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Full Review

 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.5 Review Photo 1

Samsung seems on a mission to bring a serious rival to Apple’s iPad and here it tries again with the Galaxy Tab S 10.5. We’ve already put the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 through its paces and have suggested that it’s a worthy alternative to the iPad mini. And now we have tested the 10.5in version to see if it can rival the iPad Air.

First impressions

In a world where devices are generally black or white, Samsung has made the bold choice of bringing out the Galaxy Tab S in a shade that sits between bronze and brown. While white or black are more universally acceptable, and this device doesn’t have the bold, shiny tones of the tablet from the Nokia Lumia stable, it’s nice to see Samsung doing something a bit different.

Mind you we’re not that keen on the bezel that turns out to be plastic – nor the dimpled back with its soft touch – like that on the Galaxy S5 smartphone. It does work a little better on this device though and is preferable to the slippery plastic on other Galaxy Tabs. But we do find it hard to admire the shimmering finish and texture.

One thing we do really like though is the portability of the device. It weighs only 465g and is just 6.6mm thick. This puts it in the same category as the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet – a device we raved about for its lightness and dainty chassis. The Tab S is a device that you can’t help admiring – it’s just a pity about that plastic bronze chassis.

Screen star

The screen is an AMOLED model, measuring 10.5 inches and boasting a resolution of 250x100 – so we had high hopes for it. And we weren’t disappointed. We’d already been impressed by the screen on the smaller model and the larger one offers just as good an experience.

Because the res is the same, which means that you have the same number of pixels over a large space, the density is lower but it’s still 288 per inch, which is more than the iPad Air. It’s a fantastic display – and the only downside is the over-saturation that all of the AMOLED screens from Samsung suffer from. They’re too bold and over the top.

However, that aside, the viewing angles are impressive and the screen is bright enough if you want to view it outdoors, and can be adjusted to be comfortably viewed in a dark bedroom a night.

Samsung has added a nifty trick entitled Smart Stay. This utilises the front-facing snapper to ascertain if you’re looking at the screen. If you look away it will pause your video – likewise if you’re looking at the display it won’t go to sleep or lock. Very clever.

Performance and software

If you’ve ever encountered one of the Galaxy devices before you’ll feel on familiar territory with the Tab S. It runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, overlaid with the TouchWiz user interface from Samsung. This means the home screen, lock screen, notifications panel and most other things look somewhat different.

The Tab’s performance is impressive – under the hood lurks an Exynos 5 Octa processor, which includes two quad-core processors; one of them runs at 1.9GHz, the other at 1.3GHz. This also means that the device does not put too much strain on its 7,900mAh battery, and yet can do the business when it is called on to run 3D games or other demanding apps. The result is that the battery can last a whole weekend, and yet you still get games such as Real Racing 3 firing up speedily and running flawlessly.

It may get you through a good weekend of social media, web browsing and gaming, but the battery does take some time to recharge – expect to charge it most of an afternoon to get a 100% charge.

Multitasking is impressive though – and in fact the Samsung device outruns the iPad Air here by being capable of showing two open apps beside each other concurrently. Swipe left to show all the apps that can be shown in this way, before dragging them onto the screen – then you simply resize using the slider and off you go. Chrome and Maps can be fired up together – but in actual fact we found them a little clunky when used together – the operation was not half as smooth as it is normally. So while multitasking works, don’t expect the same smooth experience you’d get on a computer.

Snappers come in two forms – an 8-megapixel model on the back and a front-facing 2.1mp version. Plus a flash, which is unusual on a tablet. Nevertheless, we suggest you stick to using your smartphone for taking snaps.


One problem Android tablets always suffer from is the lack of apps on offer when compared with those available on iOS for the iPad. Android smartphones fare much better, but for tablets the apps are often just not well optimised for bigger screens. This is not Samsung’s fault obviously but it does give the iPad the edge. Hopefully a bit more work from developers will help get the apps out there – as the Galaxy Tab S has a lot going for it otherwise.

Our conclusion

So is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S a decent rival to the iPad Air? Just as its smaller brother takes the title for best small Android tab, then this snatches away the best larger Android tablet title from the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet.

It boasts impressive design and hardware – it’s just a shame about the lack of metal finishes. The display is excellent, although a tad over-saturated, and it is only really let down by the lack of Android tablet apps.

It looks good, is light and slim, with plenty of power, a bright display, impressive battery life and expandable storage. If you’d rather have an Android device than opt for Apple, this is the tablet to choose.



Dimensions : 247.3 x 177.3 x 6.6 mm

Weight: 465 grams

Screen size: 10.5-inch Super AMOLED

Screen Resolution: 2560 x 1600 pixels

Pixels Per Inch (PPI): 288 ppi

Processor: Exynos 5 Octa 5420 (Quad-core 1.9 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7)


On-board Memor: 16/32GB (microSD support up to 128GB)

Camera: 8 megapixel (rear) 2.1 megapixel (front-facing)

Operating system: Android 4.4.2 (KitKat)

Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE: Yes/ Yes/ Yes

Bluetooth / NFC: Yes/ No

Battery capacity: 7900 mAh

Colours: Dazzling White, Titanium Bronze

Launch Date: Out Now

Price: £360 

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