Samsung Galaxy Tab S3: Everything we know so far

UPDATE 14/02: it's coming with a keyboard - Samsung's got a new iPad rival in the works, and it looks set to land in February

Tablets might not be as in demand as they used to be, but that's not going to stop Samsung from giving it the old college try.

Android fans have really only had one choice if they wanted something to rival Apple's iPad - the Galaxy Tab S2. Now that the iPad Pro has arrived, though, Samsung needs a new weapon to stop everyone jumping ship to iOS.

Enter the Galaxy Tab S3.

It's been rumoured for over a year, but it finally looks like it will arrive in early 2017. Here's everything we know about it so far.

WHAT WE KNOW

>> There will still be two versions

Just like last year's Tab S2, the S3 will come in both WiFi-only and 4G LTE-equipped versions, in case you want to stay connected when you're away from a wireless network (and can afford a second SIM card). Apart from that, though, the two tablets will be virtually identical, with the same specs, shape and design. No word if they'll both be available in different colours though.

>> It'll use a tried-and-tested Qualcomm CPU

Qualcomm might be working on the Snapdragon 835, but all rumours point to Samsung saving its allocation of chips for the upcoming Galaxy S8 smartphone. That leaves the Tab S3 with the venerable Snapdragon 820. The 2015-vintage CPU might have been superceded by the Snapdragon 821, but that newer chip is only a tiny bit more power efficient. Samsung probably has warehouses filled with 820s after the Galaxy Note 7 was pulled from shelves, too - it makes sense to put them to good use here.

The Tab S3 should run its Snapdragon 820 at 2.1GHz, which should be more than enough to run any Android App.

>> It'll be a multi-tasking monster...

If 4GB of RAM didn't already clue you in, you can bet Samsung's Multi-Window mode will make an appearance in the Tab S3 - if Google's own split-screen functions don't replace it, that is. Either way, you'll definitely be able to put that screen space to good use, running more than one app at the same time.

>>> ...and will hold its own in the office

The Tab S3 will almost certainly arrive with a keyboard accessory, which will help anyone trying to get some serious work done on the tiddly tablet. With chiclet keys it should be comfortable enough to type on, and a dedicated row of number keys should make all the difference for data entry. There's no clue how it connects to the tablet yet, or if it'll have backlit keys for easier working at night.

>> It won't have a 4K display

Laptops might have broken through the 4K resolution barrier, but clearly Samsung thinks tablets just aren't ready yet: the Galaxy Tab S3 will launch with a 9.7in, 2048x1536 resolution display. That should be high enough that you can't spot individual pixels without a magnifying glass, but low enough that the Qualcomm CPU won't cook itself the minute you load up a demanding game or app.

That's also the same resolution as Apple's similarly-sized iPad Pro, putting the Tab S3 on a level playing field when it comes to pixels.

We're expecting it to have a 4:3 aspect ratio too, which should be easier to use with one hand - just like an iPad. A 16:10 screen might be physically bigger, but it's bulkier and harder to carry too.

>> The design won't change all that much

MWC 2017 might be the year that bezels take a break, but seemingly only for smartphones. The latest leaked pics of the Galaxy Tab S3 show a very similar design to the older version, complete with regular thickness bezels around the sides. If Samsung is planning anything super-skinny, it doesn't look like it'll be for a tablet.

That being said, though, it could still arrive with new materials. The latest leaks show off a glass and metal build, which could add a touch of class.

>> It'll have a decent camera

Tablets aren't usually known for their photographic prowess (plus you like like a right wally when you try to take a picture with one) but the Tab S3 should deliver. It's set to arrive with a 12MP rear sensor, along with a 5MP front-facer for selfies. We don't yet know if it'll be the same setup as the Galaxy S7, complete with phase detection autofocus and OIS, 

>> It'll be Samsung's first tablet with Android Nougat

All signs point to the Tab S7 arriving with Android 7.0 Nougat on board, complete with Samsung's usual software tweaks and bundled apps. That will make it the first Galaxy tablet with Nougat, and should include all the fancy extra features Google added to its latest OS build, like better notifications, multi-tasking, and 

>> The fingerprint sensor isn't going anywhere

Samsung might be ditching the physical home button/fingerprint sensor for the Galaxy S8, but it's staying put for the Tab S3. That means you'll be able to unlock your tablet, and pay for things through Samsung Pay (if it's supported in your country) without having to tap in a password.

>> It'll have a USB-C port...

Come on, this was a given, wasn't it? After Samsung put a USB-C port on the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7, there was really no going back. Expect every mobile device Samsung launches from now on to arrive with reversible USB-C, including the Tab S3.

>>...but the headphone port isn't going anywhere

It sounds like Samsung's going to make a big song and dance about keeping the headphone jack, at Apple's expense - so don't expect any iPhone 7-style shenanigans going on here.

>> It'll arrive at Mobile World Congress in February

Samsung has pretty much confirmed the Tab S3 will be its headline news at MWC later this month, after sending out media invites with a silhouette clearly showing a tablet instead of a phone. Normally MWC would be when we get a new Galaxy smartphone, but it looks like we'll be waiting a little longer before the S8 arrives. Instead, we can expect a Galaxy Tab S3 on the 26th, when Samsung kicks off its press conference.

ALL THE LATEST NEWS

>>> 22 February 2017

Another day, another leak from Evan Blass, AKA @EVleaks. This time? The Galaxy Tab S3 4G, complete with keyboard accessory.

>>> 14 February 2017

Leaked renders appeared on German language website Winfuture.de, showing the Galaxy Tab S3 complete with S Pen. The design hasn't changed too dramatically from the previous generation tablet, but according to the listing there's no way to stash the S Pen inside the tab, like you can on a Galaxy Note smartphone.

>>> 01 February 2017

Samsung officially sends out media invites to an event at Mobile World Congress, teasing a silhuette of what can only be a new Galaxy Tab. The conference will kick off at 7PM on the 26th of February, at Barcelona's Palau de Congressos de Catalunya. We'll be there to bring you the news as it happens.

>> 31 January 2017

Reports out of Korea (via SamMobile) seemingly confirm the Tab S3 is on the way at Mobile World Congress, and double down on earlier rumoured specs. It looks like we're in line for a Snapdragon 820-powered Tab, with 4GB of RAM, a 12MP rear camera, Android 7.0 Nougat and a 2048x1536, 9.6in screen. It'll probably retail for 700,000 Won (US$600) when it launches in Korea in March

>> 25 January 2017

Benchmarking site GFXBench recorded results from a Galaxy Tab S3 ahead of launch, revealing specifications for the first time. Good spot, SamMobile.

>> 14 October 2016

Official-looking model numbers are revealed by SamMobile, seemingly confirming there will be both WiFi-only and 4G LTE-equipped versions of the Tab S3.

>> 15 August 2016

Tech sites including the International Business Times got all excited when Samsung's Colombian website seemingly confirmed that the Galaxy Tab S3 would be revealed at Berlin's IFA trade show. Obviously, that didn't happen - instead, we got the Gear S3 smartwatch, which is definitely not a tablet.

>> 5 June 2016

Renowned Twitter tipster Evan Blass, otherwise known as @EVleaks, posts an anonymous tip showing a possible photo of the Galaxy Tab S3. Only the Back and Recents button looked seriously photoshopped.

>> 5 May 2016

More evidence (and a basic render) was spotted by Talk Android when the supposed Galaxy Tab S3 passed through TENNA, China's certification board for all things electronic.

>> 21 March 2016

We got our first sniff of a new Galaxy tablet when two new Samsung models made their way through FCC certification, as spotted by Talk Android