Mobile Technology

Samsung Tab S3 and Galaxy Book hands-on: Samsung's tablets grow up for 2017

Meet Samsung's brand new Windows 2-in-1 for 2017
Meet Samsung's brand new Windows 2-in-1 for 2017
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Meet Samsung's brand new Windows 2-in-1 for 2017
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Meet Samsung's brand new Windows 2-in-1 for 2017
This is the 12-inch Galaxy Book, perhaps too hefty to use as a standalone tablet for very long
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This is the 12-inch Galaxy Book, perhaps too hefty to use as a standalone tablet for very long
The Book is thin though, just 7.4 mm (0.29 inches)
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The Book is thin though, just 7.4 mm (0.29 inches)
Clip on a keyboard and you've got a Surface Pro rival
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Clip on a keyboard and you've got a Surface Pro rival
Staedtler is making a special edition S Pen for Samsung too
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Staedtler is making a special edition S Pen for Samsung too
Around the back of the Book there's a 5 MP camera... but you won't be taking any pictures, will you?
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Around the back of the Book there's a 5 MP camera... but you won't be taking any pictures, will you?
The Tab S3 is a small but welcome upgrade on the Tab S2
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The Tab S3 is a small but welcome upgrade on the Tab S2
The back is now glass, which attracts a fair amount of fingerprints but adds a premium feel if you can keep it clean
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The back is now glass, which attracts a fair amount of fingerprints but adds a premium feel if you can keep it clean
As with the Book, the new and upgraded S Pen is included
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As with the Book, the new and upgraded S Pen is included
The Tab S3 is just 6 mm (0.24 inches) thick
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The Tab S3 is just 6 mm (0.24 inches) thick

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 a small but welcome upgrade on the Tab S2
The Tab S3 is a small but welcome upgrade on the Tab S2

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.

Clip on a keyboard and you've got a Surface Pro rival
Clip on a keyboard and you've got a Surface Pro rival

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.

2 comments
Nicolas Zart
Does it run Samsung's Tizio, or is it Android? I'm impressed with the four speakers layout, but reluctant to use Tizio again with its bloatware.
Jeff Goldstein
I currently have an S2 9.7 and my wife has a Note10 that is getting kind of old. We were waiting to see when Samsung announced the S3 if it would make sense to replace her Note10 with it. I don't see much reason to buy the S3 for her if we can get a deal on an S2. If we want good sound from a tablet or a PC we always use headphones or a Bose Soundlink Mini and the S2 display is already great. I wonder if tablet features have reached a plateau like smart phones where there is less and less reason to buy the newest ones anymore.