|+ Brilliant Screen||- Average battery|
|+ Lots of power||- Weak camera|
|+ Fingerprint scanner||- Plastic back|
"The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is one of the best Android slates available, with a brilliant screen and premium appeal."
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S was one of the best slates Samsung had ever made, with high-end specs and a stunning screen.
Now the company is back with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2. It’s more of the same in a lot of ways but when the original was so good that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
From its slim design to its vibrant screen and new fingerprint scanner there’s a lot to like here, but competition is steeper than ever, so does the Galaxy Tab S2 impress?
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is super slim at just 5.6mm thick. That makes it just about the slimmest slate around, even thinner than the iPad Air 2.
The overall design isn’t quite as premium as Apple’s slate though, as while the frame is metal the back is plastic. That’s a little disappointing as it leaves it looking not quite as premium as it could, but it’s got a soft-touch texture that makes it comfortable to hold and it’s light for its size at just 389g.
There’s a 9.7-inch 1536 x 2048 display on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (though if you’d prefer something more compact there’s also a smaller 8.0-inch version). Sticking with the main 9.7-inch model though you get a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch, which is an exact match for the iPad Air 2, making it competitively sharp.
Better yet it uses Super AMOLED technology, so it’s also bright and vibrant, for one of the best overall tablet displays around.
It’s worth noting that unlike most tablets the Galaxy Tab S2 has a 4:3 aspect ratio. It’s subjective as to whether that’s good or bad, it’s not as great for video as 16:9 would be, but it’s a better fit for browsing the web, checking emails and using most apps.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 has an octa-core Exynos 5433 processor, with four cores clocked at 1.9GHz and four running at 1.3GHz.
There are faster mobile chips but that’s among the fastest you’ll currently find on a tablet and it’s backed up by 3GB of RAM, which affords it seriously slick performance. Whether running a single app, multitasking or pushing it with heavy duty games the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 doesn’t exhibit any lag.
Cameras aren’t really a big deal on tablets to our mind, which is good because the 8 megapixel snapper on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 isn’t special. It will get the job done if you really don’t have anything better to hand, but it struggles when the lighting isn’t great and even in optimal conditions it can’t compete with the snapper on say the Samsung Galaxy S6.
The 2.1 megapixel camera on the front is even more basic, with shots displaying an off-putting amount of noise, but it should just about suffice for basic selfie and video calling needs.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 runs Android Lollipop overlaid with the company’s TouchWiz interface. While this skin has improved over the years it’s still not as clean or intuitive as stock Android and it’s weighed down with quite a lot of bloat that you’re unlikely to use.
For example, Samsung has included its own internet and email apps, even though you’ll probably just use Chrome and Gmail.
The Tab S2 does have a handy split screen mode though, so you can make the most of the large screen by running two apps side by side.
The Tab S2 is also one of very few tablets to have a fingerprint scanner. We expect more Android slates to start including one now Google has baked support into Android Marshmallow, but for the time being scanners on Android tablets are still a rarity, so it’s nice to see here.
There’s a 5870 mAh battery in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, which is pretty small for a tablet of this size and power. Its performance isn’t terrible but if you’re planning a movie marathon on it you might want to plan to be next to a socket too, as after seven or eight hours it might be in need of a charge.
There’s a choice of 32 or 64GB of built in storage and handily there’s also a microSD card slot, so you can boost it with up to 128GB more.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and even 4G and 3G if you shell out extra, but there’s no NFC, so despite the presence of a fingerprint scanner you won’t be able to use Android Pay with it, not that you’re likely to want to on a tablet.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is an impressive attempt at challenging the iPad. Samsung’s tablet is the equal or better of the iPad Air 2 in almost every way, from screen, to performance, to features.
But with an inferior build and battery life it can’t quite take Apple’s tablet crown. It gets close though and is one of the very best Android slates money can buy.
Hopefully next year Samsung will take some inspiration from the design of the Galaxy S6 to improve the build and sacrifice some slimness to fit in a larger battery, but the Tab S3 could be a way off yet, if it comes at all, so for now this is a great choice.
Dimensions (mm): 237.3 x 169 x 5.6
Weight (g): 389.00
Battery capacity (mAh): 5870
Colours: White, Black, Gold
Screen size (inches): 9.7
Resolution: 1536x2048 pixels
Pixels per inch (PPI): 264
Processor: 1.9GHz octa-core
Processor make: Exynos 5433
Internal storage: 32/64GB
Expandable storage up to (GB): 128GB
Camera: 8-megapixel and 2.1-megapixel
Operating System: Android Lollipop
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