REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5

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Tablets are a very popular personal viewing device for enjoying content at home and when travelling. They even run some great business software too, making them useful when there isn’t the need for the full functionality of a desktop PC or laptop. With the Galaxy Tab S (from £349), Samsung’s flagship Android-powered tablet sets the industry bar higher.

10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE GALAXY TAB S

  1. The Google Android 4.4 (Kitkat) powered Samsung Galaxy Tab S is available in a choice of two screen sizes (10.5- and 8.4-inch) and two colours (“Titanium Bronze” or “Dazzling White”). It also comes in a variety of connectivity options (Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi/LTE) and internal storage options (16- or 32GB). Should more storage be required at a later date, all models include a MicroSD slot that supports cards up to 128GB.
  2. The Galaxy Tab S is a smart looking device that rivals Apple’s popular iPad Air and Sony’s waterproof Xperia Tablet Z2. In fact, it’s a lot more comfortable to hold than the cold finish of the iPad Air’s metal unibody chassis. It has a sleek 6.6mm profile and weighs only 465g (the 8.4-inch model drops to 294g). With its long-lasting 7,900mAh battery and Ultra-Power Saving Mode, the Galaxy Tab S is good for at least a whole working day, which is comparable to flagship tablets from other manufacturers.
  3. Under the hood the Galaxy Tab S is a powerhouse, comprising 3GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera. The Samsung Exynos 5 Octa CPU inside the tablet combines 1.9- and 1.3GHz quad-core processors with the faster taking over from the slower when required at the expense of some battery life. Similar to the Samsung Galaxy S5, the tablet boasts a fingerprint scanner that can replace a PIN code. Patience is required here as the scanning process can be hit and miss.
  4. Samsung’s customised “TouchWiz” interface for Android is bright and lively and packed with all sorts of extra options, screens and apps – including three connectivity modes and two power-saving modes – but stock Android is a more intuitive and less “in your face” experience overall. The wide range of pre-installed apps could be regarded as bloatware, and we’re sure most users will delete to recoup valuable storage space.
  5. The tablet delivers the most advanced mobile display on the market and makes viewing movies, browsing Web sites and playing games a joy. The Super AMOLED display offers a wide range of rich and crisp colors, and its WQXGA (2,560 x 1,600, 16:10) resolution has a remarkable 100,000:1 contrast ratio, which provides deeper and more realistic images by making blacks darker and whites brighter.
  6. The tablet’s Adaptive Display technology helps to produce an excellent visual experience indoors and outdoors by automatically adjusting gamma, saturation and sharpness based on the application being viewed, the colour temperature of the viewing environment and ambient lighting. Pre-set professional modes – AMOLED Cinema and AMOLED Photo – lets you manually adjust the display settings for video and photo content, and there’s also the option to increase touch sensitivity, for when using gloves.
  7. There isn’t a tablet on the market that’s good for taking pictures, and the Galaxy Tab S is unfortunately no different. Images are generally grainy and noisy in all but the most perfect lighting conditions, and video recording is only just about acceptable too, limiting the device to quick snaps for social networks.
  8. SideSync is a handy PC-Mobile solution that enables screens, windows, and data to be shared between a PC and certain Galaxy smartphones (S4/S5/Galaxy Note 3), or between a Galaxy Tab and Galaxy smartphone. For instance, you can make and receive calls directly from your Android phone on the Galaxy Tab S with the Call Forwarding feature via SideSync 3.0.
  9. It’s great to see Google and Samsung taking security seriously with the ‘Multi User Mode’ that enables users to create their own personal optimised profile, accessed using the built-in Fingerprint Scanner. There’s also a specially designed ‘Kids’ Mode’ that restricts access to certain apps (including Google Play Store and in-game advertisements) by providing a colourful and interactive kid-friendly interface.
  10. The Galaxy Tab S is a great looking device, but it’s best advised to protect it with a choice of several matching and practically designed custom accessories from Samsung. The Book Cover (£49.99) is the best choice as it configures to three different display angles to provide the most comfortable position to watch videos, read or type, while a cheaper alternative is the Simple Cover (£29.99) that offers lightweight protection. For heavy email users and content producers, the Bluetooth Keyboard (£89.99) is a slim keyboard designed specifically for the Galaxy Tab S which clasps on for better protection.
SUMMARY
  • Technical powerhouse
  • Gorgeous display
  • Runs latest version of Android
  • Good multi-tasking features
  • MicroSD slot
  • Small on-board storage
  • Side mounted speakers
  • Disappointing camera
  • Fiddly fingerprint scanning
  • Software bloatware