Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 review

This ultra-light Android tablet is a budget iPad challenger

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 review
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 review

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S2: battery life

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 battery life is also underpowered when compared to contemporaries like the Apple iPad Air 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S that came before it. It's not one of the stand-out features of the tablet.

Its battery capacity is the smallest of the three tablets we just mentioned, at 5,870mAh and 4,000mAh for the 9.7-inch and 8-inch models, respectively. The iPad Air 2 had 7,340mAh, while Samsung's own Galaxy Tab S1 packed in a 7,900mAh battery.

Samsung's 9.7-inch tablet did better than I anticipated in our routine battery life test, thanks to its power-saving "big.LITTLE" CPU configuration. But it could've lasted even longer.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Running a 90-minute HD video loop at full brightness knocked the battery life from 100% down to by to 84% – that actually beat the Nexus 9 and iPad Air 2 we tested in 2015, and tied with the =Dell Venue 8 7000.

Beating the Galaxy Tab S2 was the Samsung tablet that came before it, the Galaxy Tab S1 – that particular slate saw a decline to 87% from a full charge during the same 90 minutes of HD video.

I still felt like the newer tablet could've lasted longer in day-to-day use outside of our battery life test, and the better battery management options in newer versions of Android could help here.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Google's Marshmallow Android update, for example, had a special Doze mode that retained more battery life when devices are in a sleep state. This is something Apple's iPad line does well, and is almost certainly why I feel like the iPad Air 2's real-life longevity is closer to the Tab S2 battery life than our lab tests show.

I expected more from the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 when it came to charging, too. It takes about four hours to fully juice up, and there's no fast-charging capability here. Wireless charging is also absent, putting it behind some of the more modern devices of today.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2: camera

You're not going to (or shouldn't) use them, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 has two cameras: one on the back that's 8 megapixels (MP) and one on the front that's 2.1MP to cover video conferencing and selfies.

The 8MP camera is okay with enough light, but can't compare to the cameras inside the Samsung phones of 2015 or later (it didn't inherit the 16MP sensor in the S6 and Note 5). The 2.1MP photos from the front-facing camera look rather noisy and should be avoided at all costs.

The rear camera can shoot 1440p video at 30 frames per second, up from the 1080p video from the Tab S1, but don't look for a 4K video option. Such high-resolution video wasn't ready to be used in Android tablets back in 2015.

Samsung did bring the now-familiar interface of its camera software to the Tab S2 – but while the layout is the same, features like wide selfies, RAW files and YouTube Live are missing.

Matt Swider