Samsung always arrives at Mobile World Congress with a new Galaxy device, and this year is no different. However, instead of the S8 smartphone, which won’t be arriving for at least a few more weeks, it’s brought a new tablet, the Galaxy Tab S3.
It’s been 18 months since the Tab S2 made its debut, so naturally there are a lot of changes. So many, in fact, it’ll be easier to talk about what hasn’t changed first. Put the S2 and the S3 side by side and it’s nearly impossible to tell them apart. Samsung has used a nearly identical design for its new tablet, with a black, bezel-heavy frame that houses a home button/fingerprint sensor on the bottom with a pair of capacitive keys alongside it. Also like the S2, the Tab S3 features a 9.7-inch Super AMOLED 2048×1536 screen, but that’s where the similarities end.
Of particular note, there’s only one size this time around. Samsung has dumped the smaller 8-inch model to focus all of its efforts on the larger one, and it’s clear that it wants the sole Tab S3 to be a premium device. Flip the tablet around and you’ll find an all-glass back, which comes in black or silver (both with black fronts), and a 13MP camera (the front camera is 5MP). But the real improvements are the ones you can’t see.
Under its premium enclosure, there’s a Snapdragon 820 quad-core chip, 4GB of RAM, and a 6,000mAh battery, as well as an auto-calibrating quad speaker system that has been “tuned” by AKG Acoustics. Additionally, the screen now supports high dynamic range (HDR) video, which means compatible movies on Netflix or Amazon will look as stunning as they do on a high-end TV.
Also new to the Galaxy Tab is the addition of a redesigned S Pen. It has a new rubberized feel to it and a clip at the top for attaching to folders (though, sadly, not to the device itself). Like the Note 7, Samsung’s stylus is now integral to the experience, bringing phablet-specific features like screen-off memos and the Air Command menu to the larger screen. Samsung will also be selling a keyboard accessory that attaches to the Tab S3 via a magnetic port on the edge, and there are a trio of Book Covers available in white, black, and green.
Go big or go home: It’s been a while since an Android tablet made much of an impact, but the Galaxy Tab S3 could definitely change things. Like the iPad Pro, Samsung is making a clear push to position the Tab S3 as a machine for both work and play, rather than a mere larger-screened companion to a Galaxy phone. It’s a gamble for sure, especially with a highly anticipated new phone due just around the corner, but it’s one that might pay off.