Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review: Design and build
The Galaxy Tab S models will in two colors: ‘Dazzling White’ and ‘Titanium Bronze’. The former has a white rear cover and front bezel while the latter is grey/silver in those places. Both have a copper/gold colors edge and details like the logos.
Somewhat more interesting than the color is how thin and light this new tablet is. It’s just 6.6mm thick according to Samsung which is thinner than the iPad mini 2 and Nexus 7. For its size, it’s also staggeringly light; just 294g which makes it really easy to hold one-handed.
Samsung is yet to change its familiar design so the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 looks much like the firm’s other tablets. It takes some style advice from the Galaxy S5 with the dimpled rear cover and set of three off-screen buttons – one of which, as usual, is physical.
Those two odd looking circles on the back are for attaching a case – Samsung has gone for this method instead of magnets or a simple clip over. The Samsung Book Cover is available in different colors and, although it’s a little tricky to use, won’t come off easily. It protects the screen during travel and also allows you to tilt the tablet into various different viewing positions.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review: Hardware
Samsung touting viewing as the headline features of the Galaxy Tab S range and as such, the 8.4in has the same resolution as the 10in model and 16:10 aspect ratio. A whopping 2560 x 1600 ((WQVGA) on an 8.4in screen means an impressively high pixel density of 359ppi making it the highest we’ve seen on a tablet. As you might expect, the display is amazingly crisp and clear. Samsung says the range has the ‘world’s greatest screen’ for a tablet.
It’s hard to argue with that although Samsung’s AMOLED technology isn’t to everyone’s taste. The punchy colors can be a little over the top making things look over saturated and in your face so it’s understandable if you would prefer a more natural, laid back display.
Fortunately, you can adjust the screen mode. By default it’s on adaptive display which adjusts the display’s gamma, saturation and sharpness depending on the content, but there’s also AMOLED cinema, AMOLED phot and basic. The latter provides a more muted look and feel.
Since the tablet is all about the viewing experience, it’s refreshing to see stereo speakers – although they are side mounted rather than forward facing. They pack a reasonable punch but quality deteriorates at higher volume levels. Think YouTube videos rather than feature length film use.
Although you’ll have to pay more for the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 compared to its Android-powered rivals, you do get technology which you’ll struggle to find elsewhere. Samsung has borrowed the IR blaster and fingerprint scanner from the Galaxy S5 (but not the heart rate monitor if you care).
It is a little strange, we think, that the IR blaster is on the side of the tablet so you’ll need to turn it round into landscape mode to make use of it which isn’t the device’s natural orientation.
Storage is a fairly standard 16- or 32GB internally (although we can’t find the higher capacity on sale yet) and Samsung, as usual, offers a microSD card slot which can accept up to 128GB cards.
There’s no downgrade when it comes to other internal hardware compared to the 10.5in model. The tablet has a very healthy 3GB of RAM which is partnered by Samsung’s own Exynos 5 Octa-core processor – it has four 1.9GHz cores and four 1.3GHz cores.
With the same core line-up as the larger model, we didn’t need to hold the front page as benchmark results were identical or only a few points off. We recorded 2765 in GeekBench 3, 14fps in the GFXBench T-Rex test, 3fps in the harder Manhattan test and 1089ms in SunSpider.
From a user perspective, the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 provides smooth performance. However, perhaps not quite as good as the spec sheet suggests. We have found, like with the Tab S 10.5, occasional lag – sometimes just switching the screen on, or opening an app. Luckily, these lulls of speed were pretty rare so we can safely say that overall the performance is satisfactory.
As we mentioned earlier, if you want mobile internet, a 4G LTE model is available. This device doesn’t have NFC but does have other wireless tech which you’d expect from a decent tablet including 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS.
Photographers will be pleased to hear that the the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 has an 8Mp rear facing camera with an LED flash and a 2.1Mp front facing camera. Both camera are of decent quality, if you should like taking photos and video from a tablet and you can see a sample below.
Included camera modes are auto, beauty face, shot & more, panorama, HDR and dual camera but you can download more.