Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review
|Review: February 2015|
In a nutshell: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S is one of the very best Android tablets released in 2014. The 8.4 inch model is a good size, and is extremely competitively priced. Its top features must be its ultraslim form factor and outstanding AMOLED display.
A Galaxy S5 in tablet form
The Galaxy Tab S looks like a Galaxy S5 smartphone that has been allowed to grow in size. It's an ultra-thin, incredibly lightweight tablet, with all the style of the S5. That makes it very portable and easy to handle, and a real delight to use. It may not have the premium materials of an Apple, but it's still well-made, and it avoids the "fake leather" look of previous Samsung tablets.
The screen is mid-sized at 8.4 inches - significantly larger than entry-level 7 inch models, but more portable than full-sized tablets. It's a little larger than the iPad Mini 3, for instance. Unusually for a tablet, the screen uses Samsung's impressive AMOLED display technology, normally seen on its flagship smartphones. The AMOLED display is bright, with benchmark-setting contrast ratios, super-saturated colours, and is absolutely pin sharp. The incredible 1600 x 2560 pixel resolution exceeds that of the 10-inch Apple iPad Air 2, for jaw-dropping clarity. If you enjoy streaming videos on a tablet, this is one of the best options out there.
Audio quality is better than average, as there are twin stereo speakers at each end. It's not up to home cinema quality, but you can plug in a set of headphones for best audio quality when watching videos or listening to music.
For added security, the device incorporates a fingerprint sensor, which activates with a swipe.
The slim design and mind-blowing screen are reasons enough to choose the Tab S over rival tablets, and we haven't even looked inside yet!
The Tab S runs Android 4.4 (KitKat) plus Samsung's TouchWiz user interface with its magazine-style interface. Multi-tasking is well catered for by the split-screen Multi Window option, and the device is certainly fast enough to support this (see next section.)
Samsung's high-end tablets now use an octacore processor arrangement. The Tab S has a "Big Core" 1.9GHz quadcore plus a "Little Core" 1.3GHz quadcore configuration, combining processing power with energy efficiency. This is an interesting but effective solution, and it means that the Tab S can crunch through any games or apps you care to throw at it. Performance is probably not quite up to S5 levels, but is impressive nonetheless.
There's also plenty of RAM available for demanding apps - a whopping 3GB in fact. The ROM size is 16GB, which is plenty if you take advantage of the additional 128GB expansion via microSD card.
8 megapixel camera
The 8 megapixel main camera is competent and can record full HD 1080p video, and there's a front-facing camera that can take selfies at 2 megapixel resolution or full HD 1080p video chat.
The Tab S 8.4 is available in Wi-Fi and 4G versions. In addition you get Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, ANT+ and MHL support, as well as a 3.5mm audio jack.
The battery is of middling size - smaller than the iPad Mini 3, but larger than the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact - and at 4,900mAh it's adequate, but not exceptional. The octa-core processor and AMOLED display are both good energy savers, and on a full charge the tablet can deliver between 10 and 12 hours of continuous use, which is probably sufficient for most users.
Conclusion - highly recommended
We have no hesitation awarding the Tab S 8.4 a full 5 stars. There are so many features that we love about this tablet, in particular:
- Stunningly thin and lightweight design
- Incredible class-leading AMOLED screen
- 8-core processing power
- Plenty of memory
Did we mention the price? The Tab S 8.4 costs less than similar-sized rivals such as the iPad Mini 3, Sony Z3 Compact and Google Nexus 9. Yet in many ways it'a a match for each of these.
Is there anything we don't like? The plastic construction may put some people off. But overall, the Tab S is one of the outstanding tablets of the current crop.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 features include:
- Operating system: Android 4.4 (KitKat)
- Display: 8.4 inch AMOLED touchscreen with 2560 x 1600 pixels, 16 million colours
- 8 megapixel camera with flash and autofocus, 1080p HD video recording
- Secondary 2.1 megapixel camera for 1080p HD video calling
- Media player
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, instant messaging (Google Talk), email
- Glonass, GPS, Beidou location technology
- Processor: Big Core 1.9GHz Quad + Little core 1.3GHz Quad
- Memory: 16GB plus microSD memory card slot (up to 128GB supported), 3GB RAM
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4G+5GHz, VHT80 MIMO), Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, MHL, USB 2.0, ANT+, 3.5mm headphone jack
- 4G LTE version also available
- Size: 212.8 x 125.6 x 6.6 mm
- Weight: 294g
- Battery: 4900 mAh
- Internet usage time (Wi-Fi): Up to 10 hours
- Video playback time: Up to 12 hours
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