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Key Features: 10.5-inch 2,560 x 1,600 pixel Super AMOLED screen; 3GB RAM

Manufacturer: Samsung

A Samsung tablet you’ll probably want to own

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is one of two new tablets from Samsung, the other being the Galaxy Tab S 8.4. The key feature of both is a stunning Super AMOLED screen with a Retina-standard resolution, a combination that arguably makes the screens on these tablets the best of any tablet on the market.

That screen, combined with improved design and an excellent overall spec, makes the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 a very promising tablet that will be worth serious consideration when it goes on sale in July.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: Screen

The Galaxy Tab S 10.5’s screen is its obvious standout feature. While the traditional tendency for Super AMOLED screens to oversaturate colours is still evident, I was immensely impressed by the screen on the Galaxy Tab S 10.5.

The key is Super AMOLED’s vastly superior black level and contrast. Samsung says the screen as a 100,000:1 contrast ratio, which is 100x that of typical LCD displays. And this difference is clear to see even to an untrained eye. Blacks are visibly, definably and unequivocally black.

This isn’t the only benefit, of course. While colours look a little overcooked in places, the overall effect is generally positive. Photos, videos and photos look rich and detailed, and colours really pop from the screen.

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This shot shows the LCD of the Tab 2 10.1 and AMOLED Tab S side-by-side. If anything the Galaxy Tab S overemphasises yellows in this shot, but the general impact of the screen is impressive.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 18This is also an incredibly sharp screen. Its 2,560 x 1,600 resolution gives the Galaxy Tab 10.5 287 pixels per inch (ppi), which is as high as it really needs to be on a tablet. The small caveat here is this is a PenTile display, a process that makes AMOLED screens appear slightly less sharp than equivalent LCD screens due to the pattern and arrangement of pixels. You can see the slightly coarse pattern this creates if you like very closely, but it’s not really a problem.

Another feature of the screen is what Samsung calls Adaptive Display, which monitors ambient light and adjusts the white balance to compensate. This feels a bit superfluous, though, as do the Cinema and Photo screen modes—the Super AMOLED screen is good enough on its own not to need such ‘enhancements’.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: Design

Samsung has made some good design choices with the Galaxy Tab S 10.5. It has the same soft-touch ‘dimple’ rear of the Galaxy S5, which works really nicely on a tablet and makes the Tab S 10.5 very pleasant to handle. But it has also added metal. Not fake metal, not faux-leather stitching, honest-to-god real metal.

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The curved, metal edges instantly lend the Galaxy Tab 10.5 a classier look and a comfier feel in the hands than older Samsung tablets. As we’ve come to expect from Samsung, it’s a very thin and light tablet, too, weighing in at just 495g and 6.6mm thick. You can comfortably hold the Galaxy Tab 10.5 in one hand.

I’ve seen quite a few Samsung tablets over the years, and this is the first one with a design I really like. This is progress.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: Specs and Software

After the great screen and impressive design, the specs merely confirm this is a tablet worth serious consideration. Depending on your region, you’ll get either a Samsung Exynos 5 octo-core processor or a 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. There’s 3GB of RAM, a microSD card slot that supports up to 128GB capacity cards, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and options for 16GB and 32GB of built-in storage.

The main camera has an 8.1MP sensor with an LED flash, and there’s a 2.1MP front-facing camera. The battery has a 7,900mAh capacity that's good for an impressive 11 hours of video according to Samsung, and you get Bluetooth 4.0 and an IR-blaster – two features common to pretty much all Samsung tablets.

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There are one or two interesting software features, too. Like most previous Samsung tablets you have the ability to use two apps at once in split-screen, but SideSync 3.0 add the ability to take calls from your phone on your tablet using Wi-Fi Direct. There are places where Samsung’s software feels a little intrusive and cluttered in comparison to pure Android, but most of these can be removed or simply ignored.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: Bluetooth Keyboard

In addition to two different case covers, Samsung has also produced an optional Bluetooth keyboard for the Galaxy Tab S 10.5. It’s not the most accomplished tablet keyboard, though. It’s a nice idea and the keyboard looks nice, but this isn’t a serious typing tool.

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The two covers meanwhile, the Simple Case (screen only) and Book Cover (front and rear), are quite nice, but the mechanism for attaching them is very fiddly. Instead of magnets, Samsung employs two ‘clicker’ points (like a popper on a jacket) to fix them on. They clip on strongly, but getting them on is fussy, so once the cover is on you’re unlikely to ever take it off again.

First Impressions

One or two small niggles aside, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is a very promising tablet. The screen looks great and the refined design feels like a meaningful and long overdue step forward for Samsung. I could live without some of the fussier software features, but overall this is an Android tablet worth waiting for.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 goes on sale in July. The price is still to be confirmed.

Next, read our best tablets round-up

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