Skip to main content

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 hands-on: notch your ordinary Android tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Hands On Hero
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Hands On Hero (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

If you're anything like me, you've never much cared for Android tablets. While there are some worthwhile releases that filled a niche here and there, Samsung is hoping its new line of Galaxy Tab S8 tablets resets your expectations of what an Android tablet can be.

This time around, Samsung is offering up three varieties of the Galaxy Tab S8 for you to choose from. The least expensive Galaxy Tab S8 is the smallest one, while the Galaxy Tab S8 offers a larger body and display, and the Tab S8 Ultra slims up those bezels in an effort to better compete with the iPad Pro.

To reinforce the idea that these are the Android tablets to get, Samsung packed the best new mobile processor into each and every model, included an S Pen in the box, and even sells a handy keyboard case for each which you can get free if you preorder a Tab S8 now.

So with a line of tablets to fit a range of budgets and needs, can Samsung finally fulfill the needs of buyers everywhere? Our Galaxy Tab S8 hands-on might just help you decide.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 hands-on: Price and availability

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

All three models of Galaxy Tab S8 are available to preorder right now and, as an added bonus, Samsung will throw in a free keyboard case with every preorder. As you'll find out in the hands-on below, this keyboard tray is an absolute must-have accessory for the tablet and completely changes how it looks and feels.

The smallest of the three is the Galaxy Tab S8 with an 11-inch 120Hz LCD display, which starts at $700 for the model with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. An upgraded model with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage can be had for a bit more money.

The slightly larger Galaxy Tab S8+ increases the screen size to 12.4-inches, swaps out the LCD for a 120Hz AMOLED panel, and starts at $900 for 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. Again, Samsung is offering up an upgraded version with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage for a bit more.

The creme de la creme of the bunch is the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, which increases the display size to a whopping 14.6-inches and has the highest-quality 120Hz AMOLED panel. This one starts at $1,100 for the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage model, and offers two additional upgrades: 12GB + 256GB, and 16GB + 512GB.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 hands-on: Triple threat design

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra With Keyboard

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

The first thing you'll notice when using any of the three Tab S8 models is the almost complete lack of bezels. The two smaller Tab S8 models feature thicker bezels all around the screen, but those bezels are completely uniform all the way around.

That means the smaller two Tab S8 models are easily the most comfortable to hold, and that's before mentioning the size.

The Tab S8 Ultra — pictured above — slims those bezels down considerably, keeping the uniform shape everywhere except for one side where a notch exists. Because of how Samsung designed the tablet and the accompanying software, the notch is no big deal when you're using it in landscape mode.

CategoryGalaxy Tab S8Galaxy Tab S8 PlusGalaxy Tab S8 Ultra
ChipsetSnapdragon 8 Gen 1Snapdragon 8 Gen 1Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Display11-inch LCD (120Hz)
2560 x 1600
12.4-inch Super AMOLED (120Hz)
2800 x 1752
14.6-inch Super AMOLED (120Hz)
2960 x 1848
Memory8GB8GB8GB, 12GB, or 16GB
Storage128GB or 256GB128GB or 256GB128GB, 256GB, or 512GB
Rear Camera13MP AF + 6MP UW + Flash13MP AF + 6MP UW + Flash13MP AF + 6MP UW + Flash
Front Camera12MP UW12MP UW12MP FF + 12MP UW
Battery8,000mAh Li-Ion
45W Fast Charging
10,090mAh Li-Ion
45W Fast Charging
11,200mAh Li-Ion
45W Fast Charging
AudioQuad Speakers + Dolby AtmosQuad Speakers + Dolby AtmosQuad Speakers + Dolby Atmos
AuthenticationFace Unlock, fingerprint on power buttonFace Unlock, on-display fingerprint sensorFace Unlock, on-display fingerprint sensor
ConnectivityWiFi 6E (6GHz)
Bluetooth 5.2
WiFi 6E (6GHz)
Bluetooth 5.2
5G (optional)
WiFi 6E (6GHz)
Bluetooth 5.2
S Pen✔️✔️ (Improved low latency)✔️ (Improved low latency)
microSD card slot✔️ (up to 1TB)✔️ (up to 1TB)✔️ (up to 1TB)
3.5mm headphone jack🚫🚫🚫
Dimensions9.99" x 6.51" x 0.25"11.22" x 7.28" x 0.22"12.85" x 8.21" x 0.22"
Weight1.10 lb1.27 lb1.60 lb
ColorsGraphite, Silver, Pink GoldGraphite, Silver, Pink GoldGraphite

I didn't notice the notch at all when using the Tab S8 Ultra in landscape orientation.

That's because the status bar remains black in most apps and, because this is an OLED display, blends right in with the notch itself. Samsung says it was unable to retain camera quality with such tiny bezels so it had to add a small notch to the device.

As Michael pointed out in his editorial on the notch itself, I didn't notice it at all when using the tablet in landscape.

Holding it in portrait mode is a bit of a different story.

There's no getting around the existence of the notch when held like this but, to be realistic, it's not likely that you're going to hold this tablet in portrait mode for very long. That's because the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is huge. With a 14.6-inch screen and tiny bezels, this simply is not a tablet that you're going to want to hold for any length of time.

Aside from the sheer bulk of the device, having almost no bezels means there's basically nowhere to comfortably hold such a large screen. I can see plenty of hands getting tired and cramped after just a minute or two after holding it. Really, if you want a tablet to watch content in bed or just to hold on the couch, this isn't the one you should pick.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra Kickstand

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

It's not likely that you're going to hold this tablet in portrait mode for very long. That's because the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is huge.

Rather, the Tab S8 Ultra is much better off as a laptop replacement-style tablet, especially when paired with the keyboard case. The keyboard itself magnetically clasps onto the bottom of the tablet — the bottom of which is defined when holding in landscape orientation with the notch on the top — and the back cover stays strongly magnetically attached to the tablet even with the keyboard detached.

In fact, I thought this back cover was part of the tablet when I first picked it up. The magnetic attachment is extremely strong and the kickstand and S Pen holder are designed in a way that feels as if they were supposed to be there in the first place. Honestly, I don't understand why Samsung would ship this tablet without this keyboard case. It really makes all the difference in the world.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 S Pen

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

Each Tab S8 model does ship with an S Pen, thankfully, but doesn't have any sort of slot to dock the S Pen in.

The rest of the smaller Tab S8 family is certainly more hand-friendly given the size, weight, and inclusion of larger bezels. Normally, on phones, I'm a stickler for tiny bezels. Tablets, on the other hand, require at least a finger's-width of a bezel to remain comfortable to hold for any period of time.

The Tab S8 and Tab S8+ certainly fit that description and at 1.10lb or 1.27lb are actually reasonably comfortable to hold for a good bit of time.

The corners are smoothly chamfered, too, which further aided in enhancing the comfort level for handheld use. If you've ever used a Galaxy Tab S7, you'll feel right at home here. The design is essentially the same.

Each Tab S8 model does ship with an S Pen, thankfully, but doesn't have any sort of slot to dock the S Pen in. Rather, you'll be magnetically attaching the S Pen where you find it convenient. The S Pen itself has a flat side that attaches to most of the surface area of the Tab S8, meaning you can snap it to wherever is most convenient.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra S Pen

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

For me, having that keyboard case with the built-in flap for S Pen storage just made more sense, though. It fits perfectly inside and, since the flap is magnetically attached to the tablet, means you won't easily lose the pen so long as you're putting it back in its proper place when you're done using it.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 hands-on: Software made for a tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra With Keyboard Multitask S Pen

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

Along with this new hardware release is an updated version of Samsung's One UI 4, built upon Android 12. One UI 4.1 brings along smoother multitasking and multi-window support, including the ability to split the screen up to three ways. We saw this functionality on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 when it launched last Fall and now it's here to stay on the tablet side.

Resizing windows is effortless and works exactly as you might imagine.

Resizing windows is effortless and works exactly as you might imagine. Just grab the border with your S Pen or finger and move it to where it makes the most sense. Samsung even has four different configurations that app windows can snap into, making it more like how Windows 11 behaves on a desktop computer — or, maybe more appropriately, a Microsoft Surface tablet.

The wider aspect ratio is very conducive to using apps in split-screen, as they can comfortably fit on the large display in a way where information is pleasant to read.

While it's technically a hardware upgrade, the improvement in latency on the S Pen for the Tab S8+ and Tab S8 Ultra is very noticeable. The regular Tab S8 still has the 9ms response time from the Tab S7 series, but the larger two Tab S8 models drop that latency to just 2.8ms. That's the same improvement that the Galaxy S22 Ultra saw.

In short, it means that writing with the S Pen on the larger two tablets will feel even more authentically like a pen than the previous generation did.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra With S22 Ultra

Source: Samsung (Image credit: Source: Samsung)

Samsung has also more deeply tied its tablets in with its full ecosystem.

Samsung has also more deeply tied its tablets in with its full ecosystem. One example is that you can use a Galaxy S22 Ultra as a Wacom tablet or color palette for your Tab S8. While it's not something that most users will be able to take advantage of, this sort of ecosystem tie-in is pretty incredible to see.

Samsung has also improved things like Wi-Fi connectivity, making it nearly instant to share something between your latest Galaxy phone and the tablet over Wi-Fi 6E using Quick Share.

DeX has also been upgraded with new vertical functionality, which might help in certain situations where a vertical screen might make more sense for the work you're doing.

Thanks to 5 years of promised updates, your tablet's software won't feel old for a very, very long time and that might just be the biggest improvement of all.

Last but absolutely not least is the astounding promise Samsung made recently regarding software updates. Like the Galaxy S22 family, the Tab S8 family of products will receive five years of updates. That includes four major OS updates — topping out at Android 16 in 2026 — along with 5 years of security updates.

That means your tablet's software won't feel old for a very, very long time and that might just be the biggest improvement of all.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 hands-on: Is it a laptop replacement?

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra With Keyboard Multitask S Pen

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

This question has been on the tongues of many for quite some time, especially in the world of Android tablets. As far as hardware functionality is concerned, I would be completely comfortable with using the Tab S8 Ultra, in particular, in place of a laptop.

As far as hardware functionality is concerned, I would be completely comfortable with using the Tab S8 Ultra, in particular, in place of a laptop.

But there are some big caveats to that answer.

First off, to feel like a complete laptop replacement, any Tab S8 model will need the keyboard case. Personally, I'm a bit perplexed as to why Samsung wouldn't include this case with the Tab S8 Ultra, specifically. Samsung clearly designed the Tab S8 Ultra to be primarily used in landscape mode and when docked in a keyboard.

To me, the Tab S8 Ultra has the potential to be the best Microsoft Surface competitor in the industry, but it's going to cost you a pretty penny to get there. At $1,100 for the base model, you'd still need to pick up the $350 keyboard case for it to really make sense.

That's $1,450 for a base model Tab S8. Meanwhile, a similar-spec Microsoft Surface costs around $1,200 with the keyboard attachment.

That's a huge improvement right off the bat, and that's not even mentioning the fact that Windows 11 is substantially better on a productivity level than Android could ever hope to be.

There's no doubt in my mind that these are the very best Android tablets on the market.

Android 12L supposedly represents Google's renewed interest in tablets and larger screens, but we'll need to wait for app developers to also be interested in making Android tablets a better experience.

Samsung has certainly done all the legwork it can to make the experience excellent, though, and there's no doubt in my mind that these are the very best Android tablets on the market.

Nicholas Sutrich
Nicholas Sutrich
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu
12 Comments
  • I have the S7 running Android 12 and One UI 4.0... It just keeps getting better with every software iteration... The pen experience is fantastic and I use it for taking notes on my desk instead of paper, it's that good... Hardware is top notch too... So tempted to get the S8 Ultra...
  • STOP NORMALIZING AND ACCEPTING THE NOTCH. THERE IS ZERO REASON FOR ONE TO EXIST. 1) No one would have complained if the scree was 0.1in smaller. 2) This isn't a trend we should be accepting, shouldn't have accepted it with phones either. 3) YOU NEED SOME BEZELS on a tablet since it's a thing you have to have a firm grip on since it's all glass and metal.
  • There is a reason for the notch on the iPhone. FaceID tech. Duh.
  • That's not a reason for a notch. It's the reason not to have a forehead. Besides it's the same reason on this. The cameras.
  • Does a notch really mean that much to you?
  • Android fans make me laugh. I read the constant comments about the outdated and horrible notch on the iPhone and now the MacBooks. They make fun of Apple fans when they say the notch is not even noticeable anymore. But now that Samsung has added a notch you claim you don't even notice it...lol. Give me a freaking break.
  • Lol you mad bro?
  • You think Android fans is all the same person? Besides you miss the point, you have to work with what you've got.
  • And the small size + nsufficient ram + poor battery + long-unpatched sms backdoor- insanely priced to boot... Finally beginning to address all that, so will be adding an iPhone line to plan- and that's only because some new Fintechs not available thru Android, windows, or web browsing...(+ both Samsung Pay & GPay suck vs Apple). iPads need to be larger, have working Dialer & Messaging, virtual run windows. MacBook would be infinitely better with cellular data & phone capabilities. I don't understand being triggered at other ecosystems that often are much cheaper- with Apple you pay thru the nose and don't get everything already included elsewhere.
  • Because its an android tablet and sends the wrong message the keyboard is a neccesity. It's sold as both a Surface Pro competitor and iPad Pro competitor. The former the keyboard is essential, the later it isn't.
  • At that size (& resolution), and with such thin bezels, keyboard (& included trackpad or even separate mouse) is de rigueur. And I don't see how bigger bezel (& more weight) would help.
    It's meant to be a split screen multitasker, and not just two side by side either. Even for those who don't multitask, tiled browsing alone will be a much better experience. Even smaller tablets (with bigger bezels & relatively lightweight) get unwieldy without a stand or case- and I'm tall \ big-handed. The only exception (very big tablet not unwieldy w\o stand or keyboard) may be the foldable Nexus- hopefully they don't make it too small.
  • This could be a homerun: The first 14+"(& the bigger the better, even past 20") touchscreen "whatever" at sufficient & able processor, ram & storage- that can virtual run windows & android & ios (Android 13 a must?)- and to boot is cellular capable, will RULE. Huge Bonus if like some S6 models it includes full cellphone capabilities (working Dialer & Messaging).