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Fast Charge: What does Samsung’s first Galaxy Tab Ultra have to do to take on the iPad?

OPINION: Samsung is all set to introduce an Ultra edition to its line of tablets for the first time ever, but the manufacturer has still got its work cut out if it wants to beat Apple at its own game.

Since its inception, the iPad has been synonymous with the very concept of a tablet computer, so it’s not exactly going to be easy to knock it off that perch. However, it seems that that’s exactly what Samsung does intend to do, following leaks that hint at the unveiling of the brand’s first-ever Ultra tablet that’s surely going to go above and beyond in the same way as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra did as a smartphone.

But in which areas must it improve in order to challenge the supremacy of the iPad?

An easy answer would be to just increase the specifications, but it has to be said that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and Tab S7 Plus already boasted some very healthy numbers in that department; with 120Hz AMOLED displays (12.4-inches large for the latter), 5G-enabled Snapdragon 865 chipsets, and 45W fast-charging, there was plenty of hardcore hardware between the pair of tablets.

Should the leaks and rumours prove to be founded about the S8 Ultra, this will be even more true. It will apparently have a massive 14.6-inch display, a pair of 12-megapixel front-facing cameras, as much as 16GB of RAM, and a massive 11,200mAh battery. You can’t accuse Samsung of holding back, at least based on what we’ve seen so far, and these kinds of spec compare very favourably even to the likes of the iPad Pro.

In terms of hardware, the only area where Samsung is likely to be hopelessly outgunned is in the processing department. While it is expected to come with the latest Snapdragon chipset on board, which will surely accomplish almost any task you’ll set it to, the iPad Pro packs the same Apple M1 chip that you’ll find on the MacBook Air — and there’s simply no competing with that kind of raw power.

However, in our review of 2020’s Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, we pinpointed the problem as being away from the hardware, and more to do with the software. Even though Samsung had gone to great lengths to ameliorate the underwhelming Android experience on tablets, it still felt like the manufacturer was essentially being hamstrung by the poor selection of well-optimised apps that are actually available to use on Google’s software, in stark contrast to the glittering gallery of choice that users have with the iPad.

While this could simply be an immovable obstacle, I’d like to be optimistic and hope that the recently-formed partnership between the two brands, most evident on wearables software, could perhaps bear fruit for tablets too. We’ll have to wait and see, but unless there is a significant turnaround of some sort with Android’s tablet functionality then it would seem that the Tab S8 is, like its predecessor, due to receive the dubious distinction of merely being the best non-Apple tablet available, with that ever-present, insurmountable software snag holding it back.

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