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The tablet market had been on something of a downward trajectory over the last few years, but the pandemic gave slates a new lease of life. In a segment dominated by Apple, Samsung has been pulling the load for Android tablets as other brands bowed out over time.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE is the company’s new mid-range offering, bringing the best of the flagship Tab S7 series to a lower price point by retaining most of their impressive features, but with a less-powerful chipset running things in order to keep the price down. This makes it a great alternative for those looking for a capable tablet without having to spend laptop-level money.
Unlike Samsung’s budget tablet, the Tab A7 Lite, the Tab S7 FE offers the full Galaxy Tab experience, including DeX, Samsung’s proprietary feature that enables you to use a desktop-like interface – although while this works well as an alternate workspace, it does little to fix Android’s shortcomings on larger screens.
Similarly, like the Tab S7 Plus, it offers a large 12.4-inch display that makes it suitable for productivity tasks, but it misses out on premium perks such as an OLED panel or a high refresh rate. In our testing, those omissions were easy to live with, as it’s a great screen otherwise, and better than you’ll find on most other laptops or tablets at this price. Ditto for the stereo speaker setup.
If you’re looking to get a tablet for productivity purposes, you’ll be glad to know that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE comes bundled with an S Pen stylus, complete with all the associated features that the company’s flagships have enjoyed for years. It makes taking notes, sketching, annotating, signing and scrolling easy and enjoyable.
Unfortunately, our feelings about the keyboard cover are very different. Not only is it quite expensive, it barely adds to the experience owing to having no trackpad, limited adjustability and a basic feature set. On the plus side, it supports an array of shortcuts designed for multi-tasking.
Despite its svelte design, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE is powered by an impressively large battery. At over 10,000mAh it easily lasts for hours at a stretch, and the battery life is so good that we were able to put up with the frustratingly slow charging speeds.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE is a great option for anyone looking for a capable Android tablet for tasks beyond binge-watching. It’s much cheaper than its flagship siblings, and potentially smarter than its iOS counterparts – just don’t expect it to replace your PC entirely.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE price and availability
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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE is available now in the US, UK and India. We’ve yet to hear if the tablet will be made available in Australia, but it may eventually make its way to the country.
For the Wi-Fi only version, there are three options but not every one is available in every market. One has with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage priced at $529 / £589 / Rs 46,999 (around AU$1,080), one has the 6GB+128GB model is priced at $599 / £629 / Rs 50,999 (around AU$1,150). In the US, there’s an option with 256GB of storage at $679.
In the US, there’s also a 5G version of the tablet with 64GB of storage that costs $669.99 (around £480 / AU$900).
The S Pen is included in the package, while the Book Cover Keyboard costs $159.99 £139 / Rs 14,999 – but there are some bundle deals that make it much cheaper. All models are LTE-capable, but Samsung tells us that a Wi-Fi-only variant will be available at a later date, which should be a tad cheaper.
For reference, Samsung’s top-of-the-line Tab S7 (Wi-Fi) starts at $649.99 / £619 / AU$1,149 / Rs 55,999 while the Tab S7 Plus starts at $849.99 / £799 / AU$1,549 / Rs 79,999 (the India version is an LTE tablet)
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Samsung has really upped its design game with its last few launches, and these improvements have clearly trickled down to the company’s more affordable tablets. The Galaxy Tab S7 FE looks similar to other premium Android slates, with a sturdy metal body, flat edges and a large display. Our Mystic Black review unit looks quite classy with its deep blue hue. The back is easy to smudge, but easy to clean too.
At just 6.3mm thick all around the tablet feels sleek and premium in all the right ways, although it might feel a little too thin for some – gripping it securely can be tricky at times, especially as the back is quite slippery too. Thankfully, there’s enough bezel on the front to help in this regard.
Samsung has also smartly placed the webcam in the centre of the top bezel when the Tab is in a landscape orientation, which is far more ideal than what the new iPad Pros offer with a selfie camera on the side.
The Galaxy Tab S7 FE is well-thought-out when it comes to the location of ports and buttons, with nothing hampering usability in either orientation. In landscape orientation, the power button and volume rocker are on the top-left edge, with the speakers on the sides, the USB port on the right and the magnetic connector on the bottom.
If you don’t plan on getting the keyboard cover accessory, the S Pen can be magnetically attached to the top or bottom of the tablet, or beside the camera; however, it’s unlikely to stay stuck in a crowded bag.
The tablet’s dimensions, coupled with the 600g weight, make it ideal to carry around in a backpack or even a folder. It gets almost everything right in terms of the design, not leaving out anything that more premium tablets offer.
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On paper, one of the major differences (besides the chipset) between the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE and the Tab S7 or S7 Plus is the display. The panel type, resolution and refresh rate are all more mid-range here, with a 12.4-inch LCD screen running at 60Hz and a 1600 x 2560 resolution.
We were prepared to be disappointed by the display, but the Tab S7 FE actually managed to surprise us. Unless you’re pixel-peeping, or specifically looking for black segments on the screen, it shouldn’t disappoint you. The resolution was always sufficient, even when we had multiple apps or web pages open at once, and it was also good to see a 16:10 aspect ratio, which made it much more useful for reading or other productivity tasks.
At 12.4 inches it’s as big as a tablet display can meaningfully get, and it’s a joy to look at. The size, clarity, color reproduction and touch responsiveness were far better than anything we’ve seen on a laptop or iPad in this class. Samsung displays seldom disappoint.
We also liked the fact that the screen is surrounded by symmetrical bezels on all sides, which are just deep enough to allow easier handling without hampering the viewing experience.
The Galaxy Tab S7 FE has a 60Hz refresh rate, which these days is something of a disappointment. With Samsung’s budget smartphones having moved to higher refresh rates, and with Apple’s ProMotion (high refresh rate) displays costing a lot more, Samsung had a good chance to establish a lead over its rival.
There’s no HDR certification either, so Netflix binging sessions won’t quite have the ‘pop’ that HDR-supporting slates offer.
Overall, we really liked the viewing experience on the Galaxy Tab S7 FE. While it’s not perfect, it gets the basics right, with features that will matter on a daily basis. Similarly, the dual stereo speaker setup was a treat for the ears, with ample clarity and loudness to fill a small room.
Specs, performance and camera
Here’s where Samsung’s cost-cutting measures start to become apparent. The Tab S7 FE ditches flagship silicon for a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G chipset, along with 4GB or 6GB of RAM. On one hand, it’s powerful enough for day to day tasks and basic multi-tasking, but in our testing, it did show its limitations while gaming. If competitive gaming is something you plan on doing with your tablet, you’ll be better off with something like the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro.
Even on days where we used it as our primary work machine to juggle between Google Docs, messaging apps, TechRadar’s content management system and fairly intensive web-browsing, the Tab S7 FE held up really well. There were times when an app would take a second or so to open up or refresh, but nothing really slowed us down.
Having said that, if you’re used to a high-end smartphone on which apps open in the blink of an eye and multi-tasking feels effortless, the Tab S7 FE might feel a little slow. That was rarely the case for us, though, even when editing photos, transferring media or working with multiple tabs in Chrome.
The Galaxy Tab S7 FE supports Samsung DeX, a premium feature that allows for desktop emulation and easier multi-screen operation. Essentially, this is just a different interface that takes inspiration from desktop operating systems, with a taskbar, quick shortcuts and resizable floating windows.
Since it doesn’t do much to overcome the limitations of Android as a tablet interface, we primarily shifted to DeX only when we wanted to have an assortment of apps handy for an easier workflow.
As on other Samsung tablets, the S Pen is a great addition here, bringing with it innovative features such as screen writing, handwriting recognition, annotations, signatures and sketching. One of our favorite use cases was dialing into a video meeting on one half of the screen while taking notes with the stylus on the other half. This is also the first time we’re seeing S Pen support at this price point.
On a recent camping trip, the Galaxy Tab S7 FE was our primary entertainment and media hub, and we transferred hundreds of photos from a DSLR to the device via a USB Type-C card reader, edited them in Snapseed, and uploaded them to OneDrive. There’s also a dedicated microSD card slot if you need it.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE variant currently available in all regions also has the option for cellular connectivity via a SIM card, which should come useful for those who often work away from Wi-Fi zones. Speaking of which, Wi-Fi connectivity was great: we were able to roam around our entire house during video calls without any drops or freezes.
If video calls are a priority for you, you’ll love the mics and cameras on this tablet. Video and voice quality was excellent on both ends, even without using headphones. There’s also a serviceable rear camera for scanning the occasional document or capturing a visual note of something.
We would go out on a limb and say that the Tab S7 FE might be better suited for many users looking for a laptop replacement than its flagship siblings, thanks to its bigger screen, better efficiency, adequate power (and less tendency to overheat), and significantly lower price. Unless your workflow calls for intensive CPU or GPU performance, you might be better off with the mid-ranger.
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Another area where the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE shines is its battery life, with the large 10,900mAh battery regularly lasting us throughout an eight-hour workday.
Simpler tasks like writing in notes would barely dent the battery level, while a 45-minute video call consumed about 5% battery, and overnight idle drain was close to nil. Those looking to only use their tablet as a secondary device can expect multi-day battery life.
Unfortunately, the least impressive aspect of the tablet’s performance is charging. While the Tab S7 FE supports 45W fast charging, the included adapter can only output a maximum of 15W, and takes close to four hours to deliver a full charge. After the first test cycle, we switched to overnight charging.
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If you’re considering the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE, the chances are that you’ve got your eyes on the keyboard accessory as well. The first-party Book Cover Keyboard adds a small keyboard and kickstand to the mix, bringing the tablet closer to laptop-replacement status.
However, it’s not the same one that comes with the Tab S7 Plus – that one has an adjustable kickstand, a bigger keyboard and a multi-touch trackpad.
The keyboard is a big part of the Tab S7 FE’s productivity promise, and that means there’s little room for error. Unfortunately, the experience here is extremely basic in a way that actually dents your productivity. Let us explain.
First, the lack of a trackpad makes moving between pages or tabs very inconvenient. Right-clicking is not possible in any fashion, and click-and-drag functionality takes a hit. It’s also a design misstep to have the keyboard so close to the screen without leaving room to rest the wrists on the bottom.
Second, the cover doesn’t have a separate kickstand. A corner of the folio converts into a kickstand, the angle of which can’t be changed, and this means the screen will not always be at an ideal angle, depending on the height of the user, the height of the table or other surface they’re using the tablet on, and the angle they’re working at. And shorter people will have only their forehead in the selfie camera’s frame when using the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE at a comfortable angle.
There are also some minor issues that we can live with for now, but which could put the long-term reliability of the tablet in jeopardy. For instance, the only way to separate the cover from the tablet itself is by yanking them apart hard, which isn’t really ideal for the connectors. Similarly, even the magnets on the back are likely to lose their strength after repeated use.
As a typing experience, the keyboard is decent, with a layout that’s easy to get used to. The keys feel well-made and don’t have a lot of gaps within the body, and exhibit no deck flex either. It also makes a very satisfying sound, if that’s important to you.
Of course, all of these problems could get fixed if you opt for a third-party keyboard accessory. If you plan on getting the Samsung Book Cover Keyboard, be sure to check out the package deals, as you may be able to add it for less than half the regular price. Either way, a keyboard is a must-have for anyone with serious productivity ambitions.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE?
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Buy it if…
You’re looking for a capable secondary machine
The Galaxy Tab S7 FE excels at almost everything, scoring high in aspects including the display, functionality, portability and battery life.
You’re in the market for an Android tablet
While more powerful Android tablets do exist, the Tab S7 FE should be sufficient for most users as most of the premium features are present here.
Media consumption is a priority
With a beautiful, large 12.4-inch display, dual stereo speakers and a lightweight form factor, this is a great device for binge-watching or gaming.
Don’t buy it if…
You’re in the Apple ecosystem
iPads invariably offer a much better tablet experience, with optimized apps and more features. If iOS is sufficient for your needs, you’re better off with an iPad.
You want the best Android tablet
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus offers a far superior tablet experience, with a better display, quad-speakers, powerful internals, and more.
You’re looking for a full-fledged portable computer
While Android is easy to use, it’s not a replacement for a dedicated laptop OS – something like a Chromebook will be far more capable, and won’t break the bank.
First reviewed: July 2021