One of the Better Choices on the Market

I like the Galaxy Tab S2. It’s the first Android tablet I’ve picked up in a long time that I’ve actually wanted to use for more than an hour, and that’s thanks to software improvements and a pretty decent hardware offering.

Undoubtedly the nicest part of the Galaxy Tab S2 is its slim, lightweight design. Holding the “world’s slimmest tablet” in your hands feels great, and the sub-400 gram weight reduces arm fatigue when holding the 9.7-inch model in one hand. The use of above average materials around the body, including solid metal and a soft-touch plastic, gives the device that premium touch that previous Samsung tablets have lacked.

The switch from a 16:10 aspect ratio display in previous models to 4:3 in the Galaxy Tab S2 is welcome, as it improves the experience while browsing the web and using apps. The AMOLED panel used on both the 9.7- and 8.0-inch models mimics the LCD used in Apple’s iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 4 in resolution, while the excellent viewing angles and ultra-saturated qualities of this panel can make images and videos look great, even if it’s not particularly accurate.

Although the performance of the Tab S2 is generally pretty good, it’s disappointing that Samsung didn’t use their latest and greatest SoC inside their flagship tablet. Equipped with the Exynos 5433, the Tab S2 matches the two-year-old iPad Air, and falls significantly behind the iPad Air 2. I did appreciate the generous storage options, including microSD expansion, but the performance should ideally be a lot better from a high-end device.

The Tab S2’s software came as a bit of a surprise this time around. Previously I wasn’t very impressed with Android on tablets, but the quality of third-party apps in particular makes the experience a hell of a lot better in 2015. Having high-quality software suites such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Lightroom, as well as a great collection of games, makes devices like the Tab S2 a decent mix between productivity and entertainment.

Where I wasn’t as impressed is with Samsung’s software skin, which is lacklustre and largely just an upscaling of the same skin on the Galaxy S6. Multi-window features are neat, but not as good as similar functionality on Windows, and many apps are very basic in their design. If Samsung wants their Tab S2 to be a true iPad competitor, it needs to up its game in this department.

There’s also a camera on the Galaxy Tab S2, which I haven’t talked about in detail because it’s not particularly useful. It takes 8-megapixel images that can be okay, although indoor performance is generally pretty disappointing, and it’s clearly nowhere near the quality of Samsung’s smartphone cameras.

As for pricing, the Galaxy Tab S2 currently retails for $499 and $399 for the 32GB 9.7- and 8.0-inch variants respectively. This is the same price as the 16 GB iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 4, and to be honest, Apple’s tablet offering sounds more attractive considering its superior software and performance. The 32 GB Nexus 9 is also available for under $400 if you’re after a cheaper Android variant.

So is the Galaxy Tab S2 worth it at its asking price? Probably not, considering the wider field of tablets available today, especially those from Apple. However, if you’re heavily invested in the Android ecosystem, and want a slick tablet that features (mostly) top-end hardware, the Galaxy Tab S2 is one of the better choices on the market today.

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TechSpot
score

Pros: Ultra-sim, lightweight design is undoubtedly very attractive. Android on tablets has improved in the last year. Decent display with an ideal aspect ratio.

Cons: Expensive compared to Apple’s current iPads. Performance and battery life falls behind the best tablets out there.