Samsung’s newest tablet, the sleek Galaxy Tab S moves into iPad Air territory with a super slim design packed with plenty of power and features.
The best thing about the Tab S is also the first thing you see when you turn it on. The colours pop from the Super AMOLED adaptive display with a vibrancy that wows, and the deep blacks and bright whites give a great realism and depth to images. Choice.
At 2,560 x 1,600 pixels, it’s 287 pixels per inch, which is slightly lower than others in the market, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro (although higher than the iPad Air at 264ppi), but you would never know, as the screen sometimes looks better than the real world around you.
Everything looks and works better in landscape mode, as that is really the way it was designed to be used, though using it in portrait is still ok.
The basic shape and look of the Tab S is in line with other Samsung tablets, but on closer inspection there’s a lot that’s different.
As soon as you pick up the Tab S you’ll notice how light it is. The featherweight 465g is four grams fewer than the iPad Air, and the super slim 6.6mm width is well thinner than iPad Air’s 7.5mm.
The speakers on the top sides are perfectly placed for landscape viewing so your hands won’t muffle the sound, but (like many things on this device) are not really suited to portrait mode. As for sound quality, it's not bad, but if you want to turn it up to 11, you’re inviting distortion. A Bluetooth speaker is definitely recommended here.
The cameras are pretty good quality, with an 8MP rear facing camera with flash, and a 2.1MP front facing camera, both with 1080p recording capability. In comparison, the iPad Air has 5 and 1.2MP cameras on the front and back, respectively, neither with flash, and only 1080p recording on the back (720p on the front).
Plus there’s also the standard microSD slot on the side, so you can up the storage space another 16-128GB if you wanted.
The Tab S comes preloaded with a whole load of useful apps to play with. Setting it up as a TV remote (using the IR blaster) was easy, as was the Remote PC which allows you to control your computer from the tablet.
Multi-tasking is another cool feature, which lets you have two things open at a time, for example Chrome and YouTube, and is just another example of how customisable Android devices can be.
The innovative fingerprint login is pretty nifty, once you get the hang of it. And don’t worry if you lend it to someone as there is a password bypass.
You can also create your own personalised newspaper with up to 6 widgets to greet you on the home screen, such as Briefing (which has a few bookmarks and alarms), social media feeds, and a variety of news topics that change their top story regularly.
Unfortunately we couldn’t test the SideSync (a tool that allows you to mirror your S5 screen on your tablet so you don’t have to juggle devices), as we didn’t have an S5 handy (both the Galaxy S3 and S4 aren’t compatible).
It was disappointing though that unlike the Galaxy Note there’s no inbuilt stylus, as using one on the tablet is quite easy and fun.
All the testing I did appears to back up the claim that you can easily get a solid day’s use out of this tablet.
A 1 hour 40 minute movie (Grand Budapest Hotel, picked for its visuals which looked awesome on the screen) reduced the battery from 100% to 90% (on flight mode), so there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get over 10 hours’ use out of it.
Boasting an Exynos Octa-core processor (4 at 1.9 ghz and 4 at 1.3 ghz) and 3GB DDR RAM, there’s a fair bit of grunt behind the scenes.
Running the AnTuTu Benchmark test came back with an “Amazing” score of 34,657, rating the CPU as “good”, while RAM and graphics (both 2D and 3D) were rated “excellent”.
Some users have mentioned a bit of lag while running more demanding apps, but this reviewer never experienced any.
It looks amazing both in design and display, it’s light and sleek, it comes back with useful features, and it’s easily customisable to suit you.
The lack of stylus was a bit of a downer, but that’s a pretty small thing to moan about when there is so much more to rave about.
Overall, this is one heck of a cool device.
- OS: Android (4.4.2)
- Dimensions: 247.3 x 177.3 x 6.6 mm
- Weight: 465g
- Resolution: 2560 x 1600 pixels
- Rear camera: 8 megapixels, flash, 1080p recording
- Front camera: 2.1 megapixels, 1080p recording
- Battery: 7900 mAh capacity