Performance and Battery Life

Inside the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is a Samsung Exynos 7 Octa 5433 SoC, which is the very same octa-core processor seen in the Exynos Galaxy Note 4. This means we're looking at a 1.9 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A57 CPU paired with a 1.3 GHz quad-core Cortex-A53, as well as a Mali-T760MP6 GPU at 700 MHz, and a 64-bit LPDDR3 memory controller supporting 13.2 GB/s of bandwidth connected to 3 GB of RAM.

If you want to learn more about the Exynos 5433, I've already covered it in detail in my review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 last year.

The Tab S2 also comes with either 32 or 64 GB of internal storage, plus a microSD card slot that can handle up to 128 GB cards. It's great to see expandable storage in the Tab S2 after Samsung killed this feature in the Note 5 and Galaxy S6. There's also Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac support, Bluetooth 4.1, and LTE+GPS in the 4G model.

The use of Samsung's Exynos 5433 rather than the newer and more powerful Exynos 7420 (seen in the Galaxy S6 and Note 5) is disappointing, as there is a sizable performance gap between the 5433 and Apple's A8X used in the iPad Air 2. In our suite of benchmarks, some of which are seen below, the iPad Air 2 is slightly more than twice as fast on average, while Google's Nexus 9 also has a significant lead in GPU performance.

The iPad Air 2's lead isn't a big deal for general OS and app performance, as the Galaxy Tab S2 is still fast at executing basic tasks such as web browsing, loading apps, viewing photos, and editing documents. However, the big letdown comes in GPU performance, where competing tablets dominate the Tab S2 by a considerable margin.

Luckily I didn't find a game that really struggled to run on the Tab S2, although in some games (such as Oddworld and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) I had to turn down the quality settings to achieve playable frame rates. I wouldn't have to turn down settings on a tablet like the Nexus 9, which is why the use of an Exynos 5433 over the 7420 is disappointing.

However the Tab S2 is slightly faster than the original iPad Air, and in general the tablet is 55% faster than its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S.

As for battery life, the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7, with its 5,870 mAh battery, delivers average results. The battery capacity itself isn't particularly large, which is to be expected considering the size of the tablet, and when paired with a reasonably power hungry SoC and display, it can't match some of the better tablets out there in regards to battery life.

That said, even though battery life falls below expectation, I never really found it to be an issue in general usage. The one thing I'd love to see improved is standby battery life above all, as that would allow the tablet to last longer away from a charger without being used, which is a typical use case for a tablet.