|Style & Handling|
|Brilliant screen||Plastic build|
|Very powerful||Limited built in storage|
|Good battery life||Fingerprint scanner could be better|
Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is near perfect and our only real complaint is that it suffers from Samsung’s typically plastic-heavy design ethos. Get past that and this is one of the best Android slates money can buy.
There are no shortage of Android tablets on the market or even of Samsung tablets, so it’s increasingly hard to stand out. But with a superb screen, strong battery life and top tier specs the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 certainly makes a strong attempt. So is it worth your money? Read on to find out.
The design of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is one of its weakest features, but that’s not to say it’s bad. Fundamentally it looks a lot like an oversized Galaxy S5. So the build is plastic through and through, the back has a textured design that makes it easy to grip and there’s a faux-metal band running along the edge of the slate.
It feels solidly built but not like a top end device, though at 212.8 x 125.6 x 6.6mm and 298g it’s impressively slim and light, which certainly helps make it seem more premium as well as making it extra portable and comfortable to hold for long periods.
Things get far better when you come to the screen. It has an 8.4 inch 1600 x 2560 Super AMOLED display with a pixel density of 359 pixels per inch. That makes it one of the highest resolution tablets around. Even the iPad mini 2 slips below it with 324 pixels per inch, while the iPad Air and Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet are both way behind it despite being top end devices themselves.
It’s got more than just resolution on its side too, as the Super AMOLED display delivers bright, rich, vivid images which really pop out. Whatever you’re using the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 for, if the screen is on you’ll benefit enormously from its quality.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is one of very few slates with 3GB of RAM and one of even fewer with an octa-core processor. It’s an in-house Samsung Exynos 5 and it has four cores running at 1.9GHz and four at 1.3GHz. It doesn’t use all eight cores at once, instead it uses the higher power four for demanding tasks and the slower four for when less power is needed, in order to conserve battery.
As such while it’s very powerful it’s not quite as powerful as eight cores might lead you to expect. It’s still slick and smooth most of the time, whether web browsing or watching HD videos, however it’s not quite a match for some of its rivals, such as the Xperia Z2 Tablet, when playing games.
There’s also a 4G LTE version of the slate and this of course benefits from blazing fast data speeds even without Wi-Fi, which coupled with the powerful processor makes web browsing and streaming a joy.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 does a solid but unexceptional job when it comes to taking photos. That’s ok in our book as tablets are a long way from being ideal cameras in their very design, but if you do feel an urge to fire off some snaps with its 8 megapixel camera you’ll find the results are comparable to an average 8 megapixel smartphone.
Which is to say they’ll be useable for Facebook and even look ok on the slate’s HD screen, but you won’t want to print them. Round the front there’s a 2.1 megapixel camera and it can also shoot video, though again the results are pretty average. On the plus side it includes an LED flash, which would be normal for a phone but is rare for a tablet.
The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 runs Android 4.4.2, but it’s heavily skinned with both TouchWiz and Samsung’s Magazine UX. TouchWiz is the same as on any recent Samsung smartphone and it operates much like standard Android albeit with a more colourful overlay and a handful of extra options, for example the notifications screen provides access to a wealth of quick settings.
The Magazine UX is newer and it provides essentially a bunch of widgets with at a glance access to your email, calendar and other things. The only problem is that unlike standard Android widgets you can’t get rid of the Magazine UX, so while it’s useful it’s also slightly forced on you.
One more welcome addition is a multi-window feature, which allows you to have two apps or browser windows running side by side, thereby making the most of the extra space a tablet screen affords.
Like most recent high end Samsung devices the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 has a fingerprint scanner and while we can’t lament its inclusion it could have been better implemented. As with the Galaxy S5 you have to swipe your finger across it and it doesn’t always register it, which can lead to several frustrating attempts and not actually save you any time at all, when time saving is presumably the main point. It’s an optional feature so we can’t really hold it against the Tab S, but it’s far less elegant or accurate than Apple’s Touch ID.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 has a 4900 mAh battery which Samsung claims can last for up to ten hours of Wi-Fi internet usage or up to 12 hours of video and we can believe it. With moderately heavy use you should find that there’s still plenty of life spare by the end of the day and it’s not unrealistic to get two days out of the battery.
That’s before you even get on to the Ultra Power Saving Mode, which can keep it going in standby for well over a month.
For memory there’s a choice of 16 or 32GB of built in storage. That’s not bad and it’s comparable to much of the Android competition, but the iPad Air provides more and given that a slate is likely to be heavily used for media it could certainly do with more. On the plus side there is also a microSD card slot and that supports cards of up to 128GB. So invest in a card and storage won’t be a problem anymore.
or connectivity options there’s Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0 and an infrared blaster, so it’s a well-connected slate. Though bear in mind that the 4G version is almost £100 more expensive than the Wi-Fi-only one.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is a hugely impressive device and it surpasses even the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 and the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet for quality. In fact, alongside its larger 10.5 inch sibling it’s arguably the best Android tablet available and with a slightly better build it would easily be a five star device.
As it is it still comes highly recommended. It’s powerful, has one of the best screens around, good battery life and a bunch of extra features such as 4G support and a fingerprint scanner. It’s not cheap, especially for the 4G version, which has an RRP of £399, but it’s well worth the money.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 SpecificationDimensions : 212.8 x 125.6 x 6.6mm Weight: 298 grams Screen size: 8.4” Super AMOLED(1600 x 2560) Screen Resolution: 1600 x 2560 display resolution Pixels Per Inch (PPI) : 359 Processor: 1.9GHz Octa core application processor RAM: 3 GB On-board Memory: 16/32GB (microSD support) Camera: 8MP (rear) 2.1MP (front facing) Operating system: Android 4.2.2 Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE: Yes/ Yes/ Yes Bluetooth / NFC : Yes/ No Battery capacity: 4900mAh Colours: Dazzling White, Titanium Bronze Launch Date: Out Now Price: £399