Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra leads an Android tablet attack on iPad Pro

Samsung still isn't willing to cede the tablet space to Apple's iPad, and plans to take on the iPad Pro and iPad Air with the new Galaxy Tab S8 Series. The trio of Android tablets runs from the most affordable Galaxy Tab S8, through the midrange Tab S8+, and now tops out with Samsung's first Ultra-branded model, the flagship Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra with its biggest screen so far.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

An uptick in people working from home has meant a bigger market for tablets with larger screens, Samsung claims, with slates typically serving double-duty for video calls and movies. They're also increasingly being called upon for real work: four times as many people have been using Samsung DeX on the Galaxy Tab S7 versus the Tab S6, for example.

In the case of the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, then, that means a 14.6-inch Super AMOLED panel with 120 Hz refresh rate and 2960 x 1848 resolution. That's all packaged into a 12.85 x 8.21 x 0.22 inch, 1.6 pound slab of what Samsung is calling Armor Aluminum, which it claims is 33% more scratch resistant and 39% more bend resistant than the previous tablet body.

On the back, there's a magnetically-clinging S Pen; it uses the same technology as Samsung's stylus-enabled phones, so you don't need to switch writing implements as you move between devices. There's also a 13-megapixel wide camera with autofocus, and a 6-megapixel ultra-wide, plus a flash. The front has both a 12-megapixel fixed-focus wide camera and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide; there are four AKG speakers and Dolby Atmos audio support.

Running Android 12 is an octa-core processor, with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage; there's also a microSD slot, happy with up to 1TB cards. The 11,200 mAh battery supports 45W wired fast charging via the USB 3.2 Type-C port (which also delivers DisplayPort out). Wireless connectivity includes WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, and there's both an in-display fingerprint scanner and face-recognition.

Of course, hardware is only half of the challenge for a tablet: we've seen plenty of great Android hardware let down over the years by underwhelming software. Here, Samsung has wielded much of the customization we've seen on its recent phones, including Microsoft 365 support and the ability to wirelessly use the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra as a second monitor with Windows PCs. Multi Active Window mode now supports adjusting the size and position of different windows.

The front camera supports intelligent auto-framing, using smart cropping to keep the subjects properly zoomed. It also supports blurring their surroundings, or replacing that with a solid color or a different image. There's adjustable AI-powered noise cancellation, too. If you've got a Galaxy S22 family phone, meanwhile, you can use that as a second screen with the Galaxy Tab S8 family: you might, for instance, use the Galaxy S22 Ultra as a color palette for an imaging editing app running on the tablet itself.

That could work particularly well with the Book Cover keyboard, which is optional, and which turns the Tab S8 Ultra into even more of a laptop alternative. Those who pre-order the tablet will get the keyboard cover in a free bundle.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 and S8+

Smaller, and more affordable, the Galaxy Tab S8 and Galaxy Tab S8+ still get the same software features as the Tab S8 Ultra. In the case of the Galaxy Tab S8, there's an 11-inch LED 120Hz screen (2560 x 1600) in a 0.25-inch thick, 1.1 pound Armor Aluminum casing. The Galaxy Tab S8+ packs a 12.4-inch Super AMOLED 120Hz screen (2800 x 1752), and is 0.22-inches thick and 1.27 pounds. Both have an octa-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage plus a microSD slot.

The rear cameras are the same as on the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, though on the front there's only the ultra-wide sensor. You still get the quartet of AKG speakers and Dolby Atmos support, though, plus the USB Type-C port, DisplayPort support, and 45W of fast charging. The Tab S8 has an 8,000 mAh battery, while the Tab S8+ has a 10,090 mAh battery.

Both have the magnetic S Pen dock on the rear – plus the S Pen is included in the box – along with WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity. The Galaxy Tab S8+ also offers a 5G connection and has the in-display fingerprint reader. The Tab S8 lacks 5G and integrates its fingerprint scanner into the power button.

Pricing and Availability

The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra starts at $1,099.99 for a model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Samsung will also offer configurations with 12GB/256GB, and 16GB/512GB; all three will be available in Graphite. As for the Galaxy Tab S8+, that will start at $899.99 for 8GB/128GB; there'll also be an 8GB/256GB version.

Finally, the Galaxy Tab S8 will start at $699.99 for an 8GB/128GB configuration, with an 8GB/256GB version available. Both the Galaxy Tab S8+ and the Tab S8 will be offered in Graphite, Silver, and Pink Gold finishes, and all three tablets will go up for preorder from today, February 9.