The Galaxy Tab S8 is a far better tablet than the 10th generation iPad

The tablet industry has been boring for a while. This is not due to the lack of convincing devices, but to the one-sided competition. Apple’s iPads have taken over, and with the launch of iPadOS, Apple has made it clear that it’s serious about the tablet game.

The dominance was particularly evident at the entry-level, where the $329 iPad was the default choice for an affordable, reliable tablet. That will no longer be the case in 2022. The “entry-level” 10th Gen iPad now starts at $449. It’s fresh-looking, offers USB-C nirvana, and comes with a new Magic Keyboard to sell its computing skills.

Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Sounds great right? It is – except this isn’t the best tablet-style computing machine at its asking price.

That honor goes to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8. I’ve used both tablets extensively as my primary computing machine, and it’s almost shocking to see that the Samsung tablet does the tablet and computing parts better than the iPad.

Spend your dollars where there is value

Galaxy Tab S8 on the tenth generation iPad.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Let’s start with the basket value equation first. The Galaxy Tab S8 starts at $549 but offers double the storage for the price compared to the $449 you’re spending on the 64GB iPad. The price difference quickly becomes apparent when you opt for additional storage space.

Samsung is charging $579 for the 256GB Wi-Fi model of the Galaxy Tab S8, while Apple is leading the way with a $599 price tag for the 256GB configuration of the iPad. It’s all downhill for Apple from there. Both Samsung and Apple sell a two-piece case that includes a stand in one half and a keyboard and trackpad combo in the other half.

Both keyboards are of acceptable quality, but if you prefer full-fledged function key shortcuts, the Samsung keyboard is a better option for you. In my opinion, it’s just tailor-made for Windows PC users.

Neither keyboard is backlit, which is a shame since Microsoft is offering this perk for half the price on its own entry-level tablet. If it’s any consolation, you can use the Samsung keyboard with both Galaxy Tab S7 and Galaxy Tab S8.

Using the 10th generation iPad with the Magic Keyboard.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

The Magic Keyboard of the 10th generation iPad is an exclusive gem. The dimensions of Apple’s tablet are only a hair’s breadth from those of the iPad Air, and yet the new keyboard cannot be paired with the latter. Conversely, you can use the magnetically levitating Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro – which again barely deviates a millimeter at the edges – with the 10th generation iPad.

However, this keyboard pairs well with the iPad Air. I refuse to believe that Apple created this tiny difference in size for the accessory lock that stinks of greed and only hurts buyers.

For gold coins you get aging technology

Galaxy S22 Ultra alongside the Galaxy Tab S8 and tenth-gen iPad.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Let’s get to the pen situation. Samsung offers an excellent pen with all the pressure sensitivity and tilt detection you need free. It attaches magnetically to the back of the Tab S8 and charges at the same time. There are no plug-to-charge problems.

Oh, you can use this stylus with other current and older generation Samsung tablets too. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the tablet’s S Pen worked flawlessly with the Galaxy S22 Ultra too. This is the kind of cross-device compatibility that buyers deserve when they pay big bucks for it.

In comparison, the Apple Pencil situation for the vanilla iPad is frustratingly awkward. Apple wants you to pay $99 for it while missing the convenience of a customizable double-tap gesture you get on the second-gen Apple Pencil. In addition, it does not become magnetically charged.

The iPad (2022) with an Apple Pencil connected to it via a USB-C cable and adapter.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Instead, the first-generation Apple Pencil must be charged by plugging it into the tablet’s charging port. It was already a terrible design decision on the 9th-gen iPad, but to make matters worse, you now have to pay a Lightning tax because Apple removed its Lightning port from the iPad and put a USB-C port in its place.

That tax comes in the form of a $9 Lightning to USB-C dongle. Of course, Apple sells it separately, and – yes – it looks worse. Also, I can’t get over the constant fear of losing my precious little $9 dongle because I juiced an older generation pen.

Samsung serves the Superior hardware

Using the Galaxy Tab S8 with the keyboard folio.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

So let’s do the math using each tablet’s 256GB storage model. For the Galaxy Tab S8, the final bill for tablet + keyboard + stylus is $779. Also, you will get $150 credit from Samsung online store for purchasing this pack, which you can spend on purchasing other things like earphones or smartwatches.

At the Apple Store, your final bill for the tablet + keyboard + stylus bundle is $947. When you factor in the credit from Samsung you get with the Galaxy Tab S8, you’re essentially spending hundreds of dollars less than what Apple robs from your wallet.

On the hardware side, the Galaxy Tab S8 turns circles around the iPad again. It offers a smoother display with a 120Hz refresh rate, storage expansion up to 1TB via a microSD card, louder and better-sounding speakers, and an additional 6-megapixel depth camera on the back.

The Galaxy Tab S8 also charges more than twice as fast with a supported peak power of 45W compared to the 20W limit for the 10th generation iPad. But hardware laggards are only half the story here. The real difference is in the software.

This Android experience means business

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 in the hands of a user.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

I never thought I would see the day when Android would be usable on a tablet. But the The momentum that started with Android 12L has been beautifully executed by Samsung with One UI 5, and the end result is hugely rewarding for both work and play.

On both devices, you get an app dock at the bottom of the screen. However, Samsung lets you always keep an eye on a minimized set of your Dock apps instead of automatically hiding them like iPadOS 16 does. A long press along the bottom edge shows or hides the dock on the Galaxy Tab S8 if you wish. This functional versatility offers a more desktop-like experience comparable to iPadOS 16.

Now let’s talk about app windows. With the One UI 5 update, Samsung really upped the game and left iPad software far behind. You can run as many app windows as you want in popup mode and even adjust the transparency of app windows.

A simple drag-and-drop gesture from the dock is enough to run up to three apps in windowed mode in 2:1:1 format. And iPadOS 16 can only run two apps, while the third has to be forced into a slide-over mode, meaning it’s not always in your view.

The Galaxy Tab S8 sits diagonally above the tenth generation iPad.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Even in split-screen mode, you can’t freely resize windows on iPad, while One UI 5 lets you play with window sizes to your heart’s content. Also, the Galaxy Tab S8’s wider aspect ratio screen makes apps look almost natural in split-screen mode. On the iPad’s square screen, the elongated view isn’t really a pleasing sight.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The gestures for launching apps in split-screen mode, pop-up mode, or even in floating window format are just miles ahead of iPadOS 16. Here’s a quick overview of what I’m talking about:

The flexibility with split screen multitasking & window resizing enabled @SamsungIndia Galaxy Tab S8 is a delight. Every time I return to the iPad, I really miss the convenience. It’s amazingly fluid. Also, the final cart value of the Tab S8 with accessories is much lower than the iPad Gen 10.

— Nadeemonics (@nsnadeemsarwar) November 28, 2022

One UI 5 supercharged the experience on Samsung devices in many ways, further widening the versatility gap with the iPad. Also, Labs is a great place to explore experimental features. With the side panel, Samsung exclusively brings your most used utilities just a swipe away.

Top view of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Widget stacking offers more customization on One UI 5, the routines system is a boon for power users, and the lock screen customization options are pretty fun too. Then there’s the flexibility to sideload apps, which isn’t possible at all on Apple’s side of the ecosystem.

Apart from ecosystem-related advantages like AirDrop, there are hardly any sensible software-side tricks with which the iPad can gain a significant lead over the Galaxy Tab S8. Call it an iPadOS imitation or honest inspiration, but One UI 5 is simply better at this point – both for fun and for gaming.

Your next tablet purchase is obvious

That The Galaxy Tab S8 is a remarkable piece of tablet technology. The hardware is as sophisticated as the iPad and even surpasses the Apple tablet in several parameters when comparing the internal specs. But it’s not just the hardware where Samsung outperforms Apple.

With One UI 5 on Android 13, the software experience on the Galaxy Tab S8 offers more functional versatility than the iPad, especially when you’re getting serious work done. Plus, Samsung’s commitment to five years’ worth of software updates is reassuring.

If you’re planning to treat yourself to a tablet this holiday season and haven’t signed a blood oath to Apple’s ecosystem, the Galaxy Tab S8 should be an easy pick over the 10th-gen iPad. Even if you have your eye on the 5th generation iPad Air, the Samsung tablet still offers better value for money without any game-changing compromises.

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