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Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 review

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Galaxy Tab S2
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Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Powerful processor
  • Great display
  • Decent battery

Cons

  • Touchwiz skin still not great
  • Runs old version of Android

Best Deals for Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

  • amazon
  • ebay

Key Features

  • Android 5.0.2 operating system
  • 8-inch 2048x1536, Super Amoled touchscreen
  • Octa-core processor
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £319.00

The Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is Samsung’s latest flagship mini-tablet. It targets the same segment of the market as Apple’s new iPad Mini 4.

Packed with custom Samsung technologies and a new, refreshingly slick design, the Galaxy Tab S2 is one of the best Android tablets on the market. But its use of Samsung’s TouchWiz skin will delay how fast it will be updated to Android Marshmallow.

Related: Everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

Galaxy Tab S2

Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 – Design

Traditionally, Samsung has always struggled to compete with Apple in the design arena. However, in 2014 this all changed when Samsung unveiled its flagship Galaxy S6 smartphone.

The handset features a stellar design of metal and Gorilla Glass, and made past Samsung devices look like cheap, plastic toys. Thankfully, with the release of the Galaxy Tab S2, Samsung’s continued its design push and created one of its best-looking tablets to date.

The tablet has metal sides, a matte-finish plastic rear and Gorilla Glass front. While the back is plastic, it feels significantly sturdier and top-end than past Samsung tablets. This is in part due to its slightly rubberised finish, which helps it ward of scratches.

During an accidental drop-test onto a carpeted floor, the Galaxy Tab S2 proved it's well built. It survived the experience scratch-, chip- and crack-free.

Measuring in at 135 x 199 x 5.6mm and weighing 265g (Wi-Fi-only), the tablet is comfortable to hold and small and light enough to be carried around in a satche.

Security-conscious buyers will be pleased to learn that the Galaxy Tab S2 features a custom fingerprint scanner. It's built into the tablet’s front-facing physical home button. It offers the same functionality as the scanner seen on Samsung’s top-end Galaxy smartphones, and enables users to set the tablet to unlock, or approve specific actions, only after its holder has proven their identity.

I found that the scanner is reasonably accurate and successfully read my thumbprint 99% of the time. However, its accuracy dropped significantly when my thumb was even moderately wet, or moist. Coming in after a run, the tablet constantly struggled to recognise me.

I also found that after one failed scan, the sensor would go a little haywire and refuse to recognise any subsequent attempts – until I put it back to sleep and re-woke it.

Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 – Display

The Galaxy Tab S2’s 8in 2,048 x 1,536, 320 ppi, Super AMOLED touchscreen is one of its biggest selling points.

I’ve always been big fan of Samsung smartphone and tablets’ screens, feeling their use of Super AMOLED technology puts them a cut above many competing devices.

The technology offers all the benefits of normal AMOLED screens, which are able to display deeper and richer blacks by electrically charging individual pixels to generate colours. This means they can create blacks simply by halting the charge of pixels. The deeper blacks in turn make colours pop and improve the screen’s overall performance.

Related: Best tablets 2015

Galaxy Tab S2

As an added perk Super AMOLED displays also reduce the screen's power consumption. By integrating the capacitive touchscreen layer directly into the display, instead of overlaying it on top, they remove the need for the phone to charge two components at once.

Testing the tech on the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0, my positive experience with the technology remained true. The Galaxy Tab S2’s screen features great brightness levels and uniformly deep and consistent blacks. Colours, while slightly overcooked, are also acceptable. Viewing angles are excellent.

My only slight disappointment with the Galaxy Tab S2’s screen stems from its use of Samsung’s hit-and-miss Adaptive Display tech.

Adaptive Display technology aims to let the Galaxy Tab S2 automatically optimise the tablet’s display to perform better in specific lighting, or when displaying certain types of content. While this sounds great, its attempts at optimisation are hit and miss. During my tests, the feature did little more than needlessly adjust the screen’s RGB level and brightness.

You can turn of Adaptive Display, but to do so will involve having to pick one of the Galaxy Tab S2’s AMOLED Cinema, AMOLDED Photo, Basic or Reading presets – all of which don’t look great and make detrimental changes to the tablet’s out-of-the-box calibration.

Best Deals for Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

  • amazon
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Laurence

August 13, 2015, 8:19 pm

Samsung, I don't understand you this year. Why offer a 32GB or 64GB version of a tablet with a Micro SD slot? Just sell a 32GB or even 16GB like the original Tab S and let people buy a card. I see they've also taken the flash off the camera, why? This was a good feature not found on any iPad. And don't even get me started on reducing the battery capacity, seems to be a ridiculous thing to do.
If you want to try snd compete against the iPad, offer something different, don't just copy exactly the same formula and hope people choose your device, give them a reason to choose your device.
Rant over.

mark choletti

August 13, 2015, 8:58 pm

Far more interesting than the endless smartphones being released. Unfortunately for the consumer, no doubt the S2 will be one of the higher midrange tablets with a high-end price.

Dead Words

August 14, 2015, 2:58 am

I should probably just by a Tab S 8.4 then. I mean, this tablet brings some good improvements, but it just doesn't look like the high end tablet Samsung wants it to be, and the lack of Samsung's top processor is a little more than disappointing.
It's a rather high end mid-range tablet that'll be sold for far too much, I fear.

iFrank

August 14, 2015, 3:20 am

So they want to make a better iPad than Apple.

I just cancelled a Tab A 9.7 and bought a Note 10.1 from eBay.
That'll learn 'em!

LeeTronix

August 14, 2015, 12:06 pm

I am at a loss with Samsung (full stop).

Artur Godlewski

August 14, 2015, 1:53 pm

Well, I guess Samsung gained the market share and now wants to maximise its profit margins, by cutting - or not improving - all the things that iPads lack and apparently market doesn't care, e.g. the camera flash, proper front-facing stereo speakers, additional UI/OS features (missing in S2 compared to their flagship phones).

Regarding the SD slot, I think you can't install certain (most?) apps on there, so while it's good for music, movies & pictures, 32GB of main storage is really the minimum nowadays, therefore SD slot is for those who need it. For the last 2 years I managed perfectly fine with 32GB Nexus 7, with a lot - i.e. enough for me - of music & TV shows fitting there. But different people have different needs. Also, I think it's cheaper for customers to buy tablet with 32GB on-board storage + a 32GB SD card, than a tablet with 64GB on-board, isn't it?

Scott Bell

August 14, 2015, 11:44 pm

The whole onboard storage thing is such a racket though, a 64gb chip probably cost 5 bucks at the most. The things should be coming with 512 by now. :/

Stocklone

September 3, 2015, 12:15 pm

I hate that my Tab S 8.4 only has 16GB onboard storage. Why? I'm always micro-managing my apps and their data. Updating to Lollipop took hours because I had to make enough space before it would update. Nobody should offer 16GB onboard storage anymore. If Samsung actually offered a 32GB of the Tab S 8.4, I would've bought it.

Travis Morien

September 5, 2015, 8:26 am

There are plenty of apps that can't properly use an SD card. One of these is MS OneNote. My old LG Gpad (16G onboard) had very few apps running on it, but it was completely filled by about half of my Onenote notebooks from uni, with a bunch of mostly just books and media files rattling around on a 64G SD card.

I have been waiting for Samsung to release a 32G model for just this reason. My whole reason for purchasing this tablet is to put my Onenote notebooks and textbooks on it, with maybe just a couple of other useful apps to round it out.

I agree with the sentiments below. Prices for onboard storage are a bit of a racket. If I can buy good quality 128G SD cards for a few tens of dollars why does an extra 16 or 32G of on board space add a hundred to the price?

Dead Words

October 2, 2015, 8:53 pm

It still seems the Tab S 8.4 or 10.1 are better deals.

mark choletti

October 3, 2015, 3:48 pm

Currently using the 9.7 inch version of this tablet at the moment and it is excellent. No lag, slickness personified and the display is beautiful.

mark choletti

October 3, 2015, 3:50 pm

The S2 is a massive improvement over the S. You would have to be a bit of a wazzock to buy a last generation model.

Dead Words

October 5, 2015, 11:19 am

I'd buy it for the price. I could get it for far cheaper than this and to be frank I'm not impressed by this tablet for the price. Android tablets have stopped impressing me lately.

wowgivemeabreak

October 15, 2015, 2:03 am

If the basic mode for the screen is like the Tab S then it is the most accurate one and should come within 3dE for colour and greyscale. If you find accuracy to look poor then that's your problem.

Richard Evans

November 4, 2015, 12:28 pm

The S2 will be upgraded to Marshmallow (Android 6.0) in the spring. This will add significant life to the already good battery time as well as other 6.0 features.

Seekay

February 23, 2016, 9:52 pm

I have the 9.7 Galaxy Tab S2 and after 3 weeks of ownership think it's a mixed experience.

The good... the multi-window effect is superior to iPad Pro (which I also have) as you can choose where to place the window in screen. The performance is outstanding. Nothing I use is laggy (though I don't play any graphics intensive games).

The display is beautiful. The device is very thin, light & easy to hold anywhere (couch, bed, chair).

I also like the design of the native Samsung built case.

The bad... main gripe is contrary to this article, I get awful battery life. I'm charging it after every 6 hours of use. This is consistent with other reviews. When I compare it to the iPad 2 that is used to use, in it's haydey, that's 4 hrs less.

Compared to the author of this article, I used my tablet more for web browsing, facebook, reading emails, and playing static games like Words with Friends or Scramble.

I'd rather the device be slightly thicker & heavier with a better battery.

Minor gripe: The icons & homepage look very childish as well compared to my Sony Xperia Z3 and the IOS style icons on iPad Pro. Samsung should make them look more polished & professional.

dahduh

May 1, 2016, 7:21 pm

Have been using SM-T710 with the keyboard cover and have to say am loving it; in a week I've switched from 80% on laptop to 80% on tablet. Web browsing performance is excellent, snappy with no delays, and I haven't had to reset since I turned it on. I'm getting about 14 hours constant use out of one charge, with display fully lit - and a display that pops with a resolution as good as print. The tablet is so light and thin you don't feel the weight at all, but it feels solid and sturdy. The MS office apps come loaded, and with the keyboard I am able to both view and edit complex work documents as seamlessly as on a laptop. So even though it doesn't have all the bells and whistles, this tablet is becoming my laptop, without the heat or short battery life.

My only small hardware gripes are the force required to snap the tablet into the keyboard cover, and the fact you can't mount it in portrait mode. Also it would have been nice if the tablet could charge a little faster - my (Samsung S6) phone manages this in about an hour, but the tablet takes about 3 hours. Otherwise and almost science-fiction experience - it would have been 10 years ago.

Dennis Eijs

August 17, 2016, 9:23 am

And the darn tablet seems not to have the possibility to make you SD CARD internal memory under android 6, which is a big no no for Samsung.

Dennis Eijs

August 17, 2016, 9:27 am

But not turning your SD card into internal memory which is one of the big features what I was waiting for, now I have android 6 and samsung twittered me that it is not possible, so basically that greatly diminishes my perception of this device.

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