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[Review] Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 A Worthy Upgrade, But Is It A Worthy Buy?

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Let’s be frank here. The iPad will probably be on top of the list for most people looking to buy a tablet. Coupled that with the slowing tablet sales worldwide, it makes for an unfavorable prospect for companies (other than Apple) to continue making tablets, but that doesn’t stop Samsung from doing that. In fact, they have just released the Galaxy Tab S3, the third iteration of their flagship tablet series.

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On paper, the Galaxy Tab S3 is mostly a specs bump from its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S2. It also comes in only display size model,9.7-inch, as opposed to two different models with two different screen sizes with the previous iterations.

First let’s talk about the design. The Galaxy Tab S3 is a gorgeous slab of a slate as it sports a smooth glass black that makes for a sleek overall look, a huge departure from the Galaxy Tab S2’s soft touch material. Needless to say, it feels as premium as a flagship tablet should be but on the flipside, it is unsurprisingly a magnet for fingerprints. Thankfully, there’s some accessories to mitigate the problem (more on that later).

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Tipping the scale at 429g, it is actually lighter than the latest iPad models of similar size. That makes it fairly easy to carry the lightweight device around on hand but its slippery nature might post a problem or two for those who are a little bit careless. The sides are thin too but not too thin enough to make holding the device feels uncomfortable. On the front you will find the physical home button and two capacitive-touch buttons just like you would on any Samsung smartphones (well, except the Galaxy S8 and S8+ of course).

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Perhaps a little disappointing for some, the display is exactly the same as its predecessor but when it is already a pretty darn good display as it is, what’s there to complain? We have come to expect only the best display on any flagship Samsung device and the Galaxy Tab S3 is no exception. Colors are typically Samsung – punchy, vivid and full of life.

Most people who use a tablet are going to use it for media consumption for the most part and that makes the audio experience a very important quality in the making of a good tablet. Thankfully, Samsung realizes that and put two more speakers at the top of the tablet in addition to two at the bottom. So now you have audio firing out in every corner of the tablet for an even more immersive listening experience. The quad-speaker system is smart enough to detect the orientation of the tablet you are holding on and it will automatically adjusts the audio direction from vertical to horizon and vice-versa.

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Personally we think the audio quality and the whole immersive experience a big step forward from its predecessor. However, our only gripe is the volume not going as loud as we would’ve preferred even with the volume maxed out. This might pose a problem when using the tablet in a noisy environment but this can be easily solved with a pair of earphones.

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But of course, those who intend to use the Galaxy Tab S3 as more of a productivity tool will find much to like about it. You will find the full Microsoft Office suite consisting of Word, Excel and Powerpoint already pre-installed out of the box

One particular thing that makes the Galaxy Tab S Series a great productivity tablet is the inclusion of the S Pen. Galaxy Note users will be all too familiar with the advanced stylus and what it can do. With it you can create notes from anywhere on the screen, take screenshots and doodle on them, make quick language translations and even make GIF animations. On top of that, you can add up to five shortcuts for your favorite apps. We like that you can quickly jot down a note without having to unlock the tablet or even wake up the screen, a feature which was first introduced on the Galaxy Note7.

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The S Pen itself is made out of some sort of a soft matte material and it feels good to the touch. The writing experience is on point and there is even sound effect mimicking the real life writing sound of the chosen stationary (ranging from pencil to airbrush), which we find it to be a nice touch.

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There isn’t a dedicated slot on the tablet itself to store the S Pen (which is a bummer) but the clip part of the stylus itself is magnetic so you can magnetically attach the stylus to the left frame of the tablet. Yes you read that right – only at the left frame as it appears to be the only side of the tablet that is magnetic, which means you can’t attach the S Pen on the right frame as well as on the top and bottom. Even so, the magnetic connection isn’t strong and the stylus falls off way too easily with the slightest of prodding.

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Performance-wise, the Snapdragon 820-powered Galaxy Tab S3 with 4GB worth of RAM performs admirably, as it should be. Whether it’s doing the normal browsing and video-watching stuffs or even playing some pretty graphically-intensive games, everything went smoothly without a hitch. In the battery department, the Galaxy Tab S3 packs a slightly larger 6,000mAh battery than its predecessor and it is good enough to last for one-and-a-half-day or even two days provided you do not overload it with usage or power-intensive apps. It pretty much lives up to what Samsung claimed of its 12 hours of video playback. As it supports fast-charging, the included fast-charger will be able to charge it up in about two-and-a-half hours to three hours.

As part of the review package, we were also provided with the Samsung Book Cover and we think it’s a great accessory for the tablet. The tablet neatly attaches to the inside of the cover via magnetic attachment so there is no fumbling around involved. Besides the obvious protection the cover is going to give, we also like the fact that the linings are magnetic as well so you can attach the S Pen on the front cover and it is definitely a lot more sturdier this way.

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The Galaxy Tab S3 is a solid upgrade from last year no doubt. It may not pack the kind of features and innovations that get one excited but that’s more of the problem of the state of tablet these days than what it is. If you do not fall into the iPad crowd and are looking for an Android tablet for work or for play, the Galaxy Tab S3 is the best your money can get, provided you are willing to pay the premium price it demands.

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