Samsung Galaxy Tab S, review

Completely mastering Samsung's range of tablets is no easy feat. Many products per year, various ranges and devices for each screen size and price range. Galaxy Tab S comes to position itself above its classic line - Galaxy Tab - in parallel with the not very differentiated Pro range and the Note range, more recognizable for incorporating the stylus.

We are therefore talking about high-end tablets, the market spectrum where Android still does not seem a competitor with guarantees from Apple and iPads, in which only a handful of actors have launched notable products: Google with Nexus years ago, Toshiba with its discontinued Pro, Sony with the Z range and Samsung itself are some of them.

Does this new attempt with Galaxy Tab S have what it takes to recognize it as a full-fledged candidate for the best high-end tablet on the market? We have spent several weeks with the 8.4 inch model trying to answer that.

First of all, on video

What better than to see the Galaxy Tab S in action before gutting every aspect of the device.

Technical characteristics

When it was presented we already gave an in-depth review of what this tablet was going to represent on paper based on its technical characteristics.

Here we offer a review of the key specifications of the analyzed model, the 8.4-inch one.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8.4 ") screen Super AMOLED 8.4 inch Resolution 2560 x 1600 (WQXGA) pixels, 360dpi Processor Samsung Exynos 5420 Octa-Core 1.3GHz / 1.90 GHz (unit of analysis, in some markets it will come with micro Qualcomm) Graphics processor Mali-T628MP6 RAM 3GB RAM Memory 16 GB. Allows microSD up to 128 GB S.O. version Android 4.4.2 Connectivity GPS + GLONASS, WiFi (802.11 a / b / g / n / ac), BT4.0; analyzed version without LTE; MHL 3.0; without NFC or DLNA; USB 2.0 Cameras Rear: 8 MP Exmor RS / Front: 2.1 MP Dimensions 212.8 x 125.6 x 6.6 mm Weight 298 grams Battery 4900 mAh Official starting price From 399 euros the version with 16 gigs only Wifi. 499 for which adds LTE connectivity. At Amazon we have found it much cheaper.

Undoubtedly we are facing a high range that stands out at first sight for the screen - which we will analyze later - as well as for weight and dimensions. On the less positive side we see absences such as NFC, USB 3.0 (stays in the previous version) or DLNA, as well as staying in the 16 gigabytes that seem short but somewhat easy to alleviate if we have a microSD card.

The tablet at first sight

The Tab S is a very close relative of the S5, especially if our gaze and touch are directed to the rear. There we arrived at the much talked about slightly rough plastic solution that spoke so much on the Korean smartphone.

In finishing we can discuss whether or not it complies as a high-end tablet, but in weight and thinness there is no doubt: Samsung's excellent work

We could spend hours - in fact there are giant threads in Xataka about it - discussing the quality of materials and finishes when trying to position a product in the high range. The Galaxy Tab S has recurred in the Samsung school of recent years: plastics made to give a better grip and simulate metal on the side. The importance that each one wants to give to this point remains on the plane of personal priorities.

Where the Tab S is going to be less discussed is, undoubtedly, in its thinness and lightness. The hand print is fantastic, those 298 grams for an 8.4-inch device and those 6.6 millimeters thick are a phenomenal brand. They may have made a few concessions - a battery that's not too big, a camera sensor pulling loose, but for design's sake it was worth it.

As for available colors we have black, "titanium bronze and dazzling white", or at least that's what Samsung has called them. There are none that excite me personally, although at least I would emphasize that "bronze" does not cause me rejection as the rest of the products that have paid for "gold" by offering themselves more opaque, less garish.

A small oddity are the two magnetic circles on the back, which are offered as a hitch for covers or other accessories magnetically. As we can see in the photos, the mechanism is quite solvent.

In any case, the most important thing is that, even reaching 8.4 inches, Samsung has managed to keep this Tab S in the league of "small tablets" compared to those others that are anchored around 10 and, in the end , it costs so much to move. If we compare it with iPad Mini (7.9) or even with the old Nexus 7, the Tab S maintains the type in weight and dimensions thanks to great engineering and design work.

Hello screen, I'm glad to see you

The Tab S screen is, directly, spectacular. Already with the S5 Samsung proved to be at an outstanding moment on screens, bringing its current technology to 8.4 has in no case meant a drop in quality, although we have found some change.

If someone was skeptical, it is difficult to maintain the prejudices and myths against AMOLED. In the case that concerns us both the resolution and the pixel density (without forgetting that Samsung aims at a contrast of 100,000: 1) they are a quantitative proposal that also works in the qualitative: brilliant, super contrasted and always alive.

Any criticism to make? The default mode (the adaptive screen mode) spectacularize by way of contrasting and saturating. It is with which we can see those images and example videos that captivate us from the first moment ... but that many tire us for their lack of reality.

If there is something practically flawless in the Galaxy S, that is the screen: spectacular

For this, the Galaxy Tab S offers different screen modes, similar to those we have seen on their smartphones. The one I like the most is Cinema AMOLED and with it I have found the perfect experience for me with the tablet; Whoever wants something more "spectacular" I recommend the default mode. In both cases it has also given us very good performance outdoors.

In any case, we find a sensational screen that is very, very difficult to object to. If the idea we have is to choose a tablet for multimedia consumption, the Galaxy Tab S tablet becomes the first candidate in its own right.

Performance and autonomy

A good opportunity to give the new Antutu and compare the performance of the best Samsung micro compared to the competition.

From the outset the experience is, from the beginning, very fluid, both in applications and web browsing, multimedia experience and more or less demanding games. With what we can ask today for a high-end Android tablet, the tablet today, Galaxy Tab S is very good and on a very good note.

Where it does not shine so much is when we compare it with some competitors - see the great work of becnhmarks that AnandTech does - remarkable in CPU power, somewhat worse in the GPU, always thinking that Tab S should compete for first place.

The conclusion that one draws is that Samsung is not yet at the level of Qualcomm (and especially its Adreno) or Apple (please, if you are interested in the subject do not miss, This is how the SoC of Apple mobiles have evolved, And this is what is expected from the iPhone 6 chip, although it is clear that they are on the way.

As for autonomy, Galaxy Tab S makes a certain sacrifice with the battery to achieve that lightness and thinness. 4900 mAh is not too much for an 8.4-inch tablet, especially when you enjoy a screen of that resolution that devours resources.

Despite this, the tablet easily gives us seven / eight hours of autonomy, depending on the use, timing and screen brightness that we demand. Okay, but it is significantly below what I have achieved with products like iPad Mini or even the Nexus 7.

Finally a detail: the loading time is quite slow, especially in the final section. Here, the decision of Samsung not to endow it with USB 3.0 as it has done in telephony with the latest Note and Galaxy S.

Samsung and Google: we have to talk about software

Somewhere I have argued that the current sale of iPad over Android tablets was much more on the ecosystem side and applications adapted to the tablet format than in the system itself, where one sees less and less advantage in iOS and even some points to Android favor.

The fact is that Google does not seem to have as a priority to push on tablets, in view of what was presented in the past Google I / O and the slowdown in this market.

Be that as it may, in Android we continue with the pain of having many applications but very few really optimized to be executed on a screen like that of this Galaxy Tab S. Samsung's response has been, so to speak, lateral: given that what more we are going to do with the tablet is to consume content, they have filled it with "gifts" to increase the competitiveness of the product.

On the one hand there is a positive part. If we go to the official page of gifts for the tab S we find proposals as interesting as six months of Deezer, one year with two Orbyt newspapers, six months of Vogue and GQ, three months of Marvel Unlimited, 50 Gb for two years of Dropbox or the application of the Praado museum.

On the other hand, we have that quite a few things have fallen from what was initially announced, with much confusion on the part of Samsung when distinguishing promotions in the United States (The Economist, Wall Stree Journal, Business Week) and locals in other countries such as Spain or the of Latinamerica.

Finally, there are some aspects to highlight in the value proposition of the combined software layer from Samsung and Google. We have multi-user and children mode, both work quite well and make life much easier when it comes to giving the device a familiar use, something that seems quite necessary on a tablet. There is also WatchOn to use the device as a remote control and the possibility of using multiple windows in more than one application at a time, something that with this size of device makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, again the multi window does not apply to all applications.

SideSync 3.0 deserves a special mention, which allows us to connect the phone to the tablet and operate it from a "mirror" of its screen, we see on the tablet what is right on the smartphone screen (which must be the latest Galaxy generation). It works reasonably well, but I haven't found much use for it yet.

To that I would add some of the points that we have seen lately in other products of the Koreans such as the topic of fingerprint detection for identification (which has given me the feeling of working much better than in S5) or the ultra energy saving mode, that can save us from some trouble. We also have aspects such as reading mode, in which we could place some hope when reading with a tablet ... if it were not because it works with very few applications (the Google book reader, Kindle, for example, does not ) Update: as indicated in the comments and we have been able to verify, this reading mode can be applied to any application, so it is extensible to Kindle.

A novel official case

At least in the way it is hooked with the tablet, the official cover (Book Cover) that Samsung offers stands out for using the magnetic system that debuts the Tab Galaxy S. It allows various support positions and, with some caution, we have put Test the restraint system enough to conclude that no, it doesn't look like it will cause unwanted accidents.

In colors and quality of the materials, it is not that it will be printed, but having good accessories - especially the case - is key to the trajectory of a tablet and this Book Cover deserves at least a remarkable one.

Xataka's opinion on the Galaxy Tab S

We have a 2014 in which at least a couple of manufacturers seem hell-bent on bringing Android tablets to the high-end podium. We already had the Xperia Z2 tablet and now a new attempt from Samsung with this Tab S range

While it is true that it is impossible not to get lost in the amalgam of products and ranges with which Koreans flood the market, the Galaxy Tab S is a product that would be worth not going unnoticed.

For performance, thinness and weight and, above all, for a sensational screen, the Tab S shines as the best rival to the iPad Mini Retina in the space around eight inches.

Only the smallest scope of the Android ecosystem in terms of applications optimized for tablets is a mole experience with the Tab S. Samsung has tried to palliate it with some gifts - services, content - to which we must take a look before to elucidate if the price of the product makes us more attractive.

The version with 16 gigabytes and only Wi-Fi of this 8.4-inch model comes out with a RRP recommended by Samsung for 399 euros (at Amazon we have found it much cheaper), competing in the same range as iPad. If I had to choose between the two, it would be difficult today. In any case, the swords are at the top and the toughest competition on tablets looks like it will be this year in the size of this Galaxy Tab S.


Design9 screen Performance8 Software8 Autonomy8,25

In favor

  • An excellent print screen
  • Light and very thin
  • Contents and services it includes
  • Kids mode


  • In autonomy and power it could improve
  • Android ecosystem neglects tablets yet
  • Quality of materials

The tablet has been loaned for testing by Samsung. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises

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