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Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 and Tab S8 Plus review

Minor updates for these new Android tablets

What is a hands on review?
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 and Tab S8 Plus are remarkably limited upgrades compared to 2020’s Galaxy Tab S7 and Tab S7 Plus. If you’re after an Android tablet, this will likely be a top choice for 2022 – we’ll know at the time of full review - but it isn’t worth upgrading from Samsung’s last release.

Pros

  • +

    Premium-feel design

  • +

    S Pen stylus included

Cons

  • -

    Limited upgrade

  • -

    Lacks in-screen fingerprint

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 and Tab S8 Plus are probably going to be among our favorite tablets of the year, at least unless something surprising comes up, as they're super-powerful Android slates with useful extra features.

These tablets were revealed alongside the Galaxy S22, S22 Plus, Galaxy S22 Ultra and the new Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra.

The Tab S8 products that we’re reviewing are the cheapest two members of the new tablet family that also includes that larger screen Tab S8 Ultra. Both these tablets are remarkably similar, so we’ve combined our coverage of each into one hands-on review.

Now that we’ve had some time with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 and Tab S8 Plus here’s everything we’ve learned so far about the tablets, along with our first thoughts of how each runs and what you can expect if you buy one.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 and Tab S8 Plus release date and price 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 is the cheapest member of this Android tablet family, starting at $699.99 / £649 / AU$1,099 for a Wi-Fi only 128GB and 8GB of RAM version. 

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus starts at $899.99 / £849 / AU$1,499 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There are many different price options, which are all discussed in a chart below.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 prices
RAM / StorageConnectivityUS priceUK priceAU price
8/128GBWi-Fi$699.99£649AU$1,099
8/128GB5GTBC£799AU$1,299
8/256GBWi-Fi$779.99£699AU$1,249
8/256GB5GTBC£849AU$1,449

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus prices
RAM / StorageConnectivityUS priceUK priceAU price
8/128GBWi-Fi$899.99£849AU$1,499
8/128GB5GTBC£999AU$1,699
8/256GBWi-Fi$979.99£899AU$1,649
8/256GB5GTBC£1,049AU$1,849

Pre-orders kicked off on February 9 (or February 10 in Australia) and the devices fully went on sale on February 25, though some people who pre-ordered found that their deliveries were a little late.

Design and display

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

(Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 4

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ writing with S Pen

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

These are both premium-feel tablets with a design that can rival iPad products and other top-end Android tablet options. It has a metal design, which feels high-end, and there are squared edges around the sides.

The rear of the tablets is relatively featureless with the camera and the S Pen charging point grabbing your eye when you see the back. Each tablet comes in three color options – Graphite, Silver or Pink Gold.

The bottom edge of the tablet has a charging port, and there are speakers on this edge as well as on the top of the tablet. That top edge also includes the power button and the volume buttons.

The display on the Tab S8 is an 11-inch, 2560 x 1600 resolution display that offers 276 pixels per inch. In our testing time, we found the display to be clear and bright. It has a high refresh rate of up to 120Hz, which means your images look smooth when scrolling or playing games.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 compared to Tab S8

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 (left) and Tab S8 Plus (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The Tab S8 Plus has a 12.4-inch display that has a higher resolution of 2800 x 1752. The picture improvement isn’t instantly noticeable here, but we enjoyed the experience on this screen as well.

These screens don’t feel that big considering the Tab S8 Ultra features a 14.6-inch display. But it’s all relative, you may want to opt for a larger screen if you’re after the larger product, or you may prefer to carry a smaller device.

Camera and battery life

On the rear of the tablet is a 13MP main camera with a 6MP ultra-wide option for when you need more in your shots. We experimented with this a little during our testing time and the results were what you’d expect for a tablet of this type.

This photography won’t match Samsung’s smartphones, but it’s still strong enough for any social media pics or for other apps such as augmented reality experiences.

On the front is a 12MP ultra-wide camera, which again was good enough for video calls but can’t compare to the selfie cameras we’ve seen on the Galaxy S22 series.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 with keyboard (Image credit: Future)

We’ve yet to properly test the battery life of the tablets, but the Tab S8 features an 8,000mAh cell that we expect will work well. That matches the Galaxy Tab S7 from 2020, so we’d expect around eight hours of video playback from a single charge.

Expect slightly less if you’re multitasking, but that’s still a respectable result from a tablet of this type. 

The Tab S8 Plus has a larger battery because it’s powering a larger screen. It’s a 10,090 mAh battery here. This battery is large enough for a full day of battery life, but we won’t know for certain until we fully test the tablet.

There’s also fast charging, which now goes up to 45W which should mean you can pump this up quickly.

Performance and software 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ with S Pen

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus with S Pen (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

It’s worth noting that the entire Galaxy Tab S8 line ships with an S Pen stylus in the box. Apple charges $129 for its Apple Pencil 2, but the starting price of the iPad Air 4th Generation is $699 (64GB). 

This Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus starts at $899.99 for 128GB and the S Pen. Thanks to an included microSD slot, that storage is upgradeable to 1TB. 

So, yes, Samsung gets credit for including a lovely S Pen in each Tab S8 package, but the savings over a comparable iPad and Apple Pencil are essentially a wash.

Like the new Galaxy S22 line, all the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 tablets are running the same 4nm Octa Core processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon or Exynos, depending on the market). 

The Tab S8 and S8 Plus start with 8GB of RAM (only the Ultra offers up to 16GB of RAM). The Tab S8 and S8 Plus also offer support for Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6E.

While we didn’t have much time to test either tablet, it was clear that this is a high-quality and responsive screen. We did spend a little time drawing on the Tab S8 Plus. The response time from the moment we touched the S Pen to the screen and started drawing was impressive as the digital ink appears to flow out of the S Pen tip onto the Super AMOLED screen.

The S Pen, which is designed to work with the Tab S8 family, was comfortable to hold and use. Backed by the Wacom digitizing technology, the S Pen recognized pressure and tilt for a truly pleasurable drawing experience.

Each tablet comes running the latest Android 12 software, and Samsung’s own materials suggest it’ll be updating this product for the next four years. That’s better than previous Samsung tablets and should prolong the life of this device.

Early verdict 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

(Image credit: Future)

These are both lightweight, beautiful, and responsive devices. The wide-screen format might take some getting used to for iPad fans, but these are both slates to be reckoned with.

If you’re after a top-end device with a huge display, you may prefer the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. If not, be sure to head back for our full review coming soon.

A 35-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.


Lance makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC. 

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.