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Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S3 comes with four speakers and a stylus

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Samsung is going straight for the iPad Pro 9.7

It wasn’t very long ago when Samsung was releasing literally dozens of new tablets every year, but these days the company’s tablet efforts are bit more subdued. They are getting shook up a bit this Mobile World Congress though, as the company is announcing not one, but three new high-end, productivity-focused tablets.

Two of the new tablets run Windows 10 (you can read more about them here), but the most mainstream one is the Android-powered Galaxy Tab S3. The 9.7-inch Tab S3 is a direct follower of 2015’s Tab S2 and features a similarly slim design. This time around, it has an all-glass back, much like Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartphones, and comes with 2017-appropriate specs and features.

The 9.7-inch, 2,048 x 1,536 Super AMOLED display now supports HDR video, and the Tab S3 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. A MicroSD card slot supports memory expansion up to 256GB. The tablet now has four speakers (tuned by AKG) and measures a scant 6mm thick. Android 7.0 Nougat with Samsung’s touches provides the software experience.

Galaxy Tab S3

But since you can’t launch a high-end tablet in 2017 that is just used for reading and watching video, Samsung has included new, productivity-focused features. In the box with the Tab S3 is a new S Pen (the Tab S2 did not have stylus support of any kind), which is larger and thicker than the S Pens included with Samsung’s older tablets. It has a new 0.7mm tip and over 4,000 levels of pressure sensitivity. It supports all of the S Pen features you’d expect, like taking notes, capturing screen shots, and even recording GIFs from video.

Unlike Samsung’s Note line of phones and tablets, however, the Tab S3 doesn’t have anywhere to store the S Pen when you’re not using it, nor does the pen magnetically attach to the side of the tablet. (Samsung tells me that this is expressly why the Tab S3 is not called a Note — Note devices have silos to store the S Pen when not in use.) Fortunately, the S Pen is flat on two sides, so it won’t easily roll away from you.

Further enhancing the productivity capabilities of the Tab S3 is the optional keyboard case, which attaches to the bottom of the tablet via a pogo pin. As such, it doesn’t need to pair with the tablet and never needs to be charged, like Bluetooth keyboards do. The keyboard is made of plastic and provides a surprisingly pleasant typing experience, though it does not have any backlighting.

If you’ve been keeping track, the new Tab S3 matches Apple’s iPad Pro 9.7 note for note in terms of size, audio, pen support, and keyboard availability. It’s quite clear that Samsung sees this product as competing with the smaller iPad Pro in terms of features, options, and performance.

But the company isn’t ready to talk pricing or when you’ll be able to buy the Tab S3, so it still remains to be seen how competitive with the iPad Samsung intends this to be.