Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra – Apple has some serious, superior competition (review)
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is its ultimate weapon to unseat the iPad Pro – or at least offer Android users an alternative that is, in many ways, superior.
No. this is not meant to Apple bash but to point out that versus the Apple iPad Pro:
- Screen: 14.6” 2860 x 1848, 16:10, 120Hz, Super AMOLED (12.9” 2732 x 2048, 4:3, 120Hz Mini-LED) Apple is closer to the Galaxy Tab 12.4” S8+
- Qualcomm SD8 Gen 1 Flagship SoC (Apple M1)
- 8/128GB base config with 1TB microSD (no MicroSD)
- 13/6MP rear and 13/13 front camera (12/10 rear and 12 front cameras)
- 11200mAh battery, 45W charge capable (10758mAh, 20W)
- USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps (Thunderbolt 4 40Gbps)
- From $1799 including S-Pen, but 12.4” S8+ is from $1499 (from $1649 Pencil extra $199)
- Optional Keyboard $349.30 (Magic Keyboard $549)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
|Website||Range and Wi-Fi version Product Page|
|Price||Wi-Fi 8/128GB $1799. |
Upgrade to 5G $200
Upgrade to 256GB $200
45W charger inc USB-C cable
$69 Ultra Standing Book Cover
$109 Ultra Book Cover
$149 Ultra Book Cover Keyboard $499
|From||Samsung online and approved retailers Harvey Norman, Domayne, Bing Lee etc|
|More||CyberShack Samsung News and Reviews|
We cover the essentials in a 5-minute read and then we attach our test results for those that need to know more. We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed.
The Galaxy Tab S8 family
We covered the release of the Galaxy Tab S8 family Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series comes in standard, plus, and ultra and the main differences are screen size (11” LCD, 12.4” sAMOLED and 14.6” sAMOLED).
As they all use the same processor, performance is pretty similar. My pick is the S8+ – it has a more manageable screen size.
First impression – big – Exceed
This is a huge tablet – a two-hand hold – and you need to remember that it is all glass on one side, very narrow bezels (that you can have edge detection issues with), and a vast Armor alloy back – and it is $2K. To our dismay, we nearly dropped it several times – it is not something that fits well on your lap. Take care of it by getting a keyboard/trackpad cover or a slipcover.
There is no denying that the fantastic Super AMOLED screen is the prime reason to buy. But remember that the 12.4” S8+ also has this screen, so you have a choice.
Screen: 2960 x 1848, 16:10, 120Hz Super AMOLED – Exceed
It earns Exceed because an AMOLED screen is rare on a tablet. But in a practical sense, it is a 60 or 120Hz (not adaptive) refresh rate, and while it claims HDR10,+ we suspect it downmixes that to the screen 16.7m colours. Great for video content, and the speakers add presence to movies.
It is colour accurate, and you could do further calibration with its colour temperature and RGB adjustments.
The screen is very good in sunlight but a little reflective in direct light. Off-angle viewing (with all OLED) is excellent.
Processor – Qualcomm SD8 Gen 1 – Exceed
I don’t want to get into arguments over Apple’s M1 and the SD8 Gen 1 because they run different operating systems that manage memory and other things very differently.
Suffice to say that the SoC (System-on-a-chip) has the most processing and graphics power in the Android world, and you can play any game, run any app and flog it under load – it can cope.
But we need to mention Samsung flagships are throttled – user discovery prompts action where Samsung may detect test software and manipulate results. As such, we cannot be sure our tests are accurate. For example, it Throttles 13% and delivers GIPS figures (precisely the same as the S22 Ultra) that we suspect are about manipulated by about 8-10% in Samsung’s favour. Samsung has offered to correct this detection in a future patch.
Still, all that aside, it’s a spectacular performer.
RAM and Storage – Too little – Pass
This is a serious device, and frankly, 8GB RAM and 128GB storage are not enough. Yes, you can use up to 1TB MicroSD, but its speeds are 88/36 versus 1080/202MBps. And while you can attach a portable SSD, It cannot be mounted as storage, so you can’t use it for live video recording etc.
Samsung has 12 and 16GB models overseas, and we hope they will make it here.
Gaming – Pass+ but be careful with the screen edge
It has a low 1.5ms G-t-G response at 120Hz, and the processor can play most games at full rate. PUBG Mobile runs a constant 40fps high quality and 60fps at the next lower detail level.
But the narrow bezels lead to lots of false ‘presses’ – edge detection needs improvement for this and typical use. We are also concerned that its size makes it easier to drop, and gamers should look for external handles (we cannot find any).
Comms – No NFC – Pass
Wi-Fi 6E AX, but we could only test on a Wi-Fi 6 router. It reaches 2161Mbps (2400 maximum) and would be faster again with 6E. Dual-band GPS is fast and accurate (it is in the Wi-Fi version too). BT 5.2 allows for multipoint, and you can use a pair of compatible Samsung buds to music share. While the SoC supports NFC, the tablet does not – no deal-breaker.
Where the Apple iPad Pro has it over this is its Thunderbolt 4 support (40Gbps) versus the USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps). Most expansion dongles will give you HDMI Out (generally 1080p@60Hz, but some are 4K@30Hz), USB-A, power passthrough and more, so you can use cabled keyboards and mice.
DeX mode and Windows with and without an external monitor – Exceed
Samsung Desktop eXperience (DeX) can load directly to the screen (as well as casting to a monitor over Wi-Fi or via USB-C to HDMI Cable). If you have the Book Cover Keyboard, you can use this ‘Windows-like’ Android desktop, albeit you need a mouse for any productivity. So, we recommend a Logitech K400 Plus keyboard touchpad for $99.95.
Using it as a Wi-Fi Direct screen on a Windows PC makes it very useful as an extra screen for remote workers.
5G version – not tested
Our review unit was Wi-Fi only, but we suspect that the 4/5G version would have good reception as there are four massive antennae – one on each corner. It has all Australian bands. You cannot use it as a phone without a SIP app like Google Duo.
Battery – Pass
It has to drive a big screen, and no matter how power efficient the AMOLED and SoC are, it maxes out at 11 hours of screen-on use (1080p video loop at 50% brightness/volume and aeroplane mode). The same test at 120Hz was just on 8 hours.
PC Mark and Accubattery confirm that the actual 60Hz screen-on use with Wi-Fi is about 8 hours. If you run it at 120Hz, that reduces to about 5 hours. Heavier loads will reduce that further.
No charger is supplied – it is 10V/4.5A/45W capable. If you buy a third-party USB-C PD charger, make sure it specifically supports 10V/4.5A/45W, or it will only charge at between 15-25W. Charge time is around 1 hour and about 2.5 hours with a 15W charger.
Speakers – quad (2 x 2.0 stereo) Exceed
It has one of the best sound signatures of any tablet tested because a) it can use larger speakers, and b) it has two on each side. It uses the same 2-channel amplifier as the S22 smartphones. To be clear, it is not 4.0 sound.
The speakers are on the landscape (short) sides and have a wider sound stage. It downmixes Dolby Atmos to 2.0, increasing the sound stage a little.
The maximum volume is around 80dB (a little above average), and it is fine for personal use.
The speakers have some mid-bass – impressive. The mid-high-treble is well controlled and removes the harshness, and gives a feeling of directionality. While it is a fairly neutral sound signature (good), it allows Dolby Atmos and the device EQ to tailor the sound to your tastes.
BT 5.2 supports SBC, AAC, aptX, LDAC and a Samsung scalable codec for its devices. It is loud, clear, and superb over BT headsets.
S-Pen – improved, but you ‘need to need’ it – Pass
This new single-button S-Pen has Wacom support (very accurate), BT connection and Wireless charging – making it more useful. It has the usual 4096 levels of pressure and docks/charges on the back near the camera hump. That is a little dicey as the magnets are not that strong and it was often knocked off the perch. Fortunately, a replacement is only $59.99. The tips are replaceable as well.
Pre-installed software includes Samsung Notes (notetaking and sketching app with text recognition and more), ClipStudio Paint (trial) – a sketching tool with layer support and loads of brush options, and there’s a handwriting keyboard too. LamaFusion (trial) provides video editing.
Third-party S Pen apps are also available – Autodesk Sketchbook, Concepts, and Wacom Bamboo Paper to name a few.
Android – Exceed
Samsung’s smartphone policy is up to four years of upgrades and five years of security patches – Exceed.
This makes owning one better and more secure for longer. That means Android 12 may reach Android 15!
One UI 4.1 is a light touch over Android and allows for its Samsung customisations. But we are growing more concerned at the need to sign up for a Samsung Account to access anything in its Theme or Galaxy App store – it is bad enough that Google knows all about us.
Our advice is not to use Samsung apps that substitute for Google ones, especially if you brand swap and want seamless changeovers.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra Camera – remarkably good in day and office light = Pass+
The camera has more limited functionality than its smaller smartphone siblings, but it uses the same camera App and the Qualcomm S8 Gen 1 AI. It produces great day and office light shots, albeit with fewer functions. In all, it is way better than social media class shots. We won’t rate its performance.
The selfie uses two 13MP – one set up for single selfies and the other for groups. Again, perfect in day or office light.
Video is 4K@30fps with EIS (electronic image stabilisation). Here the extra mic on the rear camera jump really works well.
CyberShack’s view – Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra – there is no better!
It is huge, and you will either love or hate that. But it also has a smaller 12.4” brother, the S8+, that is $300 cheaper and may be more for your needs.
It took me a while to get used to it over my usual 12.4” Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE, but now I have experienced AMOLED and the Qualcomm SD8 Gen 1 SoC, it will be hard to go back.
And you definitely need the Keyboard cover/trackpad/stand (not reviewed) if you want to make the most of this device. Make sure you buy the version with the trackpad.
I am not going to recommend you rush out and buy it because, like its competitor, the iPad Pro, you need a ‘use case’. Otherwise, you are wasting money when all you need is a Galaxy Tab A8 starting from $369. It is just as good for movies, music, web surfing and all the general tablet stuff.
You buy this because you have a real use for the S Pen, DeX, or need to run some pretty powerful art Apps like Clip Studio Paint, LamaFusion, Adobe PaintCan, Adobe Illustrator Draw etc.
Still, it is nice to aspire to the best.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
|Model||Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra|
|Model Number||SM-X900 Wi-Fi|
SM-X906 Wi-Fi and 5G
|Price Base||$1799 Wi-Fi|
$1999 Wi-Fi and 5G
|Price 2||8/246GB +$200|
|Website||Wi-Fi version and 5G 5G version|
|From||Samsung online and major retailers. Don’t buy grey market. The certified version has Wi-Fi 6E that only works with Australian bands, and 5G only works with Australian carriers.|
|Country of Origin||Korea|
|Other models not for Australia (Don’t buy)||Do not buy overseas models B, U or N (after the X900/906)|
|Flat, Curve, 2D, 3D||Top ‘Apple-like’ notch|
|Resolution||2960 x 1848|
|Screen to Body %||90+%|
|Colours bits||16m 8-bit|
|Refresh Hz, adaptive||60 or 120Hz – not adaptive|
|Response 120Hz||Not disclosed|
|Nits test||Not disclosed, but around 600 nits (tested 590/350 with ambient light sensor on/off)|
|Nits max, test||Peak brightness is not disclosed. HDR10+ requires more than 800 nits, but the screen would not go past 750.|
|Rec.2020 or other||RGB and temperature adjustment (default 6400 is slightly cold)|
|Delta E (<4 is excellent)||3|
|HDR Level||Plays up to HDR10+ locking refresh rate to 120Hz|
|Blue light control||Yes|
|PWM if known||All AMOLED use PWM 250Hz approx.|
|Always on Display||Yes|
|Accessibility||Full suite of enhancements|
|DRM||Widevine L1 1080p HDR (but we suspect it downmixes to SDR)|
|Screen protection||Gorilla Glass 5|
|Comment||Ambient light sensor|
Second Screen means use as an additional display on a Windows PC or as a drawing tablet (like a Wacom tablet – only not quite as precise). Connection is via Wi-Fi Direct (Miracast)
|Brand, Model||Qualcomm SD8 Gen 1|
|Cores||Octa-core (1×2.8GHz + 3×2.50GHz + 4×1.8 GHz)|
|Geekbench 5 Single-core||1220|
|Geekbench 5 multi-core||3237|
|Like||Samsung results are still unreliable because its Game Optimisation Software detects test software.|
|RAM, type||8GB LDDDR5|
|Storage, free, type||128 UFS 3.1 (approx 100GB free)|
|micro-SD||To 1TB – dedicated slot|
|CPDT internal seq. Read MBps||1080|
|CPDT internal seq. write MBps||202|
|CPDT microSD read, write MBps||88/36|
|CPDT external (mountable?) MBps||Won’t test – seen as external storage but can’t mount as internal storage.|
|Comment||Without mountable external storage, seen as internal storage, videographers and vloggers will soon run out of space.|
|Comment||Interestingly Max GIPS is lower than the S22, S22+ at 308,173, showing that the processor has been slowed by 6.5% hence Throttling is at 13% instead of 21%.|
|Wi-Fi Type, model||6E AX BCM4389C1 VHT160 (note certified version for Australia – international versions will not connect at 6E speeds)|
|Test 2m -dBm, Mbps||-11/2161|
|Test 10m||-50/1441 to 2161|
|GPS single, dual||Dual <4M accuracy|
|USB type||3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) with alt DP|
|Alt DP, DeX, Ready For||Cable and Wireless Dex, Alt DP screen mirror|
|Accelerometer||Yes – combo with Gyro|
|Gyro||Yes – combo with Gyro|
|Comment||Collaboration view allows you to use a Tab S8 as a screen.|
LTE and 5G
|SIM||The test unit was Wi-Fi only, but 5G has a single sim and microSD dedicated slot|
|VoLTE||Required SIP app like Google Duo – not a phone|
|Wi-Fi calling||Not tested|
|4G Bands||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, 25, 26, 28, 32, 38, 40, 41, 66|
|Comment||All Australian and most world bands|
|5G sub-6Ghz||N1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40, 41, 77, 66, 78|
|Comment||All sub-6Ghz and 5G low bands|
|Charger, type, supplied||No – suggest Samsung 45W or GaN PD and must buy a 5W rating cable. Note third-party chargers must support 10V/4.5A t charge at 45W.|
|PD, QC level||3, 2.0|
|Reverse Qi or cable||N/A|
|Test (60Hz or adaptive screen)|
|Charge % 30mins||40%|
|Charge 0-100%||1 hour with Samsung 45W charger|
|Charge Qi, W||N/A|
|Charge 5V, 2A||5V/3A/15W 2.5-3 hours|
|Video loop 50%, aeroplane||11 hours|
|PC Mark 3 battery||8 hours and 2 minutes|
Accubattery 8 hours 10 minutes
|GFX Bench Manhattan battery||Out-of-memory error (shoulds not occur with a Qualcomm SoC)|
|GFX Bench T-Rex||227.9 minutes (3.8 hours) 6607 frames|
|Drain 100-0% full load screen on||5 hours and 25 minutes|
|Watt full load||.3W|
|Watt idle Screen on||.85 to 1W|
|Estimate loss at max refresh||30% for 120Hz screen|
|Estimate typical use||It has to run a big screen at 60 or 120Hz. PC Mark is the best estimate of typical use at between 5-8 hours.|
|Comment||Carry a charger (shame Samsung does not provide one). The Out of memory error should not occur on a Qualcomm SoC.|
|Speakers||Quad 2 x 2.0 stereo – two per landscape side|
|AMP||2 x Cirrus Logic CS35L41 each 5.3W, 1% THD, 8 ohm|
|Dolby Atmos decode||Yes, downmix to two speakers (two per side)|
|BT Codecs||SBC, AAC, aptX , LDAC|
|Multipoint||Can connect to two devices|
|Dolby Atmos (DA)||Yes – auto, movie, music, voice and games mode|
|EQ||Normal, Pop, Classic, Jazz, Rock and Custom – makes more of a difference in headphones as inbuilt speakers limit what it can do.|
|Mics||3 (top, left side and on rear camera hump) for some background noise suppression|
|Test dB – all on EQ flat DA off|
|Hands-free||Not really designed as a phone but Hands-free duo call was fine to about 1 metre|
|BT headphones||Excellent left-right separation and DA makes quite a difference with DA content.|
|Deep Bass 20-40Hz||No|
|Middle Bass 40-100Hz||Building from 70Hz – excellent|
|High Bass 100-200Hz||Building to 200Hz|
|Low Mid 200-400Hz||Flat|
|Low Treble 2-4kHz||Flat|
|Mid Treble 4-6kHz||Flat|
|High Treble 6-10kHz||slight decline|
|Dog Whistle 10-20kHz||Decline to 17kHz|
|Sound Signature type||It has enough mid-bass to give a surprisingly good low end. It has strong mids and low-mid treble for a neutral sound signature – perfect for movies and music.|
|Soundstage||Having four speakers (driven by two amps) means it can give you a wider sound stage. With Dolby Atmos content, it was even wider and had hints of height.|
|Comment||Having some mid-bass is impressive. The mid-high-treble is well controlled and removes the harshness, and gives a feeling of directionality.|
Personal Audio Test works with wired or Bluetooth headphones to boost frequencies you have trouble hearing. Ambient Sound Amplification mode captures sound through the phone’s mic and to your headphones.
|Size (H X W x D)||208.6 x 326.4 x 5.5|
|Front glass||Gorilla Glass 5|
|Pen, Stylus support||Yes – 3.4g, 4-96 pressure levels, 2.8ms latency Inbox and 88 language translation support|
|In the box|
|USB cable||USB-A to USB-C rated 3W – you need a 5W cable to charge at 45W|
|Buds||USB-A to USB-C rated 3W – you need a 5W cable to charge at 45W|
|Comment||Stylus included. A solid Armor Aluminium frame make it a keeper.|
|Security patch date||1-May-22|
|UI||One U1 4.1|
|OS upgrade policy||Up to 4 OS upgrades|
|Security patch policy||Regular security patches four years|
|Bloatware||Samsung alternative to Google suite. Microsoft suite and OneDrive (requires subscription)|
|Other||Selection of Galaxy Apps|
|Comment||Great upgrade policy and One UI is easy to use|
|Fingerprint sensor location, type||Ultrasonic Under glass|
|Other||Knox and Secure folder|
|Comment||One of the more secure Android devices|
Camera Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
|Sensor||Hynix HI1337 (part of its Black Pearl series – slightly older tech and not as well known as Samsung or Sony sensors)|
|FOV° (stated, actual)||67-79°|
|Sensor||Hynix HI847 8MP cropped|
|FOV (stated, actual)||104-116°|
|Video max||4K@30fps EIS|
|QR code reader||Yes|
|Sensor||Hynix HI1337 (same as the rear sensor)|
|FOV (stated, actual)||68.8-81.1°|
|Comment||Has an additional 13MP front sensor., f2.4, 1um, 99.4-111.7° for wide-angle selfies|
|You won’t find a faster, more fully-featured 2022 Android tablet|
|Only because it does not come with a 45W charger. Good hardware costs this much.|
|It has the most powerful Android processor but that and the big screen reduce battery life.|
|Ease of Use||9|
|Samsungs 2-year warranty, OS and security policy are excellent. Try before you buy as 14..6″ in big – two-handed use only.|
|Elegant, well made and a looker with that lovely saturated, immersive AMOLED screen|
|Rating out of 10||8.6|
|Final comment||The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the ultimate in a 2022 table. Everything is good – very little room for improvement (I think I said that about the 2021 Tab S7 too|
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 UltraFrom $1799 to 2399
- Most powerful 2022 Android processor
- Giant screen is colourful and immersive
- Beautifully built and 2-year warranty
- Great Android OS and security patch policy
- Included S Pen is accurate and fast
- Small bezels result in poor edge detection
- Not all Android Apps handle tablet form
- No adaptive screen refresh rate
- No adaptive screen refresh rate
- Very expensive – the S8+ may be better for you