Samsung Tab S3 and Galaxy Book hands-on: Samsung's tablets grow up for 2017
Samsung seems to have taken aim at both Apple and Microsoft in one event here at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, unveiling the iPad Pro-esque Galaxy Tab S3 and the Surface Pro-style Galaxy Book at a packed press event. New Atlas was there to get some hands-on time.
In some ways, the Tab S3 does not seem to be a vast jump forward from the Tab S2 from two years ago. However, it does add a more premium-looking (and in our brief encounter, fingerprint-attracting) glass back panel, some extra HDR smarts in the display and four speakers for heightened immersion when you're watching Netflix.
The Tab S3 packs in an impressive 9.7-inch display in a light (0.95 lbs or 429 grams) form factor, so it can be comfortably held in one hand. As usual from Samsung, the AMOLED display is stunning, and though we only spent a few minutes watching movies, the addition of HDR should make a real difference (once all the content providers properly support it of course).
The Tab S3 is packaged with an upgraded S Pen that Samsung says is more advanced than ever, with a 0.7 mm tip and greater pressure sensitivity. We enjoyed playing around with Samsung's stylus but we're not sure it's going to revolutionize digital drawing and sketching – though admittedly we haven't used the accessory extensively in the past, and it does seem both very versatile and very sensitive.
In addition to the included S Pen, the Tab S3 will have an optional clip-on keyboard accessory. Unfortunately Samsung didn't have any demo units set up with said keyboard, so we'll have to reserve judgement on that for now.
On to the Galaxy Book, another sleek-looking slab of electronics from Samsung. In our few minutes with the device we found nothing to fault with the Book and plenty to like. At this stage, you can rely on the maker of the the Galaxy S7 Edge to come up with the goods in the design department.
Again the screen was the star, with a resolution of 2,160 x 1,440 pixels on the 12-inch model, with the 10.6-inch version settling for 1,920 x 1,280 pixels.
Less impressive was the keyboard cover accessory that turns the Galaxy Book into a laptop replacement: While typing was pleasant enough, the trackpad felt a little unresponsive, and the clip-on keyboard as a whole doesn't come across as well-made as those made by Microsoft, for example.
On the plus side, it clips in instantly and easily, and (as you would expect) doubles up as a sturdy stand for propping up the screen. You can still use the tablet mode with the keyboard attached, but it doesn't feel all that natural.
Windows 10 is really the ace up the Galaxy Book's sleeve though, as Microsoft's long game of creating an OS that works on tablets and conventional computers starts to pay dividends with the number of 2-in-1s we're now seeing on the market. Android is still relatively awkward on a larger screen, which may affect the potential of the Tab S3.
You get both an S Pen and a keyboard cover with the Galaxy Book, as well as some raw power in the form of the Kaby Lake i5-7200U processor from Intel, which should be ample enough for video editing or gaming on the go.
Overall, we were impressed with what Samsung had to show off here on the MWC press preview day, despite some minor reservations and without the chance to put the devices through their paces. Stay tuned for a full-length review once the products launch.
We're also still waiting for price and availability information, but you can register for updates on the Samsung website.
Product pages: Samsung
Correction: The original version of this article stated that the smaller Galaxy Book had 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, not the actual 1,920 x 1,280. We apologize for the error.