Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8 review: Samsung’s iPad mini 4 rival really is gorgeous, both inside & out

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 models are the successors to last year’s original Galaxy Tab S range, which featured the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and the Galaxy Tab S 10.5. We thought they were the firm’s best ever tablets, so we had been looking forward to the arrival of the second generation. We’re pleased to say that they don’t disappoint. Read on for our review of the Galaxy Tab S2 8.

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 models became available to buy in the UK on 4 September to coincide with the release of the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ (that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?).

The Galaxy Tab S2 will cost you £319/$479 from Samsung. That positions it at the top of the tablet market, alongside the £319/$479 iPad mini 4, and we think it deserves that price tag thanks to its gorgeous, slim design and top specs. Its predecessor was £329/$494.

DESIGN & BUILD

There are two sizes of the Galaxy Tab S2 available, in a similar move to Apple’s iPad range. Here, we’re talking about the smaller 8in model, but there’s also a 9.7in model available. If you’re an Apple fan, those sizes might sound familiar, as the iPad mini is 7.9in and the iPad Air is 9.7in.

We’ll talk a bit more about the screen in a moment, but first let’s explore the design and build of the Galaxy Tab S2 8, which is a delight to hold and certainly felt on par with the iPad mini in terms of quality and comfort. It’s an incredible 5.6mm thick, and weighs just 265g, which is a whole millimetre thinner than its predecessor, and also thinner than the 6.1mm iPad mini 4 and lighter, too (the iPad mini 4 weights 299g). You can really feel the difference.

Our review unit of the Tab S2 8 is black, but we’ve also spent some time with the white model, both of which are gorgeous. The back of the tablet is made with plastic, but it manages to look more premium thanks to the metal edges and completely glass front.

DISPLAY

There are two sizes of the Galaxy Tab S2 available, in a similar move to Apple’s iPad range. Here, we’re talking about the smaller 8in model, but there’s also a 9.7in model available. If you’re an Apple fan, those sizes might sound familiar, as the iPad mini is 7.9in and the iPad Air is 9.7in.

We’ll talk a bit more about the screen in a moment, but first let’s explore the design and build of the Galaxy Tab S2 8, which is a delight to hold and certainly felt on par with the iPad mini in terms of quality and comfort. It’s an incredible 5.6mm thick, and weighs just 265g, which is a whole millimetre thinner than its predecessor, and also thinner than the 6.1mm iPad mini 4 and lighter, too (the iPad mini 4 weights 299g). You can really feel the difference.

Our review unit of the Tab S2 8 is black, but we’ve also spent some time with the white model, both of which are gorgeous. The back of the tablet is made with plastic, but it manages to look more premium thanks to the metal edges and completely glass front.

NEW FEATURES & SPECS

Inside the Galaxy Tab S2 8 is an Exynos 5433 Octa-core processor and Mali T760MP6 for graphics, as well as 3GB RAM, which makes for a smooth and speedy little tablet. We didn’t experience any lag, even when playing graphics-intensive games and switching between apps.

In our benchmark tests, the Galaxy Tab S2 managed some impressive results as expected, scoring a whopping 4305 in the Geekbench 3 processor test and therefore blowing the iPad mini 4’s 3101 out of the water, coming much closer to the 4523 scored by the iPad Air 2.

When it comes to graphics, the Galaxy Tab S2 couldn’t quite match the iPad mini 4’s performance but it did come close. It managed 26fps on the T-Rex GFXBench test and 11fps, in the Manhattan test. The iPad mini 4 can manage 37fps in T-Rex and 15fps in Manhattan.

Internal storage is 32GB or 64GB, and there’s a microSD card slot to allow you to add up to 128GB more space, so you won’t be running out of room for more videos, photos or apps any time soon.

When it comes to connectivity, you’ll find 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, GNSS and optional 4G LTE, so essentially all of the connectivity features you’d expect from a flagship tablet these days, which we’re pleased to see.

You’ll also get a fingerprint sensor, which has been improved since the previous generation to match the Galaxy S6 phones, replacing the swipe requirement with a much easier-to-use touch mechanism like Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor found on the latest iPads.

CAMERAS

The cameras on the Galaxy Tab S2 8 are good for a tablet, but not great when you compare them with the cameras you’ll find on flagship smartphones. But we don’t know many people who take lots of photos using their table, so we’re not disappointed. The front-facing camera is 2.1Mp, while the rear-facing camera is 8Mp like the iPad mini 4.

Pictures were a little grainy and shutter speed isn’t great, but you should find the images you’re able to capture satisfactory, and it’s more likely you’ll be using a smartphone or dedicated camera for anything important you want to take a photo of. There are some good modes available, though, including Panorama, HDR, Virtual Shot, Dual Camera and more.

Below are a few example photos taken using the Galaxy Tab S2 8’s rear camera, which we’ve resized to 1200 pixels wide down from 3264 pixels.

 

SOFTWARE

The Tab S2 comes with Android Lollipop 5.0 pre-installed, and we expect to see an Android M update in the near future. As a bonus, you’ll get Microsoft Office and 100GB of OneDrive free for two years with your tablet. Samsung has added some of its own features to the software, including the Pop-Up Window and Smart Manager features.

SPECS

VERDICT

We loved the Galaxy Tab S2 since the very first time we got our hands on it back in August, and upon further investigation and after spending more time with it we just love it even more. It’s a tablet well worth considering if you’ve been thinking about buying the iPad mini 4, as it can contend and sometimes outshine Apple’s tablet when it comes to design and power. It’s almost unbelievably thin and light and that screen is a joy to use. This tablet is about to make its way into the best tablet char, and it won’t come quietly.

(pcadvisor.co.uk)

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