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Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 main
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £320

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is the best compact Android tablet there is


Processor: Octa-core 1.9GHz + 1.3GHz Samsung Exynos Octa 5433, Screen size: 8in, Screen resolution: 2,048×1,536, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage (free): 32GB (23GB), Wireless data: 4G +£40, Size: 135x199x5.6mm, Weight: 389g, Operating system: Android 5.0.2 

With its latest Android tablets, Samsung has decided the only way to beat its big rival Apple is to meet it head-on in every respect. The Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 has the same size screen, the same screen resolution and is the same price as the iPad Air 2 while this, the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0, has the same size screen, the same screen resolution and is the same price as, you guessed it, the iPad Mini 4.

I liked the 9.7in version of the Galaxy Tab S2, but felt it lost out to its Apple rival in terms of power and had some competition from the not-much-smaller and far cheaper Google Nexus 9. The 8in Galaxy Tab S2, however, is less under threat from Google’s cut-price slate. The inch difference in screen size translates to 30% in terms of tablet area, and the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is 2.4mm thinner and 35g lighter than the Nexus 9, so is much more compact and a different proposition entirely.

Build quality

The tablet feels incredibly thin and light, and is a real pleasure to hold and use. Compared to the 9.7in version, the 8in Galaxy Tab S2 is easier to hold one-handed in portrait mode, and the fact you can more easily stretch your fingertips round the side of the tablet makes your hold feel more secure. Which display size you prefer will be a matter of taste, of course – some in the office much prefer larger tablet screens for watching films – but at least you don’t lose out on any screen resolution by opting for the smaller model.

One striking aspect of Samsung’s new tablets is their excellent build quality. Like its bigger brother, the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 feels tough, with no flex at all in the chassis. By contrast, artefacts appear on the iPad mini 4’s display when you squeeze the back of the tablet on the right-hand side. The Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is slightly thinner than the iPad mini 4, at 5.6mm compared to 6.1mm, but which you prefer to hold will come down to taste; the iPad mini 4’s round edges are potentially more comfortable for your fingers, but the Galaxy Tab S2’s sharper angles make it easier to grip.


In terms of size and resolution, the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0’s display matches its Apple rival. It’s an 8in 2,048×1,536 model with a 4:3 aspect ratio; until recently most Android tablets had 16:9 screens, but squarer 4:3 displays are becoming more popular. Some would argue that 16:9 screens are better for watching films, but I find the 4:3 aspect ratio more agreeable when browsing the web with the tablet in portrait mode.
Galaxy Tab S2 4:3 screen press shot

It’s an excellent screen. Its AMOLED technology means blacks are truly black, as opposed to the almost-black common on LCD panels. This leads to an infinite contrast ratio and punchy images. The display isn’t quite as bright as the iPad mini 4’s LCD screen, with a maximum measured brightness of 346cd/m2 compared to 439cd/m2, but it’s still bright enough to use outdoors. There was little to choose between the tablets’ panels when viewed side by side; the iPad’s screen was slightly cooler, and the warmness of the Samsung tablet’s display made things appear more yellow, but both are equally pleasing to use and showed similar amounts of detail in our test images. 

Performance and battery life

The Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 has the same Samsung Exynos Octa 5433 processor as the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7. This processor has four 1.9GHz cores for the heavy lifting, and four 1.3GHz cores to help save battery when the phone is running less-intensive tasks. As the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 has the same chip as the 9.7in model, I was expecting to see similar performance in our benchmarks, and this was mainly the case. Scores of 1,012 in the Peacekeeper web browser-based benchmark and 4,182 in the multi-core GeekBench test were almost identical, but the smaller tablet was significantly slower in our graphics benchmarks: In the GFXBench offscreen test, I saw 957 from the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 but just 569 from the eight-inch tablet. I suspect this is due to the problems of dissipating heat within the smaller chassis, but this is just speculation. I certainly didn’t have any problems playing Hearthstone on this tablet.

The Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is generally slower than the iPad mini 4, however. Apple’s tablet was slower in the multi-core GeekBench test, with 3,058 compared to 4,182, but faster in the single-core Geekbench benchmark and more than twice as quick in GFXBench Offscreen, with a huge 1,330. The iPad mini 4 was also far faster in the Peacekeeper browser benchmark. Here the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 managed 1,012, but the iPad mini 4 scored a huge 3,064.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 rear view

The Peacekeeper benchmark was particularly illuminating, as it translated into significantly better web browsing performance from Apple’s tablet. Both tablets were beautifully smooth when scrolling around web pages, but the Galaxy Tab S2 would pause occasionally after zooming in, and not respond to a swipe gesture for a heartbeat. The iPad mini 4 had no such problems.

It may be a bit slower, but the Galaxy Tab S2 wipes the floor with Apple’s tablet when it comes to battery life. In our video-playback battery test, the Samsung tablet kept going for 14h 7m, while its Apple rival gave up the ghost after just 10h 43m.


If you’re set on a compact Android tablet, there’s no doubt the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is the best there is. It certainly has a premium price, but it has a great screen and excellent battery life. It wins a Recommended award. However, if you’re not tied to Android, I think the iPad Mini 4 has the edge. Apple’s tablet may have worse battery life, but has similar screen quality and is significantly faster. If you’re looking for something else entirely, our best tablets article can help. Buy Now from Amazon

ProcessorOcta-core 1.9GHz + 1.3GHz Samsung Exynos Octa 5433
Screen size8in
Screen resolution2,048×1,536
Screen typeAMOLED
Front camera2.1 megapixels
Rear camera8 megapixels
Storage (free)32GB (23GB)
Memory card slot (supplied)None
Wireless data4G +£40
Operating systemAndroid 5.0.2
Battery size4,000mAh

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