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

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

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7in review: Performance

The internals of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7in are identical to its 8in sibling, the cunningly titled Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8in, so it should be no surprise that the two perform nigh-on identically in benchmarks.

For example, it scored 1,268 in the single-core Geekbench 3 test and 4,295 in the multi-core test – within a percent or two of its brother. While that put the Tab S2 8in in the upper echelons of compact tablets, it’s a more mixed result in relation to larger rivals. The iPad Air 2 scored 1,683 (33% faster) and 4,078 (5% slower), for example.

Its gaming benchmark scores were less impressive. I put it through its paces in GFXBench 3.1 and found it stumbled compared to the best, typically rendering half the frames per second of the iPad Air 2 or the Google Nexus 9.

But, frankly, you can get lost in benchmarks. What really matters is that this is a fast performer in all the areas that matter. It’s still more than capable of handling demanding games such as Hearthstone, and should power through the internet, most games and whatever else you throw at it for years to come.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7in review: Battery life

I was at first a little fearful to see that Samsung had opted for a 5,870mAh battery, significantly smaller than the Apple iPad Air 2’s 7,340mAh. In practice, though, it delivers: it lasted 12hrs 9mins in our video-rundown test, an hour and a half longer than the iPad Air 2. (Note: we’ve changed the brightness that the battery test is now run at, so results in other reviews may not be directly comparable – however, we did retest the iPad Air 2.)

This is credit to the power-efficiency of the processor, which will switch to the lower-power 1.3GHz cores when it can afford to. If you’re playing games, then expect much worse stamina. Likewise, pumping the screen up to full brightness will drag life down. Note our tests are run at 170cd/m²: this screen goes all the way up to 359cd/m².

I was also pleased to see little drop-off overnight. Traditionally a strength of iPads, the Tab S2 9.7in lasted a full week of light use between charges, with less than 1% lost while I was sleeping each night.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7in review: Value for money

Samsung initially suggested that the 32GB version of the Tab S2 9.7in was going to sell for £399, the same as the iPad Air 2, so it’s interesting to see that the price has already dropped to £280 in a number of shops. At the same time, we’re seeing the Google Nexus 9 drop to sub-£200 levels. Right now, Argos is selling it for precisely £199.99.

However, I’d still say the 9.7in has the edge on value for money. It feels and looks significantly superior, there’s 32GB of storage to the Nexus 9’s 16GB, and the screen is that much bigger and better. If you can buy the Tab S2 9.7in for £280, the word bargain creeps into mind.

That’s especially true when you consider you can add up to 128GB more storage via the microSD slot, so opting for the 32GB model now won’t be a decision you later regret.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7in review: Verdict

The Tab S2 9.7in isn’t a perfect tablet: gaming performance could be better, while a lack of accessories compared to the iPad 2 Air holds it back. (Come on Samsung UK, make that keyboard cheaper!)

However, Samsung hasn’t compromised on the areas that matter. As I did right at the start, I’ll come back to that screen and the build quality. Factor in the price, and the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 becomes Alphr’s top choice for larger Android tablets. 

Fancy something smaller? Read our review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8in.

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