You’re going to have to wait for the comparisons between the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 and the iPad Pro until the end of this post. I have my reasons. You can wait. It’s a short post. Evaluate the Tab S3 in its own universe, not one dominated by white-backdrop ads and farcical tweets.
The 9.7-inch tablet is a powerful piece of tech, with a Snapdragon quad-core chip (2.15Ghz + 1.5Ghz), and I found that websites and apps (especially in the Google universe — Maps, Gmail, etc.) loaded even faster than expected. I have very little patience, and I felt like this tablet simply connected to the internet better, a testament to both the wi-fi connectivity and the speed of the apps. You get no traffic jams on the processor side.
The screen is also high tech, a “Super AMOLED Display with High Dynamic Range.” Translation: hi-def movies and games and other stuff you like to watch on a tablet look really good. Samsung is also equipping the tablet with the redesigned S Pen, which, thankfully, never has to be charged. I love pens and tablets, so this naturally made my experience much better, and the S Pen has a nice handfeel and is precise (it responded to my chicken-scratch accurately). And, Samsung offers the magnetically connected Pogo Keyboard, which — despite its crunched size — offers surprisingly satisfying key feel.
All in all, the Tab S3 is what’s expected of a gadget in 2017: it’s a great tablet with all the requisite tech to let you binge Netflix, play games, scroll Instagram, write emails, scribble notes and dive into Facebook and Twitter rabbit holes. What else does one need?
Now, let’s talk price tag, and invoke that inevitable Apple comparison. At $599.99, the Tab S3 is priced pointedly in iPad Pro land; the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is $599.00 sans Pencil ($99). So, what to do? If you’re in the Apple ecosystem, the iPad Pro is the better bet. Android system, then go Samsung? Maybe. If you care about minute design cues — things like how the onscreen keyboard looks (on the S3, it’s overcrowded with Shift keys visible), or how when watching videos the advanced scroll is at the bottom of the screen, rather than the top, which is very difficult to reach with your finger while laying in bed — then double-check yourself before diving into the Tab S3. Test it out. Take it for a spin. And remember, it’s a great tablet; it’s a great gadget; it’s a great vehicle for the Android system. But, it’s not an Apple product, and where Android gadgets always beat Apple (price!), the S3 takes on Cupertino squarely. Which, despite the boldness, one must seriously ask the question: Going blow for blow with Apple, do you ever win?