When most people think of a tablet, they first think of an iPad and for a few years, I wouldn’t even consider offering up any other alternative to friends and family. That is no longer the case though as Samsung continues to show it is serious about the tablet market.
My shipyard inspection team uses a rugged Samsung Galaxy Tab for surveys and in January I spent a couple of weeks with the Galaxy Tab Active Pro which is clearly the best tablet for field workers. The new Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus is its new entry into the productivity market and it is quite impressive.
There are several ways that the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus is better than the iPad, especially for business use, including Samsung DeX desktop mode, full mouse/trackpad support, 5G capability, and expandable storage. The hardware is elegant, the S Pen has new Air Actions that work well, and the new keyboard cover fixes most problems from last year as I listed in my Tab S6 review.
Galaxy Tab S7 Plus specifications
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus processor
- Display: 12.4 inch, 2800 x 1752 pixels resolution Super AMOLED with 120 Hz refresh rate
- Operating system: Android 10
- RAM: 6/8GB
- Storage: 128GB/256GB internal with microSD expansion card slot
- Cameras: 13MP main and 5MP ultra-wide rear cameras. 8MP front-facing camera
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, Bluetooth 5.0, 5G, LTE
- Battery: 10,090 mAh
- Audio: Four speakers tuned by AKG with Dolby Atmos technology
- Dimensions: 285 x 185 x 5.7 mm and 575 grams
- Colors: Mystic Black, Mystic Silver, and Mystic Bronze
The S Pen comes with the Tab S6 and attaches magnetically on the back of the tablet. It also charges up wirelessly since it has the same technology as seen on the Note 10 Plus with Bluetooth functions and Air Actions. An extra S Pen is $59.99.
Book Cover Keyboard accessory
The Book Cover keyboard will be sold separately, although we may see bundle options at launch. Last year I described the keyboard as a failure and listed four design flaws in my Tab S6 review. These flaws included the back cover piece, wobbly keyboard transition piece and weak magnets, active keyboard when rotated under the tablet, and lack of backlighting.
The back cover now incorporates magnets and is an awesome accessory, even without the lower keyboard attachment. It has a cover for the S Pen and also a hinge mechanism with a wide range of supported angles.
While there is still a bit of play in the plastic hinge piece, it is stiffer than the one on last year’s keyboard. The magnets connecting the Pogo pins are also much stronger so the keyboard doesn’t fall off regularly like it did last year.
My testing confirms that the keyboard is made inactive after about a 45 degree rotation so when you place it under the rear hinge it is no longer active. The keyboard remains inactive until you close it onto the face of the tablet and this works just as intended and desired.
There is no backlighting on the keyboard, but a few keys have increased in size, there is a DeX toggle key, and the trackpad is larger. Overall, the Book Cover keyboard has been significantly improved and I can now recommend it as an essential part of the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus experience.
Thoughts after two days of use
The Tab S7 arrived on Tuesday so I’ve only had a couple of days to test it out. The software isn’t final, we don’t yet have pricing info, and we also have not yet been told when it will be released. That said, it’s a stunning tablet and I am likely buying one for myself when they are released.
The major differentiator we see in the Note 20 Ultra over the S20 Ultra is the S Pen. While using the S Pen on a large smartphone is a good experience, using it on a large Samsung Android tablet is even better and I see much more value in getting work done with a stylus on a device that matches the size of sheets of paper.
Here are several thoughts on my experiences with the Tab S7 Plus:
- Fantastic hardware: The look and feel of the tablet is perfect. The square edges, central front-facing camera placement, button design, standard bezel width, S Pen feel and magnetic charging arrangement, and matte finish on the back are excellent.
- Glorious 120Hz Super AMOLED display: The display on the Tab S7 Plus is awesome and the responsiveness of the 120Hz panel will make you never want to use another tablet with lower screen refresh. Everything flies on the tablet so far.
- That S Pen: Handwriting on the Tab S7 Plus is a lovely, fluid experience and I can’t wait to start writing everything digitally on the tablet. I honestly never used the S Pen Air Actions on a Note, beyond testing, but find the new actions to be quite useful and am very surprised at how consistently well they respond to my movements.
- Speakers rock: The quad-speaker system sounds amazing and I enjoyed movies and music on the Tab S7 Plus.
- DeX mode: I need to spend a lot more time with the Tab S7 Plus, but the onboard DeX mode offers a nice PC alternative. There are still some key apps that act a bit strange in DeX mode that I expect will get better when the Microsoft integration update is released.
- Some features aren’t ready yet: The Microsoft app integrated apps are not yet available for testing, the Samsung phone to tablet synchronization is not working, and there are apps that still need to be updated to support the Tab S7 Plus. For example, I couldn’t test the Netflix app installed on the tablet, but Google Play Videos worked well.
- Price: Available this Fall starting at $849.99, smaller Tab S7 for $649.99. We have seen cellular models in the past have an $80 premium, which is much less than Apple charges.
As much as I loved my original Galaxy Fold and think the new Galaxy Z Fold 2 looks like an engineering marvel, for about the same price I can pick up a Tab S7 Plus and Samsung phone that will serve my business needs better.
There is a massive number of other elements to test out on the Tab S7, including the new wireless DeX support, camera performance, 5G experience, and much more. We will revisit the Tab S7 Plus as Samsung gets closer to releasing it so please let us know what you would like to see tested in a full review at a future date.