Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Samsung announced their newest flagship Android tablet this morning and we got to take a brief look at it. The Galaxy Tab S4 isn’t your average Android tablet. The big stand-out feature for the Tab S4 is that it now includes Samsung’s DeX software.  You may have seen DeX before on other high end Samsung Galaxy devices as its the desktop PC style interface that loads when you dock the phone with a larger screen, keyboard, and mouse.  Having this DeX interface available on a 9.7″ or 10.5″ Android tablet with a keyboard cover makes a lot of sense, and that’s what Samsung did.

First, let’s get the specs on the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 out of the way.

DISPLAY

10.5” WQXGA (2560×1600)
sAMOLED

CHIPSET

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835
Octa Core (2.35GHz + 1.9GHz)

LTE SUPPORT

LTE Cat.16
DLCA, 4X4 MIMO

MEMORY / STORAGE

4GB + 64GB / 256GB,
microSD up to 400GB4

CAMERA

13MP AF + 8.0MP, Flash

PORT

USB3.1 (Type C), POGO

SENSORS

Accelerometer, Compass,
Gyroscope, RGB, Proximity, Iris Scanner, Hall Sensor

WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac,
MIMO, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth® 5.0

GPS

GPS + GLONASS, BEIDOU,
GALILEO

DIMENSION, WEIGHT

249.3 x 164.3 x
7.1mm

482g (Wi-Fi) /
483g (LTE)

BATTERY

7,300mAh, Fast Charging

OS/UPGRADE

Android 8.1

ACCESSORIES

S Pen (included)

VIDEO

Recording: UHD 4K
(3840×2160) @ 30fps

Playback: UHD 4K
(3840×2160) @ 60fps

AUDIO

4 speakers tuned by AKG,
Dolby Atmos
®

Now back to the cool stuff…

Switching to the DeX interface gives you something that looks like a strange Linux distribution and it kind of is. You’ve got multiple application windows, you can drag/drop stuff from one window to another in some cases, if you connect a Bluetooth mouse you can right click to show context sensitive menus.  The DeX interface supports the pressure sensitive S-Pen as well, but the barrel button on the pen doesn’t do anything at all. No right click, no S-Pen interface, nothing.

The S-Pen is pretty nice. It doesn’t require batteries and seems to be based on the same Wacom technology that the Galaxy Note uses. There is one barrel button which has special functions in the Android mode, but it is very smooth to the side of the pen and thus very difficult to find using tactile touch.

DeX mode reminds me of the old HTC Shift which supported dual booting between Windows Vista and Windows Mobile on a portable tablet. DeX mode is drastically different from Android mode and seems to require a whole system mode-switch to launch. The UI differences are hugely inconsistent as well. Only certain apps work in DeX mode and you can see more about which apps those are on the Samsung website.

Android mode gets you back to the familiar Android interface where you can run all of your regular Android apps. Incidentally, you can have regular Android running on the tablet’s screen while having the DeX interface running through a USB-C adapter on a larger screen.

Some of Google’s Android apps still don’t support landscape mode though.

The Screen-off memo feature from the Galaxy Note has nicely appeared on the Tab S4 as well. It only works if you’re in Android mode though. If your screen is off in DeX mode, this feature doesn’t work at all, so you’ll have to turn it on, switch back to regular Android mode, then turn off the screen to do it.

Next we’ve got a Samsung SmartThings app which aims to consolidate all of the controls for your “internet of things” home automation devices. It’s pretty annoying to have to have a different app for controlling you lights, another for the TV, another for the video doorbell, another for the locks, another for the vacuum cleaner robot, etc. Samsung’s SmartThings app works with over 40 different brands and you can see that listing on the SmartThings website.

Here you can see the Samsung SmartThings app answering a “RING” doorbell without going through and switching to Ring’s software.

While the Samsung S-Pen is included with every Galaxy Tab S4, the keyboard book cover is not. That’ll be an extra $149. This is unfortunate as the keyboard cover also has a loop for holding the S-Pen so if you don’t have that, you’re likely to lose the pen.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 will be available on August 10 in two versions.  The Wi-Fi version will be $649 at Amazon, Best Buy and Samsung.com. An LTE version will be available at Verizon on August 10 and Sprint and US Cellular will offer it later in Q3 2018. Pricing for the LTE version has not been announced yet.

You can pre-order the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 today.

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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!
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