The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and Surface Pro 8 look pretty similar on the surface – no pun intended. They’re both high-end tablets that start at $1,099.99, can turn into full-featured laptops with a keyboard attachment, and support the stylus for taking notes or doing digital drawing on the go.
However, once you fire up these two versatile slates, you’ll be treated to two entirely different software experiences: one that’s ideal for casual use and one that’s better suited for serious work.
So which slate should you buy? We’ve tested the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and Surface Pro 8 extensively and are ready to help you make that decision.
The Surface Pro 8 has a superior design and better accessories – if you’re willing to pay
The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and Surface Pro 8 are both relatively sleek tablets that you should have no trouble taking on the road. For those short on space in their bag, the Surface Pro 8 has a smaller overall footprint than the larger Tab S8, although Microsoft’s slate is also slightly thicker and heavier. But the real differences are in the details.
The Surface Pro 8’s design has an edge here for several reasons, starting with its built-in kickstand (you’ll need to buy a keyboard cover if you want to prop up the Tab S8 Ultra). Microsoft’s two-in-one also has two Thunderbolt 4 ports (the latest standard for high-resolution displays and fast data transfers), which is a big advantage over the Tab’s single USB 3.2 Type-C port. S8.
Both of these tablets do a good job of transforming into laptops, thanks to optional keyboard add-ons that magnetically snap into place for easy plug-and-play typing. We enjoyed using each device’s keyboard, but Microsoft’s $179.99 Signature Keyboard is nicer and much cheaper than the $349.99 book cover keyboard you can buy for the Tab S8 Ultra. .
However, if you care about having a stylus, Samsung wins the value game here. The Tab S8 Ultra comes with Samsung’s S Pen by default, while the Surface Pro 8 requires you to get a $59.99 Surface Pen or a $129.99 Surface Slim Pen 2 (we tested the latter ).
We’ve found that Samsung’s and Microsoft’s styluses both work really well for everyday sketching and note-taking, and the S Pen in particular has some great additional features like the ability to translate text into just hovering over it. However, the Surface Slim Pen 2 features advanced haptics that better mimic the real feel of using pens and markers on paper, so you’ll get what you pay for.
TL; DR: Get the Surface Pro 8 if you want better ports and don’t mind paying for better accessories. Get the Tab S8 Ultra if you want a slimmer tablet with an included stylus.
The Tab S8 Ultra gives you a bigger, bolder screen – and a better webcam
The Tab S8 Ultra’s 14.6-inch Super AMOLED display is noticeably bigger and bolder than the Surface Pro 8’s 13-inch panel. Watching nature 8K video on both tablets side-by-side, we we noticed that the Tab S8 offered noticeably richer colors, while the Surface Pro 8 seemed more neutral.
Samsung screens tend to be more saturated than the competition – which may not be everyone’s preference – but we appreciated the extra pop provided by the Tab S8’s screen when watching movies and work. It’s worth noting that both of these screens have a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, which gave us an equally smooth experience when scrolling through web pages and taking notes with a stylus on each device. And while none of the slate’s built-in speakers will blow your mind, we found them perfectly adequate for casual music listening and video calls.
The Surface Pro 8 and Tab S8 Ultra both have good webcams, but Samsung’s slate is the way to go if you want to look as crisp as possible during video calls. The Tab S8 Ultra’s 13-megapixel front camera took bigger photos that were both more detailed and more color-accurate, and it has a useful Auto-Framing feature that keeps your face front and center during as you move.
TL; DR: Get the Galaxy Tab S8 if you want a bigger, more colorful screen and a better webcam.
Both of these tablets offer more than enough power for day-to-day tasks, and we were able to browse through a ton of different apps – and no shortage of memory-hungry Chrome tabs – on both devices without any major slowdowns. However, if pure performance is your priority, the Surface Pro 7 has an edge.
In the Geekbench 5 test (which measures overall performance), the Surface Pro 8 achieved multi-core scores that nearly doubled what we got from the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. Most notably, Microsoft’s two-in-one circled around Samsung’s slate when it came to graphics performance, with a Geekbench Compute score of 19,649, nearly four times higher than the Tab S8. Ultra produced.
Surface Pro 8
Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
|Processor||Intel Core i7-1185G7||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1|
|Geekbench 5 (multi-core)||5327||3336|
|Geekbench 5 (compute)||19649||5765|
|Battery life (hours: minutes)||7:05||10:32|
Much depends on the processor types of these machines. The Surface Pro 8 offers a full laptop chip with your choice of an 11th Gen Intel processor (we tested a Core i7 model), while the Tab S8 Ultra uses the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 mobile chip that powers Samsung’s Galaxy S22. line up. So while both devices can handle basic multitasking well, only the Surface can deliver true laptop-grade performance for those doing visually demanding work or juggling lots of heavy apps at once.
But while the Surface Pro 8 is faster, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra has significantly better battery life. Samsung’s tablet lasted 10 hours and 32 minutes of continuous 4K video playback on our battery test, beating the Surface Pro 8 (7:05) by over three hours. Both of these devices will get you through most of a typical workday unplugged, but the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the best choice for those who are constantly on the go.
TLDR: Get Surface Pro 8 for the fastest performance possible; opt for the Tab S8 Ultra for better battery life.
Android or Windows?
Here’s the most important choice you’ll make when choosing between these two machines: Do you want an Android tablet or a Windows PC? While the Tab S8 Ultra and Surface Pro 8 are both designed to work as both a tablet and a laptop, they each excel against each other.
The Surface Pro 8 is a full-featured Windows 11 computer with a connected keyboard, giving you access to the wealth of apps and features available on Microsoft’s latest operating system. Most productivity and creative programs are covered here – from the Microsoft Office suite to Photoshop – and Windows is built for intensive multitasking, with tools that let you easily split the screen between many apps at once. And while the Surface Pro 8’s onboard Intel graphics aren’t designed for intensive gaming, you’ll still be able to play plenty of non-demanding Windows titles like Fortnite, Rocket League, and Minecraft.
Meanwhile, the Tab S8 Ultra is an Android 12 tablet with a custom Samsung interface, offering access to the full Google Play store as well as a variety of Samsung-specific apps and features. When you enable DeX mode, the Tab S8 Ultra does an admirable job of behaving like a traditional laptop, with windowed apps that let you multitask and a Windows 11-like taskbar that you can customize with application shortcuts. There’s only one problem: Android apps just aren’t designed for the big screen, and our go-to programs like Slack, Google Docs, Outlook, Discord, and even Chrome felt very clunky to use in DeX mode. compared to their Windows counterparts.
Samsung’s slate has its own distinct software advantages, especially if you own other Samsung products. You can easily share files between the Tab S8 and a Galaxy phone, and even pick up where you left off in apps like Samsung Notes. You can also pair the same Bluetooth keyboard or Galaxy Buds to both devices, allowing one set of accessories to be used for both. It’s also worth noting that Android is generally more user-friendly than Windows 11, which is very well designed with a mouse and keyboard in mind.
TL; DR: Get the Surface Pro 8 if you want the full laptop experience; Get the Tab S8 Ultra if you mainly want a tablet with some lightweight productivity options.
If you want a big-screen tablet that’s great for watching movies, video calling, and doing the occasional job, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is a great choice. Its 14.6-inch screen is one of the nicest we’ve tested, it has an excellent webcam, and DeX mode does a decent job of turning the slate into a secondary laptop.
But if you want a true two-in-one laptop, there’s no contest here. When paired with a keyboard, the Surface Pro 8 is one of the best Windows laptops and the best Surface for most people, with a full, uncompromising Windows 11 experience and enough performance to back it all up.
|To display||14.6-inch Super AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate||13-inch display with 120Hz refresh rate|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1||11th Gen Intel Core i5 1135G7/Intel Core i7-1185G7|
|Cameras||12MP FF/12MP ultrawide (front), 13MP autofocus/6MP ultrawide with flash (rear)||5 megapixel front camera, 10 megapixel rear camera|
|Ports||USB-C||Thunderbolt 4 (2), Surface Connect, headphone jack|
|Height and weight||12.9 x 8.2 x 0.22 inches; 1.6 pounds||11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches; 1.96 pounds|