Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 review: Splashing colors

Splashing colors

GSMArena team, 30 June 2014.

Unboxing

Like its smaller sibling, the Wi-Fi-only Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 offers only basic accessories out of the box. You get a charger, a microUSB cable and a few booklets.

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The retail package

Considering the stature of the tablet in Samsung's product range, a pair of bundled headphones would have been highly appreciated. Unfortunately, the Tab S 10.5 does not follow the example set by its smartphone siblings in this regard.

Additional accessories

Just like most of its Galaxy smartphones and phablets, Samsung will be offering flip covers for the Galaxy Tab S series. The original cover for the Tab S 10.5, once attached, leaves almost the entire back exposed but would protect the entire front. It doubles as a stand, too. Another version of the cover folds around the entire slate and doubles as a kickstand.

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A look at the original covers

Samsung also offers a docking station with full QWERTY for the Galaxy Tab S 10.5. It features the same finish as the tablet and is certain to appeal to those of you that intend to do a lot of typing on the tablet.

Design and build quality

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 features the same design as the rest of the company's tablet lineup, save for the rear finish. The aforementioned features the same faux perforated leather-like look as the Samsung Galaxy S5, thus bringing yet another reason to justify the presence of the letter S in the tablet's name.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 in the flesh

A rather controversial part of the tablet's design has to do with the available Dazzling White and Titanium Bronze color schemes. The former features a back cover with pearl effect and golden frame, while Titanium Bronze in real life sports a back cover in grey/brown which changes its hue under different light with, once again, golden fram. The two colors look a tad gaudy in person - plain black with the usual chrome frame would have been the safer, better choice it seems.

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Pearl finish with gold frame is a bit over the top

The build quality of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is up to the company's usually high standards. The slate is superbly put together and is certain to handle heavy use without hiccups.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 in Titanium Bronze

The physical measures of Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 are 247.3 x 177.3 x 6.6 mm, while its weight comes in at 465 grams. The Korean device is a tad lighter and almost a full millimeter thinner than the already slender Apple iPad Air (469 grams and 7.5 mm respectively). The thinness is particularly impressive, as it has been achieved without affecting the hardware or the size of the battery.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 side by side with Tab S 8.4 and iPad Air

Handling

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 handles extremely well for a full-size tablet. The perforated faux leather back, despite being a subject of competitor jokes, is very grippy. It allows users to handle the ultra-slim device without worrying much about accidental drops.

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Handling the Galaxy Tab S 10.5

One-handed operation is a tad awkward as is the case with most 10" tablets. The Galaxy Tab S 10.5, despite being fairly light, is made to be handled with two hands in landscape mode most of the time.

Display

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 totes a mouth-watering 10.5" WQXGA display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. Its pixel density of 288ppi trumps that of the iPad Air's 269 ppi but the real-life difference isn't readily visible with a naked eye.

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The tablet's display

Samsung took three years before fitting another Super AMOLED display in a tablet, but we are happy to tell you that the wait was well worth it. The screen of the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is the best we've seen in a full-size tablet by quite a margin. It is beautiful to look at with its deep blacks and saturated (if you choose) colors. Surprisingly, the Super AMOLED unit on the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 slate, unlike its Galaxy Tab S 8.4 sibling, employs full RGB matrix instead of a PenTile one. Previously Samsung's done this only for the Galaxy S II and Galaxy S II Plus smartphones.

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A closer look at the screen

Let's look at the numbers. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 has a practically unlimited contrast ratio, as individual pixels don't get lit up - AMOLEDs light up only the parts of the screen that display a different color beside black.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 RGB matrix vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 diamond-pattern PenTile matrix

The Super AMOLED panel on the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 isn't the brightest we've seen, it's actually inferior to the Galaxy Tab Pro slates, the Xperia Z2 Tablet and the latest iPads. However in most cases you won't notice this in practice unless you put the Tab S side by side with an iPad.

The outdoor visibility is great, too.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 0 210 0 382
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 0 221 0 398
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 0.34 281 830 0.60 498 822
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 0.41 312 775 0.72 588 812
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet - - - 0.45 484 1076
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 0.27 221 831 0.53 440 821
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 0.33 301 901 0.54 493 911
Apple iPad Air 0.19 181 968 0.53 508 964
Apple iPad mini 2 0.20 167 835 0.56 450 804
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 0 149 0 379
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 0 200 0 328

Samsung is still providing several screen color modes to match the particular needs of different user groups. They include Adaptive display, AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo, and Basic mode. No matter which mode you choose, it's really hard to describe how impressive the 10.5" screen actually is before you see it in real life.

Compared to an LCD display, the Super AMOLED unit has better Adobe RGB color gamut reproduction (94% vs 73%). In short, it can show you more color hues than its competitors.

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Galaxy Tab S 10.5 display compared to iPad Air's

And here goes a video comparing the newcomer's screen with that of the iPad Air.

Overall, the Super AMOLED display alone makes the tablet one of the best offerings on the market. It really is that good.

Reader comments

Powerful beast! Multitasking, vibrant display, impressive battery life! I still love it!!!!

  • DR81

i love samsung but the exynos is bad .i wish sam use the tegra k1

  • AnonD-183110

Tired of this... Need a tablet with s pen, 12.2" display which is 2k amoled >