Samsung Galaxy TabPro S review: Super screen, but it’s no Surface Pro

Price when reviewed

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S: Performance

Powering the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is a dual-core Intel Core m3 CPU, backed up by 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. That’s the same CPU you’ll find within the HP Spectre x2 and entry-level Surface Pro 4, so we’re on a reasonably level playing field here.

What this translates to in terms of day-to-day performance is a hybrid that will cope fine with word processing, web browsing and media consumption, but which might struggle to keep up with anything more complex. Although this is a Windows system, intensive gaming is pretty much out, given that Intel’s HD Graphics 515 chip isn’t the most powerful around.

In our demanding image, video and multitasking benchmark tests, the TabPro S gained an overall score of 32. That’s ahead of the HP Spectre x2, which only achieved 23, but some way behind the Core i5 Surface Pro 4 reviewed earlier, which scored 44.

You might have thought the AMOLED screen would cause a dip in battery life, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S lasted a thoroughly respectable 6hrs 53mins before shutting down and requiring a recharge. With screen brightness set to 170cd/m2 to ensure parity, the TabPro S lasted a whole hour longer than the Spectre x2, although it lagged an hour behind the Surface Pro 4.[gallery:2]

One final positive and negative about the battery: the Galaxy TabPro is powered by a USB Type-C charging cable. The plus side of this is that the whole thing charges from flat to full in a mere two-and-a-half hours. The negative is that this kind of cable still isn’t commonplace, and Samsung hasn’t thrown any kind of adapter in the box.

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S: Keyboard cover

Another negative comes in the form of the keyboard cover, which despite the huge bonus of being included in the box, is far from the best I’ve used. Samsung has managed to get full-sized keys in place (including a full compliment of F-keys), but with virtually no space between them, typos are frequent, and the whole thing feels a little claustrophobic.

The trackpad isn’t much better. I’m still yet to use a trackpad as good as an Apple MacBook’s on a Windows laptop, and this one changes nothing. It feels smooth under the finger, but its heavy, mechanical click and tiny dimensions mean accidental clicks, drags and moves are a frequent and irritating occurrence.[gallery:1]

The case isn’t as adaptable as its HP or Microsoft rivals, with only two typing positions on offer: an upright position for on-desk use, and a more shallow angle for when you want to work on your lap. The TabPro S’ quality and broad viewing angles ensure this isn’t a deal-breaker, though.

The worst thing about the design of the keyboard case, however, is the way it attaches to the rear of the tablet. Fail to clip it on perfectly and you run the risk of the two parting company in a sudden, and potentially catastrophic manner.

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S: Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is a confident first step in the space for Samsung, and it gets a huge amount right, not least the quality of the screen, which is top-class, but also for the fact that it includes a keyboard in the box where its main rivals charge extra.

But that keyboard cover – a critical part in the design of any 2-in-1 device – falls a long way short. Typing the entirety of the review on this has left me really missing a full-sized chunky keyboard.[gallery:8]

As an alternative to the Surface Pro 4 and HP Spectre x2, it’s in a tough place. It’s a better performer than the HP, but it’s much more expensive and doesn’t come with a stylus. It’s slightly cheaper than the equivalent spec of Surface Pro 4 once you factor in the cost of the Surface’s Type Cover, but once you factor in the cost of that stylus, which is included with the Microsoft device, it’s actually a touch pricier.  

Ultimately, your love for the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S will depend a lot on how you plan to use it. The screen quality means that people who use it a lot as a tablet will find it a wonderful companion, but those who do serious word processing would probably be better off with a laptop, or a hybrid with a stronger keyboard. The battle for the best hybrid, then, remains a face-off between Apple and Microsoft.

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