Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 doesn't run Chrome OS

If the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 could run Chrome OS, it would be awesome

In case you missed it, Samsung had one of its Unpacked events on Wednesday, launching the new Galaxy S22 lineup of phones. The company also introduced a trio of Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 tablets, following up on the 2020 S7 slates. These range in starting price from $699.99 to $1,099.99 thanks to the premium hardware. And they all share a common feature: Android 12 is the platform. After seeing Samsung’s presentation, I immediately thought the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 line is ideal for Chrome OS.

Seriously, why aren’t these Chrome OS tablets?

I’m not knocking Android by any means here. There’s a market for Android tablets, particularly those from Samsung. In my experience, the company offers the best Android experience on slates like these. They do so because of beefy hardware and their own additions such as S-Pen stylus support and integration with other Galaxy products.

Galaxy Tab S8 hardware fit for a high-end Chrome OS tablet

Let’s focus on the hardware for a second as it pertains to Chrome OS tablets though. I’ll use the lowest of the three new models, which again, costs $699.99.

Here’s what you get:

  • An 11-inch touch LCD with 2560 x 1600 resolution and 120 Hz refresh rate
  • An octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 CPU
  • 8 GB of memory, 128 GB of local storage, and a microSD card slot supporting up to 1 TB of additional storage
  • WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
  • A single USB Type-C (3.2)
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • 12 MP ultrawide front camera, 13 MP and 6 MP rear cameras
  • Included S-Pen that attaches to the rear of the tablet
  • Quad-speakers with Dolby Atmos support
  • Optional slim-cover keyboard attachment, included with pre-orders
  • Android 12, not Android 9 like Chromebooks currently use

The latest Chrome OS tablets, such as the $499 Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5, do have a pair of USB Type-C ports, so that’s a plus. They’re also available with the same memory and storage configurations, although they don’t have a microSD card slot. The stylus and pen options also come with the device whenever you purchase it. And sure, I’d take an OLED display over LCD any day too.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 without Chrome OS

But when it comes to the processor, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 is a much higher performing chip. Chrome OS tablets are currently using old Snapdragon 7c first and second-generation chips. These are adequate for basic use but are essentially equal to chips in mid-range smartphones.

The new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8? It’s a notch or two better performing than the Snapdragon 888 which was used in flagship phones not too long ago.

I’d say this chipset’s potential is better suited for a desktop platform like Chrome OS.

Why are Chrome OS tablets using older, weaker chipsets?

This particular aspect is frustrating: It seems that Chrome OS is always a few generations behind when it comes to ARM processor support. And that doesn’t help the tablet experience when you’re running a desktop platform, even if it’s considered a light platform.

Weak graphics chips also diminish the experience. That tablet interface has to keep up with touches, taps, and swipes fluidly or that tablet is DOA.

That’s what effectively killed the base model Pixel Slate: A weak CPU and GPU that couldn’t get out of its own way. Put another way, I’d plunk down $699 and pay the $200 premium over the Lenovo Duet Chromebook 5 for a massive performance bump.

But I can’t. There seems to be no aggressive movement towards Chrome OS tablets using the latest chipsets.

Well, I shouldn’t say no movement as we’re expecting the new Acer Chromebook Spin 513 with MediaTek Kompanio 1380 in June.

An early look at the specs of the similar Kompanio 1300T shows it to be at least close to a Snapdragon 888 in terms of capabilities. And that chipset launched less than a year ago. So… progress?

MediaTek Kompanio

I’m not sure if I should blame Google here or its hardware partners.

I’m leaning towards Google because it certifies boards and chips for every single Chrome OS device. Hardware partners then decide to build a Chromebook or Chrome OS tablet with the certified boards. Then again, I suspect hardware partners also have input on capabilities they’d like to have or use for their products.

More of a market for Android slates like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8?

My gut says that Samsung thinks it can sell more Galaxy Tabs with Android than it can with Chrome OS.

People don’t seem to balk as much at dropping $700 to $1,000 on a tablet with a mobile platform and rich app ecosystem. But talk about a $700 to $1,000 Chromebook and you get the “That’s overpriced” response more often than not.

I find that ironic because both run the exact same Android apps. And the Chromebook adds a full desktop version of Chrome, not the “it’s close, but still mobile” version of Chrome for Android.

You could point out that Android apps aren’t typically well optimized for large-screened Chrome OS devices. I’d agree with you. Do you think they’re that much better on a large-screened Android tablet? Not really. So that argument in favor of Android on these slates goes out the window.

I will give Samsung credit though. For a few years now it has offered Samsung DEX on its higher-end tablets. Essentially, it brings a desktop-like interface and experience to Android. So even if the apps aren’t “desktop-class”, the experience mimics it. I’ve used it in the past when it ran from a Galaxy phone and it’s quite nice. These days, it’s built in to the Galaxy Tab lineup.

Samsung DEX from a phone

Samsung was able to do that because it can customize the Android experience, just like any Android hardware partner. It doesn’t have to do that on Chrome OS because that experience is built in: We have virtual desks, an always improving native tablet interface, and more, such as containers for full Linux apps.

The case for Chrome OS on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

Simply put, I see no technical reason for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 tablet line not to be running Chrome OS. Google just hasn’t made it happen by building and certifying a board with the latest Qualcomm processors. Even at current prices for the Tab S8 lineup, I think there’s a market for these devices with Chrome OS as the platform.

You’d get the same Android app experience and breadth of available apps, a full desktop browser for powerful web apps, Progressive Web App support, Linux software, and enough horsepower to do what you needed. It’s past time that Chrome OS tablets weren’t considered first-class citizens.

Agree or disagree?

Liked this content? Subscribe for the free, weekly newsletter

28 thoughts on “If the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 could run Chrome OS, it would be awesome

  1. Is this affected by the fact that because Google certifies every board to be used anyone can tap into that same hardware configuration and this makes it difficult to differentiate your product if anyone can take that same board and build it into their product?

  2. If anyone does, Samsung certainly has the clout to make Chrome OS happen on the S8 hardware. But frankly, Samsung seems to be much more interested in pushing its own technology, DeX, than Chrome OS. Also, when “critics” see the price range of the S8, they simply acknowledge it and shrug. When those same critics see a Chromebook priced in that range, there’s incredulity, outrage, and pandemonium. I’m at a loss as to why that is. But that kind of coverage makes it a really hard proposition to build and market premium Chromebooks even though the range of applications that can run well on a Chromebook makes it arguably a significantly more useful and versatile device than the S8. Don’t get me wrong. I hope that the S8 is wildly successful. But I would never consider buying one. The one thing about it, though, that I wish all Chromebooks came with is a built-in S-pen.

    1. I’m not surprised why Samsung is concentrating more on their own DeX solution than Chrome OS, especially with the recent news of 2022 and 2021 flagship models getting an extra OS update. We don’t even get Android 11, let alone Android 12L on Chromebook laptops. Pretty much everyone is still stuck on Android 9.0 Pie to date.

  3. Why? Because Samsung doesn’t want to support 8 years of updates to their tablet lines. They have a hard enough time bringing just three years to their phones.

    1. That 8 years of updates are not even OS updates for crying out loud. Even with the existence of Android 12L, only a select few Chromebook models get Android 11 Android OS update. Also, with Samsung now giving an extra year of OS update for 2022 and 2021 flagship-grade models, I am definitely waving goodbye to Chromebook. Samsung DeX has come a long way since its first iteration.

  4. I kind of thought along the same lines when I read about these new Samsung tablets, except my thought was why would I spend this much money when I could buy a Chromebook tablet that also runs Android apps for a lot less money but with almost as nice of a screen as these Samsung tablets. Granted, the Samsung tablets have a much higher end processor, so it just really depends upon how much horsepower you need. I’m thinking of Chromebook tablets like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet and Duet 5 and the HP 11″ Chromebook; and all of these come with a keyboard that would cost extra on the Samsung ones. And the HP one even comes with a stylus. All of these have really nice, bright screens, and the HP one is even an OLED screen. They also will come with 8 years of Chrome OS updates. You’d probably be lucky to get three years of Android updates on the Samsung tablets.
    Again, these Chromebooks are intended for lighter task usage than the Samsung tablets are capable of, but they cost much less. It all depends on what your needs are.

  5. Why these devices do not have ChromeOS? Blame Google indeed.

    Because of the Oracle lawsuit, FOR FIVE YEARS Google refused to approve any SOC with a working mobile modem in order to prevent OEMs from using them to make devices that Oracle lawyers would claim was a smartphone – Blame a VERY BAD argument by Google’s lawyers made to limit the damages in case Google lost – AND REFUSED TO TELL ANYBODY WHY.

    During this 5 year period, Qualcomm alone submitted the Snapdragon 835, 845, 855 and 7c for approval – the 8c is a Windows exclusive – only for Google to refuse to approve them (to keep, say, Motorola or LG from doing the logical thing of using them to make phones that will actually receive updates) or explicitly reject them (as it would have required an explanation). Eventually Qualcomm and the rest just stopped trying. So, the only ChromeOS ARM chips were those MediaTek originally made for cheap Android tablets (meaning no mobile modem). After the last arguments were made to the Supreme Court, Google FINALLY approved the 7c, the only pending mobile SOC that was still being manufactured.

    So what is going on with the newer, better ARM chips for ChromeOS? All stuck in the TSMC backlog. The 7c Gen 3 and the MediaTek Kompanio 828 and 1380 all use the fully occupied TSMC 6nm and 7nm processes. Only small quantities will be available until 4Q2022 at the earliest and very possibly well-into 2023. The Snapdragon 8c Gen 1, Exynos 1200, Exynos 2200 and other very good options are made by Samsung and have plenty available, but Google hasn’t taken the steps necessary to remedy their 5 years of freezing out flagship smartphone chips with absolutely no explanations. Right now, the best information they have based on Google’s behavior is that only tablet/laptop chips like the 7c, MT8195 etc. are allowed and it is Google’s job to let them know otherwise: a job that they seem to not care about doing.

    In fact they are doing the opposite. There was nothing preventing Google from manufacturing Pixelbooks with the existing Tensor smartphone SOC. Could have launched October 2021 and been massive hits. Instead, Google states that they can’t use smartphone chips but need to use “special designed for Chromebook” SOCs that won’t be available until 2023!

    Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek etc. have no reason to believe that Google is going to do what they haven’t since 2016, which is allow a ChromeOS device to be built with a smartphone chip, even when it makes logical sense like a revisited Chromebit with an integrated 5G chip like the MediaTek Dimensity 700 for kiosk/IOT/industrial applications. In a Chromebook, Samsung would be able to run the AMD RDNA 2-based Xclipse 920 GPU on the Exynos 2200 over 2 GHz and the Cortex-X2 CPU core over 3.5 GHz, which they can’t do in a smartphone due to overheating issues. It would be fascinating to see how such a Cortex-X2/Xclipse 920 combo would have performed on a variety of Android and Linux apps. The problem is that Google needs to communicate to Samsung that they would actually be allowed to do this but they won’t.

    In the medium term, this will be fixed when TSMC’s capacity issues abate and plenty of MT8195 and their successor chips are available. In the long term, whatever chip that Google releases for Chromebooks in 2023 will spawn plenty of imitators, including hopefully a Samsung Exynos contender. Short term, however, all we can do is hope for Alder Lake – and some Tiger Lake stragglers – Chromebooks to hit the market in large numbers soon to mitigate this shortage.

    1. With smartphone chipsets of today being way more powerful than any Chromebook laptops, it’s not hard to see why Chrome OS couldn’t gain popularity. Let’s also not forget the existence of universal lapdock solutions like the NexDock 360 and the UPERFECT X Pro to name just two.

  6. I take a different approach. I wouldn’t be interested in the Galaxy Tab S8 if it ran Chrome OS for the simple fact of I run Windows on my PC and Android on my phone. I want like my tablet running something I’m familiar with and don’t need to learn another ecosystem. I have never enjoyed my experience on Chrome OS and shy away from devices running it. I’m sure Samsung knows who they are geared towards and realize that running Android sets them up for people who are familiar with Android.

  7. Hmmm…
    I was looking for the +1 button.
    Yes Kevin, agreed.

    I think the public is used to paying c$700 – $1000 for a flagship phone running Android and probably view this as something similar. Somehow for some people a Chromebook “should” cost less regardless of it’s capabilities.

  8. The thing is Samsung will lose all it’s identity if they made their highest end tablet run ChromeOS. Like they will lose OneUI and all the custom options it has, it will lose the rich Windows integration that ChromeOS won’t have, it will lose Galaxy App Store and it’s exclusive apps like Fortnite and Lumafusion (timed exclusive) also Games run much better it native Android than ChromeOS’s Android container, so Samsung won’t be able to target professional mobile gamers with those tablet. (Many Games like Minecraft already blocks ChromeOS and some other crashes a lot)
    Samsung can still made ChromeOS tablet with a different series but I don’t think they will switch to ChromeOS in their main S series. Also they partner with Google to optimize Android more for Tablet even Google created new Tablet division for Android recently.

    1. Great info as always!

      No one “wants” Samsung to give up their excellent and very profitable Android tablets. Instead, we want that excellent Android tablet HARDWARE running Samsung Chromebooks instead of terrible design decisions like the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook and Samsung charging us way too much for the Pentium CPUs in the Galaxy Chromebook 2. People want a Samsung Galaxy Chromebook with a flagship SOC, either their own or a Snapdragon.

      Or if Samsung MUST use x86 in their Chromebooks, please push the envelope the way that they do for their Windows laptops: use the Mushu board to give us an 11th gen Intel Core i5 or i7 with an AMD discrete GPU. Or forget Intel and give us a quad core AMD APU with an RDNA 2 GPU. They push the envelope with their Android and Windows devices but with ChromeOS they give us less innovative options than HP, Acer and Asus do but charge an arm and a leg. Even Dell – who generally ignores Chromebooks – is coming out with an XPS Chromebook this year.

  9. Good article. I love my cm3 pixel slate but hankering for a new chrome is tablet with up to date specs. Lots of people need chrom with extensions for work and the android apps are not click enough on their own.

  10. I love Chromebooks (I have a 1n2), but on a device primarily used as a tablet, I would prefer staying with Android but having the option to install the FULL DESKTOP CHROME app complete with extentions.
    This is the only main reason to buy a Chromebook even if you already have an Android tablet.
    But if you already have a ChromeOS convertible or Tablet, it will probably never work just as seamless with Android apps and games than a real Android Tablet.

  11. I bought the Lenovo 10E tablet with a keyboard for under $200.00 in Canada when they had them on sale. I already have a USI pen.
    I will get updates until June 2028.
    Why would I buy this Android tablet when I have a Chromebook with a complete operating system.

  12. Developers today found out that upcoming Android 13 can now run both Linux and Windows KVM just like ChromeOS. Root app developer kdragon was even able to run both Linux (Ubuntu and Arch) and Windows 11 on his Pixel 6 today with near native speed.
    So ChromeOS’s biggest trump card running Linux app and having Desktop class browser has gone and I am pretty sure Samsung knew about it because they are member of the AOSP’s Internal branch. When the Galaxy S8 Ultra gets Android 13 they can easily deploy a OneUI themed Linux container, they can theoretically update the container even after the device stop receiving normal Android updates.

    1. Hmmm. Years ago I heard “Google is going to merge ChromeOS and Android” rumors but they went away. Now this might actually be a good idea.

      Also, this means that a person would be able to run a Chromium OS container on this massive Android tablet. And a SteamOS one …

    2. That can actually be sweet though since Android does inherit the Linux kernel. If only we can have Android with GNU library source code built in.

  13. As much as I want to see Chrome OS on a flagship-grade Android tablet, I’ll wait until Chrome OS gets a new Android 12L verison of its Play Store support. Until that happens, I’m staying with Samsung and its awesome DeX feature.

  14. The Android version running on Chromebooks is 32-bit.
    More and more apps aren’t even bothering with a 32-bit build on the Play Store.
    To get equivalent performance from this hardware, Chromebook’s Android layer needs to be able to make full use of the tablet’s capabilities.

  15. I’m not savvy to the performance specs of the ARM chips for Chrome OS. But, I do know that the HP Chromebook X2’s performance on the Snapdragon 7c is brutal. So, I wonder if the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 would provide enough of a performance boost to make the Tab 8 perform well with Chrome OS?

    Beyond that, Samsung has always preferred to use it’s own in house software over anything else. Samsung remains firmly vested in the DeX experience (which I actually am glad they are still doing DeX). Because of that, I don’t foresee Samsung offering a Chrome OS based Tab anytime in the near future.

    Of course, all that being said, either option isn’t great for a tablet form factor. Until we start seeing more Android apps built for larger tablet experiences we are still stuck with a so/so tablet OS from either front. I hope Android 12L & Android 13 usher in a new era of tablet based Android apps.

  16. Everyone in Windows gaming land is raving about the new AMD mobile chips: Zen 3+ CPU but (more importantly) RDNA 2 integrated GPU. Made on TSMC’s 6nm process.

    https://www.pcgamer.com/with-rdna-2-in-super-thin-laptops-the-steam-deck-isnt-your-only-mobile-gaming-option

    Consider the Lenovo Legion Y700. It will be an 8.8″ tablet running Android with the Qualcomm Snapdragon. This new chip would make a similar tablet running ChromeOS possible. For Steam Borealis purposes of course. For comparison, the 10.1″ Lenovo Duet’s MediaTek MT8183 was made on a 12nm process. Yeah, it is very possible that 4 AMD performance cores and the RDNA 2 GPU even at 6nm would generate a lot more heat than a 12nm chip with 4 Cortex-A73 cores and the Mali G72 GPU. Should still be worth trying though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top