Samsung took the reins off the Canadian variants of its latest tablet duo, the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Tab S 10.5.
Both devices sport high-resolution 2560×1600 pixel Super AMOLED displays, along with octa-core Exynos processors, 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and 8MP rear cameras — the only differences are screen size, preferred orientation, battery size and, of course, price. The 8.4-inch version weighs 294 grams, sports a 4,900mAh battery and costs $419.99; the 10.5-inch version weighs 465 grams, sports a 7,900mAh battery and costs $519.99.
The tablets are set to take on Apple’s iPad, leaving Samsung’s recently-announced TabPRO series, announced since February, in an ambiguous position. Both the 8.4 and 10.1-inch TabPROs have been discounted significantly at retailers like Best Buy and Future Shop, but it’s clear that the new focus for Samsung, both globally and in Canada, is the Super AMOLED-powered Tab S. In fact, we foresee Samsung dropping the PRO line completely, or selling it in volume directly to enterprise customers.
The Tab S, at 6.6mm thick, is easy to hold in one hand regardless of screen size, but the super wide aspect ratio of the larger slate makes it awkward to use in portrait mode. The 8.4-inch version, on the other hand, finds the right balance between size, weight and functionality, and its high-resolution screen, which is more visible in direct sunlight than any other tablet I’ve used, hits the right mark.
Samsung has added a fingerprint scanner to the front of both devices, and supports up to 10 profiles each registering three prints. The device stores preferences, icon history, browser settings and more per user, making it easy to switch between family members. Business users will also find an improved KNOX container experience.
On the content side, Samsung has partnered with The Globe and Mail, Marvel Comics, Next Issue Canada and Conde Nast to provide free trials of many popular subscription services, as well as legacy deals with companies like Dropbox and Evernote. The Galaxy Gifts bundle is around $1,500 this time, and should be incentive enough for many people to choose this over a competing Android brand. The move is also meant to minimize the overwhelming dearth of tablet-optimized content compared to the iPad, by focusing on, and giving away, the content that is available. It’s a shrewd move, and one that appears to be going over well with consumers.
Smaller touches, like being able to control your phone on the tablet’s screen, appear useful but gimmicky. The success of the tablet will fall on its perceived value to consumers — build quality is still an issue — and how the app ecosystem holds up when compared to its competitors. While superior to Microsoft’s tablet software, Android’s app ecosystem still lags behind iOS, and will continue to regardless of how sharp Samsung makes its screens.
But wow, what a screen.
The Tab S series will be available in Canada on June 27th in white and bronze variants.