The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE joins the Galaxy Tab S series with a more affordable price compared to the Tab S7 (review) and Tab S7+. There are some compromises, of course, in the form of some missing features. In this review, you'll find out whether this is a deal for your money.
This is an artist review so there are certain things I won't cover, e.g. benchmarks and gaming. And review will reproduce some content and photos from my Tab S7+ review since there are many similarities.
Here's how the different Tab S7 models differ
|Tab S7 FE||Tab S7||Tab S7+|
|Resolution||2560 x 1600||2560 x 1600||2800 x 1752|
|Dimensions||285 mm x 185 mm x 6.3 mm||253.8 mm x 165.3 mm x 6.3 mm||285 x 185 mm x 5.7 mm|
|Display type||LCD 60Hz||LCD 120Hz||Super AMOLED 120Hz|
|Chip||Snapdragon 750G||Snapdragon 865+||Snapdragon 865+|
|RAM, Storage||4GB to 6GB, 64GB to 128GB||6GB to 8GB, 128GB to 512GB||6GB to 8GB, 128GB to 512GB|
|Micro SD card slot||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|S Pen latency||???||9ms||9ms|
|Battery capacity||10090 mAh||8000 mAh||10090 mAh|
|Audio||2-way speakers||4-way speakers||4-way speakers|
|Unlock||2D face, no fingerprint||Face and fingerprint||Face and fingerprint|
|Wireless||Wireless, LTE||Wireless, LTE||Wireless, LTE|
|Retail prices from||US $529||US $649||US $849|
The main selling point here is the 12.4-inch display which is as big as the one on the Tab S7+. However, this display is a LCD with 60Hz refresh rate instead of the Super AMOLED with 120Hz. Colours and brightness are still fantastic. RAM is 4GB to 6GB instead of 6GB to 8GB. Audio quality is great even though it's now using a 2-way instead of 4-way speakers. Overall performance is smooth and fast with the occasional app reloads due to the lower amount of RAM. Battery life is insanely good and on par with the Tab S7 at around 14 hours, and significantly better than the Tab S7+ with just 7 hours.
I've been using the Tab S7+ for almost a year now and it's an excellent tablet with the only downside being the battery life. The downsides to me are not significant as in they don't affect my work, e.g. using the tablet for drawing. Battery life does matter though because it affects how long you can work on the tablet, especially when you're outdoors.
A 15W power adapter and cable are included. The tablet supports fast charging so you'll need an appropriate charger for that feature. Samsung sells a 45W charger separately.
Charging time with the 15W charger is at least 3 hours so if you want to charge the tablet faster, use a more powerful charger.
Battery life of the tablet is around 14 hours. This tablet has almost 2x the battery life of the Tab S7+.
Design looks almost similar to the Samsung Tab S7+ (right). It's just 6.3mm vs 5.7mm. I was able to use my Tab S7+ cases with the Tab S7 FE.
Available colours are Mystic Black, Mystic Silver, Mystic Green and Mystic Pink. Here in Singapore only the Black and Green are available.
The display looks beautiful. Bezels are thin. Colours are vibrant and display is bright. Having a Super AMOLED display is nice but not having one is not a downside if the LCD option looks great and it does look terrific here. I do miss the 120Hz but not at the expense of battery life. The smaller 11-inch Tab S7 LCD with adaptive 120Hz refresh rate also has significantly longer battery life than the 12.4-inch Tab S7+.
Super AMOLED display has better contrast than LCD. White is more white and black is more black. You can tell the difference with a side by side comparison. But if you have nothing to compare to, the Tab S7 FE display still looks fantastic.
According to NotebookCheck, there's PWM when brightness drops below 18%. Anyway, I won't worry about PWM because 18% brightness is the sort of brightness you use when your room is dark.
This display is bright enough that colours and contrast still look good under direct sunlight. Viewing angles are fantastic with no major colour shift. It may seem like the brightness actually drops when viewed from the side, the same can be said for the Super AMOLED display on the Tab S7.
The 12.4-inch display supports a 2560 x 1600 resolution with 16:10 aspect ratio. The 16:10 aspect ratio is still considered wide so the tablet is best used in landscape orientation so that you can fit palettes on the side without sacrificing the size of the canvas.
When watching 16:9 Youtube videos, there will be small black bars at the top and bottom.
The 2560 x 1600 resolution makes everything look sharp. There is no noticeable pixelation when viewed from normal working distance.
Build quality is excellent.
There's a microSD card slot, and for 5G LTE models a Nano-SIM card slot. You can get a Sandisk 512GB 160MB/s microSD card for around US $83 at the time of this review. Storage is not going to be a problem on this device. There are even 1TB microSD cards.
The 2-way speakers are stereo on both sides in landscape orientation. Audio quality is loud and clear, more than satisfactory.
The only thing I don't like about the design is how close the power button is located near the volume buttons. I've been using the Tab S7+ for almost a year now and I still press the power button by mistake when I want to increase the volume.
Samsung has an official Book Cover with a pen holder so that's a case you can consider getting.
The Book Cover does not protect the sides so just be careful not to drop your tablet.
There are magnets on the inner cover to hold the tablet in place.
The magnets are quite strong and can hold the tablet firmly even for drawing. The stand can only be deployed at two angles and this angle actually works fine for drawing.
If you want a stand with adjustable angles, I recommend the Parblo PR100 stand (I have two).
The S Pen can be stored on the side or back of the tablet.
When bringing the S Pen around, it's best to store it inside the Flip Cover because the S Pen can drop off easy when knocked against something.
The weight is 608g. It's a 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. 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 FE has slightly more room on the short side, and noticeably more room on the long side compared to A5 sketchbook.
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.
The S Pen is comfortable to hold. It has a cyclindrical design with a flat size for attaching to the tablet.
Unlike the S Pen for the Tab S7/S7+, this S Pen does not have a battery for the Bluetooth functionality and features. Anyway, the S Pen doesn't need battery to work for writing or drawing.
The S Pen supports tilt and 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. 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.
There's no mention of the latency with the Tab S7 FE but the Tab S7/S7+ features 9ms latency for the S Pen. Note that latency will also depend on the apps you use. Certain apps will have a bigger gap as the line tries to catch up with the pen tip. For example, Clip Studio Paint seems to have the larger gap while Samsung Notes has almost no gap. The latency (gap) with the Tab S7 FE is good. When drawing at normal speed, latency doesn't look too bad and doesn't affect my work.
Drawing apps on Android
The situation with drawings apps on Android gets better every year.
The release of Clip Studio Paint on Android is a huge boost to the artist community who use Android tablets. CSP on Android has the same features as the desktop version, and it performs very smoothly too.
Other drawing apps to check out are
- Medibang Paint
- Huion Sketch
- Infinite Painter
- Ibis Paint X
- Krita (beta)
- Tayasui Sketches (beta)
Medibang Paint is heading to the subscription route soon. It's has rather similar functionality to Clip Studio Paint except with UI differences. For professional artists, I recommend Clip Studio Paint easily. The monthly subscription is easily worth the money.
Concepts is freemium app with free tools but to get all the tools you have to pay (one time) to unlock them. This is one of my favourite drawing apps. It's a vector app with an infinite canvas, Copic colour palettes and user-friendly UI.
Sketchbook, used to be under Autodesk, is still a really capable drawing app all these years. You can't go wrong with this too.
Huion Sketch is relatively new and is worth checking out. Their app is designed with, from what I can see, inspiration from the popular Procreate app on iPad.
Here are some line quality tests done in Medibang Paint Pro.
1. Initial activation force of the pen is low and thin lines can be drawn easily even with a thick brush selected.
2. There's no visible jitter or wobble when drawing diagonal lines slowly.
3. Strokes are able to taper quite smoothly.
4. Line transition from thin to thick looks smooth.
5. Dots can be drawn easily by tapping the pen tip.
6. It's easy to maintain consistent pressure to draw lines with consistent width.
Drawing performance is consistent and predictable. Lines always come out the way I expect them to. The S Pen is a sensitive and accurate pen.
This was drawn with Clip Studio Paint.
Clip Studio Paint works great and is a joy to work with.
This was also drawn with Clip Studio Paint. When using large (humongous) textured brushes, there's lag as line will try to catch up with the pen tip. The amount of lag is quite similar to the Tab S7+. Other than the lag with huge textured brushes, overall drawing performance is quite smooth.
CSP tablet version is exactly the same as the desktop version.
This was also drawn with Clip Studio Paint.
This was drawn with Concepts.
Drawing performance with Concepts is quite smooth.
When the scene becomes more busy, there's slightly more lag in the form of stuttering, compared to Tab S7+, with pan, zoom and rotate. But it's not the irritating spinning-hour-glass type of lag, thankfully.
These are quick sketches drawn using Concepts of my 3-year-old daughter who keeps moving around.
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. File transfer speed is USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps).
Mouse implementation is same as desktop.
Samsung Dex allows you to use the tablet like a computer with a familiar desktop interface. When attached to an external monitor, you can have the monitor show desktop UI while the tablet is showing tablet UI. Both displays can show different content, something the iPad cannot do.
Samsung Second Screen
Samsung Second Screen allows the Tab S7 FE to work as an external display to your Windows 10 computer. It's kinda like MacOS's SideCar feature that works with iPads.
Using the Tab S7 FE as an external display allows you to use S Pen with desktop apps. There is some lag though with both the wireless and wired connection. There's still pressure sensitivity with the S Pen. However, I wasn't able get pressure to work with Photoshop even though it works with other drawing apps.
Using Samsung Second Screen makes more sense with the Tab S7 FE because of the much longer battery life.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and S7+ are the best Android tablets in the market however they are also quite pricey. The addition of the Tab S7 FE is a good move on Samsung's part to target customers who are more budget conscious but still want to experience what the best Android tablets have to offer.
Sure there are compromises to be made to bring the price down. The processor is not as powerful but it doesn't really impact performance much. Having less RAM means there are occasions when webpages would reload and sometimes even my drawing apps would reload too, something I don't experience on the Tab S7+.
For those who want a large display, it's now available with the Tab S7 FE at a more affordable price. And it's a beautiful display with vibrant colours and good brightness. I personally won't miss Super AMOLED if I switch to LCD.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE is a tablet I can recommend easily to anyone who wants to get the most value for their money.
Where to buy in Singapore
These are the prices for the tablets and accessories
- Samsung Tab S7 FE 5G (4GB RAM 64GB storage) - SGD 898
- Samsung Tab S7 FE 5G (6GB RAM 128GB storage) - SGD 998
- Keyboard Cover Slim - SGD 268
- Book Cover - SGD 128
- S Pen (already included) - SGD 108
You can also offset your purchase of the tablet when you trade in your old phone or tablet.
I've also included the prices of the 11-inch Apple iPad Air 4 (review) since it's the direct competitor.
- 4 GB RAM, 64GB storage - SGD 879
- 4GB RAM, 256GB storage - SGD 1099
- Apple Pencil 2 (not included) - SGD 179
It doesn't make sense to go with the 64GB iPad Air since iPadOS takes up 17GB and you're left with just 47GB before you install any apps. So you have to go with the 256GB model and with the Apple Pencil 2, the total is SGD 1278. That's SGD 280 more than 128GB Tab S7 FE. Even if you go with the refurbished iPad Air 4, that's still at least SGD 100 more than the Tab S7 FE.
If you don't have any preference for OS or apps, you can go with either Apple or Samsung. The thing with Apple is they are great at locking you into their ecosystem.
Where else to buy the tablet
Just make sure to get the model with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage.