Size-wise, Samsung’s 12.4-inch S8+ tablet sits in the middle of the Galaxy Tab S8 family, between the 11-inch S8 and the 14.6-inch S8 Ultra. Each comes with the latest version of the S Pen, which attaches magnetically behind the tablet. We took a closer look at the ‘middle child’ Galaxy Tab S8+ and added the Samsung Book Cover Keyboard to see how it works as a tablet and a laptop alternative. We found that as a tablet it’s fine in all respects, but although the keyboard cover is good, its magnetic attachment lets go too easily, which could be disastrous if you’re not careful while on-the-go. If you’re in the market for a premium Android tablet, the S8+ has a lot to offer, but check out the S8 and S8 Ultra as well to make sure you get the right size for your needs.
Price: From $1499
How does the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ perform?
With the official Samsung Book Cover Keyboard in place the Galaxy Tab S8+ works well as a notebook.
The S8+ has an impressive glossy 12.4-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen that supplies vibrant color and very deep blacks. It rated very good overall in our tests and in particular it did very well in our movie playback test.
The screen is very high resolution (2800 x 1752 pixels), with a high pixel density of 266ppi (pixels per inch), which makes individual dots undetectable to the naked eye.
The screen refresh rate is up to 120Hz for buttery-smooth visuals and scrolling, and we measured the screen brightness at 321nits, which is respectable but significantly below its competition from Microsoft and Apple.
The tablet is powered by an ‘Octa-core’ Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 system on a chip, which has Kyro CPU cores and Adreno 730 graphics and overall, it felt swift during our testing. Benchmarked processor performance was good and the graphics speed was OK.
Performance is good overall, and storage read speed is fine, but it’s let down by very slow write speed
The storage read speed was quick at 1203MBps, but it was surprisingly let down by much slower storage writing speed (277MBps) which is less than a quarter of the read speed. The Wi-Fi 6 networking speed was very good though at 43MBps.
Battery life was 8hr 22min in our heavy usage test, which will see you through a full working day and last quite a bit longer with normal use, but we found it was slow to charge. Also, there’s no charger included, just a USB-C cable, so you’ll have to provide your own.
Our test model weighed in at just 574g for the tablet on its own, and 1085g with the keyboard cover and pen in place.
Keyboard cover option
We bought and tested the 128GB Wi-Fi 6 model at $1499, with the included S Pen, which is comfortable to write and draw with, as it has a bit of resistance to it which makes it more like drawing on paper than just a slick and slippery screen.
The optional Book Cover Keyboard ($359) includes a kickstand for support, similar to Microsoft’s Surface range. A built-in Micro SD card slot is handy for adding extra storage, which is something you no longer get with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 8, and you never got with the Apple iPad.
A strong magnet at the back of the tablet holds the S Pen in place, and when you use the keyboard attachment, there’s a flip-down portion of the cover for accessing the pen.
The magnetically-attached keyboard comes apart from the tablet far too easily for our liking
The keyboard cover provides a good typing experience, but it opens out flat in use, not angled up slightly like a normal keyboard or the keyboard on a Microsoft Surface tablet. The touchpad is relatively small compared to a notebook computer, but it’s usable and presented no problems.
The keyboard attaches magnetically but separates very easily.
Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the keyboard cover’s magnetic attachment. We found that it had an annoying tendency to come apart from the tablet far too easily, which is enough to make you nervous, and this takes some of the shine off its notebook-mode performance.
The connection is weak enough that the keyboard comes off the tablet with a small push of the thumb (which is very difficult to do with a Surface tablet).
Don’t pick this Samsung tablet up by the keyboard ‘base’ if you want the two parts to stay together, and take care using it by sitting it on your knees when out and around and not at a desk.
When using it as a notebook, you can make use of the Samsung Dex app, which makes the Android interface look more like a traditional desktop. You can plug into an external monitor using the USB-C port (which is non-Thunderbolt), and if you’re using a hub, an external keyboard and mouse can also be plugged in.
The DeX app makes the tablet work more like a desktop computer than a mobile tablet.
The 12MP ultra wide front camera is great for online video conferencing, and of note is that it’s positioned on the long side of the tablet so it can be used in landscape orientation, which is particularly useful when the tablet is connected to the keyboard in notebook fashion.
At rear there’s a 13MP camera plus 6MP ultra wide and flash. The speakers produce good sound and are fine for ambient listening, but there’s no headphone port, so make sure you have some wireless headphones or ear buds for private listening.