Update March 2017: Samsung's refresh of the Galaxy Tab S line at MWC 2017 means it was also time for an update of this list.

Best overall

Galaxy Tab S3

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

See at Samsung

After well over a year of waiting, we now have a successor to the Tab S2 9.7 — the Galaxy Tab S3. It has a big and beautiful display of the same size, but the hardware has been upped considerably to a full metal and glass frame. The insides jump to the near-latest available with a Snapdragon 820, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (plus SD card) and USB-C charging.

The Tab S3 has also added a brand new S Pen that brings all of the features of the now-defunct Galaxy Note 7 but with a larger form factor that's easy to use. The tablet is also designed to be used with a full-sized physical keyboard case that connects directly to the tablet without batteries or Bluetooth.

Android tablets still have issues with software and app compatibility, but this is quite easily Samsung's best overall tablet yet.

Bottom line: The Tab S3 is great for those who need a tablet that can do it all.

One more thing: You really should consider the keyboard attachment for getting work done.

Why the Galaxy Tab S3 is the best

Samsung saw better sales and usage of its larger Galaxy Tab S2 9.7, and chose to put all of its efforts into a tablet of the same size when it refreshed the line. At the same time, it aimed to bring the Tab S line closer to its Galaxy phones in terms of hardware, design and features.

The Galaxy Tab S3, as a result, seems to be a bit more refined and well-considered than its predecessor. It's extremely thin and relatively light, while feeling more solid thanks to a solid glass back and rounded metal frame. The hardware isn't necessarily stunning or innovative, but that's less important than the functionality.

That functionality is seriously increased thanks to the new internal specs that are on par with a late-2016 high-end phone, as well as the launch of a full-featured keyboard accessory and a new S Pen that is included with the tablet.

This obviously positions the Galaxy Tab S3 as a bit more of a creative and productivity device, but it will satisfy all of the entertainment needs of its users as well. That balance means this will be a solid choice for a wide variety of potential buyers, so long as they're willing to pay the high price it will command.

Best smaller screen

Galaxy Tab S2 8.0

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

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When Samsung refreshed its Tab S line, it chose to go with a single large model rather than a dual strategy like the Tab S2 series. For this reason, the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is still a recommendation for those who have to have a smaller size and are willing to pay a little more than the new and small — but not very nice — offerings from Samsung.

Though the Tab S2 8.0 feels a bit dated in terms of its plastic back and Micro-USB port — particularly when compared to the new Tab S3 — it's still incredibly thin and light with a great screen. It's still a great choice for using in one hand whether you're browsing through apps or playing a few games.

Bottom line: If you like Samsung's hardware and software, but don't want one of the new cheap-feeling models, consider the last-generation Tab S2 8.0.

One more thing: Because it's getting old, don't count on too many more software updates.

Best for less

Galaxy Tab A 10.1

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1

See at Amazon

We get it, Samsung's top-end tablets also come with top-end prices. If you don't want to shell out $500+ for a big Galaxy Tab S3, we wouldn't blame you for looking at the Galaxy Tab A series instead. If you want the Samsung software and design at a lower price, we recommend the Galaxy Tab A 10.1, which comes in at $299 retail.

So where does it make those savings? Well, a little bit of everywhere. The Galaxy Tab A 10.1 has a lower-resolution 1920x1200 display, a bit lower-end processor, less RAM at 2GB and less storage at 16GB. It also lacks a fingerprint sensor.

But in general, while it doesn't have the highest-end specs and features, it can still get the job done for someone who wants a big tablet for casual browsing and media reading. The 10.1-inch display will give you more than enough room to run multiple windows at once, though it won't be as portable as something like the Tab S2 8.0.

Bottom line: To get the best bang for your buck with a big screen, you'll want the Galaxy Tab A 10.1.

One more thing: Because of the 16GB internal storage, you'll want to invest a little in a microSD card to expand for media.

Conclusion

If you want a Samsung tablet that's fast, feature-packed and with a great screen that also offers productivity choices in terms of a keyboard and stylus, the Galaxy Tab S3 is absolutely the top choice.

Best overall

Galaxy Tab S3

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

See at Samsung

After well over a year of waiting, we now have a successor to the Tab S2 9.7 — the Galaxy Tab S3. It has a big and beautiful display of the same size, but the hardware has been upped considerably to a full metal and glass frame. The insides jump to the near-latest available with a Snapdragon 820, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (plus SD card) and USB-C charging.

The Tab S3 has also added a brand new S Pen that brings all of the features of the now-defunct Galaxy Note 7 but with a larger form factor that's easy to use. The tablet is also designed to be used with a full-sized physical keyboard case that connects directly to the tablet without batteries or Bluetooth.

Android tablets still have issues with software and app compatibility, but this is quite easily Samsung's best overall tablet yet.

Bottom line: The Tab S3 is great for those who need a tablet that can do it all.

One more thing: You really should consider the keyboard attachment for getting work done.