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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 hands-on review: High-res tablet takes aim at iPad mini 2 and Nexus 7


Samsung has announced a pair of new Android tablets so here's our hands-on review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4.

The new Galaxy Tab S range consists of the 8in model and a larger 10in model. The former uses an 8.4in screen size and will have to compete with devices like the iPad mini 2  and the Nexus 7. Samsung will launch the Galaxy Tab S tablets next month and the 8.4in model will cost £349, placing it higher than the rivals we've mentioned from Google and Apple. 

The Galaxy Tab S models will in two colours: 'Dazzling White' and 'Titanium Bronze'. White is, well, just white but the bronze colour looks much better than the gold used for the Galaxy S5. Also see: 25 best tablets 2014.

Somewhat more interesting than the colour is how thin and light this new tablet is. It's just 6.6mm thick according to Samsung (we'll measure it ourselves when we can) which is thinner than the iPad mini 2 and Nexus 7. For its size, it's also staggeringly light; just 294g which makes it really easy to hold one-handed. 


Samsung is yet to change its familiar design so the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 looks much like the firm's other tablets. It takes some style advice from the Galaxy S5 with the dimpled rear cover and set of three off-screen buttons – one of which, as usual is physical.

Those two odd looking circles on the rear cover (see below) are for attaching a case – Samsung has gone for this method instead of magnets or a simple clip over. The Samsung Book Cover will be available in different colours and, although it's a little tricky to use, won't come off easily. It protects the screen during travel and also allows you to tilt the tablet into four different viewing positions.


Samsung touting viewing as the headline features of the Galaxy Tab S range and as such, the 8.4in has the same resolution as the 10in model. A whopping 2560 x 1600 ((WQVGA) on an 8.4in screen means an impressively high pixel density of 350ppi making it the highest we've seen. As you might expect, the display is amazingly crisp and clear. Samsung says the range has the 'world's greatest screen' for a tablet.

Like the larger model, it has a 16:10 aspect ratio which makes it good for watching video content. Samsung has done well to squeeze the display into a product which is barley any bigger than the iPad mini. The device uses Samsung's Super AMOLED technology which does make content look great but, as we've found with other device, can be a bit in your face and unnatural.


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 refreshing to see stereo speakers - although they are side mounted rather than forward facing.

Although you'll have to pay more for the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 compared to its rivals, you do get technology which you'll struggle to find elsewhere. Samsung has borrowed the IR blaster and fingerprint scanner from the Galaxy S5 (but not the heart rate monitor if you care).


Storage is a fairly standard 16- or 32GB internally and Samsung, as usual, offers a microSD card slot which can accept up to 128GB cards. There's a very healthy 3GB of RAM which is partnered by Samsung's own Exynos 5 Octa processor - it has four 1.9GHz cores and four 1.3GHz cores. Some markets will get a model with a quad-core Snapdragon 800 chip.

If you want mobile internet, a 4G LTE model will be available for roughly an extra £100. This device doesn't have NFC but does have other wireless tech which you'd expect from a decent tablet including 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS.


Photographers will be pleased to hear that the the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 has an 8Mp rear facing camera with an LED flash and a 2.1Mp front facing camera. Above is a test shot from our hands-on time with the device.

The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is running up-to-date software so it has Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Samsung's latest TouchWiz interface pre-installed. The interface mirrors that of the Galaxy S5 with the firm's own icons, widgets and drop down notification bar etc.


New additions include Papergarden, Samsung's latest digital magazine service, and Kick – a football app which provides in-depth data and stats on players and teams. It also features the latest scores and information while games are in progress. It's a shame that the tablet won't be on sale until half way through the World Cup then.  

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