Excellent battery life
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and Galaxy Tab S7 Plus represent the cream of Samsung’s tablet crop. These slates, which share most features other than screen and battery size, are meant to entice mobile pros with their high-refresh rate displays, premium materials and build quality, and powerful performance.
But do these tablets go far enough to take a bite out of Apple’s tablet supremacy? We find out in the Android Authority Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review.
Design and display: Class all the way
- 253.8 x 165.3 x 6.3mm
- 498g (Wi-Fi), 500g (LTE), 502g (5G)
- 11-inch TFT LCD
- 2,560 x 1,600 (WQXGA), 120Hz
- 285 x 185 x 5.7mm
- 12.4-inch Super AMOLED
- 2,800 x 1,752 (WQXGA+), 120Hz
Samsung aimed high and hit the mark with the Tab S7 and S7 Plus. The design of the Tab S7 bears more than a passing resemblance to Apple’s iPad Pro, thanks to the flat side edges, the size and basic shape of the screen, and even the button, speaker, and port placement. The hardware looks and feels great. Some might call them copycats, though they are clear upgrades to last year’s Tab S6.
Unlike today’s phones, which rely on lots of glass, the bulk of the S7’s chassis is aluminum. The sides have a polished chrome-like look, while the metal rear panel is flat in both shape and finish. The materials are top notch and fitted together perfectly. I’d call the smaller Galaxy Tab S7 compact and slim, as well as comfortable to tote around at 1.1lbs (500g). The 12.4-inch Tab S7 Plus is less easy to use (it feels huge), and is weighty to a small degree at 1.27lbs (575g).
Read more: Here’s everything new in Samsung One UI 3.0
There’s lots going on around the outer edge. The top edge of the tablet (when held sideways) holds the screen lock / power button, volume toggle, SIM/memory card tray, and microphone. I particularly like that the power button has a built-in fingerprint scanner (11-inch model only). This serves as a good backup for the facial recognition feature should you choose. It was quick to program and convenient to use. I wish the larger model had a fingerprint reader, too. The USB-C port is on the right edge. Speaker grilles are visible near the four corners. The bottom houses the pogo pin connector that is used to power the keyboard accessory. Basically, it has everything but a headphone jack.
On the back you’ll notice the slightly raised camera module in one corner and a dedicated magnetic strip for the S Pen stylus. The S Pen adheres to the magnetic strip strongly enough, but I’d still worry about losing it were the pair tossed into a backpack. Thankfully, the (optional) keyboard accessory includes a protective flap for the S Pen.
The Tab S7 relies on an LCD panel, while the Tab S7 Plus is gifted with a Super AMOLED.
The 11- and 12.4-inch tablets use different base screen technologies. The Tab S7 relies on an LCD panel, while the bigger slate is gifted with a Super AMOLED screen. Both offer a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth operation. I found the screen of the Tab S7 to be bright and sharp. The LCD looked excellent and offered solid contrast when compared to the larger AMOLED display of the 12.4-inch model. Viewing angles were very, very good. The 16:10 aspect ratio strikes a nice balance between tablet- and laptop-friendly use. The display of the larger tablet is simply stunning in every way.
The 120Hz panel means content on the screens looks exceptionally smooth. Whether I was browsing the web, watching Netflix, or playing games, the screens exhibited a liquid-y flow that’s easy to get used to. I wish the glass were less reflective and less prone to collecting fingerprints, but these are common complaints for modern touch panels.
Related: Apple iPad Pro review
Combining the high-quality hardware with the luscious LCD and Super AMOLED displays means the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and S7 Plus are a pair of sultry slates that are easy to desire.
- Snapdragon 865 Plus
- 6/8GB RAM, 128/256/512GB storage
- 8,000/10,090mAh battery
- 45W super fast charging
There’s no questioning the performance of the Tab S7 and S7 Plus. With Qualcomm’s fastest chip on board, the tablets are processing beasts. Samsung lent us the model with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. Even though we feel 6GB of RAM is the minimum needed for today’s top Android devices, we found it caused no performance issues here.
The tablets ran a handful of benchmarking apps with no trouble, scoring in the top percentiles and showcasing smooth performance across the board. More to the point, in daily use I didn’t notice any stutters, lagging, or frame drops. These things are top performers, whether you’re battling Fortnite or an Excel spreadsheet.
Samsung promises the Galaxy Tab S7 and S7 Plus will deliver between 14 and 15 hours of battery life while watching video, and that’s what they delivered. I was only able to get the tablets to cycle through battery life a few times over the course of a week, but they always managed at least 14 hours — which outlasts the iPad Pro by several hours.
The 8,000mAh (11-inch) and 10,090mAh (12.4-inch) batteries do take some time to charge. The tablets support charging at up to 45W, but they ship with a paltry 18W charger. That’s aggravating. I found the Tab S7 needed more than three hours to charge fully from dead, while the S7 Plus required close to four hours. Samsung could have at least included a 25W charger in the box. It’s best to leave the Tab S7 and Tab S7 Plus charging overnight. The tablets don’t offer any other fancy charging features, such as Wireless Power Share for accessories.
- Android 10
- Samsung One UI 2.5
The tablet ships with Android 10 and Samsung’s latest 10-based One UI, version 2.5. It’s a shame Samsung didn’t have Android 11 ready to go in time, though it is already beta testing Android 11 and One UI 3. Samsung hasn’t said how quickly the tablets will receive Android 11 / One UI 3, but it will likely be a few months.
The software experience is a mixed bag. Android tablets often deliver an achingly awkward experience, but Samsung has smoothed over some of the rough spots. You can use the tablet just as you would a smartphone, particularly one such as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The Tab S7 and Tab S7 Plus carry over all the software features of the new Note 20 line, which means you have notes that sync across devices, as well as various stylus-based activities.
Not all apps are optimized for Android tablets and it shows.
Not all apps are optimized for Android tablets, and it continues to be the lynchpin that fails the Tab S7 and Tab S7 Plus over and over. Samsung optimized its own apps for the tablet, sure, but the majority of Android apps simply don’t adjust well to the landscape orientation. This leaves them looking and behaving in unpolished ways that detract from the experience. Top-notch hardware only gets your product so far. Things start to fall apart for the Tab S7 and S7 Plus when you dig deep enough into the software.
Then there’s DeX. DeX is Samsung’s Windows-like desktop environment that is more conducive to productivity. The main feature of DeX is that you can run multiple apps at a time in separate windows. However, the windows aren’t the easiest to manage. I particularly like DeX for work time. It’s simple enough to master and is just powerful enough to let me get work done as though I was using a full computer. That said, it’s no Chrome OS, nor is it Windows. It’s limited and sometimes apps don’t know how to behave.
DeX can also cast to other screens for more real estate, be it a monitor or TV set, via HDMI and (now) wirelessly. I found the wireless option didn’t work with my older Samsung TV. A trusty old HDMI cable worked just fine. I don’t see too many road warriors packing these cables, though, and don’t expect too many people to be making use of the casting ability.
The good news here is that it’s easy to toggle between the normal Android experience and DeX. This almost gives you the impression you have two tablets, which makes it easy to separate work from play. Still, the app experience for Android tablets simply can’t hold a candle to the iPad.
S Pen and keyboard
- 147 x 8.2mm
- Magnetic connector/charger
Unlike then Apple iPad Pro (or any iPad for that matter), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and Tab S7 Plus actually ship with an S Pen stylus. This is a full-sized stylus that looks and feels like a legit pen. Samsung revised the S Pen compared to the one that accompanied last year’s Tab S6. I found the shape and materials comfortable to hold and use over time and the button worked well. The S Pen slaps up against a magnetic strip on the back of the tablet where it is easily jarred loose.
The S Pen has access to the entire suite of software that’s found on the Note 20 Ultra smartphone. That means the new and advanced Notes app, as well as screen write, live messages, AR doodle, and translate. These are all accessed via a sidebar menu that floats along the right edge of the screen. The S Pen supports the new Air Actions as well, which let you go back a screen or take a screenshot by drawing squiggles in the air while holding the button down. It takes practice to get these right and I’m not entirely sure they’re useful.
The Samsung Book Cover keyboard is absolutely necessary.
The Samsung Book Cover keyboard is absolutely necessary to complete the experience of using the Galaxy Tab S7. For starters, it provides a protective shell for the tablet. I wouldn’t want to carry the tablet around without one. The rear piece adheres to the metal back panel magnetically. It includes a kickstand as well as a flap for protecting and accessing the S Pen. The other half of the Book Cover connects to the bottom edge. You have to take care to align the pogo pins correctly, but once it’s locked into place it stays firmly attached.
I like this year’s Book Cover keyboard much more than I did last year’s. The keys are a more natural shape and have good travel and feedback. More importantly, the trackpad works really well. It’s relatively large, quick, and accurate. It features a dedicated button for taking screenshots, which I appreciate, but there are no function keys for changing the display brightness or speaker volume on the keyboard for the 11-inch model. For what it’s worth, the Book Cover keyboard for the larger 12.4-inch Tab S7 Plus model does include function keys.
Related: Best iPad accessories
Together, the S Pen and Book Cover complete the Galaxy Tab S7, giving it the productivity chops it needs to take on the iPad. It’s a shame the Books Cover isn’t included and that it costs so much more. The smaller Book Cover is $200, while the larger one is $230. The only saving grace is that, for a short time, Samsung is offering the keyboard for 50% off when ordered with a new Galaxy Tab S7 or S7 Plus.
- Main: 13MP
- Ultra wide: 5MP
- Front: 8MP
Samsung copy-and-pasted the camera app from its smartphones to the Tab S7. It’s a robust app that actually includes a lot of shooting modes, including single take, live focus, panorama, hyperlapse, and so on. I found the app opened swiftly and was quick to focus and take pictures.
The results leave a bit to be desired. The biggest issue I saw was noise, which is prevalent whether you’re shooting in good conditions or not. (Granted, using tablets for photography still appears to be taboo.) It’s one of those cameras that’s nice to have in a pinch, but I can’t imagine most people will use the main shooters for anything other than spur-of-the-moment shots.
The user-facing camera is more important because it doubles as the camera for video calls. It does a fine job, better than my laptop even. I was impressed with the quality of the selfie camera across the board.
Check out: Note 20 Ultra camera vs S20 Ultra camera
Believe it or not, you can record video up to 4K at 30fps. It’s not the cleanest or most colorful video that I’ve seen, but it’s more than serviceable.
Galaxy Tab S7 and S7 Plus specs
|Samsung Galaxy Tab S7||Galaxy Tab S7 Plus|
|Display||11-inch TFT LCD|
2,560 x 1,600 (WQXGA)
|12.4-inch Super AMOLED 2,800 x 1,752 (WQXGA+)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+|
|Memory / storage||6GB/128GB|
Ultra Wide: 5MP
Ultra Wide: 5MP
|Dimensions||253.8 x 165.3 x 6.3mm||285 x 185 x 5.7mm|
|Weight||498g (Wi-Fi), 500g (LTE), 502g (5G),||575G (all variants)|
Value and competition
- Galaxy Tab S7: 6GB/128GB — $650
- Galaxy Tab S7: 8GB/256GB — $730
- Galaxy Tab S7: 8GB/512GB — $830
- Galaxy Tab S7: 6GB/128GB, w/LTE/5G — $850
- Tab S7 Plus: 6GB/128GB — $850
- Tab S7 Plus: 8GB/256GB — $930
- Tab S7 Plus: 8GB/512GB — $1,030
- Tab S7 Plus: 6GB/128GB, w/LTE/5G — $1,050
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and S7 Plus come in myriad configurations. You can order up as much RAM and storage as you want, and toss in LTE/5G for good measure. I think the base price for each tablet is reasonable. It’s probably worth the $80 upgrade to bump the RAM to 8GB and storage to 256GB. That’s a no-brainer. The real stinger is the cost of the LTE model versus what you’re getting. It’s limited to the lower RAM/storage combo, which doesn’t make much sense.
More importantly, however, is the added cost of the Book Cover. Adding $200/$230 to the price of the tablet is no laughing matter. There is value there, sure, but it is painful. As I noted earlier, right now Samsung is offering the Book Cover’s at half price when ordered with the Tab S7. I strongly suggest you take advantage of that deal while it’s available.
The LTE model is limited to the lower RAM/storage combo, which doesn't make much sense.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and S7 Plus have more competitors than you might think. In the premium tablet space, there is the iPad Pro, which more or less owns the category. The iPad Pro is still the most dominant tablet, and deservedly so. It has the app experience that most people want, but Apple’s hardware is expensive.
Some might consider the Huawei MatePad Pro, but the software story there is even more concerning. While the hardware is top notch, the MatePad doesn’t have access to the Google Play Store and app selection is limited.
Then there is the Microsoft Surface family of tablets. The story there is similar to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7: You have to get the keyboard for the tablet to be of any real use. The Surface is expensive, but it is high quality and offers a full version of Windows.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review: Should you buy it?
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and Tab S7 Plus are two of the highest-quality Android tablets you can buy. There’s no question that these slates are appealing as far as the hardware is concerned. With excellent craftsmanship, the metal chassis and stunning displays are something to lust over. Performance is best-in-class, and battery life is absolutely stellar. The cameras leave a bit to be desired, but that’s par for the course on a tablet. Samsung’s own apps look and function great on the Tab S7 and S7 Plus, but the majority of Android apps fall a bit on their face. As long as you can look past the software shortcomings, these are the top Android tablets to get.