Galaxy Tab S2 Review: Samsung Ready to Challenge the iPad?

Posted by Ryan Raubenheimer on

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While there is no shortage of credible alternatives to the iPad, Apple’s devices have generally been widely accepted as the elite standard in tablets. The price-to-quality ratio may be contentious but with cost taken out of the equation, only the most die-hard Android lobbyists would argue that other manufacturers’ efforts have created generally superior machines to the iPad. A clear majority vote, if not a unanimous one, has maintained the iPad’s position as the Prince of Tablets.

A New Challenger: The Galaxy Tab S2

With the release of the Galaxy S6 and S7, it has been widely accepted that Samsung has finally closed the gap to the iPhone in the battle for supremacy in the smartphone market. Consumers will naturally wonder if the South Korean technology giant can repeat the trick with their latest tablets, knocking the iPad from its perch. And not just in terms of a preference for the greater choice the Android operating system offers in comparison to iOS, but across the software and hardware of the devices.

Samsung’s smartphones have increasingly gravitated towards an aesthetic mirroring Apple’s devices, and similarly, the Galaxy Tab S2 looks and feels very similar to the iPad Air 2. It is noticeably more comfortable in the hand than its predecessor, the Tab S 10.5, having shed significant weight and slimmed down.

Progress?

The S2 isn’t actually a huge upgrade over its predecessor, the S, with the drop in weight and a slimmer body being the primary improvements. Some specifications have actually been slightly pulled back on to accommodate this, such as screen size and battery life. Another area the S is superior is in the fact that it has a flash, which the S2 doesn’t, with both models boasting an 8-megapixel camera. The resolution of the S2 is also slightly inferior to the S, though the wider aspect ratio of the S2 means it is better suited as an e-reader.

Where the S2 is a significant upgrade on the S is in its storage capacity. Entry-level models start at 32 GB. It also includes the Microsoft Office suite, which gives it an edge for anyone who would like to use their tablet for working on the go.

Overall it is difficult to consider the S2 a remarkable upgrade on the S, although its improved design, portability, and storage capacity will make the S2 a practical model for some users.

Galaxy Tab S2 Can the Galaxy Tab S2 compete with the iPad Air?

Galaxy Tab S2 vs iPad Air 2

The new, wider 4:3 aspect ratio of the Tab S2 was a direct move towards the iPad, which uses the same ratio. Both devices also have matching 2048 x 1536 pixel displays, though the move to a laminated display in the Air 2 gives it an edge in terms of the quality of picture outside on a sunny day.

As usual, the Samsung device has greater raw power than the iPad with its Quad 1.9 and 1.8 processors teamed with 3 GB of RAM. The Air 2 has 2 GB of RAM and an A8X chip but, as usual, the efficiency is fantastic and the lesser horsepower doesn’t translate into any visible loss of performance.

A major plus for the Samsung model is its greater memory. The most basic model comes with 32 GB of internal memory, which can also be augmented via the microSD slot. Apple's basic model comes with 16 GB, which is extremely limiting and can’t be expanded. Many users opt for more expensive models with greater storage.

In terms of battery life, the iPad has a clear advantage with the Tab S2’s reduced battery being a worry.

The iPad Air 2 probably still has the edge on the Tab S2 overall as a machine, but the price of models along with the massive storage capacity difference means that the price-to-quality ratio does make the Tab S2 a strong competitor. While Samsung hasn't yet closed the gap with Apple with their flagship tablets in the same way as they have managed with smartphones, the gap is getting smaller. The choice between the Tab S2 and iPad Air 2 will likely come down to price and preference between the Android and iOS operating systems.

We will be stocking a new face plate that is compatible with the Galaxy Tab S2, so stay tuned for news on our latest Galaxy Tab S2 Tablet Enclosure.

Galaxy Tab S2 Price

The Galaxy Tab S2 retails at around $399 for the 32 GB, 8-inch model. The standard 9.7-inch models retail at around $499. This compares favorably with the iPad Air 2 models which start at around $600 for 64 GB models.

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