Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review - now with Android 5.0

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 header
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
320
inc VAT

A stunning screen, but the competition has hotted up since the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 first launched last year

Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 1.9GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Octa (+quad-core 1.3GHz), Screen size: 8.4in, Screen resolution: 2,560x1,600, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage: 16/32GB, Wireless data: 4G (optional), Size: 212.8x125.6x6.6mm, Weight: 294g

With the recent arrival of the Tab S2 8.0in, last year's Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is no longer Samsung's top-end compact tablet. However, Samsung's tiny slate is now cheaper than ever, as it's available to buy for just £270 - a saving of almost £50 over its original launch price. It's also £50 cheaper than the Tab S2 8.0, making it slightly better value than its successor.

The biggest difference between each tablet will be its performance, as the Tab S 8.4 still runs on a old version of Samsung's Exynos 5 chipset compared to the newer Exynos 5433 processor powering the Tab S2 8.0. However, the Tab S 8.4 actually has a higher resolution display than its little brother, and even a year on we can't help but be impressed by the quality of the Tab S 8.4’s display. As soon as you're greeted by the lock screen it becomes immediately apparent the tablet has an incredibly high-resolution panel. With a 2,560x1,600 resolution crammed into an 8.4in display, this equates to a pixel density of 356ppi, which looks incredible and makes it nigh-on impossible to spot any individual dots.

The Super AMOLED display is certainly the Galaxy Tab S 8.4’s crowning feature, eclipsing displays on other similarly-sized tablets such as the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact and Apple iPad Mini 3. AMOLED also provides incredibly rich and vibrant colours, with fantastic contrast and saturation, so much so that our colour calibrator returned a perfect score of 100% coverage across the sRGB colour gamut. The colour saturation was so pronounced, in fact, that it took a while for our eyes to adjust, and after using the Galaxy Tab S for a while other displays looked flat and lacked any visual punch. Blacks were a perfect 0.00cd/m2, too, allowing text to really stand out against white backgrounds. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 front

The one downside of AMOLED displays is that they aren't generally as bright as their LCD counterparts. The Galaxy Tab S 8.4's display, for instance, only reached a peak brightness of 296.92cd/m2 according to our measurements, which is significantly dimmer than the Tesco Hudl2, Nexus 9 and Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact's screens. However, the panel's vibrant colours help to make up for this deficiency, and Samsung’s Adaptive Display setting helps to make sure the display appears at its best by adapting to the ambient light conditions.

The Adaptive Display sensor is more advanced than the auto brightness you typically see with smartphones or tablets as it adjusts gamma, saturation and sharpness rather than just changing brightness levels. We found it worked well, adjusting seamlessly and helping to avoid colour casts, so we opted to leave it turned on. Disappointingly, it only works in specific apps and isn’t universal, so many third-party apps won’t benefit from the feature. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 side

Design

The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 comes in two different colours, but we were particularly taken with our white and champagne gold review model. This makes a pleasant change from the usual white and silver combination we tend to see on other tablets, and it certainly helps maintain a feeling of luxury. The gold might not be to everyone’s taste, but the Galaxy Tab S is also available in Titanium Bronze.

At just 6.6mm thick and weighing 294g, this is Samsung’s thinnest and lightest tablet yet, and it certainly feels svelte in the hand. It has a slightly dimpled, soft-touch polycarbonate back which makes it comfortable to hold and there’s reassuringly no flex in the casing. Still, if you'd rather not take any chances, there are a number of optional protective cases to go with the Galaxy Tab S 8.4, including a keyboard case, which attaches through studs that click directly into the back of the tablet.

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