ASUS ExpertBook B9

I finally got my hands on the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra about two weeks ago, and we finally got to review it today. Everyone’s jaws dropped when we saw that humongous screen. But of course, there is more than just having a humongous screen – so let’s take a look at what other things the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra has to offer.

Acer Nitro 5

Contents in the box

Let’s start off by talking about the contents inside the box. This is a very heavy box, by the way – and that is because we have everything shown here – the tablet itself, the kickstand, and also the Book Cover Keyboard. After combining all 3 parts together, the weight of this tablet is really quite daunting.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review
I consider Malaysians lucky for getting so many things.

For me, I’ll start off by removing everything and go through the tablet itself first.

The tablet itself

This Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is humongous. It’s impossibly thin and actually rigid thanks to Samsung’s Armour Aluminium – or aluminum if you prefer it that way.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 NDA
The thinness of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is insane.

But, I don’t know how else to describe it other than “huge”. This 14.6-inch Super AMOLED screen goes up to 120Hz refresh rate with a super-high resolution of 1848×2960. That equates to nearly 5.5 million pixels, which means nearly 1.5 times more pixels than a standard 16:9 1440p display.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

And I have to say, this screen looks absolutely stunning and beautiful. But don’t take my word for it since I took out the colorimeter to test its color accuracy too. Tested at 100 nits of brightness, this screen can cover 99.87% of sRGB and 99.4% of DCI-P3 color gamuts while maintaining a very low Delta E number – and that means this screen is very color accurate and doesn’t deviate off from the true color much.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

However, the average maximum brightness of this screen is only at about 385 nits. That number might seem low, but since this screen is so big, it is enough to light up an entire room at just 100 nits of brightness. That is because the word “nits” here is describing the “density of the light intensity”. This is also why for larger displays, we actually use it in lower nits – like how I’m using at 34-inch ultrawide at home at 80 nits or lower.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

Anyway, truth be told – everything looks amazing on this tablet. Huge, bright screen with vivid colors and an amazing quad-channel speaker – means that this tablet can’t go wrong in terms of media consumption.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review
Not something that I’ll condone, but… we’re doing a review…

On a side note – one thing I did was to use the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra to take some pictures – and they actually do look pretty good! I have never used such a large screen as a viewfinder before and this is an interesting experience for me. But for the video capabilities is very limited as it can capture at 30fps only no matter the resolution.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

Also, holding the tablet might be problematic since the bezels are so small.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

But, I do have two things to point out. Number 1, the notch. The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra has two selfie cameras – one wide and one more ultrawide angle cameras, housed in a tiny notch up top but I also don’t see a reason to have it. They could’ve just stashed it within the bezel – but with that said, because the notch is such a small percentage of the screen’s real estate, I immediately ignored that notch within a minute.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

Number 2, is the under-display fingerprint scanner. I freaking hate under-display fingerprint scanners – even on phones. Now, on this freakishly huge tablet, the scanner is played at this ungodly position which is difficult and awkward to reach from any direction other than from the side. Seriously, just integrate the fingerprint scanner on the power button.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review
The only way to reach the under-display fingerprint scanner.

Speaking of that, Samsung should have moved the power button to the other edge of the tablet. Currently, I can’t differentiate which is the power button and which is the volume rocker.

I should also mention that we did all the aforementioned tests before applying the tempered glass screen protector that you’re seeing on the tablet now. It obviously affected the under display fingerprint scanner negatively, but at least it still works. Still, I ended up just using face unlock.

Before we proceed, I want to weigh the tablet alone to see how heavy it is.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

Not bad.

The kickstand accessory

Now, let’s switch gears and talk about the kickstand accessory. For me, I think I’ll just leave this piece attached to the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra all the time. It’s a very nice PU leather kind of material, I think?

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

The keycaps on the keys are also slightly rough and may catch oils from fingers and eventually look shiny – and that already happened on the spacebar. Most of the oil can be wiped off, though.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

This keyboard is also has a white backlight so you can use this keyboard in complete darkness too. You can toggle between 3 levels of brightness and eventually turn it off if you want to. Nice.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

Overall user experience

But what is it like to actually use this device then? How does the device feel? Is the user interface on this tablet with a humongous 14.6-inch screen still going to be just an enlarged phone? Yes, unfortunately. In the most basic Android UI, this tablet is just a big phone and it feels kinda clumsy to use. That is not even Samsung’s fault because there are a lot of fundamental UI elements that just don’t scale well into such a large display.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

Take a look at this example – the Google Play Store where all the icons take up a huge chunk of the screen. Why, Google?

But, the saving grace for the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is Samsung DeX. Technically, DeX acts like another launcher for the system and it changes the interface entirely into a more familiar Windows PC or Mac interface. Since we have the Book Cover Keyboard accessory with us, we can literally use it as a laptop replacement – which is a topic we’ll leave for next time.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

Overall, DeX feels the same here like with any other Samsung phones or tablets – but it comes with a few more interesting features. DeX is treated like a subsystem within Android and we can further customize how DeX looks in terms of the interface zoom level, text size, all those stuff.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

We can also customize trackpad gestures too – like triple tap on the trackpad means go back, all of those good stuff.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

Combining all this, the experience on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is actually quite decent on DeX. Multitasking is fantastic and I don’t have to worry about the scaling issue since each app is constrained within its own windows.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review
Phone interface…
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review
… tablet interface!

Performance

Plus, that Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset is able to perform really well since this tablet has such a large surface area to dissipate the heat away.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

If you want to play games on this tablet, then go on ahead. The performance is amazing but we still do not have the “alternate gaming performance management ” option yet. I think it doesn’t matter since this tablet doesn’t seem to have a thermal limit as the performance is already very high and this tablet can dissipate heat quickly because of its large surface area. However, do keep in mind that touch screen controls are very difficult to use on this device because it is just so big.

We also did our gaming test here – so check it out.

Battery life

What is not fun though, is the battery life. The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra comes with an 11,200mAh battery which sounds like a lot, but it actually has the worst battery life on a tablet that I’ve seen so far. We ran the PCMark 10 battery life test at 100 nits brightness and it got less than 7 hours.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

That’s quite a big oof. I mean, I expected the battery life to be not as good since the screen is so big – but I guess because the screen is big with such a high resolution and high refresh rate, it’s a recipe for the worst battery life. Remember, this is only on WiFi. I can’t imagine how the battery will be for the 5G version of this tablet.

Charging speed

Charging speed though, is quite okay. You see, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra doesn’t come with a charger in the box. On Samsung’s website, it is said to support 45W charger and it took about 1.5 hours to charge from 15% to 100% with our Ugreen charger. From what I know, our Ugreen charger doesn’t support Samsung’s 45W charging. Comparing our data with Sam Mobile’s charging test result – it doesn’t really differ much if we use Samsung’s official 45W charger.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra?

So, in conclusion, for the price of RM5,899 – yes that is the price of this tablet, and it is definitely a super hefty price. This product is definitely not for everyone – mainly because of the size and the price.

I’d have to say – for those who just want a large device mainly for gaming or watching shows on the go but are still able to whip our a document and email side-by-side and do work, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is pretty much the jack-of-all-trades that you’re looking for. Plus, being able to draw with the S Pen is a huge boon that I think many people will want.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

That kickstand accessory is definitely one of the best kickstands I’ve used so far, and it just works very well – and that keyboard is also magnificent to type on.

Spending this much on a premium tablet might be questionable for some but I am not here to tell you how to spend your money. This review is to let you know more in-depth details about the tablet before purchasing.

But before we end the review – here’s one last weight measurement with the tablet, kickstand, and the Book Cover Keyboard together.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review

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