A famous cartoonist drew me on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus is a powerful, creator-focused tablet. The large screen and the included S Pen with its reduced latency seem perfectly suited for a sketcher, and I happen to know one. Art Baltazar is a comic book artist (self-proclaimed “famous cartoonist”), owner of Aww Yeah Comics! and my only friend who has his own Wikipedia page. He is currently working with DC Comics while continuing the stories of his own characters. You probably know him for his work with Tiny Titans, The Adventures of Cray-Babyand action cat.

I met Art at his comic book shop in the Chicagoland area for a Drink and Draw event with a number of local artists, and handed Art the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ and asked him to draw with for a few hours. I’ll share his thoughts with you, but first I’ll talk a bit about his typical setup.

At home, Art usually draws on a Wacom Cintiq with a digital pen. On the go, he’ll take a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a second-generation Apple Pencil. This made it easier to compare with the 12.4-inch Galaxy Tab S8. In fact, the specifications of the two devices are quite close.

Characteristics

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus iPad Air 4
Cut 284.9 x 184.9 x 5.5 mm (11.22 x 7.28 x 0.22 inches) 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1 mm (9.74 x 7.02 x 0.24 inches)
Weight Wi-Fi: 567 grams (1.25 pounds)

Wi-Fi + 5G: 572 grams (1.26 pounds)

Wi-Fi: 458 grams (1 pound)

Wi-Fi + Cellular: 460 grams (1.01 pounds)

Screen size and refresh rate 12.4-inch Super AMOLED

120Hz

12.9-inch Mini Liquid Retina XDR LED LCD display

120Hz

Screen resolution 2800 x 1752 pixels (266 pixels per inch) 2048 x 2732 (265 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 12 with UI 4.1 iPadOS 15
Storage room 128 GB, 256 GB 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB
Processor Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Apple M1
RAM 8 GB 8 GB, 16 GB
Camera Rear: 13MP main, 6MP ultrawide

Front: 12MP

12MP rear, 12MP ultrawide

Front: 12 MP ultrawide

Video 4K 4K at 24, 30, 60 fps, 1080p at 30, 60 fps
Battery and Charging Support 45W wired fast charging 10 hours on Wi-Fi, 9 hours on cell

20W wired charging

As far as a mobile, paper-based digital art setup goes, either tablet should do a pretty respectable job. The power behind the two tablets is pretty obvious. It is better to store the stylus on the Tab S8+, because the keyboard case has a slot inside, and there is a magnetic area on the back of the tablet. While the magnets in the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro are strong, nothing beats internal storage when carrying the tablet in a bag. Of course, you only got the keyboard case if you pre-ordered the Tab S8 Plus, so that area is a little tricky.

Using the S Pen and tablet

Adam Doud/Digital Trends

When Art picked up the pen, he said it felt good to hold it. The Apple Pencil is a bit thicker than the S Pen, but that’s not so much of a difference that it affects its grip. The S Pen of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra that I had with me, on the other hand, is practically unusable. Understandably, but he liked the fact that the Ultra’s S Pen works on both phone and tablet. It’s a step up from the Apple Pencil. On a personal note: Can confirm.

The Tab S8+’s S Pen is quite responsive on the tablet itself. This is no surprise since Samsung has reduced the latency to one of the lowest on the market. Pressure sensitivity is about the same between the Apple Pencil and the S Pen. In some cases, Art found himself accidentally pressing the S Pen button, which could be an advantage for Apple.

The screen is spacious, and Art specifically noted that palm rejection worked much better on the Tab S8 than on the iPad Pro. It’s easier to scroll a drawing and pinch to zoom. Art mentioned that often when he zooms in on a drawing on the iPad Pro, there are almost always marks left where he got his fingers.

Software learning

The biggest challenge actually came from the software. Art’s favorite drawing app, Procreate, is not available on Android. So we went with Sketchbook, which by all reports seems to be similar. Art spent much of the first hour figuring out what the tools did and what they looked like. He also spent time understanding how they reacted to different levels of pressure.

Eventually Art got to work, sketching a number of “portraits” of me. If you ask me, he could have chosen a better subject, but who am I to complain? After a few hours, I had no less than five portraits, along with a few Batman sketches and other assorted artwork (pun intended).

So, from a digital artist’s perspective, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 performs just as well as the iPad Pro. One area we couldn’t test was the use of layer upon layer of digital art that Apple likes to show off at its events. It’s possible that the M1 performs better under such a load, but that’s speculation on our part. With more time, we may have found a breaking point with the Tab S8 Plus, but we only had a few hours to spare for the task.

One thing is missing

From an artist’s perspective, there’s a lot to like about this tablet. Sure, Art would love Procreate to come to Android more, but putting the software aside, it’s easy to say that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ can go toe to toe with Apple.

But it’s not so easy to put the software aside. Whether you’re drawing with Procreate, editing a video with iMovie, or editing a podcast with Garageband, Apple has compelling software options to creation. Since I’m using Android, I’m not sure I can point to an obvious first choice for any of these apps on Android. But until now, with the exception of the Galaxy Tabs of the past, the hardware really wasn’t there, so it’s no wonder the developers haven’t really stepped up.

Samsung has done a great job building the hardware, but it needs to overcome the software hurdle to be truly competitive. The problem is that it’s not Samsung’s problem to solve. Developers need to get on board, and luckily Google seems to be steering them in that direction. Some tools are there, but Apple has such a lead that it will be difficult to overcome.

But, for the few hours he used it, Art liked the Tab S8+. It’s a victory for Samsung. It’s also a win for Art, who may have a new choice to make when it’s time to upgrade. As for me, I was able to spend a night drinking a beer with a bud, making a few new friends, and having several new portraits to hang on my wall.

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