OPINION: Samsung has officially unveiled its latest attempt to offer a viable alternative to the iPad, and I think the Korean brand is onto something quite special – to the point I really want Apple to take note.
While the Galaxy Tab S8 and Galaxy Tab S8 Plus offer modest upgrades over their predecessors, it’s Samsung’s new Ultra version of its high-end tablet that really caught my eye during a preview session ahead of the launch.
What sets the Ultra apart from the other models isn’t necessarily the specs, instead it’s display size Samsung is using as the main differentiator. At 14.6-inches this is one of the biggest consumer tablets I have used in years. It’s bigger than the iPad Pro and likely bigger than your laptop.
As I said in my Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra hands on, having such a big display on a tablet that measures just 5.5mm thick is strange at first. But it works, it really works. Start drawing or taking notes on this massive panel with the bundled S Pen and the benefits are obvious. The space for sketching dwarfs any of the competition, making it a much more pleasant experience.
But, as is the case with all Android tablets, the issue is rarely the hardware – but it comes down to software. And really that’s why I would love to see Apple add a third model to its iPad Pro line, giving up a larger 15-inch option to go with the current 12.9-inch and 11-inch models.
I use the current iPad Pro 12.9-inch for drawing and taking notes on a daily basis. Apps like Procreate for art and Notability for notes are wonderfully feature-rich and I haven’t found adequate replacements on Android. This isn’t really Samsung’s fault, but it stems from Google’s lack of focus on tablets and the software that powers them for years.
While I loved my time with the Tab S8 Ultra, I couldn’t see myself switching because of this app situation. That’s a shame, as I think this is one of the first times I have been seriously impressed with an Android tablet in a long time.
Tablets like this are always going to be niche devices. Heck, regular-sized slates are still a luxury rather than a necessity for the majority of people. Taking that 10-inch screen and upping it to the size where a specific bag will be required is only going to make it a harder sell. But, for those who will appreciate that big screen, this could very well be a tempting prospect.
Rumours have already swirled that Apple could be following Samsung’s lead and launching a tablet with a huge screen – and I, for one, hope that rumour becomes a reality sooner rather than later.