Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ Review: Android’s iPad Pro?


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Samsung has been making tablets for almost as long as Apple, but it’s only in recent years that the Korean company has produced iPad alternatives that genuinely feel like they’re worth buying.

The Tab S7+ is the company’s most ambitious slate to date, with a gorgeous design and slew of premium features, including the all-important S-Pen. But can it be a genuine Android rival to the iPad Pro? Read our full review to find out.

Design and build

The Tab S7+ screams premium as soon as you take it out of the box. has a gorgeous, premium design that’s more than befitting of the Samsung name. The combination of glass front and aluminium back is common on modern tablets but means it’s much more grippy and easy to hold than most smartphones. You might still want to throw on a case though, so we’ve rounded up the best options for both the Tab S7 and Tab S7+.

The minimalist design of the S7+ is punctured by a fairly noticeable rear camera module, which houses a 13Mp main and 5Mp ultrawide lens. It protrudes from the back of the device a fair amount, but it’s not too noticeable unless you lay it flat on a table.

The glossy magnetic strip which extends vertically from here is where the S-Pen both charges and connects to the device. I’ll talk more about how it performs later, but I found this placement both awkward and annoying. The stylus can also be attached to the sides of the device, but much weaker magnets mean it falls off under any sort of pressure.

The tablet’s slim bezels are unchanged from the Tab S6 series, but a bigger screen bumps up the screen-to-body ratio to 84.6%. This falls short of what you’ll see on modern smartphones, but in this form factor, it’s important to have somewhere to hold on to. More important to me is that they’re consistent all the way around.

In many recent reviews, I’ve complained of in-display fingerprint scanner’s frustrating unreliability, but the Tab S7+’s optical sensor is a pleasant surprise. Enrolment is quick and simple, and more often than I could use it to unlock the device within a couple of seconds.

I didn’t find it as fast or foolproof as a physical sensor, but for once it’s a trade-off I’m willing to make. Rear-mounted fingerprint scanners are often awkwardly placed on the back of tablets, so the only real alternative would be embedding it into the power button, iPad Air-style.

It’s not the only biometric option for unlocking the device, with the 8Mp selfie camera also supporting face unlock. I was really impressed with the quality of this sensor, making it perfect for video calling.

One side of the device features smart connectors designed for docking into the keyboard cover, but I haven’t been able to test how well it works. However, one of the more frustrating design changes comes on the opposite side, with what looks to be a power button launching the Bixby virtual assistant after a long press. A shorter click will still lock the device, but the regular power options are available from the quick settings menu. I thought the days of Samsung forcing Bixby on us were in the past, but it seems not. 

The other big thing you’ll notice is the quadruple stereo speakers. They produce some of the best audio I’ve ever heard from a mobile device, producing a rich depth which is usually reserved for dedicated equipment. It was particularly impressive on songs heavy on bass but at the same time held its own with voices and quieter environments. Naturally, this makes the Tab S7+ great for content consumption, particularly considering Netflix comes pre-installed.

Display

Samsung has produced some of the best screens around for a few years now, and it’s really gone all out with the Tab S7+. The 12.4in, 1752×2800 Super AMOLED display is a joy to behold, offering rich, dynamic colours and a stunning level of detail. 4K screens haven’t taken off in tablets just yet, but I doubt it would make a huge difference in this form factor.

The big upgrade over last year’s Tab S6 is the move to a 120Hz refresh rate, bringing it in line with Apple’s latest iPad Pros. Everything feels that bit smoother and slicker, and its effects are magnified on a larger tablet display. You’ll notice a difference in endless scrolling apps like Facebook and Twitter, while it could give you a crucial upper hand for mobile gaming.

You can switch between this and regular 60Hz in Settings, but I very much enjoyed leaving it at the highest refresh rate for the duration of my testing time.

Hardware and performance

Performance is another area where the Tab S7+ excels. The tablet comes packing Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 865+ chipset, which combines with an octa-core GHz GPU and 8GB of RAM on the model I tested.

The device breezed through almost everything I could throw at it, including web browsing, watching videos and browsing social media. That extended to multitasking, with the Tab S7+’s large screen coming into its own. Without testing out the keyboard case I was unable to subject it to the rigours of my daily workflow, but I’d be confident it would cope just fine.

However, my experience of the device didn’t necessarily align with benchmark performance, which put the Tab S7+ below many of its rivals in GFX Bench’s graphical tests. While these scores can be useful for comparison purposes, it’s worth taking some of these figures with a pinch of salt.

Accessories

There are two key accessories that have the potential to transform the way you use the Tab S7+ – the S-Pen and Keyboard Cover. As I haven’t been able to test the latter, I’ll be focusing on the stylus here. It’s a lot thicker here than you’ll find on Note phones, so it’s not possible to store it within the device itself.

Aside from the charging/connecting area on the back of the device, this feels like a big step up over the S-Pens we’ve seen in Samsung’s phones and laptops. The first thing I noticed is how much more natural it feels to hold, far more in keeping with an actual pencil. That makes writing or sketching on the Tab S7+ much more natural and intuitive, while some impressive palm rejection tech means you don’t have to worry about accidental screen presses.

I’m no digital artist, but can definitely appreciate the step forward that’s been made here. The impressive level of precision it offers also means it works well for hitting more precise areas, such as a small button on a webpage. The Keyboard Cover includes a small trackpad, but it’s easy to see how the two could work well together.

Software

The Tab S7+ comes running Samsung’s One UI 2.5 over Android 10. An update to One UI 3.0 is expected soon, and that’s likely to bring Android 11 with it too.

The software experience will be familiar to anyone who has used a Samsung phone in recent years. One UI is a real departure from so-called ‘stock’ Android that you’ll find on Pixel devices, but it’s come a long way from the early days of TouchWiz. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s more intuitive than Google’s operating system in a few areas.

Across most of the UI, Samsung keeps the buttons and controls you’ll need within easy access in the bottom half of the screen, reserving the other half for viewing only. It’s less of an issue on a two-handed device like this but still feels more natural to not have to keep reaching towards the top of the screen.

I also much prefer the quick settings, which allows you to quickly make changes without having to dive into the app, and I find Samsung Gallery a useful alternative to Google Photos. Nonetheless, it’s still bloatware, and there are plenty of apps that can’t be installed (including some from Microsoft and Netflix).

I’d also hoped we’d moved on from having a dedicated Bixby button that’s not remappable, but sadly it remains here. Samsung Daily is the company’s answer to the Google Discover feed, accessible via a right-swipe from the home screen. Unfortunately, with such a limited selection of apps I rarely found it to be of much use, and soon deactivated it.

There’s also no getting away from the fact that Android is still a phone operating system first and foremost. As such, it still feels far from optimised for a screen this size. That’s most noticeable in third party apps like Twitter and Facebook, where many elements

It’s a much better story when it comes to gaming, with the Tab S7+ feeling like it was truly made to play even the most advanced games from the Google Play Store. In addition to the stellar performance above, titles like Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty: Mobile genuinely feel like they were made for a device of this size.

Cameras and battery life

While no one’s suggesting you should be using a 12.4in tablet to take photos on a regular basis, it’s nice knowing there’s some solid camera technology there should you need it. The Tab S7+ features the same 13Mp wide and 8Mp ultrawide sensors as last year’s Tab S6 series

It’s a noticeable step down from the Samsung’s flagship smartphones, although it is easier to spot shortcomings when you’re viewing them on a device this size. In general, they’re fine for the occasional snap or document scan, but I wouldn’t recommend them for anything more advanced.

An area that’s perhaps more important this year is the front-facing camera. The Tab S7+’s 8Mp is extremely impressive, offering accurate colours and a good level of detail. It also deals well with exposure, an area that selfie cameras tend to struggle with. If video calling is important to you, the Tab S7+ is a great option.

Considering the size and resolution of the display, it’s reassuring to know that the tablet is packing a large 10,090mAh battery. That’s a significant upgrade over the 7040mAh cell in the Tab S6 5G, although the addition of a high refresh rate means battery life is fairly average.

With the brightness set to 120 nits, I recorded 9 hours and 42 minutes in Geekbench 4’s battery test, while that dropped to 6 hours and48 minutes in PC Mark’s equivalent test at 200 nits. The latter aims to simulate a typical working day, so suggests most people would have to top up at some point. I was comfortably able to get a couple of days of moderate usage out of the device, although without the keyboard I couldn’t use it as my main work device.

Unfortunately, the large battery capacity means it’s relatively slow to charge. Samsung includes a 45W fast charger in the box, but I was only able to get 18% in 30 minutes from off. That means you’re looking at over 2.5 hours for a full charge. There’s no wireless charging, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a pad that could support a device of this size.

Price and value for money

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ is a premium tablet, and it has a price tag to match. The device starts at £719/US$849.99 for the Wi-Fi or 4G model with 128GB of storage, while stepping up to a 5G version will set you back £999. There’s also a 512GB 5G model in the US, which starts at US$1029.99.

Do note that for cellular connectivity you’ll need a separate data contract. Check out our deals article for some great options.

Regardless of the variation in price, this is among the most expensive tablets you can buy. The obvious competition comes in the form of Apple’s latest iPad Pro, but the new iPad Air or Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7 are also compelling alternatives. Check out our best tablet chart to see what else it’s up against. 

Considering the strength of these devices, the Tab S7+ becomes more difficult to justify. I still think it’s priced fairly, but you might want to wait for a discount before taking the plunge.

Verdict

The Tab S7+ is Samsung’s most accomplished tablet to date. It nails the fundamentals of display, performance and design, while there are exciting embellishments in the form of excellent stereo speakers and a solid in-display fingerprint scanner.

You also get a decent set of cameras and impressive S-Pen in the box, but the software is a bit of a letdown. Many apps on the Google Play Store simply aren’t optimised for tablets, so you just get scaled up clones of the mobile version. One UI’s prioritisation of navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen works well, but it still feels like the tablet version was a bit of an afterthought.

It won’t be a dealbreaker for most people, but when you see how polished iPadOS is by comparison, it makes the Tab S7+ harder to recommend.

Check out How we test: Tablets for more information on what goes into one of our reviews. 

Specs
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+: Specs

A12Z Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture and M12 coprocessor
128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB storage (expandable up to 1TB)
12.9in Super AMOLED (1752×2800 at 266ppi),120Hz
Dual rear cameras: wide (13Mp, f/2.0) and ultrawide (5Mp, f/2.2)
Front-facing camera: 8Mp, f/2.0
Quad stereo speakers
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.0 10,0090 mAh battery
45W fast wired charging
285 x 185 x 5.7 mm
575g


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