Even with random Android tablet sales and customers who lose interest, Samsung has been one of the few OEM manufacturers to consistently upgrade its mid range and premium tablet series. The South Korean manufacturer presented its latest flagship model, the Galaxy Tab S4, in India last month, as a competitor to Apple's iPad Pro.
Galaxy Tab S4 comes with a newly developed S-Pen that has a proprietary tip. A deviation from the previous Galaxy Tab S3 design, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 sports a smoother appearance with less impact, and comes with premium internals. But it costs as much as some professional laptops, so there are many aspects to factor before deciding whether this is the right gadget for you.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 design
With a larger 10.5-inch Super AMOLED panel, Galaxy Tab S4 is only slightly thicker than last year's Galaxy Tab S3, at 7.1mm. It sports the same glass back design as seen on Samsung's entire flagship smartphone lineup. Despite its tablet-shaped proportions, the glass plate is not at all low and the Galaxy Tab S4 can easily be held in one hand. The tablet is not thick enough for a stylus silo, so you must wear it separately if you do not buy the folio case keyboard or any other accessory that can hold it.
While still not in line with the Infinity Display design for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 9, the tablet has less limits compared to the Galaxy Tab S3 (Review). Expected, Samsung has got limits thick for users to stick to them without triggering any unwanted answers to the touch screen with the thumb.
Thanks to these smaller limits, the capacitive Android navigation buttons provide space for the screen. With the Home button and the integrated fingerprint sensor lost, Galaxy Tab S4 is now building on software-based face recognition, Iris scanning and a combination of both (Intelligent Scan) for biometrics. With Samsung's logo also away from the top, the borders look symmetrical from all sides and less distracting which is good.
A metal frame is stuck between the glass plastic front and the back panel of this tablet. It has the same setting with four speakers, two on top and two at the bottom. The stereo sound and the Super AMOLED panel make it an interesting device for watching videos. To the right is the lock / power button and volume buttons, along with a tray containing a Nano SIM slot and a MicroSD slot. At the bottom there is a USB-type C port and a 3.5 mm headphone jack, located very close to each other.
The Galaxy Tab S4, like its predecessor, has almost pure glass reproduction, albeit with a single rear camera and a bundled LED flash. There is a silver Samsung logo and "Tuned by AKG" label on the back, which minimizes appearance.
The building quality is large and the weight is distributed equally. At about 482g, the tablet is easy to hold and easy to carry in a bag. With a symmetrical approach to its design, the content of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 looks good in portrait and landscape mode.
S-Penen has been redesigned for this time. It's smoother, more rounded and feels much more natural to keep in hand compared to the one that comes with the Galaxy Tab S3. A nice little addition is a metal ring with a small protrusion around the center of the S-Pen that prevents rolling on a smooth surface.
In the box, Samsung owns the tablet, the newly developed S-Pen, a USB Type C cable, a quick charger, a barrier tool and the usual five extra stylus nibs. The tablet is available in India in black and gray options, but from now on only the 64GB storage configuration with LTE has entered the Indian market.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 specifications
Painted as a flagship tablet 2018, Samsung Galaxy Tab S4's internals do not match up to that promise. It uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, which is almost two years old now. In addition, the tablet still has only 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory which is frankly quite disappointing. It is especially surprising to see outdated specifications in this tablet given that it was originally launched along with Galaxy Note 9, which has better hardware. Only the LTE model has been launched in India, and you can use all 4G Nano-SIM to call and browse the Internet.
One of the highlights of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is its 10.5-inch Super AMOLED screen, with a resolution of 1600×2560 pixels. The HDR enabled screen is a great way to watch videos on any major platform – YouTube, Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. You can also play your own video files by loading them on the device with the right app.
Other specifications include a humongous 7,300mAh battery, a 13 megapixel auto focus rear camera with LED flash, an 8-megapixel selfie camera, Bluetooth 5 and Wi-Fi 802.11ac with Wi-Fi Direct. The USB Type C port at the bottom supports USB 3.1 Gen 1 speed.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 performance
We tested the HDR-enabled Super AMOLED panel in Galaxy Tab S4, now supported by Netflix. Narcos on Netflix looked good, with crisp colors and excellent overall reproduction. The stereo sound is high and sharp and complements the display. However, users who want to control their bandwidth usage should remember that high-quality video streaming uses more than 2GB per hour. Like AMOLED panels on Samsung smartphones, we had no complaints with brightness, viewing angles or contrast on the Galaxy Tab S4.
The combination of Samsung Experience UI and an older Qualcomm Snapdragon processor does not deliver ideal performance on the Galaxy Tab S4. Basic steps like accessing the Bixby home screen or switching between a pair of heavy apps produced frames are that Samsung may not be too proud. The relatively low amount of RAM was a problem, as apps continued to end completely when we switched between some heavy including Facebook, PenUp and Netflix.
This was also reflected in our benchmarks. The Galaxy Tab S4 made a decent 1.97 851 in AnTuTu, 1 805 in Geekbench's single core and 6 351 in Geekbench's multi-core sample, but only managed to achieve a slight 13fps in GFXBench's intensive Car Chase test.
S-Pen offers interesting opportunities, especially for budding artists and even generally creative people. It always recorded correct actions, and we also liked using it to navigate around the tabletop. While we were initially skeptical that we would accidentally record entry while we rested our palm on the screen while outlining, the tablet did a decent job to prevent it.
Galaxy Tab S4 deviates a physical fingerprint sensor for face and iris scanning. While iPad Pro also went down the road this year, Apple's Face ID is still before the software-based face scan that Samsung offers on its tablet. A combination of face lock and iris scanning, called Intelligent Scan, is helpful, but does little to help in difficult situations and in low light. It almost always required us to keep the tablet in a very specific way that led us to use the screen pattern instead. You really need to focus on the light triggered by the iris scanner, which is a frustrating process that has to go through every time you want to unlock your tablet.
The Galaxy Tab S4 lends the rear camera from its predecessor, and it is still on average the best. Samsung's advanced smartphone cameras have often been spoken by the city, and the Galaxy Tab S4 offers similar color reproduction but lacks clarity on flagship levels. Even low-light shots are, at best, suitable and can not be compared to images taken by most flagship outlets out there. Do not be fooled by how well the images look like on the tablet itself; It's the wonderful Super AMOLED panel at work. Considering that a camcorder's cameras do not even compete in the same category and you rarely would use this device as your primary mobile camera.
Galaxy Tab S4 has an upgraded self-camera that can be useful for video chat. 8-megapixel front camera provides good self-work in daylight or good indoor lighting. Do not expect good quality at night, with the camera blowing out colors and struggling to produce a clear shot. The camera app lends some features from Samsung's smartphones, including Selfie Focus, offering a bokeh effect, AR-based stickers, and wide-angle mode. These features work as they would on any Samsung phone.
The battery life with the tablet was impressive given the significant upgrade to a 7.300mAh device. While it went straight on juice relatively quickly after intense game experiences with Asphalt 9, we were able to sketch and color with S-Pen for hours of stable battery reduction. Standby time was excellent, especially on Wi-Fi networks. We had to charge the tablet approximately once a few days with moderate use involving games, sketches and web surfing. The battery drains faster if you watch a lot of HDR video. The included charger takes about 3 hours and 20 minutes to take the Galaxy Tab S4 from 0 to 100 percent. It lasted 11 hours and 21 minutes in our HD video loop test.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 Software, S-Pen, and Book Cover
Galaxy Tab S4 runs Samsung Experience 9.5 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. The software is just what you should look at Samsung's Galaxy range of smartphones. The major differentiator of this generation is Samsung DeX, the company's attempt to create a PC-like experience on mobile devices. With DeX on Samsung smartphone smartphones, you must connect an external monitor and you can use it with a keyboard and mouse, but in Galaxy Tab S4 you can also use the DeX interface on the tablet itself when connected to Samsung's Book Cover Keyboard.
Samsung sent us the book cover key along with the Galaxy Tab S4, and we found it to be convenient to use. The tablet fits nicely into the grooves provided and the magnets are locked to hold them properly. The keyboard itself is easy to type with the keys have a good amount of trip. The case does not add significant weight to the tablet and works passively without your own battery, so you do not have to worry about charging. There is a silo for S-Pen, which also has a safe fit. The billboard is priced at Rs. 7,499 in India. A cheaper book cover (sans keyboard) can be purchased for Rs. 3999th
The DeX user interface appears automatically when you insert the tablet into the keyboard cabinet, which is magnetically connected, or when connecting an external display with a Type C to HDMI adapter. The gear is otherwise hidden behind a lot of menus in the setting lever.
Samsung DeX looks like a broken hybrid between the Windows 10 desktop and the Samsung Experience UI. It has a fairly simple website with quick shortcuts to larger system apps. The most interesting part is that these apps do not take up the entire screen when it opens, by default, so you can view multiple apps on the same screen. This can be useful to someone who is not in screen format for multitasking, and wants a more traditional desktop-like approach.
We tried basic text editing tools like Microsoft Word and Google Docs with the DeX interface and found that they would be much more comfortable to use. This is because DeX naturally reduces icon and font sizes for a desktop-like experience.
The standard mobile interface of the tablet also offers the standard multitasking feature for the split screen. Supported apps will have a multitasking icon in the Latest Apps menu. Replacing and resizing two apps on split screen is intuitive and you can easily create a shortcut on the home screen that launches a few apps, swap the two programs, minimize one of them and even close them with a single button.
Besides that, the Galaxy Tab S4 software is broadly the same as what we look at Samsung's smartphones, with several custom applications for email, calendar, phone, messages, and even the browser. The SmartThings app allows you to connect to your Samsung Cloud-connected devices. Samsung Flow lets you seamlessly sync with your Samsung smartphone or Gear wearable. A child mode offers family-safe features for young users.
The preinstalled PenUp app is a great way to explore which users worldwide draw or color. In our time with the tablet, PenUp was our most frequent app, with hundreds of designs offered to color or outline. The drawing tool offers a variety of options to choose from – sketch pens, markers, brushes, pens, etc. The level of accuracy is commendable and we almost never managed to handle input that was not intended.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 can be a great buddy for your multimedia and artistic needs. It has a good display, a strong sound driven by AKG, good battery life and a stylish design. It's significantly cheaper than iPad Pro (2018), and comes with a bundle of S-Pen. DeX mode, however, is not entirely up to notebook functionality, and the outdated specifications are still a barrier to intensive use. Galaxy Tab S4, again, is not a smartphone killer or a laptop replacement, but fits pretty nicely between the two categories as a device that only intends to meet your entertainment needs.
You can buy your Galaxy Tab S4 if you are willing to splurge Rs. 57,900.