Samsung decides two is not enough, releases third tablet – Galaxy Tab S

As if the Galaxy Tab Pro was getting old, Samsung has unveiled yet another ‘new’ flagship tablet. Coming in two sizes, 8.4 inches and 10.5 inches, Samsung is positioning the Tab S as a high-end tablet with an emphasis on entertainment and consumption – not that it would be used for anything else, really.

We say ‘new’, because frankly, we’ve no idea what was wrong with the Tab Pro. The Tab S shares the 2560 x 1600 pixels resolution with the Tab Pro, except it has reverted to Samsung’s familiar Super AMOLED technology from the Super LCD (SLCD) used in the Tab Pro. This puts it at a higher pixel density than the iPad Air for the 8.4″ model, and an approximately equal pixel density for the 10.5″ Tab S variant.

To optimize the viewing experience, Samsung equipped the Tab S with an adaptive display, which will change the white balance of the tablet based on the ambient light. The screen also has less reflectivity in bright sunlight.

According to Samsung, Google, Netflix and Flipboard will be key content providers for the Tab S, meaning that the three will have their services integrated deep into the Tab S user interface. Unfortunately for us here in Singapore, we can forget about having access to the second service.

It features the same plastic textured back that we saw in the Galaxy S5, but the larger size gives it a decent look, of which the same can’t be said for their flagship smartphone. It is quite a grippy surface, and will hide dents better than a metal surface, so it does have its benefits.

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The LTE variants pack a Snapdragon 800 chipset with a 2.3GHz quad-core Krait 400 CPU, while the Wi-Fi version offers Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa chipset with a quad 1.3GHz Cortex-A7 and quad 1.9GHz Cortex-A15. All versions come with 3GB of RAM and 16GB/32GB storage flavors. There’s also a microSD card slot on board, allowing for up to 128GB of additional storage.

At the back, the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and 8.4 feature an 8MP camera with a 2.1MP at the front. In terms of battery size, naturally the 10.5″ boasts a larger, 7900mAh Li-Ion battery, while the 8.4″ features a 4900mAh unit – still respectable for a mid-sized slate.

What is perhaps the only significant (or arguably non-significant) change that the Tab S has brought over the Tab Pro is that it shares the same fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button with the Galaxy S5. Up to eight people can use fingerprints to log into different profiles on the device.

It was a finicky process to use on the Galaxy S5, and was also a huge laggard compared to Apple’s refined TouchID fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5s, up to the point where entering your PIN manually was quicker.

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The Tab S also has an upgraded version of the Magazine Mode that’s common on Samsung tablets. The new Magazine mode has a new widget for a personal timeline, putting your calendar alerts and notifications in one place.

Samsung is emphasizing magazine content on the Galaxy Tab S with its own magazine platform called Papergarden. The company also announced partnerships with Condé Nast, Marvel Comics National Geographic, who both said they would bring titles to Papergarden, complete with interactive features.

Both Tab S tablets are just 6.6mm thin, or 0.26 inch — thinner than the iPad Air. The weight is 465g (16.4 ounces) for the large size and 294g (10.4 ounces) for the smaller design. Both sizes come in white and bronze, and Samsung is offering optional covers as well as a keyboard.

The Tab S includes SideSync, which lets the tablet pair with a Galaxy S 5. Once paired, the tablet can mirror the smartphone’s screen in a smaller virtual window, letting users take calls on the tablet via its speakers and microphone. SideSync can also be used to transfer files or even run apps.

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The tablet also features multi-window, a feature borrowed from Samsung’s Galaxy Note products, and allows the running of two apps on the screen, in different windows, at the same time.

In the U.S., the Samsung Galaxy Tab S will cost $499 for the 10.5-inch version, and $399 for the 8.4-inch.

The Galaxy Tab S is a departure from previous Galaxy Tab tablets, which have been Samsung’s value brand in tablets, with plastic designs and cheap prices. The company’s Galaxy Note line sell at a premium, but emphasize use of an accompanying digital pen, which the Tabs lack.

Here are the full specifications of the Tab S:

  Samsung Galaxy Tab S
Display 8.4/10.5” 2560 x 1600 Super AMOLED display
Camera 8 MP, LED flash
Video Recording 1080p/FHD
Processor 2.3 GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800orSamsung Exynos 5 Octa (quad 1.3GHz Cortex-A7 and quad 1.9GHz Cortex-A15)
GPU Adreno 330
RAM 3 GB
Storage 16 (review unit capacity)/32 GB, micro-SD expandable
Battery 7900 mAh (10.5”) and 4900 mAh (8.4”)
Other IR Blaster, Fingerprint sensor, Magazine UX

What do you think about Samsung’s decision to launch another flagship tablet? Is the Tab S a necessary upgrade for you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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