We are halfway through our testing period, so expect a full Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review. For now, we’ve got our first hands-on review below, based on a limited test time of the thing.
This tablet is about the size of an average laptop, and that alone is probably enough to spark excitement and confusion in others.
Samsung’s line of tablets is often regarded as the Android ecosystem’s alternative to iPad Pros, but the Ultra even surpasses the 12.9-inch iPad in terms of size, as the screen is 14.6 inches wide. In other words, it’s huge.
How big is too big? Well, that depends on how you prefer to use a tablet. We can imagine that some people will find the Tab S8 Ultra far too large to be practical, but others will appreciate the sheer amount of display real estate. That’s why the size is both in the pros and cons list of this first review.
We’ve only spent a short time with the tablet, so we can’t really explore how useful it is as an entertainment or productivity tool, but we can give you our first impressions with this Ultra tablet.
Release date and price Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
As Samsung’s largest tablet, it’s also the most expensive we’ve ever seen from the company. ouch.
There are three different configurations for the device, and each comes in a Wi-Fi-only version or a 5G-connected version. There’s one with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and if you pay more you can increase that to 12GB/256GB or even 16GB/512GB.
The prices for those six different versions of the tablet can be seen below. We don’t have them all now, but we will fill them in as soon as we have them.
|RAM / Storage||Connectivity||US price||UK price||AU price|
The tablet went on sale on February 25, after pre-orders started in early February. If the price is too high, we have to give you a glimmer of hope: this release date suggests we could see the slate discounting in Black Friday.
Design and display
Let’s start with the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra’s display, its main selling point. At 14.6 inches, it’s huge, bigger than the 11- and 12.4-inch Tab S8 and Tab S8 Plus, as well as the iPad Pro which comes in 11-inch or 12.9-inch versions.
The resolution is an impressive 2960 x 1848, with a 120Hz refresh rate and Super AMOLED technology ensuring colors are vibrant and contrast crisp.
While the other Tab S8 models have their front cameras hidden in the bezel around the display, the Ultra actually has a notch in the center that houses the two lenses. Given the size of the screen, the small black bump at the top is barely noticeable.
We haven’t been able to test the Ultra in every way for a full review – like streaming movies, playing games, viewing photos and the like – but if we get more time with the slate we certainly will.
From a distance, the Tab S8 Ultra looks like your standard Android tablet. It is a gray box with a screen, a slight camera bump on the back and a USB-C port.
Oh, and there’s a magnetic strip on the back that can hold and charge the S Pen, which feels like a curious place to house the stylus. It means that cases must have an opening and you must also remove the stylus before putting the tablet down. We prefer Apple’s solution to have this space on one side of the slate.
We say ‘from a distance’ because as you get closer to the device, you’ll see why it’s not your average slate. Because of its screen, it’s much bigger than other tablets, and it feels as good as a skimboard or medieval shield as it does a tech gadget.
The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra feels clunky to wear. We had to rock it like a baby when we walked around with it, and it was absolutely impossible to hold or use with one hand. We’re also curious how easily it fits in a backpack, as it might be too big for our normal work bag.
Cameras and battery life
While the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra shares the rear cameras of its siblings, with a 13MP main and 6MP ultra-wide snapper, there are actually two front-facing cameras – which is why there is a notch in the display.
These front facers are both 12 MP and one has a wide lens and the other has an ultra wide lens. You’ll probably use the former for most things like selfies and video calls, but the latter is useful too, such as for wider selfies or video calls where you need to present something behind you, like a whiteboard.
The tablet’s camera app is barebones compared to a smartphone, with fewer modes or AI processing, but you probably don’t use a tablet for serious photography anyway, and the offerings here are more than adequate.
As far as battery life goes, we’re in uncharted waters here. Since we’ve never used such a large tablet, we don’t know what to expect from the 11,200 mAh battery that powers it.
That’s a huge power pack, but we’ll have to see how well it fits the giant screen in our full review.
Charging is done at 45W, which is an average speed, and we reckon it will take a few hours to power the slate to a full battery.
Specifications, Performance and Software
Under the hood, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the same as its non-Ultra siblings – well, unless you opt for the 16GB RAM version, as those other slates don’t offer as much memory.
That means the slate has the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, the current top-of-the-line processor used in the most powerful Android devices like the Xiaomi 12 and OnePlus 10 Pro – other than the other Tab S8s, we haven’t seen any tablets with these yet.
This makes the slate suitable for intensive work apps such as video or photo editing software, but also for gaming and fast navigation.
We should mention that in addition to the copious amounts of storage you can get for the top-spec variants of the slates, there’s also expandable space up to 1TB.
For software, look at Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI over the top. If you know Samsung devices, you are already well versed in what this interface looks like.
We’ve had a lot of time using the S Pen stylus with the tablet and the experience is quite good. In some ways, it’s better than using an Apple Pencil, but worse in others.
Functionally, the S Pen is a marvel to draw. It’s easy to use pressure sensitivity to change the look of lines; you can press hard for a thick, bold line, or lightly for a thinner, lighter line. The stylus’s nib is there because of its softness, which means you don’t feel like you’re going to damage the screen, unlike the Apple Pencil.
But unlike Apple’s stylus, the Samsung stick feels a bit cheap in the hand due to the material. It’s also a bit short and flimsy, so gripping doesn’t feel as good as it should.
Even more than most gadgets, it depends on what you are looking for whether the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is good or not. If you need a giant screen for work or creative pursuits, this could be a good option, and we think it’ll be useful for gaming too, especially if you’re using something like Stadia or Xbox Games Pass.
However, if you’re just an everyday tablet user with a little extra cash to splash, we don’t think it’s worth it for you. It is designed for professional users and the smaller Galaxy Tabs will suit you better.