The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and Tab S7+ have some noticeable upgrades to the 10.5-inch Tab S6 which was released about a year ago.
Most notably, the displays have upgraded with 120Hz refresh rate and the latency for the new S Pen has dropped to 9ms, matching the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro.
This review is from the perspective of an artist, and will see if the Tab S7+ can be a viable tablet for professional illustration, and whether it can compete with the iPad Pro which seems to the standard portable tablet for many digital artists
Here's a table comparing the differences.
|Tab S6||Tab S7||Tab S7+|
|Resolution||2560 x 1600||2560 x 1600||2800 x 1752|
|Dimensions||244.5 x 159.5 x 5.7 mm||253.8 x 165.3 x 6.3 mm||285 x 185 x 5.7 mm|
|Display type||Super AMOLED||IPS LCD||Super AMOLED|
|Chip||Snapdragon 855||Snapdragon 865+||Snapdragon 865+|
|RAM, Storage||6GB, 128GB to 256GB||6GB to 8GB, 128GB to 512GB||6GB to 8GB, 128GB to 512GB|
|Micro SD card slot||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|S Pen latency||26ms||9ms||9ms|
|Battery capacity||7040 mAh||8000 mAh||10090 mAh|
|Retail price||US $649||US $649||US $849|
There are two models for Tab S7. The standard Tab S7 comes with an 11-inch 2560 x 1600 resolution IPS panel and the battery capacity is 8,000 mAh. The Tab S7+ comes with a 12.4-inch 2800 x 1752 resolution Super AMOLED panel with battery capacity of 10090 mAh.
Tab S7+ supports fast charging and a fast charger is included. No replacement nibs are included for the S Pen though, but those are cheap and easy to find.
The design looks good. Bezels are thinner even than the iPad Pro, and uniform throughout. Corners are rounded off. The selfie camera is located on the long side.
This tablet is thinner than the S Pen provided. It's 5.7mm vs 6.3mm of the Tab S7, and 5.9mm of the iPad Pro (2018, 2020).
Note the flat sides with flat corner bevels.
The weight is 575g. It's an extremely compact and portable design with no excess. I personally can't hold the Tab S7+ with one hand and draw for more than a minute. Same applies to the iPad Pro 12.9-inch. I need to set the tablet down on a surface for drawing. When you add a case, the tablet gets heavier. If you want a tablet for one hand operation, get the 11-inch instead.
Display size of the 11-inch Tab S7 is about the same size as an A5 sketchbook. Tab S7+ has slightly more room on the short side, and noticeably more room on the long side compared to A5 sketchbook.
The 16:10 aspect ratio is still considered wide so this tablet is best used in landscape mode. When used in portrait mode with certain drawing apps, palettes may take up too much space leaving you with just a thin vertical view of your canvas.
The 2800 x 1752 resolution makes everything look sharp. There is no noticeable pixelation when viewed from normal working distance.
The 16:10 aspect ratio means black bars are smaller when watching 16:9 videos.
With Youtube app, you can view videos at 1440P which is not something the iPad Pro can do (max at 1080P) until iPadOS 14 is released. And you can zoom it to fill the video to the whole screen for a more immersive experience, something the iPad Pro can't do either.
The Tab S7+ is a slightly better media consumption tablet than the iPad Pro due to the AMOLED display and aspect ratio. The 4 way speakers are loud and clear.
Colours look really vibrant on the Super AMOLED display. Some people may consider the colours too vibrant but it's just a personal taste. Samsung has options for more muted look and there are controls to adjust white balance and RGB.
This display is bright enough that colours and contrast still look good under direct sunlight.
Viewing angles are fantastic with no major colour shift except for the slight cyan or magenta cast.
Power and volume buttons are located on the left on the long side.
Unlike Apple which is known for price gouging their storage upgrades, Samsung still has the microSD card slot included. This is great if you are using earlier tablets with micro SD cards because you can just reuse the same card, and have access to all your old files.
You can get a Sandisk 512GB 160MB/s microSD card for around US $110 at the time of this review. Storage is not going to be a problem on this device. There are even 1TB microSD cards.
The S Pen is included but not replacement nibs.
The S Pen is lightweight but not too light. The body has a smooth matte texture and build quality is good.
Colour of the S Pen will match the tablet which is available in black, silver and bronze.
The S Pen is comfortable to hold. It has a cyclindrical design with a flat size for attaching to the tablet. The design is very similar to the Apple Pencil 2.
The new design features a more tapered front end which allows you to see the pen tip no matter how you hold the pen. The pen on the right is the S Pen from Tab S6.
The S Pen can snap magnetically to the back of the tablet for charging. The battery power is for those wireless Air command gestures. You don't need battery power to use the S Pen for drawing and writing.
The S Pen has to be attached in that specific position with the pen tip pointing to the cameras. Other positions will be out of place because the magnets will not be aligned. The pen can also be attached on the long side of the tablet, away from the volume buttons.
The S Pen supports tilt and pressure sensitivity though I'm not sure how many levels. The cursor will show when the S Pen is hovering about 1cm away and the cursor will always track beneath the pen tip. This is a very accurate pen.
The display is laminated so there's no gap between the pen tip and the line it produces.
The new S Pen has improved latency of 9ms, finally matching that of the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro which has it since 2017. This is a noticeable upgrade when writing and drawing.
Shown above is the display at 120Hz. The gap between the pen tip and the line as it catches up is small.
You can also choose to drop the refresh rate down to the typical 60Hz. Here you can see the gap is much larger.
Note that whether you will see a bigger or smaller gap will also depend on the app you use. For example, Clip Studio Paint seems to have the larger gap while Samsung Notes has almost no gap.
Drawing experience is fantastic. The drawing performance is consistent and predictable. Certain apps, eg Clip Studio, will even allow you to adjust the pressure sensitivity curve.
Lines taper well. When drawing with consistent pressures, the lines can maintain uniform thickness. Transition from thin to thick is also smooth. There's no jitter with diagonal lines drawn slowly.
Lines always come out exactly the way I expect them to. Tilt and pressure sensitivity works well, palm rejection too.
Tilt sensitivity works predictably in Autodesk Sketchbook. Pressure and tilt can work together at the same time.
Tilt sensitivity with Concepts is abrupt. There's no transition from thin to thick. So tilt sensitivity implementation will depend on the apps you use.
The pen tip is quite smooth on the glass surface. It's about as smooth as the Apple Pencil. When drawing straight lines, it can be challenging to keep the line straight. You could install a matte screen protector for more control but I'm afraid the rougher matte texture will wear down the rubber S Pen tip quickly. Besides, a mattte screen protector will degrade the image quality, colours, contrast and there's the anti-glare that creates white haze out of reflections. I recommend getting a tempered glass screen protector instead. My Tab S6 has some scratches on the glass so the glass is not scratch-proof.
I do recommend getting a stand or some case that can prop up the tablet so that it's more comfortable to draw on. And the tablet does not produce much heat.
This was sketched with me seated and the tablet resting on my legs. I won't be able to draw this while standing because my hand will probably cramp under the weight of the tablet.
But whether you can actually draw with the tablet in portrait orientation will also depend on the app. Concepts for example has minimal user interface elements so you still get a good amount of canvas to work on.
My drawings typically don't use many layers. Most drawings just have layers for line art, colours, textures and shadows. So that's a minimal of four layers. I'm not sure what's the limit on the number of layers but that will depend on the drawing app you use. With 6GB or 8GB of RAM, having more layers shouldn't be an issue.
While 120Hz refresh rate makes OS animation look smooth and improves the drawing latency, it does drain more battery. I get around 7 hours of battery life with 120Hz but that will also depend on the auto-brightness. If you drop down to 60Hz, you can get one to two hours more of battery life. So the battery life of the 120Hz Tab S7 isn't as long as the 120Hz iPad Pro.
Samsung Tab S7+ on left, BenQ SW2700PT AdobeRGB LCD monitor on right. Click for a larger view.
Colours of artworks created on AMOLED display will look less vibrant when viewed on a LCD monitor. The colours won't look the same even though they are supposed to be the same. The only way to match the colours of the AMOLED display to your LCD monitor is to switch from Vibrant to Natural settings for the Display in the system preferences.
And notice the 2560 x 1440 pixelation with my BenQ SW2700PT.
Samsung's on-screen keyboard layout takes some time to get used to. Good thing about Android is there are alternative onscreen keyboards you can install. E.g. Microsoft SwiftKey, Google's Gboard. Another thing I noticed is when on Facebook.com, pressing the backspace button instantly closes the on-screen keyboard. Glitch.
Most apps still save files within the apps, just like on the iPad. It's not a big deal but I found out when upgrading from my Tab S6 and using Samsung's file transfer, the art I created in Concepts were not copied over. So if you're upgrading from an older tablet, make sure you check each app to see if your files have been copied to your new tablet.
You can choose to export the files to the tablet storage but that's an extra step. And each time you update your art, you will need to export the files again.
Drawing apps on Android
The addition of Clip Studio is a huge boost to the Android ecosystem. Clip Studio is about as professional as an illustration or comics drawing app can be. Clip Studio on Android is essentially almost a 100% port of the desktop app. Only downside is it's a monthly subscription app but at just US $25 (single device) or US $44 (two devices) per year, it's a reasonable price for someone who draws a lot with Clip Studio. Your desktop license won't work on Android or iPad.
With Clip Studio, I can now recommend Android tablets for digital artists without any hesitation. Even Krita is now on Android. And Tayasui Sketches which used to be an exclusive on iPad is also available on Android. Concepts is another wonderful drawing app too, available on all platforms. There are still more quality drawing apps on iPad, Procreate being the most popular, but sometimes all you need is just one good app and Clip Studio on Android is that app.
I hope there will be better and more graphic design, photo and video editing on Android in the future. Affinity Photo and Designer on iPad are fantastic. Hopefully they will be port over to Android. One can always wish, right?
Samsung Dex is the desktop user interface for Android. It's designed to mimic desktop OS with minor differences. But overall, the file system is very familiar and works way better than iPad's Files app. For example, I could connect a SD card reader and copy my 4K videos over at USB 3 speeds. On the iPad Pro, file transfer from SD card reader is slow, and there's not even a progress bar. Sometimes when copying files or download files from the web, you won't even know if the file is moving, and since there's no progress bar you won't know when your file copy or download will complete. Files app functionality on iOS is idiotic.
Mouse implementation is exactly the same as desktop.
It will be good for Samsung to add more features to desk in the future. E.g. Having a real desktop where you can actually put files and folders rather than only apps.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ is the best Android tablet right now, one that can actually compete with the Apple iPad Pro 2020. And it's even cheaper. The base model Tab S7+ with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage cost US $849 and includes the S Pen. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2020 with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage cost US $999 and Apple Pencil 2 is another $129. The price difference is significant.
The Tab S7 looks good and has solid build quality.
I would say the Apple Pencil is slightly more sensitive compared to the S Pen especially at really low pressure, but the performance is not significantly different. So I can't say the Apple Pencil is so much better especially now when the S Pen latency is similar.
The main downside for me is the battery life with the 120Hz display is lower compared to iPad Pro. 7 hours is still pretty decent battery life. And if you don't mind running at 60Hz, you get more battery life. The latency is still not bad. More battery life is more useful than the 120Hz display.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ is a good buy. It could also double as an actual computer if you don't need to install specialised software that's not available on Android. It's certainly more of a computer than the iPad Pro.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Beautiful design
+ Compact and portable (575g)
+ Solid build quality
+ High resolution OLED display with vibrant colours
+ Good battery life but could be better
+ 4-way speakers with good audio quality
+ Ultra wide angle camera included with standard camera
+ S Pen included
+ Improved pen latency
+ S Pen support tilt and pressure sensitivity
+ S Pen is powered by battery but you don't need power to draw or write
+ S Pen is accurate
+ S Pen replacement nibs are cheap
+ Palm rejection works well
+ Snappy performance
+ Good drawing performance
+ No jitter when drawing diagonal lines slowly
+ Micro SD card slot
+ Base model with 6GB RAM, 128GB storage
+ Android 10
+ Samsung DeX available
- No headphone jack
- S Pen replacement tips not included
- OLED colours too vibrant and will make the same art look less saturated on LCD displays
- Face unlock and under-screen fingerprint sensor not flawless
- 120Hz drains battery faster than 60Hz
You can find Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and S7+ and more reviews on Amazon. Links below are affiliate links which means I earn some commission for each sale referred but at no extra cost to you. You support helps me because I'm not sponsored. My tablet was bought from the secondhand market.