Could Samsung's Galaxy Tab S7+ Be the First Real iPad Pro Rival?

Illustration for article titled Could Samsungs Galaxy Tab S7+ Be the First Real iPad Pro Rival?
Screenshot: Samsung

Aside from the iPad Pro, tablets—especially Android tablets—are sort of in a weird spot right now. Some major hardware makers like Google have completely abandoned the category, while others continue to churn out boring but serviceable devices seemingly more out of obligation than a desire to make innovative gadgets. However, if recent leaks prove true, Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Tab S7+ could be a break from the monotony. It might be Samsung’s first real iPad Pro rival.

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Ahead of the Galaxy Unpacked event on Aug. 5, Samsung has been quite clear that it’s planning to launch five new devices, including a new tablet, which you can see above in a screenshot from Samsung’s latest teaser (it’s behind the company’s upcoming earbuds and smartwatch). Actually, based on multiple reports, it looks like Samsung is planning to release two new tablets: the standard Galaxy Tab S7 and the Galaxy Tab S7+.

According to Winfuture.de, which recently uncovered a ton of info about Samsung’s new tablets, the standard Tab S7 looks like it will be a slightly larger and faster version of last year’s Galaxy Tab S6, with an 11-inch LCD (not OLED) screen, 6GB of RAM, and a Snapdragon 865+ chip. But the Tab S7+ is where things get really interesting.

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Leaked shot of the Tab S7 via @Evleaks.
Leaked shot of the Tab S7 via @Evleaks.
Photo: Samsung/via @Evleaks

The Tab S7+ features a 12.4-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, which will make it Samsung’s biggest tablet, aside from the monstrosity that is the 18-inch Galaxy Tab View (if you can even call that a tablet). That size makes the Tab S7+ a natural competitor to Apple’s flagship 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which is super important, because while smaller displays like the ones on the Tab S6 or Tab S7 are fine for watching movies on the go or getting work done in a pinch, most people prefer slightly larger screens when it comes to hybrid devices designed to serve as a both a tablet and a laptop replacement.

That 120Hz refresh rate would be another first for a Samsung tablet, and combined with the vibrant colors we’ve come to expect from Samsung’s AMOLED panels, the Tab S7+ should offer just as good of a viewing experience (or maybe even better) as an iPad Pro. Also, according to Winfuture.de, both the Tab S7 and Tab S7+ will come with reduced input latency at just nine milliseconds, which is similar to what you get on an iPad Pro—something that should be a huge boon to digital artists. And unlike the iPad Pro, it looks like Samsung is going to include a stylus for free with the Tab S7 and S7+, which would prevent potential buyers from having to shell out an extra Benjamin post-purchase.

Both versions of the Galaxy Tab S7 are also expected to include relatively large batteries (7,040 mAh and 10,090 mAh), along with other premium features like magnetic wireless charging for the stylus, quad speakers, and some kind of built-in face unlock system.

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However, one of the strongest things about Apple’s tablets is having an operating system that’s better able to accommodate switching between work and play. Android, on the other hand, still feels quite clunky when it comes to productivity, despite many of the small tweaks tacked onto the OS by other tablet makers. But what separates Samsung’s tablets from other Android slates is DeX, which after starting out life as a slightly awkward desktop dock for turning your phone into a PC, has developed into something that makes working and multitasking on an Android tablet significantly more tolerable. And if Samsung has any significant upgrades in store for the next version of DeX, the Tab S7+ could finally be the real Android equivalent to the iPad Pro.

Here’s a look at the Tab S7/S7+’s port selection, which sadly doesn’t seem to include a headphone jack.
Here’s a look at the Tab S7/S7+’s port selection, which sadly doesn’t seem to include a headphone jack.
Photo: Samsung via Winfuture.de (Other)
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One concern I have about Samsung’s upcoming tablets is that Winfuture.de claims neither the Tab S7 nor the S7+ will come with a headphone jack—all you’ll get is a single USB-C port. For a device that seems like it was designed to be a laptop replacement, it’s a bit disheartening to see such limited connectivity. On phones, the typical explanation is that including a 3.5mm jack takes up too much space, but when it comes to tablets, that line of reasoning just doesn’t hold as much weight. You can address a lack of ports with dongles or docks, but it still feels like an issue that could have been avoided altogether.

Still, for Android fans, the Tab S7+ is something a lot of people have been waiting for while Apple and Microsoft continue to make big strides in creating powerful but also very adaptable hybrid devices. And while there are still unknown variables, such as price and availability, it’s refreshing to see at least one Android tablet attempt to keep pace with the iPad Pro and Surface Pro— especially in a time when a lot of other Android tablet makers seem like they can’t be bothered to even try.

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Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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DISCUSSION

I don’t see how anybody can compete with iPad at all at this point. Android is just not an enjoyable tablet OS, and I don’t see it EVER being one given how all the Android-centric manufacturers have given up on Android tablets. Then there’s Windows... which also is not a very enjoyable tablet OS, but for entirely different reasons. That said, Windows at least will run almost anything given there’s x86 architecture backing it.

My point is - competing with iPad isn’t about hardware, it’s about the software. And no matter which way you lean: Android or Windows, you can’t possibly hope to compete. This entire category belongs to Apple.