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Samsung Galaxy TAB S8 ULTRA review: the king of Android tablets is back

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Almost two years have passed since Samsung, in its canonical semi-annual presentation events called “Unpacked”, unveiled its new line-up of Galaxy TAB S Series tablets (7 and 7+).

From that May 2020 the Korean house returned with the first 2022 event , followed the other day by the presentation of the leaflets, and presented the new TAB S8 series . A triad this time made up of three tablets: S8, S8 + and S8 ULTRA .

A few months later, I want to talk to you about the “most pumped up” variant: it will be a simple story of my very personal experience with the device I have had since the end of June, direct replacement for that Samsung Galaxy TAB S7 + that I used with great satisfaction.

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Let’s see it together, going to highlight both the merits (many) and the defects (few).

  • DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING QUALITY
  • DISPLAY
  • SOFTWARE
  • EXPERIENCE OF USE
  • DATA SHEET
  • PHOTOGRAPHIC / VIDEO COMPARTMENT
  • CURIOSITY AND VARIOUS ADVICE
  • LIVE BATTERY
  • CONCLUSIONS
  • VOTE, PROS AND CONS

DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING QUALITY

The factor that certainly immediately catches the eye, at least aesthetically, and that quite clearly differentiates this version from the other two is the presence, for the first time ever on a Samsung tablet, of the much loved / hated notch .

In this case, its integration might make little sense because there are two distinct cameras but, unlike what Apple offers, for example, there is no 3D facial unlocking system as a more classic 2D has been opted for.

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Despite this, I can already tell you that the same is lightning fast and there is the possibility of turning on the display to illuminate the face and be recognized even in more difficult situations, such as the evening or night.

Aesthetically it does not bother because its size, compared to the size of the display, makes it less evident; however, it can be “hidden” on the software side.

For the rest, TAB S8 ULTRA has very generous dimensions of 208.6 mm x 326.4 mm x 5.5 mm but its weight 726 grams for this WiFi variant , 2 more for that also with the 5G module , is well distributed: among other things, the size general of the device, combined with its finesse, makes it quite comfortable when you hold it in your hands (I haven’t talked about use, we’ll get to that later).

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To all this we can safely add that the device is built in a truly impeccable way : there are no creaks , the function keys are firmly in place and the side frame in Armor Aluminum is definitely resistant to scratches as well as to small bumps .

The back cover holds fingerprints quite easily.

DISPLAY

In a similar device the display must be the master or in any case it must be that hardware feature that today, although surprising is almost impossible, must strike; and the panel of the TAB S8 ULTRA is striking.

It is a 14.6 Super AMOLED , with aspect ratio 16:10 , 420 nits , supports the non-adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz and has an important resolution of 2,960 x 1,848 pixels , density of 240 ppi .

In natural light it is not difficult to read content, watching a simple movie is pure pleasure for the eyes and the contrast , blacks , colors and HDR10 + are well integrated and well managed at the software level.

Widevine CDM certification , Security Level L1 , essential for accessing high definition streaming content .

Compared to the other two variants, TAB S8 ULTRA has further optimized side frames , reduced practically to a minimum ( 6.3mm ) which, every now and then, have led to some involuntary touch.

As for the other two versions (and as in the previous Series 7), Samsung has installed 4 speakers developed once again by the Austrian company AKG and adaptable via software to any type of content we are listening to, through the use of the Dolby equalization function. Atmos .

The audio is really excellent , very high , well balanced between the two stereo channels and free of distortions even with the volume set to maximum.

SOFTWARE: ONE U.I. 4.1 OUT OF THE BOX

The version under test is the WiFi-only variant with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, firmware updated with the Google patches of June 2022, AVF5, One UI 4.1, Android 12.

Thanks to the recent adoption of the CSC ( C ountry S pecific C ode) EUX, Samsung has managed to streamline the processing of updates with the consequence that the release of new firmware now takes place much faster than before and at the same time, or almost, in all over Europe.

 

In fact, on 29/07, a new firmware ( AVG9 ) has arrived which has integrated the usual various improvements in stability, performance, bug elimination and the implementation of the latest security updates (the Korean house is now a of the fastest companies, if not the fastest ever, when it comes to software updates and support).

We all know the goodness of the Samsung ONE UI and the maturation it has achieved over the years . Some time ago the company, in particular among enthusiasts, was synonymous with lag, clicks, home reloads and sudden crashes: the various Touchwiz, Samsung Experience today are only a distant memory and the ONE UI 4 is the emblem.

Although the Korean company recently stated that its next version (version 5 , with Android 13 ) will base its foundations on “speed and impressive user experience” , using this tablet with the current firmware version is already today. fun and effective in any situation, productivity included.

Thanks to the large display, the audio qualities, the Spen, the dedicated and integrated Samsung Notes Suite and the various pre-installed applications for writing and drawing such as Clip Studio, NoteShelf and PenUp, use at 360 ° is truly an experience. easy , within everyone’s reach and therefore recommended for everyone.

The Pen included in the package is practically the same as the 2020 versions : it is opaque black, slightly rough to the touch, has a button to enable some Bluetooth functions (the better known ” air action “) and has a magnet on the only flat side that it allows it to be “hooked” to the tablet, both in the rear space where there is the glossy black strip to recharge it and laterally on the frame.

Thanks to the presence of the laminated display and the “ultra-low” latency , it is really a pleasure to write, draw, color or simply take notes, copy them, paste them, translate words: you can also convert handwritten texts into digital content, sign documents and there is the possibility of exploiting the vocal notes so that they are synchronized with the written part.

EXPERIENCE OF USE: ECOSYSTEM AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS

 

Perhaps this is the most difficult paragraph to explain, the most subjective one. It could probably be concluded with very few words but I will still try to give an idea of ​​what this tablet can do.

First of all, many of you may be wondering if TAB S8 ULTRA can be considered a cd “laptop replacement” ; it being understood that it is a fairly subjective discourse and that, in my opinion, a tablet due to its conception will never completely replace a laptop, I still try to answer you: no and yes.

Let’s start with ni. In my opinion it is a ni when you go to exploit it as a “simple” tablet: in this case there is certainly the advantage of a much more immediate, lean, easy and smart use but with a price to pay that goes into the diagonal immense display . _

The latter, of 369.9 mm , certainly does not help: in landscape mode, even by separating the keyboard, the use is almost impossible or in any case very difficult; in the portrait one, however, the situation improves but becomes unmanageable due to its height.

But where Google and Android do not reach, Samsung intervenes with its User Interface.

I think ONE UI 4.1 is the best Android interface currently on the market , with no ifs and buts. All this can be appreciated precisely in the management of the multitasking potential , really enormous, thanks to which you can open up to 3 applications in the window, put others next to it in popup mode, divide the display into two or three equal parts, slide a YouTube video, consult the internet, use social networks, the SPEN and much more.

Even in tablets, now, there are smart widgets.

Turning instead to yes, I can not compare it to a laptop when you go to enable the DeX mode .

In this case, combined with the book cover keyboard, TAB S8 ULTRA is completely transformed : the interface becomes desktop-like, a taskbar appears in the lower central part of the display in which it is possible to “anchor” our most used applications, thus exploiting all the size of the display and the possibilities offered by multi-windows as well as by multitasking .

In DeX we then find an area dedicated to quick links at the bottom right from which you can adjust all the important features of the tablet: we can view notifications, activate / deactivate BT, WiFi, lower / raise the volume, brightness and all that. that we usually do using an Android smartphone.

 

We can obviously connect an external mouse, using one of the many hubs on the market; use the tablet as the second screen of the PC, connect it even in exclusively wireless mode and all the most important video streaming applications work without any problem, even in full screen mode ( the only one that still cannot be used is SkyGo ).

Where then we stop, here comes again Samsung with its “Labs”, thanks to which we can activate the multiscreen for all applications that do not natively support it, enable the full screen even with split screen, show the multiscreen menu in screen mode extended and enable the automatic rotation of all those applications that do not natively support it.

The Good Lock Suite works perfectly and can be used to completely overturn the user experience, making it even smarter and more functional than the needs of each of us.

For years, Samsung has also introduced, in its advanced functions menu , a whole series of interesting goodies, some fundamental in the software integration between all the devices in the house: call and text on other devices, the possibility of continuing to use some Samsung applications on other devices and multiple control thanks to which you can make the tablet communicate even in DeX mode with a laptop of the Galaxy Book Series – obviously all devices must be connected and synchronized with the same Samsung account.

Present Quick Share for a truly lightning-fast file transfer, the various movements and gestures to customize the use of the device, the Bixby Routines , the Game Launcher to make the most of the games and enable a virtual space dedicated exclusively to them, the Double Account for duplicate some applications without necessarily having to install an alternative (Telegram, Facebook, WhatsApp) and the Personal Area , useful for protecting strictly personal and confidential as well as business contents, as needed.

Not least is Samsung Pass which allows us to “keep” all our access information to the various online services and websites, using biometric data when requested, all with the maximum security provided by the Knox platform integrated directly into the chipset. of the device being manufactured.

Among other things, it was news a few weeks ago that the Samsung Pass and Samsung Pay services merged into Samsung Wallet , a now (re) modernized platform capable of containing all those documents that can be scanned and digitized in the near future.

DATA SHEET

 

Also this year Samsung has not spared: TAB S8 ULTRA integrates everything that is best from a technical point of view , even going to exaggerate with regard to the RAM (there is a 16GB version).

Fortunately, “power is nothing without control” and ONE UI is also essential in this respect.

  • SoC: Qualcomm SnapDragon 8 Gen 1 (4nm 64bit Octa-Core);
  • GPU: Adreno 730;
  • Display: Super AMOLED 14.6″, 2.960 x 1.848 pixel WQXGA+, refresh rate (fino a) 120Hz, 420 nits, 240 ppi; HDR10+;
  • RAM : 12GB LPDDR5 (but there is also the 16GB variant);
  • Internal memory : 256GB UFS 3.1, expandable via microSD up to 1TB (but there is also the 512GB variant);
  • Connectivity : USB-C 3.2 Gen.1, Wi-Fi 6E (ax), Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 5.2, GPS + Glonass, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS, (5G optional);
  • Cameras :
    • Frontale doppia: 12MP (wide) + 12MP (ultra-wide);
    • Dual rear: 13MP f / 2.2 AF + 6MP ultra-wide, LED flash;
  • Batteria: 11.200 mAh (typical);
  • Ricarica: super fast charging 2.0 (45watt);
  • Biometric unlocks : fingerprint sensor integrated into the display; face (2D facial recognition);
  • Operating system : Android 12 with One UI 4.1;
  • Other : sPen with 2.8ms latency, Air Gesture, DeX (also) wireless, Knox;
  • Audio : four stereo speakers by AKG, Dolby Atmos, 3 integrated microphones;
  • Colors : graphite;
  • Dimension: 208.6 mm x 326.4 mm x 5.5 mm;
  • Weight : 726 grams (728 for the 5G variant).

PHOTOGRAPHIC / VIDEO COMPARTMENT

Personally, I am part of that group of users who have never used a tablet to take photographs or, even worse, to record videos. However, I can tell you that the cameras present (4, 2 front and 2 rear) do their duty and do it well if we think that we are talking about a tablet anyway.

The photographs are good: detailed, the scene is almost always shot correctly and generally the daytime results, even indoors, are almost always valid.

The shots taken have a weight in MB ranging from 1.5MB to 5.6MB while, when the conditions start to become more difficult (sunset, evening, night), the sensors obviously struggle more and the photographs are practically unusable.

There is a wide- angle camera , sufficient in terms of quality and amplitude of the recovery while the various magnification steps ( 2X , 4X , 8X ) are all digital and the quality is obviously scarce.

As for the video department , there is recording in 4K even if limited to 30fps , the same goes for those FHD / HD. The wide-angle camera can only be used when you do not go beyond FHD and once you have started recording a video you cannot switch between the two sensors.

The results, in the end, are not bad and the videos are fluid and without jerks; 1 minute in HD / 30fps weighs 74MB, in FHD / 30fps 130.32MB, in UHD / 30fps 364.64MB.

There are also further features, more or less the classic ones of Samsung’s top-range smartphones, even if some of them are missing: slow motion, super slow-motion, as seen as a director.

 

Rather than dwell on these points, I prefer to tell you about my experience with the 2 front cameras while I used them to make video calls .

Here, from this point of view, I was amazed by the general quality of the vision that is always sharp and defined as well as the breadth of the visual field. Not least was trying auto framing , a new feature that Samsung has introduced with the TAB S8 ULTRA and which, essentially, uses the ultra-wide-angle front camera to constantly center the subject being shot, zooming in / out on it. when necessary.

Among other things, I was able to see, using Google Duo, that the sensitivity of the 3 microphones is really excellent and that they are able, thanks to the dedicated noise reduction technology, to easily isolate the voice when disturbed by other audio sources present in the surroundings. .

CURIOSITIES AND VARIOUS ADVICE

In this paragraph I want to underline some hidden features or that maybe few users know.

One above all, which I consider very convenient, is the possibility of enabling active corners : in practice, in the menu “accessibility, interaction and manual skills, automatic action with the pointer stationary, corner actions” it is possible to associate an activity to every corner of the display specify among those available and listed below in the screenshot.

With the ONE UI 4 it was then added the possibility of exploiting ram plus to virtually extend its use, giving the user the possibility to select 4 different steps : 2GB , 4GB , 6GB and 8GB .

After several weeks of testing, even on the S22 Series smartphones, I came to the conclusion that this feature is preferable not to use it or, at most, to select 2GB.

You can also intervene with some simple commands via the adb software (Android Debug Bridge) and set it to 1GB or 0 : in this way the tablet reacts much better, becomes much more fluid and the benefits are noticed from the first restart.

.Adb command to change the use of “ram plus”: adb shell settings put global ram_expand_size_list 0,1,2,4,6,8,12,16

Using the 45 Watt Samsung fast charger (model EP-TA845XBEGWW) which uses the Super Fast Charging 2.0 protocol , I measured the charging times of the tablet both by enabling this mode and not.

With no fast charging active , from on, with 1% battery, the software indicated 4h 48 minutes for 100% completion; by enabling the rapid one , the situation has definitely improved and the times have been significantly shortened: about 1h 20 minutes .

The tablet then recharges by 25% in about 17 minutes , 50% in about 35 minutes , 75% in about 55 minutes .

To make the biometric unlocks even more performing than the Samsung stock settings, you can intervene in this way:

FINGERPRINT

  1. activate “fingerprint always on”;
  2. activate “touch to show the icon when the screen is off”;
  3. disable “show animation when unlocking”;
  4. add at least one other registration of the same fingerprint, carrying out the procedure from scratch;
  5. disable “show unlock transition effect”.

TOTAL

  1. disable “stay on lock screen until drag”;
  2. activate “faster recognition”;
  3. disable “ask for open eyes”;
  4. activate “increase screen brightness”;
  5. register the alternate aspect (it will make you repeat the face scan procedure).

Both are always valid and excellent in any position recognition is made , to the benefit of speed and comfort . Out of curiosity, I tried to use a photograph of myself and a video to check how safe the 2D face unlock was, without being able to be recognized.

[The security patches are updated to the latest software releases available: 6.0.0.0 (for fingerprints), 2.1.1.5 (for face recognition)].

LIVE BATTERY

In these days of use I also made a very personal live battery , monitoring consumption from 11/07/2022 until 13/07/2022 , the day of the shutdown.

My configuration remained a mirror image of that smartphone, except of course WhatsApp:

  • I use WiFi (I don’t have the 5G model);
  • all active miscellaneous synchronizations;
  • 10 account Gmail attivi, in push;
  • 1 active Virgilio Mail account, in push;
  • vibration and audio active and at their maximum power;
  • BT and GPS both active;
  • brightness managed automatically (ah, the dedicated sensor works very well), with purely home use and therefore set to about 35% (at night it is perhaps too high);
  • use of both modes, with prevalence for the DeX one;
  • biometric unlocks configured and in use both, without distinction;
  • 2 active Telegram accounts, with a multitude of notifications received;
  • various applications of streaming audio, video etc;
  • web browsing via Google Chrome (version 103) and Samsung Internet (Beta 18 version) which I consider the best Android browser, despite still sinning in some things (synchronization in the first place);
  • various and possible ..

TAB S8 ULTRA turned off after about 42h of use , marking 6h 46 minutes of S. O. _ T. _ (Screen On Time), an excellent result because, when compared with the TAB S7 +, it produces the same results while boasting a more recent, more powerful hardware and above all a larger and slightly brighter display than the previous one.

In about 7 hours of pure standby – obviously I closed all the applications in multitasking but I still left it connected to the home WiFi network – in both two nights it consumed only 2% of battery , a clear sign that the device goes into idle without any problem, while remaining active in receiving notifications, always on time.

CONCLUSIONS

After using it daily for more than five weeks, I can say without any doubt that it is the best Android tablet currently on the market , with all the ifs and buts that I have illustrated above.

The only stumbling block, if we want to call it that, is one of its strong points: the size of the display.

Despite this, in daily use and in any mode, the device has never shown the side to slowdowns, shots, reloads and has never heated up. I have never had disconnection problems with other Samsung products (Galaxy Watch4 BT and Galaxy Buds PRO), nor problems in general with BT or WiFi, both valid.

Even in the use of the games the experience was excellent , although the latter are not developed specifically, in most cases, for the Android world.

Samsung Galaxy TAB S8 ULTRA is therefore an excellent travel companionboth for work and leisure – because it offers an overall better user experience than its predecessor, both in terms of speed and in terms of fluidity of transitions, animations, multitasking and web browsing use.

 

Obviously, although it may be considered an excellent product in many respects, it is still not perfect: for example, the vibration motor is not yet at the levels of the best smartphones.

Then there are some long-standing talks about the lack of the 3.5mm audio jack: I no longer consider it a problem but I can understand who instead, in particular for the important price at which it is offered, wants and perhaps demands the complete package.

The Samsung A is not present . O. _ D. _ (Always On Display), a notification LED and an infrared sensor.

The selling price is high ( 1,299 euros ) but online you can already buy it for less.

The sales package is reduced to the bone : there are tablets + sPen + data / charging cable + sim / SdCard compartment extractor : there is no battery charger, cover or screen protector.

I conclude, however, being able to affirm that in terms of productivity it is a complete device , excellent in practically all the key aspects that make up a tablet ( display , audio , battery , software , in this case also the sPen ) although it is not perfect.

Too bad for the additional additional costs of the original combo cover + keyboard ( 349.90 Euro official price) certainly valid and this time also backlit on 3 levels , with the trackpad , which I consider the completion (almost) essential to be able to really exploit it at 360 ° in all its forms and in all its potential.

WHO WE RECOMMEND IT

Users who already own the previous generation can safely avoid purchasing this TAB S8 ULTRA and the other two variants; for those who must or rather want to approach the world of Android tablets for the first time, the above discussion is valid with the only exception of the price differences between the two products (if minimal, I would buy the most recent one).

For all the others, primarily enthusiasts who demand the best, who are not satisfied or who need such a large display, well the answer is almost obvious.

If, on the other hand, you want a device that is still valid, performing, perhaps with a touch display and not necessarily a tablet, the alternatives also at Samsung are there and are just as interesting (Galaxy Book2 / Book2 360 and the very recent Galaxy Book2 PRO / Book2 PRO 360) .

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra Android Tablet 14.6 Inch Wi-Fi RAM 12 GB 256 GB Android 12 Graphite Tablet [Italian Version] 2022

1099  

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra Android Tablet 14.6 Inch Wi Fi RAM 16 GB 512 GB Android 12 Graphite Tablet [Italian Version] 2022

1.299  

Samsung Book Cover Keyboard Keyboard Case for Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, Black

349 222 

SAMSUNG Ep-TA845 – Fast charger, 45 W, Color: White
27.4  

VOTE, PROS AND CONS

AUDIO DISPLAY AUTONOMY FAST RECHARGE SOFTWARE (AND RELATED SUPPORT) SPEN (AND DEDICATED SUITE)

PACKAGE CONTENTS SELLING PRICE NO 3.5MM AUDIO JACK AND NO INFRARED VIBRATION NOT AT THE TOP

VOTE 8.5

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