In Depth

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3: Can it rival Apple's iPad Pro?

Reviewers hail 'the best Android tablet you can buy', but there are limitations

The launch of Samsung's all-new Galaxy Tab S3 is just around the corner and critics are already giving it the seal of approval.

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The Korean tech giant has completely revamped the design of the Galaxy Tab S2, swapping the plastic casing for an all-glass design that looks similar to the Galaxy S7 smartphone. 

Samsung has placed a 9.7ins AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) display with HDR features enabled, which adjusts colour and contrast levels to provide an image that is more lifelike. 

Inside, the Galaxy Tab S3 is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with Vulkan graphics that Samsung says is 18 times faster than the previous model. 

There are also a bunch of pro-style accessories, including a clip-on keyboard and a wireless S Pen similar to the Apple Pencil. Those who pre-order the Tab S3 before its release at the end of the month will receive the £119 keyboard for free. 

It's more powerful and has a host of new accessories, but can it compete with the iPad Pro.

Here's what the reviewers think:

The Galaxy Tab S3 is "easily the best Android Tablet you can buy right now", says TechRadar, with its all-glass design and HDR-ready display giving it a significantly more premium feel. 

It's the HDR display that makes a real difference, adds the site, and this pumps up contrast ratios for a more lifelike appearance. The only issue is that "there's not a lot of HDR video content available today", but Amazon and Netflix are rolling out the technology on their streaming services.

Unlike the Apple Pencil, ArsTechnica says that the S3's wireless S Pen accessory can connect to the device without touching the screen. Using the "translate" feature, buyers can hover the S Pen over a word and the S3 will "show you the equivalent in another language". 

While the Snapdragon 820 processor outperforms the previous model in almost every area, the website says that Tab S3 is "no match" for either the iPad Pro 9.7ins or 12.9ins, both of which are now over a year old. 

The Verge gives the Galaxy Tab S3 a score of 7.5 out of ten, saying that it sits in an "awkward position" between the iPad Pro and a Google Chromebook. 

It's a good tablet, but the website says that the iPad Pro is better thanks to its "app ecosystem". Multitasking also feels "incomplete", with many apps not fully supporting background refreshing or split-screen features.  

The Galaxy Tab S3's software is "this tablet's real problem", says BGR, as the tech giant's own version of Android operating system "doesn't feel right on a tablet".

For instance, the site says, "changing the screen brightness mid-movie, something that you're likely to do all the time, requires a bunch of tapping". 

It concludes that "compared to the quick-access brightness on an iPad or the brightness buttons you get on most laptops, it feels like a real chore".

TechCrunch agrees, saying that the "limitations of Android" means buyers are "not going to want to use the S3 for serious productivity". 

It does, however, work well with the optional magnetic keyboard stand, which is "really responsive and natural to type on". The stand is also "great for firing off a couple of emails or jotting down notes", the website says. 

The S Pen stylus is included in the price and has been tweaked "quite a bit over the years", adds TechCrunch. It "isn't quite as advanced as the version the company offers on the Windows-based Galaxy Book", but it "does the trick" when taking notes or doing simple sketches. 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 can be pre-ordered now for £599, around £50 more than the entry-level iPad Pro. Deliveries are expected to start at the end of the month. 

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