Tablets

Galaxy Tab S2's design and technology blow rivals away

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is thin, sleek, has a sharper screen and a rear plastic panel, where chamfered edges provide a better grip in the palm.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is thin, sleek, has a sharper screen and a rear plastic panel, where chamfered edges provide a better grip in the palm. PHOTO: SAMSUNG

It is not about who did it first, but who does it better.

Samsung might have been the first to launch a 12-inch tablet, but it has been two years since the Galaxy Tab Pro debuted and there has not been a follow-up.

Since then, Apple has launched its new 12-inch iPad Pro.

And with Samsung's new Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, the association with Apple is going to come up again, mainly because the Korean company has decided to skip making its usual 10.1-inch tablet and opted for a 9.7-inch one that has a 4:3 aspect ratio.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $698 (Wi-Fi), $798 (Wi-Fi and 4G+)

    PROCESSOR: Exynos octa-core (1.9 GHz Quad Core + 1.3 GHz Quad Core)

    DISPLAY: 9.7-inch Super Amoled 2,048 x 1,536 pixels (about 264 ppi pixel density)

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 5.0.2 (Lollipop)

    CAMERA: (Rear) 8 MP, (Front) 2.1 MP

    MEMORY: 32GB, expandable microSD up to 128GB

    BATTERY: 5,870 mAh


    RATING

    FEATURES 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

These dimensions have been used by Apple since the very first iPad and it looks like Samsung wants to take a stab at it.

Samsung has done its best in making sure the Tab S2 is technologically superior to the iPad Air 2 in every way.

It is thinner, sleeker and has a sharper screen. There is no denying that this is Samsung's most elegantly designed device at the moment.

There are no outlandish design elements, such as the curved screen on the Galaxy S6 edge, or a build that includes glass and metal. Everything has been streamlined to make the Tab S2 as thin and light as possible - and it is.

Part of the sacrifice in making it weigh less is in the material used. Instead of the aluminium shell, like on the iPad, the Tab S2 has a rear plastic panel where chamfered edges provide a better grip in the palm.

I barely felt its presence in my bag. When I am holding it while lying in bed, it feels like I am flipping a magazine rather than holding an electronic device.

Reading off the screen is a great experience. While you can question many of Samsung's design and hardware choices, the company does screen technology very well.

With the Galaxy Tab S2,movies and photos stand out on the display. Naturally, the 4:3 aspect ration creates thicker black bars during widescreen-formatted video playback.

The octa-core processor keeps the device humming along. As expected of a high-end device, I never ran into issues playing games or watching videos on it. The base model comes with 32GB of memory and there is the handy expandable memory card slot for users to increase storage if they want to.

The Tab S2 also has a fingerprint sensor on the Home button, which works as well as the ones on its phones.

Like on the Galaxy Note 5, the Tab S2 has a split-screen mode, in which you can run two apps simultaneously. So, you can watch a video while surfing the Web or crafting an e-mail. The catch is that app developers have to code their app for this purpose, so not every app can be used this way.

For those looking at a complete package that comes with a cover and keyboard, Samsung has catered for it.

There are two grooves in the rear that are meant for a special wrap-around Book Cover ($98) to be locked in place.

There is also a Book Cover with a Bluetooth keyboard ($228), which can also be folded and made into a prop for the tablet to rest on so that the tablet and keyboard cover can fold open like a laptop.

The keyboard even has a small trackpad for navigating with your thumb if you do not want to tap the screen.

My one complaint is with the battery life. Maybe it is due to the constant pairing with the Bluetooth keyboard, but the battery continued to drain even when the tablet was not in use.

Sherwin Loh

• Verdict: There are not many premium Android tablet makers in the market, and Samsung has outdone itself with the Tab S2.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2016, with the headline 'Tablets Galaxy Tab S2's design and technology blow rivals away'. Print Edition | Subscribe