Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020 – biggerer and betterer (update Feb 2021)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020

The new Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020 and its little brother the S7 represent state-of-the-art Android tablets. It must be getting hard for Samsung to keep improving what is so damned good to start with.

I have been using Android Samsung Galaxy Tab ‘S’ devices since the original Samsung Galaxy Tab S in 2014. They are wonderful and still functioning although my beautiful, original, bronze/copper 10.5″ Tab is stuck at Android 6 and the battery stamina is not there anymore. But the formula has changed from a content consumption device to a serious productivity one. If Android apps work for you, then it could replace a laptop.

The recent formula includes: a great, vibrant, over-saturated AMOLED screen (the base 11″ S7 is IPS LCD); plenty of RAM and storage; latest Wi-Fi standards; optional LTE (and now 5G); Quad speaker sound; an S Pen; and DeX (Samsung Desktop eXperience).

Update

Customers will be able to order the TabS7 and Tab S7+ in Mystic Navy from February 19, available at Samsung.com, Samsung Experience Stores, and selected partners. 

Tab S7   
Wi-Fi6GB + 128GBMystic Navy$1,149
Wi-Fi6GB + 128GBMystic Bronze$1,149
Wi-Fi6GB + 128GBMystic Silver$1,149
4G6GB + 128GBMystic Silver$1,349
Wi-Fi8GB + 256GBMystic Silver$1,349
4G8GB + 256GBMystic Silver$1,549
Tab S7+   
Wi-Fi6GB + 128GBMystic Navy$1,549
Wi-Fi6GB + 128GBMystic Bronze$1,549
Wi-Fi6GB + 128GBMystic Silver$1,549
4G6GB + 128GBMystic Silver$1,749
Wi-Fi8GB + 256GBMystic Silver$1,749
5G8GB + 256GBMystic Silver$2,049

So, to the Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020 (test unit) and Tab S7 (by inference)

Remember this is an evolution of the S6, but in a few cases it is ‘Vive la revolution’.

  • Tab S7 11″ 2560 x 1600 IPS OR
    TAB S7+ 12.4″ 2800 x 1752 Super AMOLED – both are 120Hz refresh and full HDR10+
  • Samsung traditionally uses its Exynos processor, and there is nothing wrong with that. These use the 2020 powerhouse Qualcomm SD865+ and Adreno 650 GPU. This is the most powerful processor suitable for games and more
  • It has 6/8GB LPDDRX5 RAM and 128/256GB UFS 3.0 storage. The fastest you can get as well as up to 1TB of micro-SD expansion
  • Wi-Fi 6 AX, BT 5.0
  • Quad speakers with Dolby Atmos decoding to 2.0
  • 8000/10,090mAh batteries. 15W charger supplied but an optional 45W USB-C PD 3.0 super-fast charge is available
  • The new Dynamic S Pen (same as Note20 Ultra) and Air Gestures
  • DeX Wireless or cable over USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps)
  • Dual 13/5MP rear camera and 8MP front
  • Android 10 and now a promise of three OS upgrades

These are substantial changes. Not quite enough to throw out the Galaxy Tab S5 or S6 but enough to drool over. And this is probably the right mix to entice iPad Pro owners back to the light side.

Price – it is up there with an iPad Pro

I want to start with the price because the specifications are as good as a top-drawer Galaxy S20 smartphone. Compared to the Tab S6 and Tab S6 Lite these are three to four times the cost.

The Tab S6 Lite Wi-Fi/LTE at $499/699 will remain for the next few months. Gone is the S6 and S5.

What Samsung has done is position the Galaxy Tab A-series 10.1 Wi-Fi/LTE at $349/499 for the value market, and these are more traditional Android tablets.

Pre-orders to 10 September get a free keyboard cover at $359. It includes the S Pend but not the 45W fast charger. There is a free Keyboard/cover for pre-orders but act before 10 September.

Features

Looks – flat

Its brushed aluminium body has square edges and a flat back with only the slightest camera bump. The tablet is a tad slippery, so hold on tight to both sides – it is a fingerprint magnet.

It has very small bezels (<10mm) and a landscape front camera. It cries out for the keyboard to address the P-word – Productivity. If you don’t buy a keyboard ($339), you will only use it as a premium consumption device, and that is OK too.

Tablets tend to forget login protection, but remember this is more a big phone than ever. It has face recognition, ultrasonic fingerprint, PIN, pattern and password options. Use them! And don’t forget that Samsung has Knox and you can set up secure folders, secure Wi-FI and more.

Android 10 and Samsung UI 2.5

Remember it’s a big phone so almost anything you can do on a Samsung Galaxy you can do on this. OK, Google, Google Lens, Microsoft 365 and millions of apps. But add to that Android 10’s features and apps, and you have a device that, with a small learning curve and a keyboard can rival a laptop.

New low-latency S-Pen

I have always said the S Pen experience is as good as the pen on paper experience. This improves that – it is an even more silky smooth, precise experience. You can sketch, doodle, handwrite, professionally draw, translate and more. You can also use it as a remote camera shutter button.

Samsung Notes Productivity at laptop levels

  • Works powered on  or off – write on the screen
  • PDF Markup
  • Sync note and audio recordings
  • A new pop up note over video/podcast or video conference.
  • Converts handwriting to text very well
  • Add photos, voice notes and searchable tags.
  • Samsung Notes (.SDOCX). Image and text export to Microsoft 365 as well as OneDrive for other Android devices.

Samsung’s Notes app is terrific. I am looking forward to testing it more in the Note20 review coming soon.

DeX

DeX is the Samsung Desktop eXperience, and it is the closest thing to functional Android on a desktop. You can use it via USB-C to HDMI cable (easy and automatic) or Wireless (screen mirroring) to a TV. The tablet becomes a touchpad and keyboard. Or use the keyboard/cover or a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. It is very fast, and using the Tab S7+ as a touchpad adds lots of creative design flexibility.

There is a lot more to explore, including Samsung Flow that crosses the boundaries between Android and Windows 10.

Tests – Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020

As we only had the device for a reduced time, the tests where applicable are in the tables below. Apart from the screen, they apply equally to both models. The middle column is S7 (where most comments are), and the right is S7+.

Rather than a very long and involved review, we will publish the test results and use FAIL, PASS or EXCEED against test parameters.

Website here
Manual here (It is a PDF so check downloads)

Screen – EXCEED

Screen11″ 2560×1600
274ppi, 16:10
LTPS TFT
120Hz (can choose 60Hz but no adaptive setting)
500nits (Test 488)
Contrast: 1500:1 (Test 1800:1)
100% DCI-P3 (Test 98.9%) Natural or sRGB (Vivid)
Colour temp adjustment
Widevine L1 for HDR streaming. HDCP 2.3
HDR, HDR10, HDR10+/HLG
Optical in-display fingerprint scanner – fast and accurate
Dark Mode
Edge Panels for slide-out menus
No AOD
The key difference between the IPS and OLED is contrast and colour depth, although the IPS does very well.
Gamers note that IPS has around 45ms GTG and OLED about 5ms.
12.4″ 2800×1752
266ppi, 16:10
Super AMOLED
Contrast: Infinity (Yes)
 Same

Screen summary: The AMOLED is gorgeous, fast, has beautifully saturated colours and pure blacks. Watching Netflix HDR content is superb. The IPS LCD should be almost as good (not tested). With a little calibration, both have potential for photo/videographer use.

Processor – EXCEED

ProcessorQualcomm SD865+ 7nm
1×3.09GHz+3×2.42GHz+4×1.8GHz
Geekbench 5 single/multi 968/2810
Same
GPUAdreno 650
Will play/downscale [email protected] content
Geekbench 5 Compute OPEN CL: 3516
It will play all modern games to up to the highest frame rates. It has a GAme Booster mode.
Same
RAM Storage6 or 8GB LPDDRX5
128 or 256GB (220GB free) UFS 3.0
Dedicated MicroSD slot to 1TB
Same

Processor summary: There is no better or faster than the new SD865+. In the Android world, it will handle whatever you throw at it. Gamers be aware that the 120Hz AMOLED version has 5ms G-T-G and coupled with the Adreno 650 GPU should be perfect for the highest frame rates.

And the option of up to 1TB Micro-SDXC eliminates any storage concerns. It can be treated as an extension of the internal memory (via Developer Options) or as a mountable drive.

But, and this is great, USB-C 3.1, Gen 1 (5Gbps) and OTG means that you can attach external SSD or Flash storage to 2TB and get around 500Mbps sequential read/write.

4/5G – Not tested but EXCEED for coverage

LTE/5GLTE Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 20, 25, 26, 28, 38, 40, 41
5G sub-6Ghz n1, 2, 4, 5, 8,40, 77, 78
Supports VoIP and VoLTE for voice calls
Same

It has more bands than I have had hot dinners! As a 4G device, it will globally roam. We could not test signal strength as we had a Wi-Fi version.

BUT, we do suggest that you simply tether to your mobile phone and save an extra telco monthly account.

COMMS – EXCEED

CommsWi-Fi 6 AX, VHT80, MIMO
-31dBM/1200Mbps at 2 metres from the router (excellent)
BT 5.0 A2DP, SBC, AAC, aptX etc
GPS on both Wi-Fi and 5G models
USB-C 3.2, Gen 1 ALT DP
Hotspot
Wi-Di mirroring
NFC (no)
Same
SensorsAccelerometer, Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, RGB Light Sensor 

It uses the latest Wi-Fi 6 chipset and has exceptional signal strength and speed at 2 metres from our ASUS AX1000 router.

We are impressed that the GPS is in both the Wi-Fi and 4/5G models (it usually is part of the modem). GPS has 10meter accuracy (we wonder why it is not dual-band with the SD865+) but its certainly fast enough to use as turn-by-turn navigation.

A small point but most tablets do not have half the sensors. In particular, this has an eCompass and Gyro that is useful for gamers.

Sound – EXCEED

SoundQuad speakers 2.0
Dolby Atmos decode to 2.0
Tuned by AKG
No 3.5mm jack
2 x Cirrus Logic cs35L41 5.3W D-Class Amps with integrated DSP
Tests
Its Sound Signature is better than 12.9″ iPad Pro with slightly stronger bass, flatter mid and way better treble control.
Notification volume: 77dB
Music volume: 82dB – excellent
Same

It exceeds tablet standards with four speakers. The four speakers ensure that regardless of portrait or landscape, you have stereo sound.

It decodes Dolby Atmos to 2.0. It slightly widens the stereo sound stage but does not add any 3D height elements.

We tested BT with the new Sony WH-1000xM4 headphones and aptX codec on as high-res music we could find. As expected, the sound was clean, rich and loud. Casting to a Sonos Five (one of the nicest 2.0 BT/WiF-Fi speakers you can get) was simply superb.

Sound Signature – and you will listen to music on this

  • Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – nil
  • Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – climbing gently from 40Hz to 100Hz – nice hints
  • High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – flat (good)
  • Low-mid: 200-400Hz – flat
  • Mid: 400-1000Hz – flat
  • High-mid: 1-2kHz – flat
  • Low-treble: 2-4kHz – flat
  • Treble:4-6kHz – flat – flat
  • High Treble: 6-10kHz – slight dip to avoid harshness
  • Dog whistle: 10-20kHz – strong to 13kHz then slight decline a to 20khz

This warm and sweet sound signature (nirvana for movies and music) is quite unusual for a tablet and more than enough for small group entertainment.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020 FR

Sound Summary: Punches well above what you expect from a tablet

Battery – EXCEED

Battery8000MAh 15W charger – Supports 45W fast charge
Claim 14 hours video playback8 hours LTE/Internet205 hours audio75 hours LTE talk time Tests Discharge speed at IDLE: 700mAh or about 14 daysCharge time with 15W – 5 hoursCharge time with 45W – about 1 hourWi-Fi and web – 8 hours1080p video, 50% screen and aeroplane mode: 13 hoursT-Rex: 286.4 minutes (5 hours) and 6511 frames
10,090mAh
Same

Battery Summary: Our tests are on the 10,090mAh battery. Samsung makes similar claims for the 8000mAh version. The tests are on 60Hz – running 120Hz will drop the time by about 25%.

If you are a traveller, then get a fast USB-C PD 3.0 charger and a USB-C PD power bank. If we can ever fly again, it is a perfect long haul entertainment device.

OTHER – EXCEED

S PenDynamic 9ms (same as Note20 Ultra)
Air Gestures/Actions
Charges from the magnet holder 0-100% <5 minutes for about five hours use
Same
DeXWireless or cableSame
Size253.8×165.3×6.3mmx498g285 x 185 x 5.7 mmx575g
OptionsKeyboard/trackpad cover 165°
fits via pogo pins 502g
Same
Android10 and Samsung One UI 2.5Same
Warranty24-monthsSame
BonusYouTube Premium – 4 months
Clip Studio Paint Ex – 6 months
Canva – Free
Canva Pro trial – 30 DAYS
Noteshelf – Free
One Drive and MS 365 (subscriptions required)
Xbox Games Pass (subscription required)
Same

I can feel the difference in the S Pen – its faster, smoother and just a ‘smidge ‘nicer than the Tab S6.

Build wise its solid, I worry about dropping it (well, it is a review unit that has to go back).

I am not a fan of bloatware (free trials), but creatives will appreciate the painting ones.

And note that Samsung has a three-generation OS Upgrade policy – better than any other.

Camera – PASS

Tablet cameras are seldom synonymous with good photography. What the specs and sensor models tell us is that it should be OK for day/office light and not so good in low light. Yep, that is spot on. In good light, the detail is good, dynamic range is great, and the colours are fairly true to life. In poor light – forget it.

Camera Rear5MP, f/2.2, 1.12um Ultrawide 103.9° FOV
Sensor S5K5E9 with AF
13MP F/2.0, 1.0um Wide, 67.7FOV
Sensor S5K3M5
[email protected] – no EIS or OIS
LED single flash
Night mode
Scene optimiser
Samsung AI
Same
Camera Front8MP f/2.0, 1.12um, 58.5° FOV
Sensor SK54HA fixed focus
[email protected]
Same
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020 outdoors
Outdoors on an overcast day. Colours are accurate and detail is good
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020 ultra wide
The ultra-wide lens is not terribly wide but its an accurate shot
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020 8X
8X Zoom is acceptable
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020 office
Office Light. Colours are over-saturated (too much post-processing), there is a pink cast on the cabinet and there is no portrait (bokeh) option. Adequate but not as good as I expected
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020 dark
<40 lumens. A poor image with lots of lens flare.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020 Night mode
Dark mode improves the brightness but exacerbates lens flare and introduces noise.

GadgetGuy’s take – Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020 – biggerer and betterer

There is no better processor, no better screen, and no better OS/UI – this has it all.

No, I am not having a go at iPad Pro. Android and iOS are two very different animals now. But I am saying that in the Android world there is no better and from what I see it offers far more than an iPad Pro 2020 – unless you have Apple-only apps.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S-series owners will appreciate the tablet with an S Pen and optional keyboard cover. If you have a Tab S5/e, S6/Lite it only offers more power and a 12.4″ version. You will get several more years from what you have.

Non-owners will balk at the price. It is expensive to be sure. But that is until they see what it can do. And until they compare it to an iPad Pro 2020.

Competition

None in the Android world.

The Apple iPad Pro 11/12.9″ starts at $1329/1649 (6/128GB) plus an expensive Apple pencil and magic keyboard. If you are objective, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020 is better.

ItemGalaxy Tab S7+ 2020iPad Pro
Size12.4 inches12.9 inches
Resolution2800 x 1752 pixels, 266 PPI2732 x 2048 pixels, 265 PPI
TechnologySuper AMOLEDIPS LCD
STBR84.65 %85.51 %
Features120Hz refresh rate
HDR video support
60Hz plus motion technology
Base memory6/128GB
MicroSD expansion to 1TB
6/1218GB
No expansion
Battery10000mAh
45W fast charge
9720mAh
18W fast charge
PenNew low latency 9ms S Pen includedOptional Apple Pencil 2 at $219

For me – the sweet spot is base 11″ S7 $1149 6/228/Wi-Fi version as I can add microSD and use my smartphone as a hot spot.

I would find it hard to justify the extra $400 for the base 12.4″ AMOLED model, let alone an extra $900 for the top-of-the-range 5G AMOLED.

Rating

Rating the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 2020 as the top Android tablet is easy. It has material upgrades over the Tab S6 (review here 4.8/5) and Tab S6 Lite (review here 4.7/5) but at a price. 4.0/5 it is.

Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
Positives
Negatives
4.8