Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 has been a consummate overachiever, so expectations are high for a rumored updated version at this year’s Mobile World Congress show.
Since its debut in 2015, the Galaxy Tab S2 has been one of the best tablets on the market: at $250 in the US, its price is decidedly midrange, yet it delivers all of the features and performance to make it a compelling alternative to higher-end, significantly more expensive models — including the best-in-class iPad Air 2. And beyond its beautiful screen, long battery life and ultracompact design, the Galaxy Tab S2 delivers features you simply won’t find on a comparably priced Apple tablet (e.g., expandable storage, fingerprint scanner).
Given this, Samsung’s follow-up — presumably the Galaxy Tab S3 — has some big shoes to fill. (Note that the company’s Galaxy Tab 3 is an altogether separate device, which, when introduced back in 2013, delivered modest specs and performance at a puzzlingly high price.) We’re hearing murmurs that Samsung may introduce the Galaxy Tab S3 sometime during the first half of 2017, and perhaps even as soon as later this month.
Here a few of the rumored specs, features, and accessories we’re expecting to see:
- 9.6-inch display with 2,048×1,536-pixel resolution
- Silver, pressure-sensitive S Pen stylus
- 12-megapixel rear camera
- 5-megapixel front-facing camera
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
- Android 7.0 Nougat
- 4GB of RAM, 32GB of flash memory
- WLAN, LTE (optional), and Bluetooth connectivity
- Optional keyboard and cover case
- Silver, white, and black options
- Starting around $600
When will we see it?
The Internet rumor mill has placed its bet on soon. As reported (rather confidently) by SamMobile, citing a Korean source, the Tab S3 could be unveiled at this year’s Mobile World Congress, which kicks off in Barcelona on February 26, 2017. (CNET will be covering all of the action in real-time here.)
Increasing the odds of a near-term Galaxy Tab S3 introduction is the fact that Samsung will not be releasing its highly anticipated Galaxy S8 at MWC. But note that we will likely get only the announcement of the Tab S3 that soon, and that production units may not hit store shelves until later in 2017.
How will it measure up?
According to German site winfuture.mobi, Samsung will introduce a 9.7-inch Galaxy Tab S3, featuring a super AMOLED display with 2,048×1,536 pixels, at Mobile World Congress. In a break with its predecessor, however, there will not be an 8-inch Galaxy Pro Tab, according to the site.
According to SamMobile’s source, the Galaxy Tab S3 could start at around 700,000 won (or about $610, £485 or AU$800). If true, this would be a significant jump from the Galaxy Tab S2’s current price — $250 for the entry-level 32GB model — and represent a reordering of the competitive landscape.
For context, the 32GB iPad Air 2 — the Galaxy Tab S2’s closest competitor — starts at $400. Even with an S Pen stylus included (currently a $30 accessory), the Tab S3 would have to incorporate some seriously dramatic upgrades to justify such a premium price.
Under the hood
To that end, the expected specifications have evolved over the past few months. Early rumors suggested that Samsung would use a Snapdragon 652 processor with 3GB of RAM; we’ve also seen reports of an Exynos 7420 chipset, which would represent a relatively lower-end choice. Newer information from Naver News (via Techradar) predicts that the Galaxy Tab S3 will feature last year’s higher-end Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM. And there are new rumors suggesting that the tablet may also come with an updated, pressure-sensitive S Pen, which sounds entirely plausible, especially given the reported price point.
We’ll be keeping an eye on the rumor mill as we get closer to Mobile World Congress. In the meantime, check out CNET’s head-to-head comparison of Google’s Pixel C, Microsoft’s Surface 3, Apple’s iPad Air 2, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 for a detailed view of how the current generation’s specs stack up.
This story was last updated February 14, 2017, at 1 p.m. PT.