I mentioned before that I originally wanted this blog to be more than just coffee, the original website actually had the tagline of “coffee, tech, gear and everything else” which I changed to make it more simple. Today I wanted to write a tablet review. I have been using iPads since the release of the iPad Air 2 in 2014. I have switched back and forth between Android (Mostly Pixels) and iPhones during that time as my primary smartphone.
I recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ with 12.4 inch OLED screen, comparable to the larger iPad Pro with 12.9 inch LCD screen. The screen has a 120Hz refresh rate which is great for games and using the pen. The S7+ includes the pen/stylus and you can purchase a keyboard case that is very similar to the one that is available for the Microsoft Surface. The S7+ comes with on board storage from 128GB to 512GB and comes in WiFi only and 5G models as well.
As someone who is comfortable using both Android and Apple OS, I wanted to share my thoughts on this device and why I bought it. These are the things I considered before making this purchase:
- OLED screen – Only a handful of tablets at the time of writing had an OLED screen. Notably, the iPad Pro is not one of the tablets that currently offer an OLED screen.
- USB-C – I wanted a device that offered USB-C connectivity. The iPad Pro models have USB-C as well as their MacBooks and I hope that Apple will start moving their phones to it also and ditch the lightning ports for good.
- Good Physical Keyboard – There are many third party bluetooth and keyboard cases out there, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ Bookcover Keyboard has a very similar feel to the Surface keyboard with a trackpad for mouse that detaches from the tablet easily for when you don’t need it. You can also add a bluetooth mouse if you want.
- Good App Support – The app experience with Android tends to have more variation than Apple OS, but I found that I was able to do most things I could on my PC with the tablet.
- At least a 90% solution for a PC replacement – I know that a tablet won’t ever truly be able to replace my PC laptop, but I wanted at least a 90% solution where I could do things easily with the tablet. I wanted to get closer to 95% as far as doing things, but maybe just not as fast or easy as with a PC. Samsung has DeX which is a similar interface as Windows and also allows for split screen operation.
One thing that was huge was installing a rotation control app. Many apps would only show in portrait mode, and with the rotation control app I was able to force apps to show in landscape mode. Apps for Apple OS can be developed to work for iPhone only, and if they are not optimized for tablets it will run the app as an iPhone app on your iPad which is not ideal. However Android apps are developed for any screen size, so with the aid of the rotation control app it actually provides a better experience than using an iPhone app on an iPad if you have ever had to do that. I used to find that so annoying, if a developer didn’t offer an iPad optimized app, I just wouldn’t use it.
One knock on Android tablets is that they are not supported as long as Apple devices are, which is true on the face level. Apple will usually provide system updates longer than Samsung/Android, but the big difference is that for Apple, once your device is at its end of life, you may not even be able to install certain apps on the device or get feature updates at all. This is less likely to happen on older Android tablets, because many of the system level functions are actually treated as different apps through either the Google or manufacturer app store and will continue to be supported going forward. For example, on Android the messaging app can be updated through the app store, and is not reliant on OS level updates like they are on an Apple device.
A comparably equipped iPad Pro (except iPad Pro currently doesn’t have an OLED version) would run about $600 more than the S7+ with pen and keyboard. Unless cost is not a concern for you, I don’t know that I would spring for an Apple Smart Keyboard Folio (4th Gen) and Apple Pencil (2nd Gen). I like that the S7+ comes with the S Pen and the S7+ keyboard comes in at a lower price point than the Apple. For the cost of an iPad Pro I would rather get a Microsoft Surface Pro which offers full Windows capability and can be a true laptop replacement. The Surface is heavier and larger, but I have had one before and didn’t find it too cumbersome to carry with me.
Also the S7+ has an SDcard slot so you can easily expand your storage capacity, something that can’t be done with an iPad Pro. For my purposes, I don’t want to carry my personal laptop around for travel or when I’m on the road, so having a tablet with a keyboard case where I can do 95% of what I need to do is a great option. I also liked having the larger screen size for video conferencing and Zoom sessions, etc and the OLED screen looks great.
My typical use for this tablet and related apps:
- Web Based Activity – Chrome, Edge, Firefox
- Email – Gmail, Outlook
- Calendar – Default App with Google Calendar
- Document Drafting/Editing – Google Drive, Google Docs
- Managing Photos/Videos – Google Photos
- Collaboration Tools/Meetings – Zoom, Teams, Online Learning Apps
- Social Media/Content – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, WordPress
- Retail – Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Costco, Home Depot
- News – Various Web & App Sources
In a pinch there are things I could do on my tablet, but are just much easier from my PC. This is also due in large part to having a physical mouse and two monitors though, sometimes when I am traveling with my laptop I also find it hard to do these tasks. There are usually more complicated spreadsheets or if I am drafting a post that has a lot of links or images in it.
Some of the things I don’t even attempt, although I know there are apps for this, are video and photo editing and trying to organize large amounts of photos/video. These things are just much easier to do from a workstation. Also I think your mileage will really vary depending on how much you are using cloud services, for me I use cloud to manage my storage, photos, calendar, email, documents, etc. so with everything automatically syncing I don’t need to be on my laptop. If you save a lot of files locally on your computer, the tablet won’t be as useful for you.
Overall, I find the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ a great companion for times I don’t want to bring my laptop around. It has an amazing screen which can’t be found on current iPad offerings and great battery life. I used to hate using non-Google Android products due to the different Android skin and a ton of bloatware, but it seems that Samsung has really cut back on this and I didn’t find it annoying at all.