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Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ review: Refining the Android tablet experience

By Liu Hongzuo - 6 Aug 2020
Launch SRP:

S Pen, Book Cover & Imaging Performance

The S Pen Experience

An important part of the Tab S7+’s user experience is the S Pen stylus, which comes with every purchase of the tablet. The S Pen got a nice upgrade with its reduced latency of 9ms (down from 96ms), which works out to nearly 10x shorter response time. Combined with the 120Hz display, it’s a huge step towards a more fluid experience in using the Tab S7+ with its stylus. The S Pen itself has a semi-flexible plastic nib, which feels similar to a soft-hair paintbrush during use. This is in contrast to the stiffer Apple Pencil stylus for iPads. As expected, making annotations using the S Pen is a breeze, and the shortcuts are readily available on display.

The only gripe we have with S Pen is their design choice in its magnetic placement, as mentioned in our Design section of the review.

Firstly, the S Pen is battery-powered, so you’ll want to have it attached and charging when possible. This means that you can only lay the tablet face down if you want it flat on your desk. You’d also usually leave the S Pen magnetically attached to the Tab S7+ during a commute, which can be rather nerve-wracking if you’re transporting the tablet by hand while on the move. One false move and off your S Pen goes rolling to somewhere else. 

S Pen's remaining battery charge is displayed on the Tab S7+ when you remove it.

They could have adopted the iPad’s style of having the stylus rest along the longer rim or even differ slightly from Apple by having S Pen rest on the shorter side of the device. It doesn’t quite fix the need for a more secure stylus placement, but it would allow users of the Tab S7+ to have a more natural under-arm grip when moving about with the gadget.

Having aired our concern for storing the stylus safely, this brings us to an important accessory for the Tab S7+ that’s sold separately - the Book Cover casing.


The updated Book Cover casing

Book Cover comes in two types - one without, and one with a keyboard and trackpad. Samsung made minor changes to the Tab S7+’s Book Cover keyboard by introducing a row of function keys (F1 to F12) and making the trackpad slightly wider than the preceding version. It’s closer to a TKL keyboard experience than before. It attaches to the Tab S7+ with built-in pogo pin connectors and magnetic strips on both ends, clipping the Book Cover securely to the tablet. 

If productivity is your main concern, the Book Cover with Keyboard is a priority purchase for the Tab S7+. The case helps to prop the device up for viewing, so it’s far more comfortable for both entertainment and work without having to hold the tablet constantly to keep at a natural tilt. The typing experience isn’t anything to shout about, but it’s still more convenient to write emails and message replies with the Book Cover. 

Also, the Book Cover comes with space to accommodate the S Pen, so you’d no longer have to worry about the S Pen dangling precariously off of the rear, or having to work your grip around the device when you can simply hide the stylus inside the case.

If we had to gripe, it would be how Samsung positions the tablet as a productivity tool more than an entertainment device, which makes the separately-sold Book Cover (priced at S$358) not so optional. Not to mention the Book Cover also nicely accommodates the S Pen securely. It would be nice to at least include a basic Book Cover with a keyboard if the tablet is meant to be the future of work, with an option to buy a premium Book Cover with better typing feedback, viewing angles, and materials instead. As it is, the Tab S7+ without a free Book Cover is a regular Android tablet with excellent entertainment experience. 

Samsung Dex interface with Book Cover attached.

The pre-order phase sees a free Book Cover with Keyboard (S$358) for every successful purchase of this tablet. It would be better, from a product positioning and price-point perspective, to extend this bonus beyond the pre-order promotion period so that the tablet can fully realise its productivity potential.


Camera & Imaging matters

Typically, imaging performance on a smartphone is a core experience of the user experience, so much that it gets a dedicated section in our phone reviews. However, the imaging performance on tablets is usually reserved as a means to an end, such as getting a clear view of the participant in conference calls, or for quickly snapping a dozen photos of hardcopy notes for later reference. 

On the Tab S7+ is an 8MP front camera located on the longer side of the device’s bezel. Samsung’s reasoning for moving the front camera from the typical top bezel to the side is simple: better orientation for conference calls. Instead of having to look sideways to ‘make’ eye contact with your call participants, your gaze now naturally falls on the camera when the tablet is in landscape orientation. 

In landscape mode, the front camera goes to the top, making it ideal for video conference calls.

It’s small, yet welcomed quality-of-life change that I felt keenly since I’ve been delegating all Google Meet and Zoom calls to my personal tablet as I clack away on my primary workstation when I WFH. It, however, is pointless if you don’t have a Book Cover to prop your device upright during a video call, which reiterates how important it is to shell out on a Book Cover to maximise productivity.

On the rear is a dual-camera setup, with a 13MP main and 5MP ultra-wide angle shooter, accompanied by a LED flash module. We’ve taken a sample image for reference below which shows that its quite a decent shooter when you don't have your phone handy to rely upon.

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  • Design 8.5
  • Features 8.5
  • User-Friendliness 7.5
  • Performance 8.5
  • Value 5
The Good
Excellent build quality
Amazing S Pen responsiveness
High-quality display and audio
Great benchmark performance
The Bad
Questionable S Pen magnetic placement
Half-baked implementation of Multi-Active Window feature
Tablet isn't yet ready to be a standalone productivity tool
Book Cover with Keyboard is separate purchase
Overpriced for its proposition
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