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Tablets

Samsung's latest Galaxy Tab S3 tablet takes on the iPad Pro

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is the latest high-end Android tablet. Is it any better than the Apple iPad Pro or the Google Pixel C? We take a look.

Josh Miller
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With all due respect to the Google Pixel C (£374.90 at Amazon.co.uk), the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (£549.70 at Amazon.co.uk) is one of the best Android tablets we've seen. The slim 9.7-incher stands out next to the Pixel C and Apple iPad Pro 9.7, with a luxe all-glass back that feels divine, albeit a bit smudge-prone. Additionally, it's the first HDR-ready tablet with an insanely vivid screen for watching video.

What's not to like? Well, Samsung hasn't revealed the price yet. That means we don't know exactly how the Galaxy Tab S3 stacks up. So far, the Galaxy Tab S3 looks like a media consumption monster that should be a worthy follow-up to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, previously the best Android tablet for watching video.

HDR-ready

Unlike other tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is HDR-ready. Its Super AMOLED screen will display brighter colors and deeper contrast when playing specially created HDR video (Amazon and Netflix are both getting into the game), but Samsung has yet to specify which exact HDR standard it will support.

That's not a huge deal unless you're HDR-obsessed, but it is an edge over the iPad Pro 9.7 and Pixel C. All three tablets have comparably spectacular screens otherwise, but the Samsung's is the only one that can handle HDR video.

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Its Super AMOLED screen ready for HDR movies.

Josh Miller/CNET

Smart speakers

Let's be honest: Tablets aren't well known for their audio quality. All three of these tablets have stereo speakers on both left and right edges, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 takes the audio experience a step further.

The Galaxy Tab S3's quad-speaker system (a speaker on each corner) automatically detects the direction of the screen and adjusts the audio. It pushes the dialogue and vocals to the top two speakers for optimal clarity, no matter if you're holding it in portrait or landscape orientation.

We have yet to try this out to see how big of a difference it makes, but combined with its HDR-ready screen, the Galaxy Tab S3 is shaping up to be the cutting-edge portable movie theater to get.

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Dialogue is always pushed to the top two speakers for easier listening.

Josh Miller

Keyboards compared

Like the iPad Pro and Pixel C (and many other tablets) the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 has an optional keyboard accessory. Samsung's best Android tablets are geared toward media consumption, so that may not be something you necessarily need. If you get the new Windows-based Galaxy Book instead, the keyboard comes bundled in the box.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3's keyboard accessory is similar in design to the iPad Pro 9.7's; it's floppy, foldable and portable. It's reminiscent of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4's, but not as seamlessly designed.

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The removable keyboard is a nice addition, but not essential.

Josh Miller/CNET

However, in this category, the Pixel C has everyone beat. The Google tablet's sturdy magnetic keyboard attaches to the tablet like duct tape, making it one of the most solid Android keyboards around.

Below is a breakdown on how the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 compares with the Apple iPad Pro 9.7 and the Google Pixel C in a few ways. We'll update it when Samsung announces pricing for the Tab S3.

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The all-glass design is Samsung's best yet.

Josh Miller

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 specs compared

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Apple iPad Pro 4 Google Pixel C
Starting price TBD £549 £477 (converted)
Price with keyboard TBD $753 $748
Display 9.7-inch 2,048x1,536 9.7-inch 2,048x1,536 10.2-inch 2,560x1,800
Pixel density 264 264 308
Dimensions (imperial) 9.3x6.6x0.24-inches 9.4x6.6x0.24-inches 9.5x7x.27-inches
Dimensions (metric) 237.3x169x6mm 240x169.5x6.1mm 242x179x7mm
Weight 429g(Wi-Fi) / 434g(LTE) Wi-Fi: 0.96-pound (437g); LTE: 0.98 (444g) 1.1 pounds (498g)
Operating system Android 7.0 iOS 10 Android 7.0
Processors 2.15GHz+1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 A9X NvidiaTegra X1
Graphics N/A N/A Maxwell GPU
Storage 32GB 32GB/128GB/256GB 64GB
RAM 4GB N/A 3GB
Battery 6,000mAh Up to 10 hours Up to 10 hours
Networking 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Ports 1x USB-C, microSD expandable up to 256 Lightning USB-C
Cameras Rear 13-megapixels, Front 5-megapixels Rear 12-megapixels, Front 5-megapixels Rear 8-megapixel, Front 2-megapixels
Extras Stylus included, keyboard sold separately Stylus and keyboard sold separately Stylus and keyboard sold separately