A few years ago, we had dozens of Android tablets running the entire gamut of different price points, with budget, mid-range and high-end tablets all competing for Android tablet supremacy. Now, that middle section seems to have fallen away completely, leaving us with expensive flagship tablets, such as Samsung’s £350 Galaxy Tab S2 and Google’s £400 Pixel C, or super-cheap budget devices such as Amazon’s Fire HD 8.
Asus’ ZenPad 3S 10 falls into the former category, although thankfully it comes in a little lower than its nearest competitors. At £300, it’s still quite expensive, but its slick diamond-cut chamfered edges and super slim 5.3mm bezels go a long way to make that price more palatable. Its all-metal body is gorgeously svelte at just 7.15mm thick, and it doesn’t flex even when put under pressure. What’s more, Asus has even included a fingerprint reader in the home button to bring it in line with its more expensive rivals.
Asus ZenPad 3S 10 review: Display
With its 9.7in, 2,048 x 1,536 IPS display, the ZenPad 3S 10 is a sight to behold. While its overall quality isn’t quite up there with Apple’s 9.7in iPad Pro or Samsung’s AMOLED-based Tab S2, its sRGB colour gamut coverage of 91% is still highly respectable, and its high peak brightness of 426cd/m2 gives colours plenty of pop. It’s a great device for watching Netflix on the go, even if its contrast ratio of 879:1 is a little on the low side.
Asus ZenPad 3S 10 review: Performance
Powered by a hexa-core 2.1GHz MediaTek MT8176 processor and 4GB of RAM, the ZenPad 3S 10 is more than suited to handle pretty much anything you throw at it. I had no issues jumping in and out of apps, using Google Docs or streaming video online, and its excellent single core and multicore scores of 1,583 and 3,297 in Geekbench 4 reflected this.
Sadly, its Achilles heel is graphics performance. As is often the case with MediaTek chips, its integrated GPU fails to match up to its Qualcomm or Nvidia-based rivals, and it showed in our GFX Bench tests. Running the Manhattan 3.0 onscreen test, it only managed an average frame rate of just over 9fps. In fairness, this is a demanding test, but it still doesn’t bode well for running intense 3D games. Thankfully, it was able to play less intensive games such as Threes! and Temple Run 2 without any noticeable hiccups.
Asus ZenPad 3S 10 review: Battery life
Battery life is good, but not great, especially considering the size of the ZenPad 3S 10’s battery. Despite having a huge 5,900mAh battery on board, the tablet lasted just 8hrs 21 mins in our continuous video playback test with the screen set to our standard brightness level of 170cd/m2.
While not far off the 9.7in iPad Pro’s score of 8hrs 56mins, it still falls a long way behind Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 9.7, which lasted just over 12hrs, and Google’s Pixel C, which lasted over 14hrs. There’s also the small matter of its USB Type-C port. This is great for quick and speedy top-ups, but you will need to remember to bring the cable with you on long journeys if you don’t want to be caught short, as your regular Micro USB cable won’t work here. The ZenPad 3S 10 will still be good enough for a short long-haul flight, but there are better tablets out there that are more reliable.
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