Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 (SM-T715) Review
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 has a big shoe to fill as its precursor, the Galaxy Tab S 8.4, is regarded by many as one of the best tablets of 2014. Head past the break to see if this tablet manage to do just that and if it has the makings to justify its premium price tag.
Design and Construction
The design trend of the Samsung Galaxy tablets has been, for the past years at least, patterned to the current design of the South Korean company’s flagship smartphone.
We’ve seen it evolve from the rounded and plastic-y tablet that was inspired by the Galaxy S3‘s design, to a super-thin slate with a perforated back panel that was an offshoot of the Galaxy S5’s looks, not to mention the leather-backed Galaxy Tab Pro lineup which is undeniably influenced by the Galaxy Note 4.
With the latest tablets, however, Samsung has not implemented the same design scheme of their current flagship handset. Not that obvious at least compared to the previous models which looked like a super-sized version of their handsets.
One of the reasons for this is the use of 4:3 aspect ratio on the screen, effectively making the tablets look square-ish in the process. This creates a distinction that it is indeed a tablet and not a smartphone on steroids.
Another point to take note off is the use of different material for the tablets’ back panel. Instead of glass, which is the material used on the Galaxy S6’s posterior, Samsung used a plastic back cover with a borderline soft touch to it.
It doesn’t attract as much fingerprint or smudge as the glossy panel of the Galaxy Tabs of the past, and it certainly doesn’t look and feel like cheap compared to other plastic panels that Samsung has used on their previous releases.
Two components break the barren landscape of the Galaxy Tab S2’s back panel: the slightly protruding 8-megapixel rear camera and two holes where the after-market covers and casing will latch on to – similar to the ones found on the previous Galaxy Tab S.
The top and left edges of the Galaxy Tab S2 are devoid of any external components. All of the buttons are placed on the right side which consists of the power button and volume rocker. Meanwhile, the ports, microUSB and headphone jack, are situated at the bottom. Also found in this section are two speakers which are perched near the left and right edges of the tablet’s bottom panel.
Present at the front of the tablets is the fingerprint-scanner-imbued physical home button which is sandwiched in between two capacitive buttons for menu and back. Just above it is the tablets’ Super AMOLED display that is bordered by reasonably-sized bezels.
Lastly, an earpiece can be found at the top and smacked right in the center. This is neighbored by a barely visible sensor and a miniscule front-mounted snapper with 2.1-megapixel resolution.
Design-wise, both the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 and its bigger sibling shares a lot in common with the Galaxy Tab A. The clean and spartan look of these tablets will certainly appeal to those who are not in to flashy gadgets, yet it has enough swag to not look like a run-of-the-mill tablet.
Display and Multimedia
Some consumers may not appreciate the new 4:3 aspect ratio of the new tablets, particularly since they’ve used to seeing 16:9 slates from Samsung. However, those who’ve been waiting for Samsung to make the switch to the square-ish display, the new design scheme is heaven sent.
Another headscratcher is the decision to use a display panel with screen resolution compared to the previous model. From 2560 x 1560 of the Galaxy Tab S 8.4, Samsung has dropped the resolution down a bit to 2048 x 1536 on the Tab S2.
Do note, however, that despite the decrease in resolution, it didn’t come at cost of pixel density and quality. The slightly smaller screen of the Tab S2 compensated for the loss in resolution and it resulted to a still respectable pixel density of 320ppi, albeit sill lower compared to the Tab S 8.4 which has 359ppi.
The display quality of this tablet is top notch. Colors are near faithful, outdoor legibility is superb and there’s little to no drop off in color and quality even when viewed at extreme angles.
The Galaxy Tab S2 8.0’s great display is complemented by two amiable loudspeakers, ensuring an enjoyable multimedia consumption. The sound coming out of it is crisp and free of distortion even at high volumes.
OS, UI and Apps
In keeping with the latest trends in the software technologies, the Galaxy Tab S2 is equipped with Android Lollipop cloaked behind the Samsung TouchWiz Nature UX 5. It’s the same user interface found on some of the latest devices that the South Korean company has released in recent times such as the Galaxy Tab A.
Along with the usual set of preinstalled apps from Google, there are also a suite of Samsung apps and Microsoft Mobile software that occupies a good portion of the tablet’s 16GB internal storage. Luckily, users can expand the storage of the device by up to an extra 128GB through a microSD card.
Like its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S2 also features a fingerprint scanner embedded in the home button. We’re glad to report that despite still lagging behind other similar implementations, the HID on this tablet has seen some improvements compared to previous releases.
The scanner was able to detect fingerprints much faster and requires fewer attempts to register inputs.
The Galaxy Tab S2 is equipped with an 8-megapixel rear shooter and a 2.1-megapixel camera at the front that handles the selfie and video call needs. By and large these camera units take decent snaps, are quick to focus on a subject, and have nearly zero shutter lag.
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By default, the rear camera is set to record videos at 1080p resolution, but it can go as high as 2560 x 1440 if needed by changing the setting inside the default camera app.
Performance and Benchmarks
Under the hood of the Galaxy Tab S2 is the same engine that powers the Galaxy Note 4, the Samsung Exynos 5433. One can make the argument that this octa-core processor is already outdated in today’s standards, but it’s far from a pushover as it can provide enough horsepower to seamlessly run 3D games and other demanding tasks.
Call Quality and Connectivity
We rarely encounter any issues with the Galaxy Tab S2 as far as connectivity is concerned. It quickly detected and connected to saved wireless hotspots, and the signal strength of data connection was always good.
The same can be said for phone functionalities like voice calls and SMS. Our voices are heard loud and clear based on the people we’ve talked to, and we were also able to hear them without any hitch either through the earpiece or with the use of a headset.
Battery Life and Charging Time
It’s quite disappointing, on paper at least, that Samsung decided to use a smaller battery pack on the Galaxy Tab S2. From the 4,900mAh on the Galaxy Tab S 8.4, the newer model only has 4,000mAh battery pack or nearly 25% drop in capacity.
One probable reason to justify the decrease in battery capacity is that the Galaxy Tab S2 has a smaller screen with fewer pixels to push, meaning it will consume less power for the same tasks. Another justification is the use of an octa-core processor which has four power-efficient cores that handles menial tasks and can switch to beefier counterparts when the going gets tough.
File Type: MP4
Display Brightness: 50%
Audio Level: 0%
Device State: Airplane Mode
Result: 14 Hours and 48 Minutes
So despite the smaller battery pack, the Galaxy Tab S2 actually fared better in both of our battery tests compared to its precursor. This is a proof that we shouldn’t quickly judge a device based on what is written on its specs sheet.
As for charging time, it takes roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes to fully charge the Galaxy Tab S2 after being totally drained.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 has everything you could probably ask for in a tablet: thin and lightweight profile, a powerful engine, and phone functionalities to top it all off. The smaller and lower resolution screen, not to mention the decrease in battery capacity, may be a drawback for some potential consumers, although it’s really not that significant of a drop-off in our opinion.
The real question here is if you’re willing to shell out Php24,990 for this tablet. It is on the pricey side, but considering that this is the company’s flagship tablet, and it has all the makings to be one, it should be a good investment for those who are looking for a high-end tablet.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 specs:
8.0-inch 2048 x 1536 Super AMOLED display, 320ppi
Samsung Exynos 5433 octa-core CPU (Quad 1.9GHz + Quad 1.3GHz)
3GB LPDDR3 RAM
Expandable 32GB internal storage
Supports up to 128GB microSD
8MP rear camera
2.1MP front camera
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac MIMO (2.4GHz/5GHz)
Bluetooth 4.1, BLE
Android 5.0 Lollipop
Dimensions: 134.8 x 198.6 x 5.6mm,
What we liked about it:
What we didn’t like about it: