The best Android tablet that you shouldn’t buy.
By Andrew Myrick last updated April 07, 2022
(Image: © Android Central / Andrew Myrick)
Samsung positions the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra as a potential laptop replacement thanks to DeX mode and that beautiful screen. Chances are, it’s even lighter than your laptop while sporting a big enough screen to enjoy work and games. But Android tablets are still in a weird spot, and the Keyboard Cover is just plain expensive.
- Big and vibrant display perfect for work or play
- Samsung DeX offers a pretty unique experience
- Ultra-slim and lightweight
- One UI tries to optimize all of the apps that it can
- Most Android apps don’t look good on a screen this large
- Some apps don’t work in DeX at all
- The Keyboard Cover is optional and over-priced
- You’ll need to bring your own 45W charger
For years, I have bemoaned the fact that Android tablets have been pretty laughable, and some of that has to do with my affinity for Apple’s iPad. And as an owner of both an iPad Pro 12.9 and an iPad Mini, I was hoping that this would be the year that Samsung could finally take up the mantle and compete with Apple. As we anticipated the Galaxy Tab S8 lineup was announced alongside the Galaxy S22 series, but instead of sticking to just two models, Samsung opted to go all-out with the Ultra mantra.
From the moment that the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra was shown off, I was determined to get my hands on one. Not necessarily to be reminded that the Android app experience on even the best Android tablets is bad (I also own a Galaxy Z Fold 3), but to see if the integrated DeX mode could really change up my workflow and take over some of the use-cases that have previously been reserved for the iPad Pro.
Before getting into my time with Samsung’s biggest and baddest tablet on the market, let’s jump into a bit of the specs. This behemoth of a tablet measures in with a massive 14.6-inch Super AMOLED display, while being powered by the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. As we touch on a little later, there are three different configurations, but I went for the “goldilocks” approach with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Also, I’ve spent the last few weeks using the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra with Samsung’s Book Cover Keyboard, so I’ll give some thoughts on that as well. Sponsored LinksWhy Are Dubai Villas So Cheap? (Take A Look)Luxury Villas in Dubai
SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB S8 ULTRA: PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is actually offered in three, different, configurations. The base model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage comes in at $1,100. If you want to add a bit more RAM and double the storage, you’ll have to fork up $1,200, and the “beast of them all” equipped with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage is an eye-watering $1,400. It’s a bit different to see three different configurations, but on the bright side, there is a microSD card slot if you don’t want to shell out the $1,400 for the top-end model.RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU…CLOSEhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.516.0_en.html#goog_15221018821 second of 55 secondsVolume 0% PLAY SOUND
SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB S8 ULTRA: WHAT YOU’LL LOVE
|Category||Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra|
|Display||14.6-inch Super AMOLED (120Hz), 2960 x 1848|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1|
|Memory||8GB, 12GB, or 16GB|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, or 512GB|
|Front Cameras||12MP FF + 12MP UW|
|Rear Cameras||13MP AF + 6MP UW + Flash|
|Battery||11,200mAh Li-Ion with 45W Fast Charging|
|Audio||Quad Speakers + Dolby Atmos|
|Biometrics||Face Unlock, on-display fingerprint sensor|
|Connectivity||WiFi 6E (6GHz), Bluetooth 5.2|
|S Pen||✔️ (2.8ms latency)|
|microSD card slot||✔️ (up to 1TB)|
|3.5mm headphone jack||🚫|
|Dimensions||12.85″ x 8.21″ x 0.22″|
|Software||One UI 4.1 (based on Android 12)|
The first thing that you’ll notice about the Tab S8 Ultra, even before unboxing, is just how thin and lightweight the box itself is. It’s seriously the slimmest packaging for a tablet that I’ve seen, and part of that has to do with Samsung’s decision to ditch the included charging brick. You’ll still find a USB-C to USB-C cable if needed, but you’ll need to spring for one of the best USB-C chargers to actually juice this up.
With the Tab S8 Ultra out of the box and booted up for the first time, the display is just incredible to see. And that’s coming from someone who has been using Apple’s 2021 12.9-inch iPad Pro with its mini-LED technology. Regardless of how I feel about Samsung hardware, there’s no denying that the company continues to make some of the most beautiful displays and that trend only continues with the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra.
The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is practically designed to be used in DeX Mode.
There’s a notch at the top, and Samsung allows you to hide it if you want to dive into the Settings app, but honestly, you’ll forget it’s even there after a few hours. It’s no different than the hole-punch selfie cutout we see in pretty much every Android phone nowadays, and while it makes for some fun headlines, it’s not detrimental to the experience.
The first thing that I wanted to try out was Samsung DeX, as that’s something that I’ve only spent a few hours with over the years. But with the Tab S8 Ultra (and most of Samsung’s tablets) it’s touted as a feature and one that can allow you to bypass the frustrations with dealing with a traditional tablet UI. And truthfully, I spent about 90% of my time with the Tab S8 Ultra in DeX Mode. But we’ll touch more on the “why” a little bit later.
With the Book Cover Keyboard, complete with the Microsoft Surface-like kickstand, you can go from watching a movie to getting some work done faster than ever. It’s absolutely incredible how comfortable the Tab S8 Ultra was when it came to working with side-by-side windows. The larger aspect ratio actually allows for two windows to sit comfortably side-by-side, which is how I spend most of my working day. Advertisement
But then, if I need to pull up an email, or reply to a Slack message, those apps just open in a window and then get minimized back down to the dock and out of my way. Needless to say, working on the Tab S8 Ultra has been a dream, and it’s become my go-to choice when I need to get out of the apartment and go to a local coffee shop for some fresh air.
Something else that made me fall in love with this tablet comes courtesy of the partnership between Samsung and Windows. I regularly swap back and forth between a Mac and Windows PC at my desk, and one of the best features of macOS is the ability to use my iPad Pro as an additional screen with Sidecar or to look something up on the iPad with Universal Control. Samsung hasn’t quite solved the Universal Control aspect of things, but with a new app called Second Screen, you can get a Sidecar-like experience with your Tab S8 and Windows PC.
Samsung’s Second Screen app gives you a Sidecar-like experience with Windows
More screens are never a bad thing when you have a million tabs and windows at any given time, and the Tab S8 Ultra turned into the perfect screen to throw a random Chrome window into along with Spotify. There is a bit of latency that you’ll need to deal with, and you will need to play around with the different settings to make sure that you are making the most out of the screen size. But once everything’s configured, just tap a couple of buttons and you instantly have another display to work with.
The last few weeks haven’t been the greatest look for Samsung, as the company was found to be throttling many apps through its GOS software. Samsung has already apologized and is rolling out an update to “fix” the problem that should have never been there to begin with, but it’s a step in the right direction. As for my experience, the Tab S8 Ultra largely was able to handle everything I threw at it.
I spent some time playing with some old-school emulators such as AestherSX2, along with firing up Xbox Game Pass when my wife was hogging the TV. And at the behest of a few others here at Android Central, I tried playing some Genshin Impact in hand-held mode while sitting on the couch. The results might not really come as much of a surprise, but I never dealt with a single hiccup when playing games, even Genshin, after I was able to tweak some of the settings.
Benchmarks be damned, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is a powerful machine
There’s something that I haven’t touched on yet with the Tab S8 Ultra, and it’s actually pretty representative of how I feel about it. The S Pen. For years, I have been of the mindset that nothing came close to the Gen 2 Apple Pencil on any compatible iPad. But I was wrong. I’m not sure what kind of black magic Samsung is using here, but outside of the actual placement of the S Pen, it’s a much more enjoyable experience.
Writing and drawing feel as fluid as writing on a piece of paper with a gel pen. I can jot down quick notes, or use the S Pen to play my ongoing Slay The Spire addiction. It also ends up being my preferred method for interacting with the Tab S8 Ultra, as I can keep my grubby fingerprints off of this pristine and beautiful display.
So if you’ve made it this far, you might think that there’s nothing that I didn’t actually like about the Tab S8 Ultra. That couldn’t be further from the truth.