Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7in review: This is now the Android tablet to own

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7in delivers quality in all the areas that matter – it’s the best-value large Android tablet around

Tim Danton
29 Oct 2015
5
Price when reviewed 
280

There are certain things that you’re guaranteed to get with the 9.7in Samsung Galaxy Tab S2. The first is quality. The moment you pick up the Tab S2 you know it’s a premium tablet, with no hint of flex and a stylish, understated design. The second is speed. Inside sits an octa-core processor and 3GB of RAM, which combine to give slick performance in pretty much everything you do. And the third is a magnificent 9.7in display.

Even more impressive is that Samsung delivers all this in a tablet just 5.6mm thick. It’s easy to let a stat like that wash over you, so let me emphasise the point: it means there’s barely 1mm of metal above or below the headphone socket (which sits at the bottom of the device). In a world where we’ve come to expect truly remarkable engineering as a matter of course, it’s – well – truly remarkable.

Naturally, the S2 is light too. At 389g, it’s 10% lighter than the 437g Apple iPad Air 2, and in Alphr’s review of the Air 2, we didn’t exactly criticise it for being heavy. Just as importantly, the Galaxy Tab S2 feels well-balanced in the hand, which is rather important if you’re going to be watching films with it.

Although Samsung’s designers do need to have a bit of a rethink here. When watching video, my right hand’s instinctive position meant my little finger covered one of the speakers while my thumb all too easily brushed the Back button. This isn’t disastrous, but it meant I had to position my hand in a certain way – not something I experienced with the Amazon Fire HD 10.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7in review: Design & software

I described the Tab S2 as understated above, which could be seen as a backhanded compliment. Others might call the gold version on review here a little dull and prefer the white or black version, but it’s certainly the colour I’d opt for. Besides, the sheer fact it’s so slim makes it desirable.

I also initially liked the fact that Samsung is selling a keyboard cover to go with the S2. This cleverly clips into the two depressible buttons fitted into the Tab’s rear. However, in the UK at least, it’s expensive: in the US you can get it direct from Samsung for $150; in the UK, you need to go to a third-party retailer like Mobile Fun, where it costs a cough-inducing £150.

This is a shame, especially when Samsung puts productivity at the forefront of the Tab S2. It pre-loads Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, and that makes absolute sense when you have a large 4:3 screen. This is a machine that, paired with the right keyboard, you can actually do things with.

As ever, Samsung can’t help but add its own TouchWiz software layer over Android 5.0.2 (Lollipop), but the end result is easy to get to grips with. I still prefer vanilla Android, but TouchWiz in this guise isn’t overly invasive.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7in review: Screen quality

I’ve already nailed my feelings to the mast regarding the Tab S2’s screen: it’s one of the best out there. Let me qualify that to an extent, though, because in its default setting (Adaptive display) some people might find its eye-popping, vibrant colours a little bit too eye-popping. Naturalists will prefer the Basic mode, but, to my eyes, it turns everything a little drab.

To get the best accuracy, though, you should switch to Basic. In this mode, it covered 100% of the Adobe sRGB gamut in our tests, and as it uses Super AMOLED technology, contrast is perfect. Naturally, it’s darned crisp too: that’s what happens when you pack 2,048 x 1,536 pixels into a 9.7in screen. That resolution translates into 264ppi – exactly the same as the iPad Air 2.

In short, this is a great screen. Move along.

Price when reviewed 
280inc VAT

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