Samsung has announced a new range of tablets – the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and 10.5 – taking the fight to the iPad Air and iPad Mini 2.
They’re already fighting like cat and dog over who has the best smartphone, but with a pair of new flagship tablets Samsung has now set its sights on challenging the all conquering iPad.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.4-inch and 10.5-inch are set up to be direct competitors to the iPad Air and the iPad Mini. Lighter and thinner than their Apple rivals but boasting bigger screens, both run on the latest version of Android and come in a metallic design that is straight from the catwalk.
They also have an octa-core processor and 3GB of Ram, which should make them some of the snappiest tablets available, and 8.1 megapixel rear and 2.1 megapixel front facing cameras. Is this the best Android alternative to the iPad? Find out below.
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The display – Samsung made a big song and dance about these being the first tablets to come with an AMOLED screen. This is the screen technology currently associated with fantastic looking but overpriced TVs. You do get strong colours with AMOLED and films, games and anything else you watch should look as good as, if not better than on your TV.
The display again – Not only do you get AMOLED but both Tab S tablets come with a screen resolution that tops the iPad (2560×1600). Does this matter? In truth the screen quality on these high end tablets is so good you’re unlikely to be able to really tell the difference.
Micro HD – This isn’t exciting but it is important. The Galaxy Tab S tablets are available in 16GB or 32GB memory sizes. A chunk of space will almost certainly be swallowed by the Operating System, but you can cheaply expand this with a micro SD card. A 128GB micro SD card, the largest the Tab S will accept, will set you back around £90.
Light weight – Both tablets offer more screen size than their iPad rivals, while still being thinner and lighter. Especially in the case of the 8.4 inch Tab S, this should make it easier to take the tablet out and about.
Call forwarding and Side Sync – No, people won’t be holding tablets to their faces to take a call, that’d be mad. Call forwarding links phone and tablet so you can answer or decline a call on the tablet while still being able to carry on with your work. The Side Sync app can also be used to drag and drop content from phone to tablet on the tablet screen.
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The AMOLED screens are key. Screen quality is impressive and they don’t need backlighting – unlike LCD screens – so the Galaxy Tab S models can be thinner and lighter – desirable qualities for any mobile device.
Like the Samsung Galaxy S5 phone, these tablets have fingerprint unlocking – you swipe your finger on screen to access your tablet. This didn’t always work for me first time, but you can always revert to using pin code access instead.
More usefully you can have up to eight accounts on the tablet, enough for most families. There’s also a privacy mode, which lets you lock up individual files, photos, videos and music. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of setting up different accounts for people – as I’m sure I wouldn’t – you can simply flip the privacy switch and any files you’ve previously marked as private will not be accessible without the right finger print or pin code.
The ability multitask with two windows open at once – as we’ve seen on previous Samsung tablets – remains a bonus over iPads and the phone linking features could be handy.
It’s difficult to make a huge leap forward in the tablet market now, but there are some thoughtful design tweaks that give the Tab S models appeal. They’re due to be available from July, but unfortunately there’s no UK pricing yet – let’s just hope it’s competitive.
Katie Waller – Principal Researcher