Slick screen: Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 10.5 reviewed

Apple’s iPad Air may well be one of the best tablets around, but competitors are really starting to catch up. We saw Sony do some damage with it’s excellent Xperia Z2, and now it’s Samsung’s time to shine with the Galaxy Tab S.

More than just another tablet in its long running Galaxy Tab range, the Tab S is a reinvention with a screen that will make your eyes go wow.


The first of a new line of Tabs and not just another entry in the Galaxy Tab range — we’d be up to “5” if that were the case — the Galaxy Tab S brings with it a dose of high-end innards and marries it to a similarly high-end screen, all in the effort to produce a tablet you’d be proud to take with you.

Inside the Tab S in Australia, you’ll find one of Samsung’s combo processors, an eight-core chip made from two processors working together: a quad-core 1.3GHz and a quad-core 1.9GHz. This combination works in tandem with 3GB RAM and 16GB storage, the latter of which is upgradeable by way of a microSD slot on the side, capable of taking as much as 128GB of storage.

Google’s Android 4.4 “KitKat” is included here, too, with Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay installed.

Connection options in this tablet include 802.11a/b/g/n and 802.11ac, with Bluetooth 4.0 also here as well as GPS and infrared, though there is no Near-Field Communication (NFC) nor is there 4G LTE. Samsung does make a version with support for 4G, but that’s not in our review model.

Cameras are also included, with an 8 megapixel shooter with a flash on the back, and a 2 megapixel camera up front. Stills are of course an option, but video is here too, with Full HD’s 1920×1080 possible to capture on this tablet.

This technology sits under a screen measuring 10.5 inches diagonally, and running the higher than Full HD resolution of 2560×1600, technically sitting at around Quad HD and delivering a pixel count of 287 pixels per inch, higher than the Retina-grade display of the iPad Air, which sits at 264 pixels per inch.

While most Android devices are moving away from having buttons and letting Android’s touchscreen do all the heavy lifting, ion line with other Samsung devices, you’ll still see some, with the front panel showing soft buttons for multi-tasking and back flanking the home button in the middle, which also acts as a fingerprint reader.

The other physical buttons are on the top edge, with power and volume sitting next to each other.

Ports are few on this machine, with a 3.5mm jack on the top left edge, while the right edge has the microSD slot and the microUSB port.

Speakers are located on each side of the tablet as well.

The battery is rated for 7900mAh.


Ready for a new tablet? We bet you are, and if you’re in the mood for something to go with that Galaxy S5, you’re in luck, because Samsung has been focusing its design efforts with a similar model, ideal for people with both.

As far as aesthetics go, this is a different look for Samsung, which has been pushing away from the regular black or white looks in recent years. While the regular Galaxy Tab models have those basic shades, the most recent Galaxy Note was black with silver edges, opting for a more premium look, complete with a textured plastic back.

For the Galaxy Tab S, Samsung has taken a similar approach, looking at metal and thinking that yeah, that could work here, and providing the look of high quality materials, though without the follow-through.

As such, the Tab S is a plastic tablet with a textured back, dimpled like the Galaxy S5 and feeling soft in the hands. Our Tab S was bronze — sorry, “Titanium Bronze,” as Samsung calls it — but there is also a white model out there too (no special name there), but both of these have gold edges, or rather gold painted edges. It’s still plastic, don’t kid yourself, and it can even get scratched quite easily, but we’ll get to that later.

Despite the emphasis on plastic, something Samsung seems to like, the tablet is comfortable to hold, thanks to that material choice, and paired with the 465 gram weight, is also reasonably light, as well. That’s four grams lighter than the iPad Air, a feat which is impressive, though not as impressive as Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet, which itself boasts a weight of 426 grams and bests both iPad and Galaxy Tab.

But that’s a different review, and here, the Tab S is balanced quite well in the hands, though we’d suggest two hands for carrying it, since it’s not a one-handed device being 10.5 inches in size.

Part of the reason it’s so big, though, is that 10.5 inch display, a slightly unorthodox size for a tablet, and that’s thanks to Samsung’s special display, which is a little larger than the 10.1 screens we’re used to seeing, and runs a high resolution of 2560×1600 on a Super AMOLED display.

Just like the AMOLED screen in the Galaxy S5, this is a lovely screen, offering lots of pixels, lots of brightness, plenty of viewing angle, and in this tablet, the ability to adapt to various lighting conditions to change the colour profile accordingly, always offering a better picture depending on. where you are.

At home, the colour looked lovely and crisp, with solid black and detail because of our shaded environment, but out in the field at a soccer game and post-processing images on the fly from a wireless camera, the screen detected that it was bright outside and jacked the brightness all the way up to work with it, changing the colour profile to let us see what we were doing.

For that last scenario, it’s not the brightest screen we’ve ever seen, but it’s not far off, and outside of a few icons, we could see most of what we were doing on an overly bright, shiny, and sunny day.

Most people won’t have a problem, though, and if you’re looking for a lovely tablet display, you’d be hard pressed to go past the awesome screen in the Galaxy Tab S. It’s just so beautiful.