Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 Review - What to expect from a premium mini tablet?
Samsung has constantly strived to find a stellar design for all its products and, since the release of their Samsung Galaxy S6 flagship smartphone in 2014, the company seems to have taken a special interest in the development of more and more appealing premium devices. In this particular category of IT products, the most cutthroat segment is that of high end tablets, as only a few prestigious companies have the ability to create trend-setting devices. This is an area of continuous experimentation and great competition, as each manufacturer tries to find the recipe for the ultimate product. For this purpose, the South Korean electronics giant continues its design push and offers us an exquisite, ultra-light and highly powerful Android tablet, namely the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 (SM-T710). Is it the new flagship of the Galaxy Tab series? Read this review to find out:
Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 (SM-T710)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 comes in a compact, bright white cardboard box, that has the Samsung logo on its top side and the device's main features printed on the bottom and sides. Also, on the sides of the package you will find the manufacturer's safety seals.
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The lid comes off quite easily and underneath it you will find the tablet sitting on an inner cardboard tray, on top of everything else. The tablet itself is placed inside a protective polyethylene sleeve, which is great for the device, but not so good for the environment.
Inside, together with your new tablet, you will find all the accessories that come with it: the microUSB charging and data transfer cable , the power charger (with adaptive fast charging capabilities), the micro-SD card eject pin, the headphones (and extra ear buds), the warranty and a Quick Start Guide.
Samsung offers 3 color flavors for its Galaxy Tab S2 8.0: white, black and gold. As you might have noticed from the pictures above, the model we tested is the white variant - a great choice, especially since it is less prone to smudges.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (SM-T710) has an interesting 8.0 inch QXGA Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2048x1536 and a pixel density of 320 ppi. The screen is, of course, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass .
The tablet runs on a octa-core chipset that combines four 64-bit 1.9 Ghz Cortex A57 cores with four 1.3 Ghz Cortex A53 cores in a big.LITTLE configuration, namely the Samsung Exynos 5433. This awesome chipset comes equipped with an integrated Mali T628MP6 GPU, that runs at 700 MHz and supports OpenGL ES 3.0. You will also get 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM memory. In the storage department, it has 32GB of internal storage space, out of which you will be able to use about 25 GB. It is possible to augment the storage space with the help of a microSD card of up to 128GB. The tablet is powered by a non-removable 4000mAh lithium-ion battery.
The flashless main camera has 8 megapixels, autofocus and HDR capabilities, while the front facing camera has a resolution of only 2.1 megapixels.
In terms of connectivity, we can tell you that the Galaxy Tab S2 (SM-T710) includes a microUSB 2.0 port, a Bluetooth 4.1 chip and wireless networking using both the 802.11 a/b/g/n standards and the modern 802.11ac standard. You will be able to connect to both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 has a height of 199 mm (7.82 inches), a width of 135 mm (5.31 inches) and a thickness of only 5.6 mm (0.22 inches). These body dimensions come together with a weight of 265 grams (9.35 ounces).
These are the general hardware specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 (SM-T710), but if you want to find out more detailed information, check this page: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0" 32GB (Wi-Fi).
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is a high-end tablet that builds on the success of the first Tab S series, with a clear set of hardware improvements. It features an impressive octa-core processor (Exynos 5433), 3GB of DDR3 RAM and a vibrant 2048x1536 Super Amoled display.
Using the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 (SM-T710)
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is one of the light est and thinnest tablets available on the market today. The tablet has an elegant design that features metal sides, a matte-finish plastic back and Gorilla Glass on top of its screen. These features accentuate the high-end look and clearly demonstrate that you are handling a premium device. If you are worried about the plastic rear, we can tell you that it is quite sturdy thanks to a rubberised finish, that helps it stay clear of any scratches or chipping.
The rounded corners of the tablet combined with the flat and straight edges succeed in offering a big enough surface to rest your fingers on the sides when using it. It is not the easiest thing to handle with one hand but, nevertheless, it will fit firmly in your grasp and the soft, velvety coating of the rear will make it quite comfortable. To make things even better, the lightweight design of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 makes it great for usage over extended periods of time like when you are reading or playing games. As such, in any of these situations never did our hands and wrists get tired or sore.
As you can see from the image below, the top bezel features the 2.1 MP front facing camera towards the right. Then, towards the center, you will find the light sensor, which uses the ambient light level to adjust screen brightness and contrast.
On the right side of the tablet, typical for Samsung devices, you will find three buttons: the power button and the volume rocker. We really liked their metallic finish and the fact that they are sturdy and highly responsive.
The right edge also houses the microSD card slot. To insert a microSD card, you will have to use a small pin to eject the tray. You could use a thick needle or a paper clip, but, luckily for us Samsung ships a micro-SD card tray eject pin that makes it really easy for users to insert or remove a card.
The bottom edge accommodates a micro-USB connector which will allow you to easily transfer content between the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 and a computer and, of course, to charge it. Next to it you will find the 3.5 mm audio jack for your headphones. Also in this area, neatly placed towards the lower corners of the tablet you will find two medium-sized speakers. These little fellas pack quite a powerful punch as they succeeded in being louder then our laptops. They also offer a well calibrated sound that is clear, solid, three-dimensional.
Since we are talking about sound, we should also mention a thing or two about the headphones shipped with the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0. At a first glance, you will see a pair of regular looking earbuds with rubber tips but, if you take a closer look, they might surprise you. The earbuds themselves have a sturdy body made of solid plastic with a metallic finish towards the tip that gives them a premium feel. The standard tips might not be perfectly shaped for your ears a little, but Samsung foresaw this possible problem and shipped two extra sets of tips of different sizes that will make these earbuds much more comfortable to wear. The sound quality was impressive and they managed to successfully tackle anything we threw at them (from music to games) in a clear and crisp manner. Also, you will get a handy volume rocker on an inline remote.
On the bottom bezel, you will find the two capacitive buttons that allow you to easily access and use any Android-powered device: Back and Recent Apps. These physical buttons worked flawlessly and their backlights are quite nice. In the center, between the above-mentioned buttons, you will discover Samsung's signature Home button. This front-facing physical button also offers a custom fingerprint scanner, that enables users to unlock the tablet or approve specific actions if they prove their identity with the help of their fingertips.
The back cover of the Galaxy Tab S2 contains two metal circles, that you can use to attach Samsung's keyboard cover. Unfortunately, we did not receive this keyboard cover with the tablet and, as such, we can only speculate about its characteristics. Still, we found it important to note that a first party keyboard case exists for this device if you were wondering about this particular detail. As for the rest of the back area, it is a fairly smooth piece of hard plastic apart from the slightly extruding camera stack.
In terms of ergonomics, we can tell you that Samsung took great care in the even distribution of the weight across the tablet. This feature together with the thin edges and the lightweight design give this device a great grip and a comfortable hold. As we stated earlier, you will not feel fatigued after holding it for long periods of time, thus encouraging you to use it more and more. It is effortless to hold it with one hand on the bus, or propped up in bed.
The Galaxy Tab S2 (SM-T710) comes with an 8 inch Super AMOLED display, that has an HD resolution 2048x1536 and a pixel density of 320 ppi. Samsung's constant use of the Super AMOLED technology is related to the fact that these screens are able to display deeper and richer blacks by electrically charging pixels to generate colors. This means that blacks are created by halting the charge of pixels. All in all, for regular users, these improved blacks help in increasing the screen's overall performance and in making colors vibrant and rich. Also, Samsung changed the aspect ratio of this screen in comparison with the first Galaxy Tab S generation, from a 16:9 to a 4:3. This user-generated change means that it is great for reading books and magazines, but when it comes to watching movies and videos you will find that two big black bars will appear at the top and bottom of the screen.
The 4000 mAh battery allowed for an autonomy of 2 or 3 days under normal use scenarios or 8 to 10 hours in heavy duty usage. However, the battery stamina is strongly related to your personal habits and, as such, it differs a lot from user to user. All in all, battery life is good for this tablet, but not outstanding when compared to other similar premium devices.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is an impressively svelte device, that is well balanced and lightweight. Build quality is great thanks to the tough Gorilla Glass front, metallic sides, and a really solid plastic rear. The Super AMOLED screen offers natural and accurate colors, that make images and movies look sharp and vibrant. The new 4:3 aspect ratio makes this tablet really shine when reading or surfing the web. The Galaxy S2 8.0 combines a well-designed body with one of the best screens found on a tablet today.