Samsung has been making tablets since the second half of 2010, trying to close the gap between its own market share and the current tablet market share leader, Apple. Currently, Apple holds a 36 percent share of the tablet market. The only manufacturer even remotely threatening Apple’s share is Samsung, which currently holds 19.1 percent, according to Gartner.
At CES in January, Samsung dropped four new tablets: the Galaxy NotePRO 12.2, Galaxy TabPRO 12.2, Galaxy TabPRO 10.1, and the Galaxy TabPRO 8.4. The specifications alluded to notable improvements over the Galaxy Tabs of 2013, which we weren’t exactly fans of. And each one of the new tablets bears the newer design language from Samsung, including the leather-textured plastic around back and metallic plastic trim, intended to look like brushed metal.
We speculated these tablets might be susceptible to the very same problems which have plagued virtually all Android-powered Samsung tablets to date; Michael found the Galaxy TabPRO 10.1 to have a host of performance issues. But what about the Galaxy TabPRO 8.4? Is it a different story?
We’ve used the Galaxy TabPRO 8.4 for seven days now, and below are our thoughts.
Such is the case for the video, too. Colors appeared more vibrant in video capture than with stills, but contrast was noticeably worse, and the audio was just passable, not terribly mind-blowing. In other words, it’s par for the course.
To no surprise, the front-facing camera wasn’t worth writing home about either.
Performance is a tricky topic when it comes to the Galaxy TabPRO 8.4. We had high expectations for this version of TouchWiz paired with the Snapdragon 800 SoC, and for what it’s worth, we’re not completely disappointed with the tablet’s performance.
Gaming, day to day tasks like note taking or Web browsing, and even graphically-intensive stuff, such as watching a YouTube video while browsing Twitter, was buttery smooth. We ran into few to no instances of lag or stutter in the most intensive multitasking we could throw at the tablet.
However, we could essentially create lag on demand by doing one, simple thing: returning to the home screen. Unlocking the tablet and flipping through the home screens, it works just fine with no problems. To change that, open an app (any app), return home, flick left or right, and wait. Nine times out of 10, this caused a pair of split-second stutters (once for each Magazine UX page). After the short pauses, you can flick through the home screens as quickly as you please.
Unlike Michael’s experience with the Galaxy TabPRO 10.1 (powered by an Exynos chipset, not the Snapdragon 800), this was the only replicable instance of lag or performance hiccup we had throughout our time with the tablet. Outside that, benchmark performance was great, as was standard use. And gaming, in particular, was a fantastically pleasing experience, due to the ultraportable size and weight, the high-density display, and the Snapdragon 800. In fact, this was one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences we’ve had on a tablet to date.
It’s important to note one thing about the media viewing and gaming experience, though: the speakers. The Galaxy TabPRO 8.4 does have stereo speakers which are relatively loud, albeit light on the bass response – nothing surprising there. With both speakers being positioned on the bottom edge of the tablet, however, they don’t create great stereo separation. And if you have the tablet in landscape mode, as you most likely will when gaming or watching videos, your palm and thumb will quite easily muffle – if not entirely cover – the speakers. We recommend using headphones for just about all multimedia consumption.
The battery life is a much more promising aspect of this mid-sized tablet. The battery is rated at 4,800mAh, or 19.2Wh. In our experience, the tablet has no problem lasting a full day-plus. We averaged one and a half to two days per charge cycle, though we don’t feel it would be terribly difficult to kill the battery in a single day thanks to how bright the display gets, and the heat that begins to build as you play resource-intensive games like Asphalt 8 or Need For Speed: Most Wanted.
+ Fantastic and beautiful display
+ Comfortable in any orientation
+ Priced appropriately
+ Great for multitasking
+ Compact and lightweight
– Counterintuitive software
– Replicable/predictable, yet consolidated lag
– Mediocre camera
– Poor speaker placement
Pricing and Availability
The Galaxy TabPRO 8.4 is currently only available in 16GB with Wi-Fi. Pricing starts at $399.99 plus applicable taxes, and can be purchased from Samsung and third-party retailers. An LTE-capable version was also announced, but no official launch date has been released.
In all, the Galaxy TabPRO 8.4 is an impressive little tablet. The power and beautiful display it packs into such a compact package are praiseworthy, even if we would prefer to see Samsung up its game in terms of materials used or the cohesiveness of the software.
If you can deal with a small instance of lag each time you return to the home screen from within an application (we suggest trying a third-party launcher like Action Launcher or Nova Launcher), the Galaxy TabPRO 8.4 will be a fantastic choice. It’s priced appropriately – the same base price as the iPad mini with Retina display, for which it is a direct and stiff competitor. All things considered, we give the Galaxy TabPRO 8.4 an 8.5 out of 10.