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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review: Still a decent compact tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 intro
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £320
inc VAT

A stunning screen, but the competition has kicked it up a notch since the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 first launched over two years ago


Processor: Quad-core 1.9GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Octa (+quad-core 1.3GHz), Screen size: 8.4in, Screen resolution: 2,560×1,600, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage: 16/32GB, Wireless data: 4G (optional), Size: 212.8×125.6×6.6mm, Weight: 294g

It’s well over two years since we were first treated with Samsung’s Galaxy tab S 8.4 and it was a device we immediately fell in love with. It’s a little tricky to find nowadays, considering Samsung has forgotten about it and have since been pointing their focus at newer tablets. If you can pick it up, and not an inflated price, it’s definitely worth your attention.

With the latest arrival of the both the Tab S2 8.0in and Tab S2 9.7in, 2014’s Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is no longer Samsung’s top-dog in the compact tablet market. The main differences lie in the S 8.4 running Samsung’s older Exynos 5 chipset, rather than the latest Exynos 5433 processor found in newer devices. The Tab S 8.4 actually has a higher screen resolution than its younger siblings, and it’s still an impressive display, even when put side by side with the latest tablets. The device still holds up well, even if it is over two years old now.

You can read our original review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 below.

The Super AMOLED display is certainly the Galaxy Tab S 8.4’s crowning feature, eclipsing displays on other similarly-sized tablets such as the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact and Apple iPad Mini 3. AMOLED also provides incredibly rich and vibrant colours, with fantastic contrast and saturation, so much so that our colour calibrator returned a perfect score of 100% coverage across the sRGB colour gamut. The colour saturation was so pronounced, in fact, that it took a while for our eyes to adjust, and after using the Galaxy Tab S for a while other displays looked flat and lacked any visual punch. Blacks were a perfect 0.00cd/m2, too, allowing text to really stand out against white backgrounds.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 front

The one downside of AMOLED displays is that they aren’t generally as bright as their LCD counterparts. The Galaxy Tab S 8.4’s display, for instance, only reached a peak brightness of 296.92cd/m2 according to our measurements, which is significantly dimmer than the Tesco Hudl2, Nexus 9 and Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact’s screens. However, the panel’s vibrant colours help to make up for this deficiency, and Samsung’s Adaptive Display setting helps to make sure the display appears at its best by adapting to the ambient light conditions.

The Adaptive Display sensor is more advanced than the auto brightness you typically see with smartphones or tablets as it adjusts gamma, saturation and sharpness rather than just changing brightness levels. We found it worked well, adjusting seamlessly and helping to avoid colour casts, so we opted to leave it turned on. Disappointingly, it only works in specific apps and isn’t universal, so many third-party apps won’t benefit from the feature.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 side


The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 comes in two different colours, but we were particularly taken with our white and champagne gold review model. This makes a pleasant change from the usual white and silver combination we tend to see on other tablets, and it certainly helps maintain a feeling of luxury. The gold might not be to everyone’s taste, but the Galaxy Tab S is also available in Titanium Bronze.

At just 6.6mm thick and weighing 294g, this is Samsung’s thinnest and lightest tablet yet, and it certainly feels svelte in the hand. It has a slightly dimpled, soft-touch polycarbonate back which makes it comfortable to hold and there’s reassuringly no flex in the casing. Still, if you’d rather not take any chances, there are a number of optional protective cases to go with the Galaxy Tab S 8.4, including a keyboard case, which attaches through studs that click directly into the back of the tablet.


Samsung has used its own octa-core Exynos 5 system-on-chip (SoC) processor to power the Galaxy Tab S 8.4, which was first seen on the 2014 model of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1. It’s technically a quad-core ARM 1.9GHz Cortex-A15 paired with a quad-core 1.3GHz Cortex-A7 filling in when only a less power-hungry processor is needed. There’s also an LTE model available which uses a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor running at 2.3GHz instead, but all models come equipped with a generous 3GB of RAM.

We reviewed the Exynos 5 model and in our BaseMark OS II benchmarks it scored 700 overall. This is a little lower than we were expecting, as it’s almost 200 points behind the Tesco Hudl2. Still, we had no complaints about its day-to-day performance, as apps opened exceedingly quickly and Samsung’s TouchWiz interface felt extremely smooth and responsive.

The tablet’s BrowserMark score of 764 was also below average, but this was more noticeable when we began browsing the web. Scrolling up and down web pages, for instance, was a little too juddery for our liking and sometimes there was a noticeable delay when zoomed in and panning round pages. We’d expect more from a £250 tablet, and but at least you’ll be able to play games on it without too much trouble.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 split screen^ Samsung’s Multi Window application lets you view two apps simultaneously

Despite its somewhat modest score of 14,111 on Medium quality settings in BaseMark X 1.1, averaging 13fps in the Dunes test and 18.7fps in the Hangar test, the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 proved more than capable of playing demanding games such as Hearthstone, as we encountered almost no judder whatsoever. In-game animations in particular were noticeably smoother than on other 8in tablets we’ve tested and it certainly goes a long way to make up for its slightly lacklustre web performance.

Likewise, the Tab S 8.4’s battery life is outstanding, as it lasted 13h 54m in our continuous video playback test with the screen brightness set to our standard 170cd/m2, making it longer-lasting than the iPad Mini 3 and Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. The Dell Venue 7840 still has the edge with its battery life of 14h 20m, but you should definitely be able to get a full day’s use out of the Tab S 8.4 however you’re using it.

Android 5.0 Lollipop

The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 runs Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box, but you can now download a free OTA update to Android 5.0 Lollipop. Not that you’d know it, as Samsung’s new design is more or less identical to the old KitKat interface. In keeping with Google’s Material Design scheme, app icons now look a bit flatter, but that’s more or less it. Of course, as with all Lollipop devices, you can now view your notifications from the lock screen and add multiple user accounts, but otherwise you’ll barely notice the difference between the two interfaces.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 Lollipop Home Screen^ Android Lollipop looks almost exactly the same as Samsung’s KitKat interface on the Galaxy Tab S 8.4

Regardless of whether you decide to upgrade to Lollipop, Samsung has included a few of its own tweaks to the Android operating system. One of the more notable inclusions is Multi Window mode, which allows you to use two apps simultaneously. This is useful if you’re watching a film and want to open up the browser to look up an actor, for example, and each app is resizable. Kids Mode has also been included, allowing a safe ecosystem for children through parental controls and a custom child-friendly interface – meaning you should be able to safely hand the tablet to your little ones.

Along the edges of the tablet you’ll find the usual headphone jack, micro USB charging port, power button and volume rocker. There’s also an IR blaster for controlling your AV kit plus a microSD reader which supports cards up to 128GB. This will allow you to substantially expand upon the built-in storage, which is limited to either 16GB or 32GB.

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ProcessorQuad-core 1.9GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Octa (+quad-core 1.3GHz)
Screen size8.4in
Screen resolution2,560×1,600
Screen typeSuper AMOLED
Front camera2.1 megapixels
Rear camera8 megapixels
Memory card slot (supplied)MicroSD
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
Wireless data4G (optional)
Operating systemAndroid 4.4 (KitKat)
Battery size4,900mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Part codeSM-T700

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