The tablet market had been on something of a downward trajectory until the pandemic gave slates a new lease of life. In a segment dominated by Apple, Samsung had been pulling the load for Android tablets as other brands bowed out over time.
This Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE review covers the company’s mid-range offering for 2021, which brings 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.
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE at Amazon for $399.99 (opens in new tab)
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
- Starts at $529 / £519 / Rs 46,999
- Prices go higher for more storage or 5G
- S Pen is included but Keyboard Cover isn’t
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 / £519 / 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)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE design
- Looks similar to other premium Android slates
- 600g weight is fine for backpacks
- Rather thin to hold
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.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE display
- 12.4-inch LCD screen
- FHD+ resolution looks good for streaming
- Only 60Hz refresh rate, and no HDR
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.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE specs, performance and camera
- Mid-range chipset with middling RAM
- Comes with useful S Pen
- Great for video calls
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.