We like tablets as much as the next person, which in the Stuff offices is a pretty sure way of saying that we’re sometimes overly fond of them. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab range has always impressed us as being very functional, easy to use and this year’s model, in the form of the Galaxy Tab 4 10.1-inch 3G release, hasn’t changed that impression much. There are some caveats though.
Samsung have done themselves a disservice by also making the Galaxy Tab S, their premium range, available and the old Galaxy Tab can’t hold a candle to the excellent hardware and displays that their new lineup possesses. In fact the only place where the stalwart can really compete is in the price, though little has changed otherwise. The competition has just gotten rougher.
If you’ve handled last year’s Galaxy Tab 3, you’ve already got the idea of what the Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 looks and feels like. Not much has changed, it’s a teensy bit larger than last year’s model but that’s about it.
The display still dominates the front, bordered by a thick bezel and topped with the Samsung logo and the front-facing camera. The bottom of the screen has the single button and soft-touch keys on either side. The rear is almost completely flat, with a slight protrusion where the rear camera lives. As usual, the back panel is textured plastic. Pretty standard so far.
Chipset/CPU: Qualcomm APQ8026 1.2GHz quad-core (1.5GB RAM)
Storage: 16GB, up to 64GB external
Camera: 3.15MP (2,048 x 1.536)/1.3MP (front)
Connectivity: LTE (T535 model only), WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Battery: 6,800mAh Li-Po
Operating System: Android 4.4.2
SIM Card: Micro-SIM (Unavailable on the T530 model)
Dimensions: 243.4mm x 176.4 x 8
Displaying Its Colours
The display is a disappointment, being a 1,280 x 800 screen that, at 10.1-inches doesn’t show to its best advantage. Especially when you consider that Samsung have given the Tab S a huge 2,560 x 1,600 Super AMOLED panel, the Tab 4’s screen looks positively dated by comparison. Even so, the screen res is almost forgivable on the smaller Galaxy Tab 4 models but here it just isn’t enough. The resolution is the only cause for complaint however, the interface (Android 4.4) and media on the tablet are bright and colourful when they need to be.
Performance is another area that could definitely be better. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by other high-spec hardware but the 1.2GHz quad-core and 1.5GB of RAM to be found here just don’t seem to be fast enough. The effect is noticeable, with frame-rate drops when using some apps and slightly longer load times than we’d like.
That isn’t going to ruin your day though, if you’re going to be using this as an intermittent gaming device or a media streamer you’ll still be able to do everything that you’d like to. It may just take a little longer to start up. At least with the 3G data connection you’ll be able to access your streams on the road, should your data package be comprehensive enough to allow for it.
We haven’t mentioned the Galaxy Tab 4’s camera up until this point but that’s because just about everyone has a better camera in their smartphone. The 3.15MP rear camera just isn’t going to cut it compare to an 8MP or even 5MP shooter in the average mid-tier smartphone, though the front-facer is decent enough for video chat.
There are two highlights in the Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 though. The first is the TouchWiz UI, which we normally can’t stand. Nothing personal Samsung but you guys haven’t done previous Android skins all that well. Pre-installed apps are mostly Google-related this time around and Samsung doesn’t seem to be forcing anything on us this time around – we’re going to count that as a win. It’s also a simple interface without going so far as to assume that you’ve never touched a touchscreen before.
And then there’s the battery life, courtesy of the 6,800mAh battery. It’ll last most of a day under heavy use and since most tablets are only used in short bursts… you probably see where we’re going with this. The Galaxy Tab 4 will endure a couch-marathon of several hours of video, web or app usage before needing to spend time in the corner with a charging cable stuck up its… nevermind.
Samsung have not pushed the limits of the Galaxy Tab range in the Tab 4 10.1, opting instead to make the Galaxy Tab S lineup the have-to-have for those looking for a high-end tablet. But if you’re after light usage and middle-of-the-road specs without worrying too much about watching video in true HD, the Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 will get the job done. Just don’t expect anything impressive, beyond the battery life.