Samsung Galaxy tab S7+ review: A premium Android tablet that outperforms the iPad pro

At 12.4in, the tablet’s screen is bigger than the S7’s 11in version (iStock/The Independent)

Launched in late 2020, the Samsung Galaxy tab S7+ is the best Android tablet you can buy today.

Designed to rival the newest iPad pro in terms of raw performance, display and build quality, the Samsung Galaxy tab S7+ marks a high-point for the growing Android tablet market.

The luscious 12.4in screen is a Samsung-made OLED panel with bright, popping colours and deep contrast between areas of darkness and light. The 120Hz refresh rate gives a silky smooth scrolling experience throughout, and the 16:10 aspect ratio (nearer to widescreen than the rival iPad) is better suited to watching movies and TV.

Around the edge of the display the bezels are kept nice and thin, further improving the viewing experience by filling more of the front of the device with whatever you’re watching. Powered by the Snapdragon 865 – the fastest chip found in any Android tablet – the Samsung Galaxy tab S7+ feels speedy and responsive.

How we tested

We’ve been testing the Samsung Galaxy tab S7+ for the past few weeks. We use the tablet to watch Netflix and YouTube while travelling or just lounging around at home and in bed. For writing and editing on the tablet we primarily use Google’s suite of Chrome-based productivity, as well as Samsung’s suite of pre-loaded apps for notetaking with the included stylus.

    Samsung Galaxy tab S7+: £679, Johnlewis.com

    The S7+ is 5G compatible for maximum portability (Samsung)

    • Screen: 12.4in AMOLED

    • Security system: In-screen fingerprint scanner

    • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+

    • Connectivity: USB-C

    • Compatibility: S-Pen stylus (included), Book cover keyboard

    • Storage: 128GB or 256GB (upgradable to 1TB)

    • Colours: “Mystic black”, “mystic bronze”, “mystic silver”, “mystic navy”

    • Price: From £679 with wifi; from £879 with wifi and cellular

    Let’s get one thing out of the way up top: Android tablets are only as good as the apps they run, and while things have improved greatly in recent years, the ecosystem still lags behind Apple’s when it comes to the breadth and variety of available software.

    iPad users will know the frustration of finding your favourite app just isn’t available on tablet, or that it appears only as a stretched-out version of the mobile app. On Android this experience is even more common, as most developers simply don’t prioritise designing tablet versions of their apps, instead preferring to focus on mobile and web versions first.

    For most users, especially those who primarily want a tablet to read on, work on, write on and watch entertainment on, the limited selection of apps isn’t really a problem here.

    You can perform some actions by waving the S-Pen around like a wand (Samsung)

    Design

    Software caveats aside, the Samsung Galaxy tab S7+ excels as a piece of hardware. It’s thinner and lighter than the iPad pro, but feels rock solid to the touch. Some very thin tablets can feel preciously bendy, but not so here. It feels light enough that a strong breeze could snatch it away from you, but as rigid as a roof tile. Around the flat edge of the perimeter is a brushed metal finish that feels premium and precisely machined.

    Read more: Dell XPS 15 review – Dell’s premium Windows laptop gives the MacBook pro a run for its money

    On the back of the tablet there’s a glass magnetic strip where the S Pen lives, which also acts as a charging dock for the stylus. The camera bump falls in line with this strip and houses a pair of lenses. The bump is well-positioned and sized, so as not to be accidentally blocked by your clumsy fingertips.

    In terms of connectivity, you’ve got a single USB-C port on the end of the device, used for everything from power to data to video to audio. This single port might be limiting for some users, but will be sufficient for everyday use so long as you’ve got a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones. There’s no 3.5mm jack here.

    The wider screen is better suited to media than the 4:3 format of the iPad (Steve Hogarty / The Independent)

    Display

    Here’s where the Samsung Galaxy tab S7+ really shines. The dynamic AMOLED screen is by far the best you’ll find on any tablet, producing rich and vibrant colours, great low-light performance, iPad-beating pixel density and excellent contrast, even with the brightness cranked all the way up. Movies and videos look fantastic on this device, helped by the more cinematic 16:10 aspect ratio reducing those thick black borders on the top and bottom of the display.

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    The 120Hz display doesn’t just smooth out scrolling either. Because the screen updates 120 times per second, using the included stylus with it feels better. The display can react to the pen tip a fraction of a second more quickly, which is barely perceptible to the eye but creates the sensation that the tip is actually marking the screen as you sketch or write. This 120Hz refresh rate is effectively identical to the ProMotion feature found on the iPad pro.

    Stylus and Dex mode

    Unlike the iPad pro, the Samsung Galaxy tab S7+ comes with the stylus included. It attaches to the back of the tablet rather than the side, which keeps it well out of your way but makes you a lot more likely to lose the stylus when moving the tablet around.

    The Book cover accessory (£54.99, Amazon.co.uk) addresses this problem by including a little compartment to hide the stylus away, but without this case we’d be mindful of accidentally misplacing the stylus or dropping it down a sewer grate.

    The S7+ is designed for smooth pairing with Samsung accessories, such as the Galaxy buds (Samsung)

    Another area in which the Samsung Galaxy tab S7+ pulls away from the competition is its productivity-focused Dex mode. This effectively turns the entire S7+ into a Windows-style desktop interface, allowing you to use a mouse and keyboard to arrange apps on the screen, resizing windows and viewing things side by side for more straightforward multi-tasking.

    Read more: Samsung Galaxy watch 4 review: The best Android smartwatch just got better

    If your goal when buying a tablet is to replace your existing laptop, Dex is your ticket to laptop-free travel. As this is an Android tablet you won’t get the wide-ranging functionality of a device running Windows – for that you’ll want to consider the Microsoft Surface pro 7 – but Dex allows you to navigate around the S7+ in a more familiar way and without having to fumble around with clunky, mobile-style touchscreen controls.

    Accessories

    The Samsung Galaxy tab S7+ comes with the S Pen stylus included at no extra cost, but the optional keyboard cover transforms the tablet into a productivity powerhouse.

    While the standard Book cover (£54.99, Amazon.co.uk) simply acts as a case and screen protector, the Book cover keyboard (£219, Argos.co.uk) is a slick detachable keyboard that doesn’t bulk out the tablet too much when closed, but is still comfortable and sturdy enough to use over long periods. It comes in two parts: the bit that’s full of keys that you type on, and the other a stand that can prop the tablet up for easier viewing.

    The S7+ is available in four colours, pictured here is the bronze version (Samsung)

    The verdict: Samsung Galaxy tab S7+

    Fast, stylish and more affordable than Apple’s tablet, the Samsung Galaxy tab S7+ outperforms the iPad pro in some important areas. The productivity-enhancing Dex mode, the sensibly positioned selfie camera for face-on video-conferencing, the luscious, wide display and 5G compatibility all make this a serious contender for the best tablet around.

    However, the same problem that dogs all Android tablets can’t be overlooked here. The poor selection of apps on the Play Store makes this device less useful for anything besides the most typical, everyday use cases: checking emails, watching entertainment, reading and browsing the web. The S7+ is an excellent piece of hardware, sometimes held back by the limitations of Android software.

    Samsung Galaxy tab S7+

    Buy now £679.00, Johnlewis.com

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