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(Pocket-lint) - Tablets have gone from strength to strength in recent years, Android devices in particular having something of a resurgence after previously dwindling sales. Samsung has been at the forefront of this market for many years, but in a bid to further stand out from the crowd its 2022 Galaxy Tab S8 flagships come in three sizes, not two options like its previous generation.

At the top-end of that scale is the Tab S8 Ultra which, as its name suggests, is the big daddy of the lot, delivering a massive 14.6-inch display. To put that in perspective we can't think of a larger Samsung tablet since the Tab Pro 12.2 from back in 2014 - and even that wasn't as large with its bigger bezels and all.

Not only is the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra the biggest of Samsung's trio for this generation, it also offers some additional features, such as a dual front-facing camera unit that lives in a new notched display. But does anyone really want that in a tablet and, indeed, will anyone really want a tablet as large scale as this?

Our quick take

If you're looking for a tablet with a huge screen - perhaps to consider as a laptop replacement by using some accessories - then they don't really come bigger than the Tab S8 Ultra.

This slate is clearly designed for more than just watching stuff - the inclusion of the S Pen stylus and top-tier Qualcomm hardware further confirm this - and if that's your intention then, well, we suspect this option might be simply a bit too big.

It's a bold move, though, with Samsung getting ahead of the large-scale tablets market before any other maker, further establishing itself as the premiere Android option. And in terms of both screen and physical build quality it's really second to none.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra initial review: Large and in charge?

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

For
  • Great looking screen on a large scale
  • S Pen stylus included in the box
  • Slim and sturdy design
  • Accessory options for wider use-case versatility
Against
  • Screen impractically large for some
  • Do you need a dual front-facing camera on a tablet?
  • Google/Samsung software not adept as laptop replacement yet

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Design & Display

  • 14.6-inch AMOLED panel
  • Dynamic refresh rate up to 120Hz
  • WQXGA+ (2960 x 1848) resolution
  • Dimensions: 208.6 x 326.4 x 5.5mm
  • Weight: 726g (Wi-Fi) or 728g (5G)
  • Under display fingerprint scanner

In short: the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is massive. When we first saw it at our Unpacked preview session at Samsung KX in London's Kings Cross, it was hard to ignore. But just because it's got a big screen presence doesn't mean it's an unwieldy design. Indeed, its slender frame - at 5.5mm it's slimmer than any modern-day flagship phone - is super sturdy, while the almost soft-touch metal finish delivers an aura of quality the moment its in the hand.

Pocket-lintSamsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review photo 15

Well, maybe in both hands, as this slate is of a very different scale to the norm. But, hey, maybe Samsung is just getting ahead of the curve here. After all, Apple is rumoured to be expanding beyond its 12.9-inch maximum for its iPad line-up in the future. And if you're considering a large-scale tablet with some accessories as a laptop alternative then there will of course be a market for panel sizes that are encroaching on the laptop space.

Being the largest screen size of the Tab S8 trio, however, the Ultra gets the lowest pixel density of the three displays. That said, with WQXGA+ resolution this has around 60 per cent of the pixels you'd find on a 4K UHD television - and seeing as the latter tends to be four times the size on the diagonal, you're not going to run the risk of this Samsung tablet looking less than sharp.

Pocket-lintSamsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review photo 3

It's an AMOLED technology panel, too, delivering the usual punchy colours and deep blacks. Plus Samsung has become very generous with brightness, so this panel can really cut through reflections and present a very clean image indeed. Login is using the under-display fingerprint scanner, if you can successfully hold the slate with the other hand whilst reaching for it anyway.

Hardware & Accessories

  • Included: S Pen stylus / Optional: Book Cover Keyboard, Book Cover, Protective Standing Cover 
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 platform (TBC), 8/12/16GB RAM, 128/256/512GB storage
  • Cameras: 12MP + 12MP front-facing pair / 3MP + 6MP rear unit
  • 11,200mAh battery, 45W fast-charging, no wireless charging
  • Samsung One UI 4 Tab software

That the Tab S8 Ultra is so big is clue to the accessories available - this isn't just a slate for watching stuff on, the S Pen stylus being included in the box being hint enough at that. Many will find the pen useful for drawing and annotating, especially at this kind of screen scale, which may be a big part of the appeal for a certain audience.

Pocket-lintSamsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review photo 13

But the accessories expand beyond that, with a keyboard-and-cover combination transforming this tablet into a more laptop-like alternative. Full disclosure, though, we've not been able to see or use these accessories, so can't comment on how they function in tandem with the tablet.

From previous experience, however, we're still unconvinced that Samsung's UI software is quite practical enough to tackle multi-tasking, while Google Android's Play Store isn't as adept at covering all app avenues as, say, a Windows PC. As ever it'll depend on what you're looking for in your workflow as to whether the accessories option is the right kind of path for you.

Pocket-lintSamsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review photo 7

In terms of raw power Samsung isn't holding back, featuring Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 inside, paired with lots of RAM - only the Ultra gets a 16GB option in the 512GB exclusive - for performance that ought to be searing. Again, ideal for heavier workflows, further establishing that this isn't just a tablet for browsing the web and watching stuff on.

Interestingly the Galaxy S22 phone series uses Samsung's Exynos 2200 inside instead, but having seen the tablets prior to the Unpacked event we can confirm this is not the case. Indeed, we don't believe Exynos will be used in any of the tablets in any region.

Pocket-lintSamsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review photo 11

Another considerable feature of the Tab S8 Ultra is its dual cameras to the front, meaning the display is notched. While that might cause outrage in some, on a screen this large you barely really notice it. Our qualm is more a question of 'why?', though, as tablets aren't exactly pioneers when it comes to camera operation - a single punch-hole option would have been fine here for all that we'd expect to need (just like the smaller Tab S8 and S8 Plus).

To recap

If you're after a tablet with a huge screen - perhaps to consider as a laptop replacement using accessories - then they don't really come bigger than the Tab S8 Ultra. This slate is clearly designed for more than just watching stuff - the inclusion of the S Pen stylus and top-tier Qualcomm hardware confirm this - and if that's your intention then, well, we suspect this option might be simply a bit too big.

Writing by Mike Lowe.