Samsung Galaxy Tab S

Our first look at Samsung's newest best tablets

Let's just be clear here — it's tough to do the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablets justice in words and pictures. (Even moving pictures.) You really do need to hold these in your hands to experience just how thin and light they are. And just how crisp and clear the displays look. Tablets seemingly are a dime a dozen these days (especially from Samsung, which produces more than its share, for sure), but the new Galaxy Tab S tablets easily are the Korean manufacturer's best. That much is clear.

And we're bringing you a first look at Samsung's latest flagship tablets. So let's dive into the new Galaxy Tab S models, shall we?

The Galaxy Tab S video hands-on

The look and feel of the Galaxy Tab S

Samsung Galaxy Tab S

So what are we dealing with? The new Tab S line features two sizes — an 8.4 incher, and one at 10.5 inches — and two colors, titanium bronze and dazzling white. That's pretty standard stuff. But what's sexy here is that Samsung has brought back its Super AMOLED panel, which has mostly been missing from tablets since 2012's Galaxy Tab 7.7 in favor of LDC screens. But Super AMOLED has returned, and it looks great. Blacks are black. Whites are white. There's a ton of contrast. And the resolution is nothing to shrug at, either. Both tablets sport a resolution of 2,560 by 1,600, which equals about 359 pixels per inch for the 8.4-inch model, and 287 ppi for the 10.5-incher.

More: Check out the full Galaxy Tab S specs

Next you'll notice (again, when you're actually holding the new tablets) just how thin and light they are. They both manage to pack everything into a body that's just 6.6 mm thick. And both tablets are light, too — about 294 grams for the 8.4-inch tablet, and 467 grams for the 10.5-incher. (The versions with cellular radios will weigh just a hair more.)

Samsung Galaxy Tab SSamsung Galaxy Tab S

Both tablets purposefully look and feel a lot like the Galaxy S5, no real surprise there. They've got the same physical home button — with fingerprint scanner — flanked by multitasking and back buttons. There's an 8MP camera on the rear of the tablets, and a 2.1MP shooter out front. The rear is covered in a sort of faux-leather/suede feel. If you've handled the blue or gold Galaxy S5, you sort of know what it feels like, only it's been refined even further. In short, it feels great. There are a couple of odd circles on the back of the tablets as well — we'll get to them in a minute.

The Galaxy Tab S software

Samsung Galaxy Tab S

Hello, Touchwiz. Of course. Sort of. Again, the same look and feel as the GS5, only tweaked a good bit for a tablet layout — it's called Content Home, and it brings together a number of features and widgets, and it does so really well. If you prefer a more sparse (read: stock) Android experience in a tablet, well, this ain't it. It's full of the same features we've come to know and love in the GS5, with a few additions.

First is SideSync 3.0, which will forward your calls from a connected Galaxy phone to the tablet. (If this sounds familiar, it's because LG's got the same thing in Q Pair.) It's probably not a feature you'll use every day, but it works, and it can be handy to have if you're working with the tablet and don't want to get up to answer — or place — a call. (It also works with MultiWindow, which is also included on the Tab S.)

(Outside of North America, you've got more direct means of taking and making calls on the Tab S. You just do it.)


The other big addition is Papergarden — basically Samsung's own take on magazine subscriptions. Yes, it'll run alongside Google Play Newsstand, and, no, the fact that here's another standalone Samsung service that duplicates a Google functionality wasn't lost on us. We only got to see a preview of Papergarden, but we can't imagine a magazine experience being all that different. Conde Nast has inked a deal with Samsung, though, so expect to see its publications in Papergarden.

There's a wealth of Samsung software on board, including multiple user profiles and a dedicated kids mode — and Galaxy Gifts are back, just like on the GS5 — that we'll go more in depth on once we've spent more time with the tablets. But those are the two major additions.

The Galaxy Tab S accessories

Here's where things really get fun. Samsung's whipped up a trio of accessories for the Galaxy Tab S. For both of them, that is. There are a couple covers available — a "Simple Cover," which snaps into the back and wraps around for some basic protection while allowing you to prop up the tablet. And then there's the "Book Cover," which protects the entire tablet, gives three choices for viewing angles for watching movies, reading or typing and manages to do so in a slim and stylish manner. Plus, they come in a half-dozen colors.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S covers

And notice how we said "snaps in"? The covers snap into those strange circles on the back. They're surprisingly strong, and they do take a little bit of force to engage. You'll get used to it. What does take a little practice is figuring out the proper way to flip things for the different viewing angles. It's not quite as easy as other covers we've used (both on Android and on the iPad), but it works really well. There's just a bit of a learning curve.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S keyboard

And finally there's a dedicated Bluetooth keyboard, available for both sizes. It's not quite full-size, of course, but it's still fairly decent, and it's just about 7.5mm thick. The keys we used felt to be just a little more spongy than perhaps we'd like. When not in use, the keyboard services as a protective case, with a sturdy latch on the front to keep things in place.

The bottom line, so far

We've spent just a short amount of time with the new Galaxy Tab S tablets, but this much was clear: They appear to be very, very good. They're done in the classic Samsung style, take it or leave it. But the displays are gorgeous. The thinness and lightness absolutely need to be seen to be believed.

And the prices aren't horrible, either. Wifi versions run $399 for the 8.4-incher, and $499 for the 10.5-inch model. (Preorders start in the states on June 13 at, and they'll be available in retail locations in July. U.S. carriers will have LTE models as well.

That's it for now. More to come once these guys are released.


Reader comments

Hands-on with the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablets


I will probably hold onto my Nexus 10 because of the front-facing speakers. Has anyone heard the speakers on the new Tab S devices? I'm curious as to where they are located and the sound quality. Phil? Andrew? Anndrew?

I love super amoled displays I was watching live they didn't tell anyone the actual specs of the tab
Posted via Android Central App

- First look is intriguing! Can't dismiss them out of the box and that is a start!
- Like the thin(ner) look the covers are nice too -snap on cover seems . . .different.
- These are the S tablets, so no stylus (I think?)
- I read a couple of reports that have different CPUs to power it, will be interesting to find out the ground truth!
- like to see a SideSync demo too! :-)

Hmm.. these look interesting. Any word if they have KNOX on them like the phones do? Possibly thinking of finally selling my Tab 2 7.0 and Tab 2 1.0 for the 8.4. I like the idea of the multiple user and kids mode. My Daughter has completely taken control of my Tab 2 7.0 LOL and while I like the 10.0 I find myself not using it as much just due to the size. Have to check these out.

I was thinking that KNOX was on these. I have to consider that when making my decision. I've always rooted all my devices. Mainly for ad blocking purposes to stop stuff like pr0n, spam ads,questionable or malicious ads, and other stuff on devices that my Daughter also uses. That way I can modify the hosts file to block stuff but still allow devs to have their ads in their apps. I feel if a dev is going to put forth the effort on a free app with ad support that I'm doing him/her a disservice if I use it and block their ads. I also like to have access to all the files, system and everything else. Plus I'm a huge fan of Titanium Backup which has saved my butt a couple of times and requires root. I know from various forums that rooting with KNOX can be a big PITA.

Maybe with the "kids" mode I might not have to root. Guess I'll wait till these tabs get out in the wild and see what users say about them.

From what I've seen when I was researching the impact of KNOX on my Note 2 when I had it, the PITA that I've seen comes from permanently tripping a flag that prevents you from even getting OTA software updates. I don't mind saying that rooting prevents hardware warranty claims, but to treat a rooted device like a pariah and not even allow it to update is just draconian in my opinion. But that's Samsung's agenda with KNOX. :(

Agree I've been following the KNOX threads over at xda just to see what's going on. On the one hand I can see where Samsung wants to go with KNOX. Having a secure area for files and such is a great thing for the "enterprise" users who use BYOD for work or companies moving away from BB and looking for a secure platform.
That said, Sammy should offer the option at initial setup for a general user to choose NOT to use KNOX period and have it never be on the device. Or offer KNOX free devices. Also KNOX shouldn't be baked into the hardware. I realize the vast majority of users could care less and have no idea it's even on there. Only the root n ROM crowd aren't happy about it. Samsung will lose some customers over KNOX but in the long run it won't matter. KNOX is here to stay. I don't want it on my phone so I moved on to an LG G2.
From the Death Star using my LG G2

I can already smell the haters coming to bash something that they never intended to buy in the first place. "Oh, no! Another Samsung tablet! What do we do!? Too... Much... Choice..." lol.

I'm definitely going to be taking a look at the Verizon Tab S 8.4, when it hits stores. I like my iPad Mini, but I love the versatility that is Android. And, no one else seems to be making any Verizon tablets worth a damn. Sign me up.

It was the sammy fanboys that started this hate trend at the likes of Sony and HTC. You give it, you have to learn to take it. I agree however with Yr comments.

Not a big difference from the 8.4 Pro I bought it seems. Just the cover difference and an Amoled display. My 8.4 pro is awesome!

Yeah GTPro should be just fine but I personally love AMOLED screens so I will get one for myself

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Yeah, I agree if you don't gave the GT PRO 8.4 this is a no brainer. Just not worth replacing imo, but if you are looking for a new one these tablets are the way to go.

I believe there is one other difference. The Galaxy Tab Pro Series has 2GB of RAM while the Galaxy Tab S Series has 3GB of RAM even though both series of tablets don't include the S Pen.

So, not to be stupid but, where do these tablets fit in the "range" so to speak?

We already have the tab 4 series, the tab pro(with nearly the same internal specs as the s line(if I got that wrong,sorry)) the note pro line, and now these!

I am not hating on Samsung, but can someone please explain where these fit?

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They said they're the new high-end, the Pro tablets got a reduced price in the process. Makes perfectly sense to me, that the AMOLED tablets are the flagship line. It's sort of been the tech differentiating Samsung from everyone else relevant for the last 4-5 years.

Pricing similar to the pro lines, maybe they plan to lower the prices of the pro lines a little but more after these s lines are releases. I think currently the tab pro 8.4 is $349 vs the s 8.4 $399 which may be a big enough difference for some when deciding which too buy or as I was saying maybe they cut the price of the tab pro versions to put a bit more distance between them. Another thing to consider is the probability that the pro line and s line won't be available in all countries at the same time. Ie some countries may have the s line available only to them while others have only the pro line and some may have both.

Posted via Android Central App on nexus 7 (2nd gen)

Tab Pro 8.4 is $279 at Best Buy right now. The website says $329 but at the store they are $279. I doubt the Tab S is worth an extra $120 but I'll wait to see the screen myself.

Not to mention the Tab S might be $279 in a couple months too when Samsung releases their next tablet line...

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So, from what I understand, in order of increasing performance and price, we have the tab 4 line, the note line (only note tablets),the tab pro, the note pro, and then the tab s series. Any corrections would be appreciated.

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Tab 4 line - Mid Range Line
Tab S line - Consumer High Range Line
Note 10.1 (2014)/Tab Pros/Note Pro line - Business Professional Line

The (only note tablets) line is obsolete like the Tab/Tab2/Tab3 line.

Looking great. While I'm a stock lover on the phone, Google hasn't done anything on tablets to make me want to buy a Nexus tablet. Samsung actually adds value for me here. I do have the Tab Pro 8.4 and have longed for a good keyboard case. So to see a Samsung 8.4 keyboard cover is terrific!

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Might be time to replace the ol eeepad transformer tf101

Posted via Android Central best phone available: moto x

I don't get why they bothered with the Tab Pro line, basically that show just said that the pro line are shit and you should go with Amoled.

Same specs with Amoled screens and at least $50 more than the Pro line.

Senses tell me to wait for the Nexus 8, its so close

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Pro lines are still a great tablet, unless amoled and the fingerprint sensor is a must for you, they are pretty much the same tablets.

Posted via Android Central App on nexus 7 (2nd gen)

These look fantastic and I'm glad they stuck with the S brand, something I always thought Sammy should do with their tablet line.
I would seriously consider the 8.5 inch model if my phone wasn't aldready 6". Although my res is only 720p, my G Flex does both the phone and tablet job proper.

Am I seriously the only one who hates the oversaturated, inaccurate colors on Super AMOLED screens? Give me the OLED screen on the G-Flex any day, even with its lower resolution.

Good to know, I've always hated that about super AMOLED since it was introduced. Of course my other problem is hating TouchWiz, but there's always rooting for that.

If you are really into accurate colors, just buy an iPad. That's as close as you can get. Maybe you should check out tab pro 8.4 if it has to be Android or simply wait for some serious testing on this one when it's officially out.

VZW Moto X

I actually own an iPad and an android gaming tablet from China. I just find it odd that besides me and a lot of hardware reviewers, nobody notices or cares about the weird colors on Super AMOLED. At least now you see a lot of phone reviews where they acknowledge it. It's apparently just super AMOLED though, because the flexible OLED screen on the G-Flex looks gorgeous; all of the advantages of OLED without Samsung's weird color issues.

Or get what's been rated even better than the iPad by people who test and compare displays, the Kindle Fire HDX. Even when comparing color accuracy, let alone the other areas of the display.

The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 significantly outperformed "the iPad Air in brightness, screen reflectance, and high ambient light contrast, plus a first-place finish in the very challenging category of absolute color accuracy," DisplayMate continued.

But the HDX might as well be a different operating system, given its dependence on Amazon? Has it been rooted and its ROM replaced with CyanogenMod yet?

That would be partially correct. You can change in display settings to some extent but the way it's calibrated by OEM is something you are stuck with. To be fair, there are a lot of Android LCDs out there trying to match in a way punchy colors (boosting reds or greens etc) that Sammy was well known with from the beginning. And then you have those who are cold and bluish too.
VZW Moto X

The G-Flex uses a PAMOLED screen, first of its kind and I think its awesome. If I wasn't such a spec whore, Id get one. I will think long and hard about the G-Flex II. I think its a phone everyone slept on that is underappreciated.
The 801 vs 800 is what killed it for me.

Yeah I was very impressed with LG's latest phones, especially the screen on the flex. IMO the reviews didn't do it justice. And I really wouldn't worry about the processor, they are so fast these days you can hardly tell the difference. I'm seriously thinking of buying the G-Flex 2 as my first non-HTC phone.

I'm all over that 10 incher and BTW can you add Launchers to these? i e. nova?

Posted from my Beastly Note 3 via Android Central App

How in the world this was more important or timely upgrade to Tab line then Note 8 ?? Except for the extra RAM and a few slight changes it's pretty much the same as the tab pro 8.4.
Note 8 is only at 190 PPI and with not so great quad core exynos, WiFi only...
I'm just asking for this same slim looks and same specs with s-pen, that's all :)

VZW Moto X

How ever will the Samsung displays at all the BestBuy's have enough room to display the tablets and phones? More room please

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Looks pretty good. I'm going to wait and see what the rumored Nexus 8 brings though. Google I/O's only a few days away!

They make the camera protrude so that it's flush with a case which the majority of people buy with their tablet to protect it. Same goes with a phone. You would get a shadowy overcast with any case thicker than a bodyglove with a flush camera. IMHO.

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Idk why I'm liking these. But not entirely...hopefully that snapdragon will hold up...lot of pixels and touchwiz to lug around. Buuuuuut I'm sure that screen is nice and the $400 price for the 8.4 seems decent.

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I feel like I'm over Samsung's products. I've owned 3 of their Android devices, but since the Gnexus I just can't go back to TouchWiz. My hope is that Motorola continues their current path and sticks to mostly stock android. This isn't Samsung bashing, I'd still recommend their stuff to some people, if just isn't for me anymore.

I have a nexus 10 and nexus 5 and I'm going back to galaxy devices starting this one lol

Posted via NEXUS 5

I doubt Samsung has any interest in the Nexus line any more. They barely produced any N10's. And I sort of think Google feels the same way. Letting Samsung build Nexus devices would help cementing the public perception that Android == Samsung.

Though I'll not buy Samsung products I do like that 8.4 inch size. If it isn't too long and narrow I'd consider a tablet in that size. Samsung's products are so ugly this year... Those back panels are hideous. They are also about $100 too expensive.

So, what happened to the Magazine UX that they put on the Pro? This is a flagship type product and I seem to remember that Samsung said they'd put that Magazine UX on all their 2014 flagship products.

That's been written about several times on here, Samsung and Google has agreed to respect each others work a little bit more, which means extreme UI customizations like Magazine UI is a no-no. I guess that's the same reason Google still haven't done anything to integrate Nest into Android, at least not without making sure it won't break Samsung's own alternatives.

Would love to see some more information about the keyboard.... that tight photo wasn't enough

I was at the event last night, and I was really impressed by these tablets. It really is amazing how thin and light they are and the display is awesome

All displays have a blue tint if you view them from an angle. All of them, including the one on the phone/tablet you might be holding in your hand right now. That is the nature of glass. Especially with glass made to filter UV.

What AMOLED does't suffer from is washing out like LCD does as AMOLED emits light, instead of filtering light like LCD.

Still loving my Nexus 10 but this is the first tablet that has made me even consider replacing it.

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