Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review: S-class coupe

S-class coupe

GSMArena team, 25 June 2014.

Unboxing

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 ships in a box with the same design as its smartphone relatives. Inside it you will find the tablet, a charger and a microUSB cable, as well as some booklets.

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Unboxing the tablet

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 8.4 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 8.4, 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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Samsung's original covers for the Tab S 8.4

Design and build quality

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 unsurprisingly features the same design as the rest of the company's tablet lineup, save for the rear finish. The latter 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 8.4 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 with gold bezel, while Titanium Bronze in real life sports a back cover in grey/brown which changes its hue under different light with, once again, gold bezel. The two colors look a tad gaudy in person - plain black with the usual chrome bezel would have been the safer, better choice it seems.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 in white

The build quality of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is up to the company's usually high standards. The slate is superbly put together and is certain to handle heavy use without hiccups.

The physical measures of Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 are 212.8 x 125.6 x 6.6mm, for a weight of 294 grams. The newcomer is notably lighter and thinner than the already slender Apple iPad mini 2 (331 grams and 7.5 mm respectively).

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 side by side with Tab S 10.1 and iPad Air

Handling

Handling the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is a pleasure. The perforated faux leather back, despite being ridiculed by the competition, is extremely 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 8.4

The light weight of the tablet allows it to be held with one hand without causing any unnecessary strain.

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Handling the Galaxy Tab S 8.4

Display

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 features a gorgeous 8.4" WQXGA display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. Its pixel density of 359ppi handily beats that of the iPad mini 2's 324ppi.

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The display of the Galaxy Tab S 8.4

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 8.4 is the best we've seen in a tablet by quite a margin. It is beautiful to look at with its deep blacks and saturated (if you choose that) colors.

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A closer look at the tablet's display

Let's look at the numbers. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 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.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 vs. Samsung Galaxy S5Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 vs. Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 diamond-pattern PenTile matrix vs Samsung Galaxy S5 diamond-pattern PenTile matrix

The Super AMOLED panel on the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 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 8.4 0 221 0 398
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 0 210 0 382
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 8.4" screen actually is before you see it in real life.

Here goes a video comparing the newcomer's screen with the iPad Mini with Retina display.

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

Reader comments

will samsung come out with a wifi only version of the tab a 8.4? Looking to upgrade my 2015 tab a model.

  • Anonymous

Antutu 36000

  • azadeh

My music app view suddenly changed into tabs view , but i want to switch to that folder view that i had from the first what shuold i do?