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Samsung Galaxy Tab S review

If you're after a tablet with an impossibly great screen...this is it

Samsung Galaxy Tab S

Having spent plenty of time with both variations of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S, it has to be said that these are great devices — from the eye-catching screen to the raw power under the hood, Samsung couldn't have done much better with what could be a final attempt to compete with Apple at the top-end of the market.

It's a very good tablet range to consider over Apple's offerings, and with Android Lollipop upgrades, and the smaller version in particular takes the unimpressive new iPad mini 3.

We liked

The exterior design of the Tab S is nothing to write home about but it's thin and it's light and that counts for a lot when it comes to tablets.

It helps the frame get out of the way of the screen, which is the real winner here. It's the best screen I've seen on a tablet and the Retina iPads are the only ones that really come close.

That fabulous display is backed up by plenty of grunt and a battery that ensures you can keep going for a day or two. There's a case to be made that 7-8 inches is the sweet spot for a small tablet, but at least the Tab S offers two choices to buyers.

We disliked

Android still has the air of a square peg in a round hole when it comes to tablets. It's by no means a disaster, and it's improving all the time (with Lollipop set to push that further still), but the OS and its apps don't look as comfortable as they do on smaller 4 and 5-inch screens.

On top of that a lot of the extras that Samsung throws into the mix feel gimmicky and unnecessary, though you can largely avoid them.

The plastic backing and faux-chrome rim will certainly not be to everyone's tastes, but that aside this is a tablet with very few negatives.

The differing portrait and landscape button configurations kept confusing me during testing, but unless you're going to go out and buy them both I'm sure you'll quickly get used to where everything is.

Verdict

Samsung wants to best the iPads with the two Galaxy Tab S devices, and it's come close to doing just that. The screen is even more impressive than Apple's, but the overall design and the feel of the software aren't quite up to par.

Nevertheless, if you're a dedicated Android user then these are the premium end tablets you've been waiting for.

Ultimately it's a whisker away from being a 5-star tablet. I'd like to see small improvements in the camera, the hardware design and the way Android fits to larger screens, but other than that it's a tablet that Samsung can be very, very proud of. Both Samsung and Google will be hoping it sells in numbers that reflect its quality.

First reviewed: July 2014