When you have a tablet you care about a few things in particular. How good is the display? How light is it? How fast is the WiFi connection? Everything else after that is almost an afterthought and we’ve yet to meet anyone who based their tablet-buying decision on what sort of camera is fitted to the centre of the slate.
So far the reigning king of the tablet world, at the Stuff offices at least, is Apple’s iPad Air and now the Air 2 but Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is a damned good attempt at a coup d’etat aimed at the direction of the iOS-sporting wonder-tab.
The Galaxy Tab S series, and especially the 10.5-inch edition, features dimensions that would make the average smartphone turn in their badge and start over-eating. The Tab S 10.5 measures just 6.6mm at its thickest point, which is something that any smartphone would envy. Most tablets as well, come to that. The iPad Air, which used to be the thinnest tab we’d ever seen, measures 7.5mm through while the iPad Air 2 just pips this one at 6.1mm.
In appearance, the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 looks like an elongated version of the Galaxy S 5. The same textured backplate, which does ensure that this tab will be pretty non-slip, is in place. The rest of the build is as good, though not quite up to Apple’s standards. Samsung still has some distance to cover on that front.
Display: 10.5-inch Super AMOLED (2,560 x 1,600), 288ppi
Chipset/CPU: Exynos 5 Octa 5420/ Quad Cortex-A15 1.9GHz + quad Cortex-A7 1.3GHz (3GB RAM)
Storage: 16GB, up to 128GB external
Camera: 8MP (3,264 x 2,448), autofocus, LED flash/2.1MP (front)
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Battery: 7,900mAh Li-Ion (Non-removable)
Operating System: Android 4.4.2
SIM Card: None (Micro-SIM in LTE version)
Features: Fingerprint sensor
Dimensions: 247.3mm x 177.3 x 6.6[/blockquote]
The display found in the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is the undeniable star of the show here. It’s a monster 2,560 x 1,600 resolutioned Super AMOLED with a pixel density of 288ppi. The numbers don’t really do it justice though, it’s something that you need to see for yourself.
Samsung doesn’t have any problems when it comes to screens and the Tab S features their best tablet effort yet. Clear as a newly-polished bell, with vibrant colours and distinct shades that will leap off the screen and poke you in the eyeballs with how good they look. Samsung’s demo video is guilty of this, we actually got vertigo from a few screen transitions.
There’s theoretically a lot of power behind the Tab S 10.5. The version we tested featured Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa 5420, which should be as speedy as an offensive Mexican cartoon mouse but there’s the odd occasion where those eight cores will be overwhelmed and the TouchWhiz interface will stall. It’s minor and won’t impair use but it’s not very pleasant to see when you’re matching up a fantastic display with some decent hardware.
All The Rest
Camera? Do you really care? If you insist: the 8MP camera attached to the Tab S 10.5 is actually a usable snapper, though it’s one that you’ll need to use both hands to aim and shoot with. If you don’t mind looking like a goof and are also okay with messing with the software functions a bit, it’ll work out just fine at the end of the day.
The battery is another high point though, 7,900mAh of power which should translate into two days of up-time if you’re a normal person. It’ll even manage a hefty video marathon, if that’s your thing but you’ll probably have to charge it by the time the thirteenth episode rolls around in the playlist.
This might be the best Android tablet we’ve seen. It’s still second best compared to the iPad Air 2 but it’s a close-run thing this year. Samsung’s screen and battery are why you’re buying the Galaxy Tab S 10.5, all other concerns are secondary – even the occasional hitching of the OS.