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Samsung Galaxy Tab A to take on Apple's iPad

Katharine Byrne
14 May 2015
Samsung Galaxy Tab A
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Samsung announces UK release date for its latest Galaxy Tab A tablet, which has a 9.7in screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio

Samsung's Galaxy Tab A is coming to the UK. Available from 21st May, the Galaxy Tab A is the first Samsung tablet to use a 4:3 aspect ratio, giving it the same overall shape as Apple's iPad Air 2. If that wasn't enough, the Galaxy Tab A has a 9.7in screen as well, putting it in direct competition with Apple's top-end tablet.

A 4:3 aspect ratio does have some advantages over the more traditional 16:10 ratio seen on Samsung's previous Galaxy S series tablets, the Tab S 8.4 and Tab S 10.5. While it may not be so good for watching films or videos, we much prefer browsing the web on a 4:3 screen and it's a better shape for reading eBooks and documents.

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To that end, Samsung's throwing in several apps to help users take full advantage of the Tab A's screen, such as Kindle for Samsung, The Economist and 115GB of free OneDrive cloud storage via its Galaxy Gifts portal. That's in addition to a full suite of pre-loaded Microsoft apps, including Office, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Skype.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A

The only minor disappointment is the screen's low resolution, which comes in at just 1,024x768. This gives the Galaxy Tab A a pixel density of 132 pixels-per-inch, which is a long way behind the iPad Air 2's PPI of 264. The Tab A's specs are also slightly underwhelming, as it will be powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor and 1.5GB of RAM (or 2GB depending on the model). It also has just 16GB of storage (which can be expanded up to 128GB via microSD), a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. As for battery life, Samsung says its 6,000mAh battery should last for up to 10 hours. It will also be available in Wi-Fi only and 4G models.

This will no doubt be a bit of a deal-breaker for those hoping for a true Android iPad-killer, but at least it's reasonably light and thin, weighing 456g and measuring 167x242x7.5mm. Still, as you'd expect from a new tablet, the Galaxy Tab A runs Android 5.0. Samsung also says it's redesigned its home screen grid to fit the new aspect ratio, allowing you to see up to five notification cards at any one time. It's also removed some of the tabs at the top of the Contacts page so you can always have your Favourites list in view. You'll be able to transfer files by dragging and dropping them into the My Files app as well. 

Like Samsung's Galaxy Note smartphones, some models of the Galaxy Tab A comes with Samsung's S-Pen stylus, allowing you to draw directly on the screen as well as capture image and extract text from web pages using the pen's Smart Select feature. 

Samsung's hoping its revamped Kids Mode will make the Galaxy Tab A a good family tablet as well. Now supporting up to six individual child user profiles, Kids Mode allows parents to monitor how much time their kids spend on the table as well as the apps and features they use through user-generated activity reports. When Kids Mode is active, children will also have their very own kid-friendly home screen with dedicated apps such as Kids Music, Kids Drawing and Sticker Chart apps taking centre stage. 

Samsung has yet to announce a price for the Galaxy Tab A, but given its US price of $300, we would expect it to cost at least £190, if not more, when it launches later this month. 

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