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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 hands-on review: Android tablet takes on iPad Air and Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet


Samsung has announced two new Android tablets so here's our hands-on review with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. 

There are two models of the new Galaxy Tab S range, an 8in model and a larger 10in model. Bucking the usual 10.1in trend, it has a 10.5in screen. Both will launch in two colours: 'Dazzling White' and 'Titanium Bronze'. 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 will be released on 4 July at £449, so it's £50 more than one of its key rivals, the iPad Air. Also see: best tablets 2014.

It's no surprise that the Galaxy Tab S looks much like Samsung's previous tablets but it does have new styling points which match up with the Galaxy S5 smartphone. That means it has a dimpled plastic rear cover, a physical home button and a pair of touch sensitive keys. 


You'll notice that on the back are two odd looking circles which work with Samsung's Book Cover. Instead of using magnets, the accessory clips onto the tablet and doesn't come off unless you pull hard. It will be available in different colours and allow you to tilt the tablet into four different viewing positions.

Two key design aspects are how thin and light the Galaxy Tab S is. It's just 6.6mm thick according to Samsung (we didn't take our callipers to the event) which is thinner than the iPad Air but not quite as petit as the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet. At 465g, it's nice and light for a tablet with a large screen.


Samsung is pushing the content consumption capabilities of the Galaxy Tab S as the firm says that 50 percent of tablet owners use their tablet for watching or reading content. Samsung goes as far as claiming the Tab S has the 'world's greatest screen' for a tablet.

As we've said, a 10.5in is a decent size and a 16:10 aspect ratio means that the device is great for watching TV shows, as it's almost the same as a widescreen TV. The resolution is extremely high at 2560 x 1600 (WQVGA). A pixel density of 280ppi means that the display is stunningly crisp. Samsung is, as usual, proud of its Super AMOLED technology which does make content look great but, as we've found in the past, can be a bit over the top making things look fake.

An adaptive display mode aims to adjust the display's gamma, saturation and sharpness depending on the content, or you can select which mode you want to use.


Since the tablet is all about the viewing experience, it's nice to see stereo speakers (although they are side mounted). They seemed to hold up fairly well in a quick test in a room full of people chatting.

Although the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 costs more than its rivals, it is packed with technology so there's an IR blaster and fingerprint scanner – both taken from the Galaxy S5 and features don't rarely find on a tablet, especially the latter. Although it takes a lot from Samsung's flagship smartphone, there's no heart rate monitor.

As you'd expect, it also comes with plenty of other tech such as 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS – there's no NFC, though. If you want data on the go, a 4G LTE model will be available for roughly an extra £100.

You'll be able to opt for either 16- or 32GB storage capacities and there's a microSD card slot for adding up to 128GB more. A generous 3GB of RAM is accompanied by Samsung's own Exynos 5 Octa processor. It has four 1.9GHz cores and four 1.3GHz cores.

For all you tablet photographers out there, the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 has an 8Mp rear facing camera with an LED flash and a 2.1Mp front facing camera.


On the software front, it's no surprise that the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is running Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Samsung's latest TouchWiz software. It looks just the Galaxy S5 interface since it uses the same icons, widgets and drop down notification bar.


New additions include Samsung's own Kick app – a football app which is almost in time for the World Cup and provides in-depth data and stats on players and teams. It also features the latest scores and information while games are in progress. There's also Papergarden, which is Samsung's latest digital magazine service.

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