Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra vs. iPad Pro (2021)


Much like the smartphone market, the tablet market is largely dominated by Samsung and Apple. This holds true regardless of whether you’re looking for an entry-level option, or if you want the most powerful tablet to replace your laptop. If that’s the case, then you’ll need to see how the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra holds up against the iPad Pro. 

While Apple has a smaller iPad Pro, with an 11-inch Liquid Retina display, this comparison mainly focuses on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Not only is it the largest tablet that Apple makes, but it also offers more of a direct comparison with Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra compared to its smaller counterpart.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra vs. iPad Pro (2021): Hardware, design, and display

Tab S8 Ultra on desk close

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

If you’re looking for the most impressive hardware outside of smartphones, then you can’t go wrong with either the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra or the iPad Pro (2021). Sleek, aluminum chassis house incredible displays, along with a few extra goodies to help improve your tablet experience regardless of what platform you find yourself wanting or using.

The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the largest tablet in Samsung’s lineup, coming in with a jaw-dropping 14.6-inch AMOLED display. It also offers a variable 120Hz refresh rate to go along with the 2960×1848 resolution, resulting in a beautiful media consumption and content creation device. It’s a bit unwieldy to hold, but that’s to be expected from a device that is larger than many of the best Chromebooks and laptops.

iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) with Magic Keyboard on Android Central

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

As for the iPad Pro (2021), Apple is sticking with its recent trend of offering the device in two different sizes; with an 11-inch model to go along with the 12.9-inch variant. The smaller of the two is no slouch, but relies on an LCD display panel that can’t quite match up to the AMOLED panel used on Samsung’s tablet. However, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro introduced Apple’s first Mini-LED display, while maintaining the same ProMotion 120Hz technology that was just integrated into the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra iPad Pro 11-inch (2021) iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021)
Display 14.6-inch Super AMOLED w/ 120Hz 11-inch Liquid Retina IPS LCD w/ 120Hz 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED LCD w/ 120Hz
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Apple M1 Apple M1
RAM 8GB / 12GB / 16GB 8GB / 16GB 8GB / 16GB
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Expandable Storage Yes (up to 1TB via microSD) No No
Connectivity Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, 5G (optional) Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, 5G (optional) Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, 5G (optional)
Battery 11,200mAh 7,538mAh 10,758mAh
Front Cameras 12 MP (wide) 12 MP, 120˚ (ultrawide) 12 MP, 122˚ (ultrawide) 12 MP, 122˚ (ultrawide)
Rear Cameras 13MP (wide), 6MP (ultrawide) 12MP (wide), 10MP (ultrawide), TOF LiDAR (depth) 12MP (wide), 10MP (ultrawide), TOF LiDAR (depth)
Stylus Included Yes, S Pen No No
Works with Keyboard Yes (purchased separately) Yes (purchased separately) Yes (purchased separately)
Charging USB-C 3.2, 45W USB-C 4 (Thunderbolt 4), 18W USB-C 4 (Thunderbolt 4), 18W
Dimensions 12.85 x 8.21 x 0.22 inches 9.75 x 7.03 x 0.23 inches 11.05 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches
Weight 1.60 lb 1.03 lb 1.50 lb
Colors Graphite Silver, Space Gray Silver, Space Gray

By using Mini-LED, Apple’s larger iPad Pro is able to provide a more enjoyable experience when it comes to viewing HDR content, even if it’s barely edged out by Samsung’s bright and vibrant OLED panel. Apple also gains an edge here in the refresh rate segment, as it seems that iPadOS is just better optimized for 120Hz refresh rates. That’s not to say that Samsung’s implementation is bad by any means, but if you were to use both of these tablets, the UI feels a bit more fluid on the iPad.

Lightroom photo editing on Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

(Image credit: Android Central / Andrew Myrick)

All three of the tablets we’re looking at here offer a single USB-C port for charging, four stereo speakers, and optional cellular connectivity configurations. Samsung gains an edge as it uses Bluetooth 5.2, while both iPad Pro models are still using Bluetooth 5.0. We also have magnetic connectors across all three models, which makes it easy to magnetically attach the various first-party accessories that are available.


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