Tablets remain the best option for those looking for a compromise between a computer and a smartphone. Knowing this, Samsung continues to invest in its first-class line of tablets with the new Galaxy Tab S4. The device combines robust hardware with the facilities of the new S-Pen.
THE Samsung yielded one Galaxy Tab S4 to Showmetech for testing and, after a few weeks of use, we bring you a complete analysis of the device, highlighting its main qualities and some attributes that could be improved to ensure a better user experience.
Design and canvas
The Galaxy Tab S4 is slightly thicker than its predecessor, but only when compared side by side. The device is 7 mm thick and not heavy to hold for long periods of time. Currently, it is sold in gray and metallic black colors.
We can see a great care from Samsung in the design of the tablet, since the gaps between the materials are very uniform and firm. When looking from afar, it appears that the device consists of only one piece.
The layout of the volume and power buttons suffers the same problem mentioned in the review of Galaxy Tab A: due to its proximity to the upper right side of the device, it is very common to press any of the boats by mistake. It is strange for Samsung to insist on this design choice in its line of tablets, since on their smartphones the different layout and causes less problems.
Another weakness in the design of the Tab S4 is its rear made of glossy material. Even though the finish gives the device a more refined touch, it detracts from the user's experience by not providing much security when holding the tablet, making it very slippery. In addition, fingerprints are inevitable in this type of material.
The Tab S4 has a screen Super AMOLED in 10.5 inches with a ratio of 16:10, which runs on a native resolution of 2560 × 1600 and has a pixel density of 288 PPI. The screen looks noticeably larger compared to the Tab S3, thanks to the reduced bezels of the Tab S4.
It is interesting that Samsung has included HDR support on the Tab S4, but the screen is not bright enough to take full advantage of the benefits that the technology offers. However, the colors look rich and there are deep blacks thanks to its AMOLED display technology.
Samsung included a iris scanner for biometric authentication, although this didn't always work during testing and it took a few seconds to unlock the device.
For this reason, we often resort to using the PIN code. The inefficiency of the iris scanner makes us wonder why Samsung did not choose to include a simple biometric sensor.
Once again, Samsung collaborated with AKG and the Harman to create the four speakers on the Tab S4. The speakers automatically adjust to the orientation in which the tablet is maintained for a consistent sound experience, which works well in practice.
The speakers are great, although there is a noticeable lack of bass. Our test device reproduces well the deep mid tones that help to create impressive sound quality in general. The speakers sound loud at maximum volume, but they seem a little lower than the speakers on the Tab S3.
The Tab S4 also supports wired or wireless audio output using the 3.5 mm jack and Bluetooth 5.0, respectively. The latter supports aptX and LDAC, which guarantee good sound quality through Bluetooth.
The Galaxy Tab S4 supports cards micro SD from at 400 GB according to Samsung, specifically, SD, SDHC and SDXC cards. The device can only format microSD cards as external storage and save applications to its internal memory by default; this can be changed in the Developer's Options.
Samsung sells the Tab S4 with 64 GB of internal storage in most regions, but it also sells a 256 GB Wi-Fi version in the United States for a higher price.
The tablet has a port USB Type-C that supports both the USB On-The-Go (OTG) as for the wired video output. It also mainly uses the latest feature with its DeX mode to project on an external monitor, but the device also supports wired or wireless display mirroring, in case you need to use it.
Samsung did not include an NFC chip in the Tab S4, but the company has equipped the device with a Bluetooth 5.0 support modem.
Hardware and games
Samsung equipped the Tab S4 with a processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, a successful 2017 chip that is out of place in a premium mobile device launched by a manufacturer established in 2018.
Samsung complements the processor with 4 GB of RAM, which is also not noteworthy for a 2018 high-end device, as some high-end smartphones like the OnePlus 6T have up to 8 GB of RAM.
In all benchmark tests performed with the Antutu Benchmark, the performance of the Tab S4 hardware was very good, remaining above the 60% and with a minimal load on the CPU and its cores.
When rating the app, Tab S4 is on 40 position, right behind the Samsung Galaxy S8. In addition, during our tests we were able to check that the system works smoothly, quickly and without problems for multitasking and with several open apps.
The Snapdragon 835 integrates a Qualcomm Adreno 540 GPU, which is still a powerful GPU by today's priests, despite being over 18 months old. The GPU goes well with the Tab S4's large, high-resolution screen and quad speakers to deliver a great gaming experience.
Unfortunately, games are only playable in tablet mode, which excludes using DeX to play games like PUBG Mobile on an external monitor with mouse and keyboard, for example. This is an unfortunate limitation, as the Tab S4 renders even complex games at playable frame rates.
Our test device achieved stable frame rates using the app GameBench for measurement. In addition to PUBG Mobile, we tested Shadow Fighter 3 and during the game the tablet showed good performance when running the game.
Perhaps the only drawback to playing on the Tab S4 is its size, which can be complicated when playing while holding the device in your hand for an extended period. In PUBG, for example, fatigue in the arm is inevitable, and it is necessary to touch the tablet on some surface to continue the game.
Galaxy Tab A runs the back 8.1 (Oreo) Android, however, with changes to and adjustments to software characteristic of Samsung devices. The interface runs the Samsung Experience 9.5. Although this interface program offers several additional configurations to the device, navigation is very similar to what Android users are already used to.
In addition, the device comes with the mandatory apps of the Google, as well as a selection of apps from Microsoft how Word, Excel and Skype. Finally, there is still the Samsung app package as a file manager and the app store Galaxy Apps.
If you slide to the right from the home screen you will access the Bixby Home, another app already installed on the tablet that offers a compilation of news, warnings, weather information and other activities that you can customize. You can still connect your social networks as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to receive updates directly through the Bixby Home interface.
Samsung also includes support for DeX, a feature the company previously reserved for use with its Galaxy premium line smartphones and a compatible DeX pad or docking station.
The Tab S4 can simply switch to DeX mode on demand, which gives the tablet a real laptop feel when used with the optional keyboard. DeX is particularly useful for multitasking, as it works like a desktop operating system, instead of the split-screen mode that Android and iOS currently support.
It is important to note that, during the tests with the device, no bugs or flaws were found in the execution of native or installed apps, nor in the software interface. Moving icons or changing screens quickly and easily, without any gagging, even when several programs are suspended in the background.
Unfortunately this is an element of the tablet that leaves much to be desired. The Galaxy Tab S4 has basic cameras that are not suitable for a device in its category. The cameras are disappointing compared to the sensors that Samsung used on the Galaxy S8 or S9.
THE front camera composed of a sensor Sony IMX320 8 MP. The camera uses fixed focus and produces photos that look faded. The front camera supports stickers and a beauty mode, which helps make selfies more interesting. It can also record videos in up to Full HD, but the sensor has no image stabilization.
J a rear camera has a sensor Samsung 13 MP S5K2L2SA. The camera is nominally the same as the Galaxy S8, but its image quality is considerably worse. The photos have only a mediocre dynamic range, while the color problems are quickly visible when observing the photos up close.
The camera also malfunctions in low light conditions and can only produce photos that are overwhelmed by the noise of the image. The main camera can also record videos up to Ultra HD The 30 FPS and makes use of electronic image stabilization (EIS) to stabilize videos.
The Galaxy Tab S4 has a capacitive 10-point multitouch touch screen that is connected to a glossy glass display. The monitor is easy to use and accurately reproduces input from our fingers or the S-Pen included. The pen has no battery and has the same features that Samsung included in the Galaxy Tab S3.
Access the extra features of the simple S-Pen: just bring the pen closer to the tablet's screen and a menu on the right will expand. In addition, one of the most useful features remains being able to take notes with the Tab S4 screen off.
Writing with the S-Pen is great, but it is no better than the experience of its predecessor. In addition, the pen looks cheap and too simple, which is a shame, considering how expensive the Tab S4 is.
The Galaxy Tab S4 has a battery 7,300 mAh, which is significantly larger than the 6,000 mAh battery found in its predecessor. The new tablet has lower power consumption under load. However, our test device consumes more energy, on average, than the Tab S3 in idle mode, due to the higher resolution display.
Samsung included the same charger as the Tab S3. Predictably, the larger battery takes longer to charge: our test device takes about two and a half hours to fully recharge with the included charger.
The Tab S4 has good battery life, although comparatively disappointing compared to its main competitor, the iPad Pro. Even so, during the tests, the tablet lasted an average of 9 hours using features such as video and Wi-Fi (no tests were performed using mobile data connections, such as 4G).
In addition, you can see an improvement in battery consumption, because after watching a 90-minute HD video in full screen, there was only a 12% drop in the device's battery.
Final considerations and price
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 currently the strongest Android tablet on the market. The large Super AMOLED screen is particularly convincing, while its integration with DeX is excellent for productivity, although there are limitations in its use for games and multimedia.
The 64 GB of storage and 4 GB of RAM are abundant as well, although it is a pity that Samsung does not sell the 256 GB in more regions and currently limits it to only the Wi-Fi version. The S-Pen without battery remains a great tool too.
However, Samsung was wrong to try to create a high-end tablet with a superior feel. The company placed the Tab S4 as the flagship of last year, while its storage, RAM and cameras are more consistent with a mid-level smartphone than a main device of 2018.
THE S-Pen of plastic and the optional keyboard cover only add to our impression that Samsung could have gone further by offering a tablet experience at a prominent level.
The Galaxy Tab S4 can be found at major electronics retailers in Brazil from 3 thousand reais, being the most expensive Android tablet currently on the market and its optional accessories are hard to find. So, think carefully before making such an investment.
Galaxy Tab S4 technical specification
|Just a NanoSIM card|
|10.5 ″ Super AMOLED (2560 x 1600)|
|Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835 (4 x 2.35 GHz Kryo & 4 x 1.9 GHz Kryo) and Adreno 540|
|Android 8.1 Oreo|
|64 GB (expandable to 400 GB via MicroSD)|
|2560 x 1600 pixels|
|13 MP; single LED flash; HDR|
|802.11 A / B / G / N|
|GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS|
|4 AKG speakers|
|USB Type-C 2.0, Type-C; P2 (3.5mm) for headphones|
|7300 mAh (Fast charging)|
|529g (Wi-Fi), 534g (LTE)|
|249.3 x 164.3 x 7.1 mm|
|Black and white|
|Cat4 LTE at up to 150 Mbps|
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
- Design – 9/10
- Performance – 10/10
- Cameras – 7/10
- Sound – 8/10
- Drums – 9/10
8.6 / 10