Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ Review: Dreaming of a desktop

There’s a lot to love about Samsung’s latest tablets, but at this price, it needs to overcome several hurdles

The Pros

  • Fantastic hardware
  • Great screen
  • Snappy processor

The Cons

  • Samsung Dex is mostly a swing and a miss
  • The large size is a bit unwieldily
  • OneUI is bloated

The Galaxy Tab S7+ is a beautiful machine, but its beauty can’t always save it once it stops being a tablet.

That’s not to say it isn’t an amazing tablet, but at almost $1,300 CAD it has to be. This year, Samsung has again outdone itself in the hardware department, creating the best tablet it’s ever released, but I’m still not sure that Android has what it takes to be a viable PC replacement.

The tablet I tested was the Tab S7+, which features a 12.4-inch screen. This is great for watching movies in bed and for work. However, it fails at being a good couch companion due to its unruly size.

I don’t fault Samsung for trying to push the large size, and it comes close to perfection. If you’ve got the money to burn, it’s a fantastic media tablet. Read on to find out what’s good, what’s not so good and if this tablet is right for you.

Specs

The nitty-gritty specs of the tablet tell the story of a competent device, and in practice, it all holds up. There’s no lag, and everything moves along smoothly in day-to-day use.

Inside the Tab S7+/S7, is a Snapdragon 865+ chipset, so in the future when the next-gen technology is widely available in Canada, users will be able to take advantage of it.

What’s on the front varies between the two Tabs. The larger Tab S7+ that I reviewed has a 12.4-inch AMOLED display that looks incredible. With its 120Hz refresh rate,1752 x 2800 pixel resolution, 16:10 ratio and 266 PPI density, it’s easily one of the best screens I’ve ever used.

The smaller Tab S7 features an 11-inch IPS display that also has a 120Hz refresh rate, and while I haven’t used it, I have faith that it’s probably pretty stellar.

Both tablets also feature aluminum frames, and the Tab S7+ feels awesome in hand with its 5.7mm thickness. Having the back kickstand on the rear makes it a bit thicker, but it still feels nice to hold.

Both tablets also feature MicroSD card slots, allowing you to add tons of storage to them.

Samsung has packed a pair of cameras on the back of each tablet as well. One is a 13-megapixel shooter and the other is a 5-megapixel ultrawide lens. The front-facing camera is an eight-megapixel camera, and in my testing works well for video calls.

Overall, the Tab S7+ feels like a high-end tablet. Even the S Pen stylus that comes with it is more substantial this time, making it feel better when you’re holding it in your hand. As good as everything feels, the larger Tab S7+ is difficult to use when holding it in your hands given its large size.

Productivity on Android still isn’t perfect

Both tablets, but the Tab S7+ specifically, have a significant focus on productivity, but they’re not perfect laptop replacements.

While I don’t mind the Book Cover, Samsung’s keyboard case, using Android with a mouse or trackpad still isn’t an ideal situation. Samsung’s Dex makes it a little better, but it’s still not perfect. Dex is Samsung’s Android skin that looks more like a Windows desktop operating system. It has a desktop and windows so it looks like a regular computer but it’s still Android underneath so that has some limitations that I’ll get into later.

I’ve managed to write a few stories using the tablet, but once you step outside of the world of just typing, the Tab S7+ doesn’t have as many capabilities as a computer. However, Android’s open access to system folders allows it to be a bit more PC-like by enabling users to save and access files easily. By comparison, Apple might have a better mouse system, but its Files app is still hit-and-miss with what it supports.

In a pinch, you can use the Dex mode to get through a day’s worth of work, but I wouldn’t recommend this tablet as a full laptop replacement. For the roughly $1,200 you’d spend on the Tab S7+, you can get an outstanding laptop or even a MacBook Air that’s twice as productive. For half the price, you can also purchase a Chromebook.

As I mentioned above, the S Pen has been improved, and it feels nice to draw on the Tab S7+’s expansive screen. The larger screen is also nicer when using Dex, but even though it’s almost the perfect laptop size, the software drags it down.

 

For example, whenever you want to highlight text, you have to double click on a word and then drag on the little blue handles that appear to select the chunk of writing you need. This is fine, but it’s quite different than how it works on traditional computers, which is quite annoying.

For instance, when you open a new web window on regular computers, you can start typing to search for something easily. When you open a new tab on the Tab S7+, you need to click or tap on the search bar to begin typing. Once again, this isn’t a huge issue, but it’s a bit annoying.

Samsung has made strides in the productivity department this year by adding keyboard shortcuts that make navigating the OS a lot quicker. For instance, you can use ‘Alt+Tab’ to quickly switch between apps and Ctrl+T to open new web tabs. While this helps make Dex feel more like a traditional computer experience, you can still see Android’s limitations through the cracks.

Hopefully, next year Samsung can address the text selection issue and improve its web browser, but for now, its high-end tablets aren’t the productivity powerhouses the company aims for them to be.

It’s a tablet too

Not only is the Tab S7+ a productivity machine, but it’s also a tablet, and a good one at that. My only real gripe is how large it is.

The stellar hardware shines when the device is in tablet mode, and the 120Hz screen feels ultra-smooth when you’re interacting with it by touch. Plus, it becomes a lot sleeker when the keyboard isn’t attached.

Samsung’s OneUI 2.5 is pretty good on tablets, although it’s still cluttered. That said, it works well, and the company’s ‘PENUP’ app is a pretty accomplished drawing tool.

For the most part, in tablet mode, I used the Tab S7+ to play games and watch media. It excelled at watching movies because of its impressive display and four-speakers in each corner, which provide fantastic sound. If you have the money and want the best movie-watching tablet, the large Tab S7+ is one of the best around.

On the gaming side, I found playing native Android games with touch controls a little awkward because the Tab is so large. That said, playing games via Microsoft’s xCloud Xbox game streaming platform with a controller was awesome because of the Tab S7+’s massive display and speakers.

Not the tablet for most people

This is a weird tablet since it seems to be more useful with accessories, making it easily as big and bulky as some laptops. Plus, it doesn't work extraordinary well on your lap because the keyboard isn't as stable as a laptop.

I still think most consumers can get more value from Apple's iPad line, especially since mouse/trackpad support with iPadOS is much better.

That said, if you have the $1,189 CAD and are after a high-end Android tablet, you’ll likely be relatively happy with the Tab S7+ -- just don't expect it to replace your laptop any time soon. If you want to use it to write a few documents, it excels, but the more you try to do, the more Android's limitations appear.

The base Tab S7 starts at $919 CAD for the 128GB model and goes up to $1,029 CAD for the 256GB storage option. The Tab S7+ begins at $1,189 CAD and goes up to $1,299 CAD. It's worth noting that both 256GB versions of the tablets are only available in 'Mystic Black.' The 128GB version are available in 'Mystic Bronze' and 'Mystic Silver.’

The tablet releases Canada on September 18th.

"You’ll likely be relatively happy with the Tab S7+ -- just don't expect it to replace your laptop any time soon"

7.5

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