Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 review

The best Android tablet around - but it’s still not a match for the iPad

  • Slim, attractive design; S Pen integration is superb; Display is top-class
  • Very expensive; Somewhat disappointing performance; Glass back picks up fingerprints easily

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 faces something of an uphill battle. Not only are Samsung's tablets not as popular as its phones in general; the company's newest tablet is also facing off directly against Apple's latest iPad.

Right out of the gate, the Tab S3 has a serious handicap; it's very expensive. Including VAT, Samsung's new slate costs just under 600, which is more expensive than every comparable iPad. Can the Tab S3 justify its high price though?

Design & appearance

Astonishingly thin and amazingly lightweight, the Tab S3 is immediately impressive. Its design is immediately reminiscent of Samsung's smartphones, with a Gorilla Glass rear and a barely-there aluminium frame. With a depth and weight of just 6mm and 429g, it's even thinner and lighter than the iPad Air 2 (if only fractionally).

Visually, the Tab S3 is absolutely gorgeous, with the sleek glass backing and razor-thin chassis coming together to form an elegant, attractive package. However, this isn't quite as desirable for a tablet as it is for a phone. The Gorilla Glass backing picks up fingerprints like nobody's business, and its size means that your fingers are going to be touching the back almost constantly.

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The super thin design combined with the glass back also made it feel somewhat slippery and insubstantial, as if it was going to slide out of our hands at any moment. In practice, we found that the new iPad, thicker though it might be, is actually more comfortable to hold - especially when using it one-handed.

The company has wisely shied away from pursuing a similar edgeless design to its latest smartphone, and the Tab S3 still has a proper screen surround. Despite this, however, we still found the bezels to be a little on the small side. We kept accidentally grazing the side of the touchscreen with our thumb, which often sent the screen whizzing up.


Aside from these minor niggles, the screen is absolutely gorgeous. As you'd expect from a Samsung device, the 9.7in AMOLED panel is near-flawless, with effectively perfect contrast and colour reproduction. It also supports HDR content, giving pictures and video that added extra depth. The 2,048 x 1,536 resolution ensures that images are crisp and packed with detail, while the 301cd/m2 brightness ensures it'll be readable in all but the most blinding of lighting conditions.

As with most AMOLED displays, there's a very slight tendency towards oversaturation, but aside from that it's flawless. Samsung has a long-established reputation for producing some of the best displays in the business, and its latest device doesn't disappoint.

It's not just Netflix and the like that are served well by the excellent screen though; productivity tasks also benefit. Typing out long documents and emails is easy thanks to the large screen, and the high resolution means that text remains sharp and clear even at tiny sizes.

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