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We’ve had a first-look at the Galaxy S8 ultra, Samsung’s massive new tablet

We’ve had a first-look at the Galaxy S8 ultra, Samsung’s massive new tablet
The Samsung Galaxy tab S8 ultra is the biggest Android tablet we’ve ever tested. We review performance, the S-Pen, the price, specs, features, and release date

The Samsung Galaxy tab S8 ultra is big enough to eat your dinner off. Measuring a foot and change from corner to corner, it’s one of the largest tablets on the market today. The biggest iPad pro clocks in at a mere 12.9in, which is positively microscopic in comparison to Samsung’s monumental 14.6in beast of a device.

Announced at this year’s Galaxy Unpacked event, the Galaxy tab S8 ultra is the first in a new line of “ultra” tablets from Samsung. The new addition to the family sits atop the freshly updated S8 and S8 plus devices to form Samsung’s latest offering of premium Android tablets.

The supersized portable comes with a suitably big price tag to match, starting at £999 for the 128GB version and heading up to £1,399 for the bells and whistles model with 5G mobile data, half a terabyte of memory and 16GB of RAM. Pre-order now though and you can get the keyboard cover attachment (a near-essential add-on) for free.

All three models in the Samsung Galaxy tab S8 series of tablets will launch on 25 February, with Galaxy tab S8 pre-orders available on Samsung’s official site, as well as at selected retail partners.

How we tested

We had a chance to test out the Samsung Galaxy tab S8 ultra ahead of its release later this month. We’ll need more hands-on time with the device to put its through it paces more thoroughly and see if Samsung’s vaunted performance credentials make any difference when it comes to everyday use. But for now, here are our initial impressions of this larger-than-life tablet.

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Samsung Galaxy tab S8 ultra: From £999, Samsung.com

  • Screen: 2960 x 1848p, 14.6in super AMOLED
  • Dimensions: 208.6mm x 326.4mm x 5.5 mm
  • Weight: 726g
  • Processor: Snapdragon 8 gen 1
  • Connectivity: Wi-fi/5G
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
  • RAM: 8GB/12GB/16GB
  • Colour: Graphite
  • Price: From £999 to £1,399

There is – almost literally – no getting around the Galaxy tab S8 ultra’s standout feature. The luscious 14.6in screen is a Samsung-built, 2960 x 1848 super AMOLED panel with bright, fizzling colours and dynamic contrast between areas of darkness and light. The 120Hz refresh rate delivers a silky smooth scrolling experience when browsing, and the 16:10 aspect ratio (nearer to widescreen than the more squat iPad pro) is ideally suited to watching movies and TV.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S22 ultra first-look review

In our short testing time with the tablet we found the screen to be immediately impressive and invitingly spacious. Samsung’s AMOLED displays are always among the best you’ll find on any device, and the Galaxy tab S8 ultra could well be the best mobile screen it’s ever produced. The tablet can also function as a second screen for a desktop computer or laptop, enabling seamless side-by-side multitasking with a traditional mouse and keyboard setup.

At the top edge of the screen there’s an inconspicuous notch housing the front-facing camera array, which can capture up to an impressive 4K for clearer video calling. Interrupting the display with the notch means that around the rest of the screen the bezels have been kept neat and uniformly narrow, sore of the front of the tablet is useable screen space.

We didn’t have an opportunity to test the Galaxy tab S8 ultra’s capabilities from a remote and hybrid working perspective, but the higher resolution coupled with an ultra-wide lens means you can sit further back from the screen and still take up the entire frame of the shot. It also allows you to host multiple people on your end of the call, and you can have auto-framing either follow you around your room or focus on the person speaking.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S22 pre-order deals

Tablet design is slowly coming around to the realisation that the front-facing camera is far more useful than the rear one. While nobody’s taken the bold step of moving the the chunkier, more conspicuous lens array to the front, these small improvements to the quality of the front-facing lens are welcome, and testament to how Samsung sees the Galaxy tab S8 ultra’s use in being a hybrid worker’s portable computer.

Despite the big ol’ juicy whopper of a screen, the Galaxy tab S8 ultra is surprisingly thin, and while it’s by no means lightweight, it’s certainly lighter than it looks. The overall size of the thing does make it rather unwieldy, however. You can technically hold it one hand while holding the S-Pen in the other, in the same way a waiter would hold a tray of full of teetering champagne flutes while taking your drinks order, but manhandling the Galaxy tab S8 ultra feels precarious.

Instead, it feels more natural to use the Galaxy tab S8 ultra propped up on a table with the book keyboard cover in convertible laptop form. And as it’s powered by the latest Snapdragon chip – the same found in the smaller S8 and S8 plus variants – it can offer similar levels of performance to a laptop.

Read more: Huawei matepad pro review: A super Android tablet

The pressure-sensitive S-Pen is a joy to use too, with the lowered latency making the stylus feel more realistic as you draw and write. The delay between the nib touching the screen and your line appearing has been reduced by 70 per cent to just over two milliseconds, which, when combined with some clever predictive software and the pen’s subtle haptic feedback as you sketch, creates the sensation of dragging a real pencil across real paper.

The verdict so far: Samsung Galaxy tab S8 ultra

The Galaxy tab S8 ultra is defined by its titanic 14.6in display. It’s a spacious canvas for on-the-go creatives in need of a portable and powerful device, as well as for hybrid workers who want all of the flexibility and fun of a tablet without compromising on desktop real estate.

Besides the supersized megascreen, there’s actually not a huge difference between the Galaxy tab S8 ultra and the more petite S8 and S8 plus models, so we’ll be interested to see if the bigger display adds enough value to justify the price. All three essentially offer the same features and performance, albeit in different sizes and form factors.

We’ll be able to give you our full verdict once we’ve had more time to put the Samsung Galaxy tab S8 through its paces, but we’re excited about the return of the productivity-enhancing Dex mode, which alongside the centrally positioned front-facing dual-cameras and gorgeous, cinematic screen could make this tablet the ideal choice for hotdesking commuters with cash to spend.

Samsung Galaxy tab S8 ultra

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