Review by Sunetra Chakravati,10/14/2015 9:46:43 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Gorgeous build quality | fab display | fingerprint sensor on-point | good camera
Battery life could be better
By Sunetra Chakravarti
End of 2015 will see about 343 million tablets in use all over the world with more than 1 billion people using them. And yet, there is no clear winner. Just look around you on your commute and you will see fellow travellers hunched over iPads with a smattering of Samsungs and yet the market place for tablets is shrinking.
Some say it is due to the rise and rise of phablets like Motorola's Moto X Play and Apple's iPhone 6s Plus, while others blame market saturation and the fact that you will not be running out to buy a new tablet every 2 years. Irrespective of reason, the tablet market has seen some really amazing additions this year like Microsoft's new Surface Book and Asus's very affordable and strikingly good ZenPad S 8.0. In the midst of all these devices, Samsung have gone and refreshed their flagship tablet range, the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 from last year. With premium Android tablets thin on the ground, will it zoom up to the top of the charts and be embraced by consumers? Read on to see what we think...
The first tthing that you notice about the Tab S2 is how thin it is. An absolute wafer, it can give a pringle a run for its svelte money with a width of just 5.6mm at its thickest point. You also notice how utterly gorgeous it is, the back is sort of suede-feel pewter on our review sample and even though it is plastic, it looks really beautiful and feels solid in the hand with no creaks when you give it a press. The previous iteration, Galaxy Tab S was the best Android tablet when it launched but the only way it stopped short of being a 5-star device was because of the faux leather plastic look. With the Tab S2, all those creases have been ironed out to make this a joy to hold and brag about.
With a sliver of chamfered metal going around the edges, the power button and volume toggle is on the right with the microSD tray on the same side, at the lower end. At 392g, the tablet is also incredibly light and with a changed, wider footprint that makes it very comfortable to use on the commute. There is only a very slight bump at the back where the camera lens protrudes slightly and apart from the understated Samsung logo, the back is just a plain sheet of plastic/metal combo.
Gone is the 16:9 aspect ration that seems custom built for Netflix binging... For their flagship tablet, Samsung have gone for the 4:3 ratio giving the tablet a squarer look and feel that makes it ideal for reading e-mags, e-book, browsing through newsfeeds and emails. I actually really liked the squarer look because it is easier to balance one-handed on the train. Also because of its lightness, it was much easier to read
The Super AMOLED with QXGA screen is super awesome and even though a ppi of 264 is a climb down from last year's Tab S it is still crisp. Actually, the display is pretty hard to beat. Samsung have always hit it out of the park with thir super AMOLED displays and I have been a fan of the warm colours and the one on here is almost as gorgeous as the ones we have seen on the Galaxy S6 range.
The contrasts, the depth of the blacks and the 100% of the sRGB colour gamut showcase despite the yellow tint works a dream. Unless you use tablets from multiple manufacturers side-by side at the same tine, chances are you will not notice. Super AMOLED is one of the best display types out there and if you are seriously considering buying this device, don't be put off by the persnicketiness of this review, fussing over a slight yellow tint that you might not even notice.
Samsung overhauled their over-powering OS TouchWiz when they launched the S6 range and made it into a breezy, refreshing experience. There is still residual bulk, but that is minimal. A whole gamut of Microsoft Office apps are preloaded as are some of Samsung's own. Overall, you get a shade over 25GB to play with on the 32GB model and you can add upto 128Gb via a microSD card.
The tablet still runs Andrid 5.0.2 but when it gets Android 6.0, Marshmallow will let microSD card memory act as internal memory and that will make small internal storages a non-issue when it comes to the Tab S2.
Performance was good with no lag or stuttering, Samsung have gone for a 3GB RAM for both iterations of the tablet and an Exynos Octa 5433 processor and you can see it in the working of the machine. Obviously, as seasoned readers of reviews, you would know that not all eight cores fire up and work simultaneously. Samsung have four 1.3GHz to take care of browsing, reading and writing with the other four 1.9 GHz processors kicking in when you play games or use the multi-tab option. GeekBench 3 scores were superlative and in single and multi-porcessor tests, you realise this really is a superfast tablet.
There are some interesting add ons, though not sure how useful they are, including taking a screenshot by swiping your hand over the screen from left to right and loading the camera with a diagonal screen swipe. There are further Galaxy apps you can get from the Glalaxy app store in addition to Google Play and also the ability to 'throw' content to your Samsung TV. However, this is only compatible with some of the hgher-end Samsung TV models and if you already have Chromecast or an Amazon Firestick, I would use those instead of the Samsung app.
Although with the battery, it is actually a come down, our review model didnt lose much charge when idle. I left it alone for 5 days and it lost only 28 percent of the battery. Moreover, after 15 minutes of 4G streaming videos, it had lost just 1 percent of the charge. Obviously, there are tablets out there like the Sony Xperia Z4 that will give you more power for longer, but the battery on the Galaxy Tab S2 does more than a decent job of taking care of itself for more than a day.
The tablet further comes with magnetic connectors at the back to convert into a square laptop with the addition of a keyboard. If you don't want to go for Samsung's own accessories, you will be able to get several online for around £45-60.
A surprisingly good camera comes with Samsung's flagship tablet, and why shouldnt it- it costs a pretty penny and Samsung already have the technology and the know-how to make pictures taken on their devices on the money. You just need to look at the camera on their phones to realise this! The 8-MP primary camera is robust and perfect for those moments when you are away from your actual camera or phone and the front-facing 2.1-MP snapper is more than adequate for Skype calls and the occasional selfie.
Easy to hold, balance and perfect for reading consumer news, emails, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is not just a worthy successor to the Galaxy Tab S, but with it Samsung have brought us the best Android you can buy right now. They have not just gotten the design right on an already great device but the stellar display, pared-down UI and new aspect ratio make it a gorgeous device to own and use.
Apple's iPad Air sells for the same price, has the same screen resolution and size but where the Galaxy Tab S2 scores points is with its form factor, the beautiful gold colour it is available in, expandable memory and 4G and wi-fi capabilities and pared down UI. Android is also a more open ecosystem so if you aren't a massive iOS fan or dont want to own a bloated Xperia Z4 tablet, we would suggest you get one of these pronto.
Operating System: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Weight: 392 g
Size: 237.3 x 169.0 x 5.6mm
Display: 8.0-inches Super AMOLED
Resolution: 2048 x 1536 pixels
Processor: Octa-Core 1.9GHz, 1.3GHz
RAM: 3 GB
Camera: CMOS 8-MP and 2.1-MP
Storage: 32 GB, available 25GB
Memory via microSD: upto 128 GB