Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 - Software, Performance and Camera

Score

Sections

Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 – Software

Samsung’s

TouchWiz Android skin has been a constant issue for a couple of

reasons. First, because it delays how quickly Samsung devices can be

upgraded to new versions of Google. Second, because the services and

features they add to the OS are a mixed bag.

My first issue

remains true on the Galaxy Tab S2. Not only is the device running on the

out-of-date Android 5.0.2 version of Lollipop, Samsung also hasn’t provided

a firm date – or even confirmation if – it will be upgraded to the final version of Android M.

Regarding my second

issue, while it’s still far from perfect, I have to tip my hat to

Samsung for the stellar work it’s done over the years to clean up the TouchWiz UI.

Samsung has radically reduced the amount of bloatware

that comes preinstalled on the tablet, and made it so that the majority of the apps it

has added can be uninstalled.

RELATED: Best Cheap Tablets 2015
Galaxy Tab S2
It’s also added a few useful

productivity services and features. The best of these are the Galaxy Tab

S2’s multi-window support, Smart Manager and suite of Microsoft Office

apps.

The multi-window feature lets you display two apps side by

side on the screen at any one time. It’s a godsend in more

situations than you’d first envisage. I regularly used it when taking notes on

the tablet, keeping the web page or document I was reading open on the

top and a Microsoft Word doc beneath it.

Smart Manager is a

cool feature that lets you monitor and control which applications are

using memory or battery power at any one time.

Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 – Performance

On paper, the

Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 seems a fairly powerful device. Samsung has

loaded it with its own octa-core application processor and 3GB of RAM.

Running

our standard suite of benchmarks, the Samsung tablet performed

reasonably well. On Geekbench 3, the tablet ran in with a

multi-core score of 4,206. In AnTuTu it scored 51,815, and on the gaming focused

3DMark it scored 19,306 on the Ice Storm Unlimited test. By comparison,

Google’s Nexus 9 scored 3,562 on Geekbench and 55,548 on AnTuTu.

In real-world use the Galaxy Tab S2 mirrored its benchmark scores and

offered above-average performance. Using the Galaxy Tab S2 as my primary

tablet, I didn’t notice any serious performance issues. Video on Netflix

streamed smoothly, apps opened instantly and never crashed. Demanding

games, such as Shadowrun and Xcom also ran stutter-free.

Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 – Camera

In

the past few years, smartphones have seen more camera-tech innovations than can be counted on one hand. Tablets are yet to

catch up, however.

In general, compared to their smartphone siblings,

tablet cameras have featured middling components and offered average picture

quality.

The Galaxy Tab S2 does little to change this trend,

but by tablet standards it does include reasonably good cameras.

Specifically, the Galaxy Tab S2 features 8-megapixel rear and

2.1-megapixel front cameras.
Galaxy Tab S2Galaxy Tab S2
Images shot in the automatic mode on

the 8-megapixel rear camera in regular light offer reasonable

contrast levels and are suitably sharp for sharing on social media.

Colour balance levels were also rich – although at times, when

capturing photos in mixed-light environments, I found they could begin to

distort and look slightly odd.

In low light the camera struggled to perform, even with its HDR mode activated, and images did begin to pixellate.

The

camera also features the same Pro mode as most top-end Galaxy

smartphones. It offers you manual control for the camera’s white

balance, contrast and ISO settings. While it sounds useful, I was only

able to negligibly improve image quality using it on the Galaxy Tab S2.

Being fair to Samsung, the camera is better than that on most tablets; it just remains significantly behind the units on top-end smartphones.