Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 vs Galaxy Tab S3: What's the difference?

  Tab S2 Tab S3
Display 9.7in SuperAMOLED 9.7in SuperAMOLED
Processor Snapdragon 652 Snapdragon 820
RAM 3GB 4GB
Storage 32GB/64GB 32GB with microSD support up to 256GB
Cameras 8Mp rear, 2.1Mp front 13Mp rear, 5Mp front
Operating system Android 5.0 Lollipop Android 7.0 Nougat
Connectivity Micro-USB 2.0  USB-C 3.1
Battery 5,870mAh 6,000mAh, Adaptive Fast Charging
Dimensions 237.3x169x5.6mm 237.3x169x6mm
Weight 389g 429g

Android tablet fans were hotly anticipating the release of the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 as it was announced in Barcelona last week at MWC. But how does it compare to last year's release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2? We consider the specifications of the Tab S2 and Tab S3 to find out what's new for the Tab S family. Also see: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 review and Galaxy Tab S3 review

Tab S2 vs Tab S3: UK Price and availability

You can buy the 9.7in Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 in black, gold or white today for £399.95 (via John Lewis), while the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 in black or silver will be available on 7 April at £599.99 (also via John Lewis - you can pre-order from 5 April). That’s a hefty increase over the Tab S2.

Galaxy Tab S2 vs Tab S3: Design and Display

On the face of it, not much has changed aesthetically speaking. The Tab S3, in common with the Tab S2, has smooth, rounded edges that make it feel comfortable in the hand. The Tab S3 comes with the six-pin keyboard connectivity along the side, and also has quad stereo speakers. These have been tuned by speaker and headphone specialist AKG, and will thus provide improved sound quality. However, if you rarely play sound out of the tablet itself and use headphones or external speakers, this addition will mean little to you.

The Tab S3 also has faster USB 3.1 than the USB 2.0 connection found on the Tab S2, bringing improved transfer speeds and accessibility for a mouse or external keyboard if you haven’t yet got yourself a tablet keyboard set up. This is interesting to note as it is something the 9.7in iPad Pro lacks. Also see: Best tablets 2017

Galaxy Tab S3

Image: Galaxy Tab S3

Although both the S3 and the S2 have 9.7in SuperAMOLED displays, the Tab S3 is every so slightly larger than the Tab S2 by 0.4mm. It's also a little heavier.

The Tab S3 comes with the improved and redefined S Pen in the box, which allows the user to quickly navigate between apps as well as provide assistance to any user wishing to take notes or sketch designs. However, the device does not have a holder for the pen, so losing it could be a problem.

Both tablets come with a fingerprint scanner integrated into the home button.

The Galaxy Tab S3 has NFC enabled so, unlike its predecessor, you are able to use Android Pay as well as share files, pictures and contacts by hovering the tablet over another device. Also see: Best Android tablets 2017

Tab S2 vs Tab S3: Processor

While the Samsung Galaxy S2 has a Snapdragon 652 processor and 3GB of RAM, the Galaxy Tab S3 has an impressive Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM. This should improve load times, as well as making it ideal for gaming, but until we get it into our lab for more thorough testing we cannot comment on the performance differences.

Galaxy Tab S2

Image: Galaxy Tab S2

Tab S2 vs Tab S3: Battery

Although the Galaxy Tab S3 has a larger battery than its predecessor, up from 5,870mAh to 6,000mAh, many expected a larger battery still - the iPad Pro, for example, has a 10,307mAh battery.

However, Samsung claims the Tab S3 will last for 12 hours compared to the iPad’s 10 hours. Again, this is something we will need to test properly when we get the Tab S3 into our lab. The Tab S3 also offers fast charging, which is useful when you need to be out on the road.

Tab S2 vs Tab S3: Cameras

As tablet cameras are predominantly used for video calls, the Galaxy Tab S3 has an improved 5Mp front-facing camera, compared to the Galaxy Tab S2’s 2.1Mp camera. The rear-facing camera has also been improved on the Galaxy Tab S3 with a bump up from 8- to 13Mp, which is comparable to the new Samsung Galaxy Book also announced at MWC 2017.

Galaxy Tab S3

Image: Galaxy Tab S3

Tab S2 vs Tab S3: Storage

Strangely, while you can get a Galaxy Tab S2 with 64GB of internal storage, the Tab S3 is available only with 32GB. Samsung’s decision on this is a bit of a head-scratcher: with large files such as movies and shows, a plethora of games to choose from, not to mention all the photos and videos which can be captured on the device, you would expect at least the option of a larger internal capacity.

Having said that, the Tab S3 does offer support of microSD cards of up to 256GB in size. Although we'd like to see more storage as standard, the newer tablet actually has the potential to have more storage than its predecessor.

Galaxy Tab S2

Image: Galaxy Tab S2

Read next: Best new tablets coming in 2017

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3: Specs

  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 9.7in Super AMOLED screen with HDR
  • 2048x1536
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • Micro-SD card slot
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS
  • 11ac Wi-Fi with 2x2 MIMO
  • LTE Cat 6
  • USB-C
  • 6000mAh battery
  • Fast Charging
  • 13Mp rear camera
  • 5Mp front camera
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Four speakers
  • 237x169x6mm
  • 429g(Wi-Fi)/434g(LTE)
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 9.7in Super AMOLED screen with HDR
  • 2048x1536
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • Micro-SD card slot
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS
  • 11ac Wi-Fi with 2x2 MIMO
  • LTE Cat 6
  • USB-C
  • 6000mAh battery
  • Fast Charging
  • 13Mp rear camera
  • 5Mp front camera
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Four speakers
  • 237x169x6mm
  • 429g(Wi-Fi)/434g(LTE)

OUR VERDICT

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 was released with much anticipation. Android fans everywhere were hoping it would be a sleeker and much improved device from the Galaxy Tab S2, which is now getting long in the tooth. Samsung has obviously made steps to improve upon the Galaxy Tab S2, such as the introduction of the AKG tuned quad stereo speakers, a superior camera both front and back, longer battery life and processor and RAM improvements. However, depending on your budget that may not be enough to justify the £200 price hike. We will know more when we have finished our complete testing of the Tab S3.