Samsung's latest rugged tablet gets a Dex and WiFi 6 update

The Tab Active 3 is made for work sites and has a durable S Pen to match.

If you thought Samsung was done with its announcements this month, think again. After showing off a slew of new TVs, the Galaxy Chromebook 2, robots, the Galaxy Buds Pro, Galaxy Smart Tags and the Galaxy S21 series, the company has one more thing to share. The Galaxy Tab Active 3, which Samsung launched in Europe and Asia in September, is now headed to the US. It’s an 8-inch Android tablet that’s positioned as more of a business-to-business product and comes with a protective cover for companies that want something both lightweight and durable.

Though we hardly ever cover enterprise products here at Engadget, some of us miss when Samsung used to make Active versions of its flagship S-series phones. While it doesn’t seem like those devices are likely to return, the Tab Active 3 might scratch that itch. We were able to get some hands-on time with the tablet recently and it indeed feels like a larger Active phone.

The new slate follows up the Tab Active 2 and adds WiFi 6 capabilities as well as a programmable key on the side that you can customize to launch your favorite app. This, as well as the volume buttons on the device’s right side, was easy to press despite being encased in the rigid cover. That protective sleeve, by the way, will keep your Tab safe even if it falls from up to 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) high. That’s an improvement over the last model’s 1.2-meter guarantee. Our demo unit was chained to a desk, so I didn’t test this claim out, and we’ll have to take Samsung’s word for it for now. The Active 3 also meets IP68 and MIL-STD-810H standards for dust and water resistance as well as military-grade durability.

Samsung also added its DeX software to this year’s Tab Active which will let you cast its contents to a larger display and connect peripherals like keyboards and mice for easier controI. This is also the first Tab Active to support Galaxy Enterprise Edition and Knox Suite for security and other IT software.

I especially like that the S Pen that accompanies this device is also built to withstand harsher conditions. It has a ridged texture that makes it easier to hold, and like the tablet is also IP68-compliant. Though it’s not as pen-like as Samsung’s other styluses, it still provided a smooth writing experience as I doodled on the display.

Despite the added bulk, the Active 3 was surprisingly thin and light. The display was clear and bright. Like most of Samsung’s rugged devices, the Tab has physical buttons navigation buttons below the screen (when held vertically) for easier interaction. But the company also said it tuned the display to be more sensitive so you can tap and swipe on it with gloves on too. There are also POGO pins on the side for worksites that require that connection. For those who want to dock the tablet in a kiosk or a vehicle (or machines like forklifts), there’s also a No-battery mode available. Plus, the Active 3’s 5,050mAh battery is removable so you can simply pop in a new cell when you run low instead of having to wait for it to recharge.

Since it’s a B2B device, you’re unlikely to be able to just walk into a Best Buy and pick one up — companies will be able to get one via Samsung’s distribution channels and website. In case you were wondering though, the Tab Active 3 starts at $490 for WiFi-only models and $590 for LTE versions.

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