Editor's Note: Apple just unveiled a new iPad 2022 and iPad Pro 2022 with minor upgrades over last year's models. With more power under the hood (including Apple's new M2 chip, in the iPad Pro 2022's case) and some other upgrades across the board, we're eager to get some in for testing to see how they improve on last year's models. Stay tuned for our full reviews!
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra vs. iPad Pro debate is one Samsung clearly wanted to start, because the S8 Ultra appears designed to compete toe-to-toe with Apple's best iPads and maybe even serve as a laptop replacement.
The clearest indicator is the Ultra's remarkably large 14.6-inch AMOLED display, which is the biggest we've ever seen on a Samsung tablet — and noticeably larger than the screens on either the 11-inch iPad Pro or the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
But size isn't everything. Apple's 2021 iPad Pros are some of the best tablets you can buy for good reason: they're the most powerful iPads on the market, with features that make them compelling for both consuming and creating content.
So how do Apple's premium tablets stack up against Samsung's latest flagship Android tablet? Read on to find out!
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra vs. iPad Pro: Specs
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra||11-inch iPad Pro 2021||12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021|
|Display||14.6 inch (2960 x 1848) Super AMOLED, 120Hz||11 inches (2388 x 1668 pixels)||12.9 inches (2732 x 2048 pixels) mini-LED|
|Processor||Snapdragon 8 Gen 1||M1 (16-core)||M1 (16-core)|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, 512GB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB|
|Memory||8GB, 12GB, 16GB||8GB (128GB - 512GB storage models), 16GB (1TB-2TB storage models)||8GB (128GB - 512GB storage models), 16GB (1TB-2TB storage models)|
|Rear Cameras||13MP, 6MP ultra-wide||12MP wide (f/1.8), 10-MP ultra-wide (f/2.4)||12MP wide (f/1.8), 10-MP ultra-wide (f/2.4)|
|Front Cameras||12MP||12MP TrueDepth||12MP TrueDepth|
|Port||USB-C w/ DisplayPort out||USB-C with Thunderbolt, USB-4||USB-C with Thunderbolt, USB-4|
|Accessories||S Pen stylus (included), Book Cover Keyboard||Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil (gen 1 & 2)||Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil (gen 1 & 2)|
|Battery life||Up to 15 hours (claimed)||13:42||10:48|
|Connectivity||WiFi 6E (2.4/5/6GHz), Bluetooth v5.2||Wi-Fi 6, optional 5G||Wi-Fi 6, optional 5G|
|Dimensions||12.85 x 8.21 x 0.22 inches||9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23 inches||11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches|
|Weight||1.4 pounds||1.04 pounds||1.51 pounds|
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra vs. iPad Pro: Price
The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is is available for pre-order right now, though it won't officially launch until February 25. With a starting price of $1,099 it's quite pricey for an Android tablet, competing directly with the larger, more expensive iPad Pro 2021.
The entry-level Tab S8 Ultra comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, but Samsung is also selling two upgraded models: one with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage for $1,119, the other with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of internal storage for $1,399.
Here again Samsung seems to be setting up the S8 Ultra to compete directly with the iPad Pro. Apple's 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 starts at $799, while the 12.9-inch version has a starting price of $1,099. You can pay extra for more storage or the option to have cellular connectivity in addition to Wi-Fi, up to a maximum price of $2,099 for the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 and $2,399 for the 12.9-inch model.
So while the ceiling of what you'll pay for an iPad Pro is much higher than what you can (currently) pay for a Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, you can also get more storage, as the iPad Pro tops out at 2TB of space whereas the Ultra's maximum onboard storage is 512GB. However, Samsung's tablet has a microSD card slot that lets you slot in up to a 1TB microSD memory card for extra storage.
If you're thinking about using one of these tablets to get some writing done, know that the Magic Keyboard adds $299 to the 11.9-inch iPad Pro price and $349 to the 12.9-inch model, while the Book Cover Keyboard for the Tab S8 Ultra costs $349 as well. If you're more interested in doodling, the Apple Pencil costs $129, whereas Samsung includes an S Pen stylus for free with the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra vs. iPad Pro: Design
The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the biggest Android tablet Samsung's ever made, measuring 12.85 x 8.21 x 0.22 inches and weighing 1.4 pounds. At just over 0.2 inches thin it's remarkably trim, though holding the tablet with one hand can be tricky due to the large display.
In addition to a connector for the (optional) detachable keyboard, the S8 Ultra has a USB-C port for charging and hooking up accessories. Sadly there's no headphone jack, so you're stuck using Bluetooth headphones if you want to do some listening in private. Of course, the iPad Pros also lack a headphone jack.
Remarkably, the Tab S8 Ultra is both lighter and thinner than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro despite being a larger tablet. However, Apple's 11-inch Pro is smaller and lighter than Samsung's beefy Android tablet, so if you want the smallest and lightest option you might want to consider the 11-inch iPad Pro.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra vs. iPad Pro: Display
Samsung's Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra sports a massive 14.6-inch (2960x1848) AMOLED display with up to a 120Hz refresh rate. This is significantly larger than the 11-inch or 12.9-inch displays available on the 2021 iPad Pros. The Tab S8 Ultra's display also has a higher resolution than that of the 11-inch iPad Pro but it can't match the larger iPad Pro's Liquid Retina XDR (2732 x 2048 pixels) mini-LED panel.
The remarkably large screen on the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra should mean it's well-suited for use as a digital canvas, and having a stylus included with every tablet ensures everyone will have the chance to use it as one. Even if you just want to stare at it, the fact that it's AMOLED should ensure that videos, games, and other streaming media should look great on the Ultra's display.
During our hands-on time with it we found the screen to be more reflective than we'd like, but it produces a bright and vivid picture, and scrolling felt smooth. Plus, there's a fingerprint reader built into the Tab S8 Ultra's display for added security.
How it stacks up against the iPad Pro's display depends on which iPad you compare it against. The Tab S8 Ultra's display is bigger and better than the 11-inch LCD screen on the 11-inch iPad Pro, though the iPad's screen looks great in person.
However, the mini-LED display that's unique (at least among iPads) to the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 still has the edge over the screen on Samsung's new flagship tablet. It's slightly higher-res than the S8 Ultra, but more importantly, the fact that it's mini-LED means the larger Pro can get much brighter than most tablets. You might not notice the difference, especially if you're watching non-HDR content, but until we put the S8 Ultra through our suite of display tests we can't say it's better than what's on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro — just bigger.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra vs. iPad Pro: Performance
We haven't yet had a chance to benchmark the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, so we can't say for sure how performant it is. However, given that you can order a model with up to 16GB of RAM, it seems likely that the Ultra will be more than speedy enough for whatever you choose to throw at it.
However, that doesn't mean it'll speed past Apple's iPad Pros. Remember, these are the first iPads to be powered by Apple's remarkable M1 chip, a bespoke bit of silicon that blew past our expectations in terms of performance and power efficiency.
In our hands-on testing, we couldn't launch apps fast enough to slow down the iPad Pros. To give you a quantitative sense of how they perform relative to other tablets, the 12.9 inch and 11-inch Pros earned scores of 7,298 and 7,293 (respectively) in the Geekbench 5 performance test. The Galaxy Tab S7 Plus with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ chip, by comparison, landed a much lower 2,910.
So while we hope to see some blazing-fast performance out of the S8 Ultra, it's not likely to top the outstanding speeds of Apple's iPads.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra vs. iPad Pro: Cameras
The Tab S8 Ultra comes with some impressive cameras for an Android tablet. On the front you'll find two 12MP cameras capable of shooting normal and ultrawide shots, while the back has a pair of 13MP and 6MP (ultrawide) cameras.
Samsung claims the Tab S8 Ultra's auto-framing technology will automatically keep you in focus during calls, while also zooming in or out to include new participants as they join you. Pair that with three mics packing noise cancellation software, and the S8 Ultra seems like a great tablet for conducting video calls.
For comparison, the iPad Pro has a 12MP ultrawide camera on the front and 12MP main and 10MP ultrawide cameras on the back. The iPad Pro was also one of the first iPads to support Center Stage, Apple's own auto-framing feature which causes the front-facing camera to automatically recognize, track, and dynamically zoom in/out on speakers as they enter and exit the frame.
Apple's iPad Pros make you sound pretty good on video calls since they sport five mics in total: three up top near the front-facing camera, and two on the sides for better coverage.
So while we won't know for sure how good the S8 Ultra's cameras are until we put them to the test, it's pretty clear that they should be at least competitive -- and potentially better -- than the cameras on the iPad Pros. However, the iPads have more microphones and may make you sound better on video than the S8 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra vs. iPad Pro: Battery
While we won't know for sure how long the S8 Ultra lasts on a single charge until we put one through our battery test, Samsung claims its 11,200 mAh battery can power the tablet for up to 15 hours. It also supports 45W fast charging that the company says can charge the tablet to 100% in 80 minutes -- and more intriguingly, it can charge other devices that you plug into it.
Neither of Apple's iPad Pros offer the same feature. However, they do deliver pretty great battery life: the smaller 11-inch Pro lasted an impressive 13 hours and 42 minutes in our battery test, whereas the larger model lasted 10 hours and 48 minutes.
While we don't yet know how long the S8 Ultra will last, we do know that it has a bigger battery than last year's Galaxy Tab S7. Given that the S7 delivered better battery life (13:16) than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, it's quite likely the S8 Ultra will prove a bit more power-efficient than Apple's beefiest iPad.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra vs. iPad Pro: Outlook
Until we finish testing and reviewing the Tab S8 Ultra, we can't say for sure how well it performs vs. Apple's flagship tablets. But we can say that it offers some compelling arguments for buying one over an iPad.
Most notably, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra gives you more screen real estate than the largest iPad Pro, and with a stylus included (shame on Apple for never offering the same convenience) the Ultra is a compelling tablet for artists and note-takers right out of the box. If you're willing to splurge for Samsung's $350 Book Cover Keyboard (included free with S8 Ultra pre-orders for a limited time), the Ultra has the chops to be an effective laptop/tablet hybrid. And if you already own some Samsung Galaxy devices, their interoperability will give the S8 Ultra some added value.
However, Apple's iPad Pros are still the best iPads on the market, and unless you're a diehard Android fan you'll get plenty of use out of them. The larger 12.9-inch Pro's eye-catching mini-LED display may not be as big as that on the S8 Ultra, but it's higher-res and capable of achieving much higher brightness levels, making it ideal for folks who prize image quality or work in photo/video editing.
And while the 11-inch Pro's screen isn't nearly as nice, it does deliver remarkable 13+ hour battery life in a frame that's smaller, lighter, and easier to hold than the Tab S8 Ultra.