Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+, Buds Live, and Watch 3
Most mobile phone users today are Team Apple or Team Android and have very strong opinions either way. After you get used to one platform, you develop a familiarity, and ultimately, loyalty. Even when you upgrade your hardware you usually stick with the one using the system you’re already used to.
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Which is why I was hesitant to try out a lineup of products when Samsung came calling. I’ve been using a Macbook Air for years and have kept the same iPhone for over five years. While there are people who have no issues switching to either platform, I believe there are many like me who just can’t be bothered trying out something new when we’ve grown so accustomed to being on one ecosystem on different gadgets.
Still, it can’t hurt to explore “the other side” and figure out what you’re missing out on.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+
The first gadget I unpacked was the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus. There’s an 11-inch model but for this review, we’ll focus on the bigger and higher-spec 12.4-inch tablet.
Setting up a new gadget is always a chore, but Samsung and Google’s Android makes this part as easy and as effortless as possible. After I personalized the preferences, it was time to fully explore the Tab S7 Plus.
Developed as Samsung’s answer to the iPad Pro, the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus is a thing of beauty. The unit in “mystic” black feels light but solid. Almost immediately I downloaded my must-have apps from the Google Play Store, starting with video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hayu. The display is vibrant and crystal clear—almost like the latest HD TV but one you can carry around in your hand.
The audio is also worth mentioning—the spec sheet says the it has quad speakers powered by Dolby Atmos located in the corners. I sometimes have to connect a device to separate Bluetooth speakers to achieve cinematic-quality sound, but in this case, there was no need. The sound is balanced and immersive.
While I still primarily use my MacBook for work, the Tab S7+ came with a book cover (included in the box here in the Philippines) and a detachable keyboard (which is sold separately) so I tried it out to write. The keyboard attaches to the Galaxy Tab magnetically with a satisfying snap. Instantly you have a fully-functioning PC. While the trackpad isn’t as responsive as an actual laptop (I found myself going back to the screen to scroll through pages), the keyboard itself is easy to use and functions as well as any regular PC. Folding it into the Tab turns it into a device guard and you can easily slide it into a laptop bag or even carry it in your hand to your next appointment without worrying about nicks or scratches.
The productivity apps I use are pretty basic (primarily MS Office, social media, and news platforms to keep track of what’s going on). I used all of them pretty much how I would use them on a normal laptop and all worked pretty quickly and seamlessly on the tablet. Credit the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus octa-core processor, 8GB RAM, and 256 GB of storage.
The Galaxy Tab S7+ has two rear cameras and a “selfie” camera in front, but I barely used it apart from taking a few sample photos, which turned out okay (13 MP for the main camera, 5MP for the wide-angle one). I can’t imagine ever using a 12-inch tablet instead of a regular mobile phone to take pictures of anything, but I guess it’s nice to know that if you ever need to, you can.
One of my favorite things about the device is its battery life. The spec sheet says a 10900mAh battery comes standard on the Galaxy Tab S7+, and what that means is longer time using it away from a charger. Granted I mainly used it on Netflix and Amazon Prime, but even after a full day of bingewatching a couple of movies and two or three episodes of a TV series (with minimal breaks in between), power was still steady and I wasn’t worried about getting it hooked up to a charger ASAP. However, I did notice that the battery did run out faster when I used it with the keyboard to write stories with multiple tabs on the browser open.
Oh, and the unit comes with the S Pen. I asked a friend who does digital sketches to try it out and he said it worked fine, although he still prefers the Apple Pen only because it’s shaped like a pencil and you can use the sloping sides to draw, unlike the S Pen which has a pointy edge. But the fact that you can stick the pen to the back of the device to charge it and use the case to hold it in place is useful and practical (i.e. less chance of you actually losing the pen).
All in all, I liked the Galaxy Tab S7+ and would definitely consider getting one to use as my default screen for watching my streaming shows and use it as my backup device for work. The key here is simplicity of use and performance, both of which the device has.
Galaxy Buds Live
For someone used to wearing earphones and headphones attached to a device, using wireless earbuds took some getting used to. Fortunately, just like the Galaxy Tab S7+, the Galaxy Buds Live are just as functional and easy to use. Just pop them into your ear and you’re ready to go.
And I mean that quite literally. As soon as I took out the buds from their charging case, the S7+ picked up on the Bluetooth signal and prompted me to do the installation. Five minutes later and I could hear the chefs screaming at each other quite clearly on an episode of Top Chef on Hayu.
Based on the specs, the Galaxy Buds Live has a 60 mAh battery, while the case has 472 mAh. That adds up to a total playtime of 21 hours when both are fully charged.
All you really need with these things are superior sound quality and I can truly say the buds deliver. Having them in-ear, works, of course, but technology also helps. I also liked that, according to Samsung, the buds are made using Post Consumer Material (PCM), which is corporate speak for recycled plastic.
I also tried it on a phone call and while I still think it looks funny talking to someone without the actual phone in your ear, I can understand the advantages in accesibility and practicality of such a device.
Galaxy Watch 3
Of the three devices Samsung asked me to test out, I had the least time with the Galaxy Watch. I’m a watch guy and it always feels like my left wrist is naked when I’m not wearing one, but I may be a traditionalist and insist on a watch that tells you nothing else but time when you look at it.
That said, I did find some things to like about the Galaxy Watch 3. Again, it was easy to set-up. Just download the Galaxy Wearable App on your phone and connect it via Bluetooth. A first-time watch user might get overwhelmed with the sheer assortment of apps on your fingerti…I mean, wrist. Samsung Health can track your fitness regimen, running stats, sleep patterns, stress levels, heart health, you name it. The Watch 3 also supports Samsung Pay, although I was unable to test this feature out. Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant, is also a nifty feature on the watch. I tried it out to open the apps I need and set timers, but sometimes it took a couple of tries to get my command. I must have an unfamiliar accent or my voice isn’t loud enough, I’m not sure.
The watch itself is highly intuitive and easy to use. A rotating bezel helps navigate through the screens and apps, while there are two buttons you can push to either to turn back or choose apps to open. Of course, you can also use your fingers to swipe through the touch screen.
You can choose to have the watch turned on and show any one of a number of analog watch faces for a sleek, stylish look, or set it to turn off after a while to save battery. The battery itself is an issue as I had to charge it (magnetic, just-stick-it-on-top charger) at the end of the day before bed so I could use it the next day. Which means it won’t be able to record my sleep pattern that evening. But I guess you can’t have (and do) it all.
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Still, if you’re the active type and need to have a handy device that does way more than tell time (the Galaxy Watch 3 can reportedly perform an ECG and even monitor blood pressure levels, but I’m guessing Samsung needs government approval before it can officially make that claim here in the Philippines), then the Galaxy Watch 3 is for you.