awful lot going on under the skin of this excellent Android tablet. If you're not an iPad fan, then this is the very best you can do. But if you're considering chucking your laptop in favour of one of these, you might want to hold on a little.
Everybody wants a tablet. Those that have one, want a bigger one. Bigger like Samsung’s 12.4in Galaxy Tab S7 Plus. That’s bound to be better, right? Samsung’s obviously taking on Apple’s larger iPad Pro with this slate and, in terms of design, the company’s getting mighty close.
It’s almost large enough to swap out your laptop for and it’s got all the hardware under the hood to at least have you considering the move. The OLED panel, sporting a 120Hz resolution, wants you to spend all your time gazing at the screen. But does it really live up to the idea of being a laptop replacement, even with S Pen support and an (optional) keyboard peripheral thrown into the mix?
Sharp dressed slab
Everyone who knows tablets knows that Samsung’s best are the best you can get on the Android OS. That applies when it comes to style as well. This is one of Samsung’s largest but the Tab S7 Plus still feels premium. The all-metal build feels sturdy and the brushed metal sides are particularly fancy.
At 575g it’s fairly thin and light, but you won’t be one-handing this thing unless you’re waving it around like a clipboard. In which case, we hope you have insurance because it’ll set you back R23,000. The smaller Tab S7 starts at R18,000, which is a bit of an easier pill to swallow.
The screen’s bezels are decently skinny, and you’ve got a choice of where you dock your S Pen. It’ll stick (magnetically) to the side if you want it to but it’ll only recharge when you’ve got it attached to the rear, by the cameras. You know, the place Samsung intended you keep it.
There’s an in-display fingerprint sensor, which’ll speedily let you in to look at your own files. But since it’s hard to know which way is up, maybe register more than just the one finger this time around, yeah? You can opt for face detection too, but it’s not quite as speedy.
If you’re a fan of wired headphones, we’ve got some sad news for you. You’re gonna have to go wireless, but Samsung’s included quad speakers in case you want to spread the sound a little. The sound stage is helped by Dolby Atmos tech, so expect the S7 Plus to be a media darling.
Better big screen
Samsung’s displays are always a treat and this tablet’s 12.4in AMOLED panel is fantastic. It has to be, because tablets are all about that screen space. This one combines inky blacks with vibrant colours, providing ample brightness into the mix. It’s perfect for media streaming, where you want the best contrast possible. HDR10+ support is a great addition too.
There’s a 16:10 aspect ration here, which really suits widescreen (read: all) modern video content. The 2,800 x 1,753 resolution gives you the option to crank YouTube up to 1440p — your eyes will thank you. Samsung could have gone for a 4K display here, and we wouldn’t have blamed them for trying, but the effect on the price and battery life would have been nigh-catastrophic.
But, like most of Samsung’s high-end displays of late, there’s a 120Hz refresh rate to play with. Now you too can compete with the very best mobile gamers, only now you can’t blame input lag for why you’re dying all the time. Plus, there are the S Pen benefits — Samsung’s stylus is so smooth to use.
Samsung’s using One UI, as usual and it’s still a fantastic Android skin. Multitasking here is decent and navigation is also splendid. Love that shortcut bar.
The included S Pen is also a breeze to use. It includes the same air gesture shortcuts first seen with the launch of the Galaxy Note 10 and the bundled apps for the peripheral will up your note-taking or sketching skills.
And then there’s DeX UI. You should know the drill by now — connect your Samsung to screen, mouse and keyboard and you’ve got a little computer. Only this is a fairly big computer. Sadly, it’s only Samsung’s apps that make an effort to be really usable. If you’re working with anything unusual, you’re better off with an iPad Pro (which features optimised everything) or a conventional PC.
Enter the Snapdragon
The Galaxy Tab S7 Plus will eat up tasks, thanks to its Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ (that devices released this year will know as the Snapdragon 870). Yes, there are faster chipsets out but this slate launched in 2020. They weren’t around then. Despite the ‘older’ hardware, it’s mighty responsive to just about everything you do. The high refresh rate helps the speedy chip to get things done.
You could obsess over mobile benchmarks. If you do, you’ll find that the iPad Pro considers this tablet slow but if you prefer to actually use the thing, you’ll find that numbers don’t always dictate reality. Unless you’re an accountant. Apps are speedy, animations are animated and games will run as well as you’ve ever seen. There’s 8GB of RAM in the South African model, which is lower than you’ll find in Samsung’s flagship handsets. Even so, there’s more than enough here for effective multitasking.
Some models of the Tab S7 Plus ship with 5G access as well — here in South Africa, that’s sadly not the case. There’s WiFi, and it’s speedy enough if you’ve got the right supporting hardware, but 5G speeds will have to wait till the Tab S8 rears its head.
I’ve got the power
Look, Eskom’s back. And so’s electricity. Aaand it’s gone again. But that shouldn’t matter too much to you, because Samsung’s fitting the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus with a monster 10,090mAh battery. It’ll outlast load shedding, especially now that Joburg’s on a (slightly nonsensical) two-hour schedule.
How long it lasts in general is up to you. You’ll manage ten hours of video playback, even if you’ve set the screen fairly bright. Games will give you a little less uptime, but more than an OG Nintendo Switch. If you slap a keyboard onto this thing and attempt to get your work done, you’ll find yourself needing a charger a lot sooner. That’d be the display’s 120Hz refresh rate and all the scrolling you’re doubtless doing.
If you’re not constantly at it, this slate will give you at least a day’s use. There’s a 15W power adaptor packed in but it’ll take a while to get back up to 100%. If you’ve got your hands on a 45W charger, it’ll top up much faster. But… those cost extra.
Samsung puts a whole lot of effort into its mobile camera and that goes for tablets now too. It’s no S21 Ultra but it’s also not a shoddy effort for a tablet-based snapper. There’s a front-facing 8MP camera but it’s situated in the centre of the screen. You really shouldn’t be attempting selfies with this thing, it’s much more inclined towards video calls.
Around back, though, there’s a duo of lenses for you to play with — there is a 13MP main sensor alongside a 5MP wide-angle backup. The 13MP includes autofocus, while the 5MP is fixed and, as you can see, it’s also got a flash built-in.
In terms of performance, the Tab S7 Plus balances colour and dynamic range well, though colour reproduction can sometimes be a little enthusiastic. That’s Samsung for you. Auto-HDR is a nice touch, making daylight images a delight but when the light begins to shuffle off, you’ll contend with some noise. The wide-angle lens takes less impressive snaps but you’re unlikely to be ashamed of them unless you’re also a terrible photographer — and we all know the cameras won’t be at fault in that case, don’t we? But, as pleasant as these images are, you’re still going to get better snaps with an easier-to-handle smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus Verdict
Android tablets are everywhere and yet, most can’t come close to the quality offered by Apple’s stable. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 Plus can, with enough power behind its attractive display to rip through any task you set it to. The S Pen brings a new (for Android) dimension to tablet use, increasing the Tab S7 Plus’ versatility. And then there’s 5G support.
If pressed, we’d say that Apple still has the edge in this fight but Samsung’s brought the fight to the company’s iPad Pro 12.9 with this slate. It gains extra points for the fact that the stylus is included (Apple’s version will cost you an extra R3,000, on top of the tablet price). If you’re suffering from a case of tablet-envy but don’t want to give Captain Cook any cash, Samsung’s effort will scratch any itch you might have.