back to article Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4: 4G Android tablet is easy to swallow

If by the size of its TV ad campaign shall ye know it, then the Galaxy Tab S is clearly a Very Big Deal to Samsung. I get the impression the Tab S range is Sammy’s most determined effort yet to convince people that its Android tablets are not just better than anyone else’s, but better also than Apple’s iPad alternatives. …

  1. Mike Wilson

    Whither Nexus 8

    I will want to replace my Mk1 Nexus 7 soon. The battery is tired and doesn't hold much charge. The case has been dropped once too often. I've coveted a friend's Nexus 10, but it's too heavy to hold one handed for long. The rumours of a Google Nexus 8 have gone quiet. Perhaps I'll have one of these instead.

    1. FartingHippo
      Thumb Up

      Re: Whither Nexus 8

      You appear to be living the same life as me.

      Where indeed is the next iteration of the Nexus 7/8? Fed up with charging my Mk1 every night.

      1. tony72

        Re: Whither Nexus 8

        Ditto, my first gen Nexus 7 is still in pretty good nick, bar a creaky edge to the screen, but it's always had those image persistence issues that some units had, and the speakers are pathetic, and the lack of a card slot has occasionally irked me when traveling. If there was a cheaper, wifi-only version of this Samsung, preferably without the Samsung bloat (dream on I guess), I'd buy it right now, but I'm not quite sold on it as it is.

        1. mike_ul

          Re: Whither Nexus 8

          You can pick the WiFi-only version up from Currys for £319. However, consider the Samsung Galaxy S Pro. This has a full set of RGB pixels (rather than pentile) and is not that much different to the 'S'. Indeed, I was rather annoyed when the 'S' came out so soon and was prepared to get one - but my 'Pro' is still a superb unit. Slightly bigger and heavier - but not by much - with a (still) great display. Yes, the blacks are slightly blacker on the Amoled 'S' - but the 'Pro' is no slouch and is a lot cheaper. Incidentally, I did check the screen quite closely on the 'S' as they have demo units at Currys. I'm sure you can see the pentile matrix - but you have to get *close*. In reality, the reviewer is correct. It really makes no difference. Incidentally, some 'Pro' users complain the screen is not as sensitive as the 'S' - they may be slightly correct but I have had no real issues with this.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whither Nexus 8@ FartingHippo

        "Where indeed is the next iteration of the Nexus 7/8? Fed up with charging my Mk1 every night."

        Replace the stuffing battery then. £21 off Amazon, flip the back off using mobile phone disassembly tools, £10 or less from any mobile phone accessory seller (mind that bottom bit of the case around the speaker, that's fragile), unplug the battery connector, peel the battery off the double sided sticky, push in the new one, click, click, clickety-click and Bob's your uncle.

        Bl00dy techies! "The battery's worn out so I'd better buy a new one"

        1. Nate Amsden Silver badge

          Re: Whither Nexus 8@ FartingHippo

          I don't have this device though my personal track record attempting procedures like this has me confident I'd break the device in the process.

          I am glad my note3 has a user replacable battery will probably get near the 1 year anniversary of owning it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Whither Nexus 8@ FartingHippo

            "I don't have this device though my personal track record attempting procedures like this has me confident I'd break the device in the process."

            But you tried in the past, and that's far more important than failing. And if the device is virtually unusable to the point of wanting to replace it, what have you got to lose?

            I'd agree designing for user replaceable batteries is a far preferrable consumer outcome, and that's how I select my phones, but there's times when you can't get everything you want, and in that case the shed approach must be tried.

            1. Lallabalalla

              Re: Whither Nexus 8@ FartingHippo

              You can send it away and have the battery done for £30 with a guarantee on the work.... worth a go at that price I'd have thought.

              My current car - which I bought last year, and it's a bit of a dud and I'm pissed off with it - needs about £1200 of work doing to it (tyres, inlet manifold, cambelt) so I considered replacing it with something newer/nicer. But apart from the newer/nicer carrot, I'm thinking why trade in and spend an additional £8000 on a new (s/h, always) car so I can save £1200? Doesn't quite add up!

        2. Mike Wilson

          Re: Whither Nexus 8@ FartingHippo

          "Replace the stuffing battery then".

          I did consider that. My problem is, I don't know how to tell angels from crooks on Amazon, eBay etc. The last two phone batteries I bought on-line were useless. One wasn't even new as claimed -- an old one with a half-hearted attempt to polish out some scratches.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Whither Nexus 8@ FartingHippo

          A bigger problem with the mk1 is its insistence on only charging at 500ma (net charge rate 50mA) when used with anything other than its own specific charger.

      3. Blitterbug

        Re: Fed up with charging my Mk1 every night

        Me too. I got rather more iPad-ish battery life out of it by crippling some of the more annoying spoogeware, and going into advanced Wifi settings to switch of Wifi when asleep. Massive battery boost - 3-4 days between charges now, with moderate use (even films) at the loss of live notifications. Luckily my appointments still chime at me though...

        Edited to add that the battery is not apparently failing so a replacement, as has been suggested elsewhere, will not do very much. What *did* kill it was the last OTA update, which ladled so much google crapware that the battery life went straight down the crapper. Hence the un-installing / crippling of most of it.

        1. Afflicted.John

          Re: Fed up with charging my Mk1 every night

          Sounds like a trip to is in order...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whither Nexus 8

      I also had a first gen Nexus 7 and was patiently waiting for the Nexus 8 to materialise when the Tab S made it's appearance. I took the plunge and bought a white Tab S 8.4 and haven't been disappointed for a moment. The screen is great, battery life good and with a 64GB SD card has plenty of storage for movies, books and music.

      The only downside is the bloatware. Really Samsung, why do you do this to your customers?

      After rooting, disabling some apps, freezing those that won't be disabled and installing Google Now launcher it is even better. The screen was worth it over the Nexus 8 vapourware if it ever gets released.

  2. MrXavia

    Sounds like an impressive little tablet, although I would never want an LTE version myself,

    i've never understood having multiple mobile contracts for multiple devices, I have one on my phone and tether anything I need to use, even with the higher price to allow tethering it works out much cheaper than having multiple mobile contracts..

    1. uncle sjohie

      Or you could get a second sim for your existing contract?

      1. Peter 48

        nice idea

        unfortunately I am not aware of any networks here in the UK that support two sims on one contract let alone one number unless it is some kind of business plan.

        1. goldcd

          I think EE did

          but then they charge you £15 from memory - so you may as well get a cheapie sim-only sim.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's also a phone!

    I bought one and found that it is actually a telephone as well (as helpfully mentioned in this article) - unfortunately the data plan I bought is data-only as those were the only options presented to me by Carphone Warehouse. If you want to make and receive phone calls on this bear this in mind. You can still use SMS though (at least on EE you can). I don't think I'd "feel like a spanner" as it would be quite funny in a 'mines bigger than yours' kind of way. Reminds me of the Trigger Happy TV sketch with the oversized Motorola brick.

    1. Lamont Cranston

      Re: It's also a phone!

      I felt like a total tool using the Nokia 8110, so I doubt I'd feel particularly comfortable holding an 8 inch slab to my ear!

      1. Jess

        Re: It's also a phone!

        Alternatives to Dom Joly mode:

        Bluetooth headset.

        Wired heardphones with mic.


        I would never buy a tablet device with cellular radio, that was unable to make calls and send sms.

        Why would I want something that big, and STILL have to carry a phone?

        1. handle

          Re: It's also a phone!

          ...because otherwise you'd need to carry a Bluetooth headset, Bluetooth headphones with mic or wired headphones with mic?

    2. Marcus Aurelius

      Re: It's also a phone!

      It's Dom Joly time! I can imagine putting this huge fondleslab to your ear and going "HELLO!" very loudly :-)

    3. Lallabalalla

      Re: It's also a phone!

      Plus you can always just use a handsfree or headphones to avoid the channeling-Dom-Joly look.

      One of those nifty bluetooth/plugin retro telephone handsets might be the thing!

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


    Can you remove all trace of this plus Twitter and any other Social Media application from it or is it like the last Samsung device I had where you couldn't even stop the Facebook application without rooting the device. Even then it would somehow restart and try to connect to its Mothership even if you were in Flight Mode.

    If my fairly simple requirement is possible then I might be tempted to buy one otherwise, Samsung you can take a hike.

    1. Pen-y-gors

      Re: Facebook

      Upvote - it's not just Facebook and not just Samsung. Why oh why oh why do manufacturers insist on pre-loading apps (ok, I could live with that) but then not letting you uninstall ones you have absolutely no need of.

      1. GregC

        Re: Facebook

        As far as the manufacturers are concerned "everyone" wants these apps installed, and unfortunately those of us that actively don't want them are a statistically irrelevant minority. Plus it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if there were incentives from the likes of Facebook to said manufacturers. Nexus devices don't have Twitter or Facebook preinstalled, however being Google devices you end up with a non-removable Google+ app instead.

        The only real answer if you want total control is a custom ROM.

    2. KjetilS

      Re: Facebook

      I'm not sure if you can remove the mentioned apps, but it should be fairly easy to deactivate them.

      Then they won't show up in the apps list, and they will be prevented from starting, so apart from the storage space used, it's pretty much the same as removing them.

      1. GregC

        @ KjetilS - good point

        I'd forgotten about disabling apps - just checked on my Nexus and you can indeed disable Google+ or any other of the bundled Google stuff, though it does give you a dire warning that this might break other functionality.

    3. Peter 48

      Re: Facebook

      I was under the impression that as long as you don't create an account (facebook, twitter etc) you won't be bothered with it. I don't use twitter and my Note3 hasn't once bugged me about that and facebook or linked-in didn't say a peep until i created an account for them on my phone.

    4. Lallabalalla

      Re: Facebook

      Easiest solution: save £££ by not buying a tablet, and get an A5 diary and a nice pen :)

  5. MrT

    Cinema mode...

    ... if that was the only reason to now like an AMOLED display, then why not activate it on earlier models? GS3 has had the 'Movie' option for ages, which banishes the garish 'Standard' colour balance for something far less eye-watering...

  6. Sp1derba1t

    8.4 and 10.5

    There's no 10.1 guys

  7. tomban


    "For comparison, the Snapdragon 801-powered Galaxy S5 scores just over 3,000. Only the GPU lets the side down a bit, it’s just not up with the latest Adreno components in terms of outright performance, though this isn’t a failing you’ll ever notice in use."

    I don't understand what you are saying here. The benchmark figures quoted above this seem to suggest the Tab S is faster at 3D (9326 compared with 8812) and only 23 point slower at 2D (1601 compared with 1624). Seems that the RAM is quite a bit slower though.

    If it's as fast as my SGS5 in real use, I'll be very happy.

    1. Al Taylor

      Re: Confused

      When I ran a few dedicated graphics benchmarks like GFXBench 2.7 the Tab S 8.4 didn't perform as well as the Snapdragon 801 Galaxy S5. I didn't go into greater detail in the review because frankly it's a bit irrelevant. Sorry for any confusion.

  8. NumptyScrub

    Storage costs aren't always commutable

    quote from the article: "Decent 128GB cards can be had for under £80 these days, proving that Apple is really taking the proverbial with its storage costs."

    In-device flash storage is normally vastly overprovisioned compared to removable memory cards, so I would not be comfortable saying that a 16GB MicroSD would be identical to the 16GB internal memory on the Tab, or that a 128GB MicroSD is identical to the internal memory on a top of the range iDevice.

    Having said that, I'd always prefer to have removable (i.e. replaceable) storage for high churn data like storing music or video, because changing the MicroSD when it finally dies is both easy and cost-effective, and they are also easily transferable between devices. Nice to see Samsung keeping MicroSD support as a differentiator from their competitors (including the Nexus range, not just Apple).

    Oh, and the way to tell Apple is taking the mickey with internal storage costs is by spotting that they have the same surcharge to double the memory, regardless of the actual increment; 16 to 32GB costs the same as 64 to 128GB (+£80 for the iPad), so the £160 it costs to go from 16 to 64GB (+48GB) doesn't add up to the £80 it costs to add another 64GB to it.

    1. Kubla Cant

      Re: Storage costs aren't always commutable

      I recently discovered another good reason for removable storage. Until the last Android update I could connect my phone by USB to my Linux computer and mount the storage as a disk device. Now it's something called a media device, the contents of which are inaccessible from my oldish Linux. The only solution, incredibly, seems to be to remove the memory card from the phone and mount it via a USB card adapter.

      1. plrndl

        Re: Storage costs aren't always commutable @ Kubla Cant

        My Mint 17 box mounts my Android 4.4.4 phone as a media device, which has 2 sub-directories, "Internal storage" and "SD card". These can be accessed identically to the USB HD that was detected by earlier versions of Android.

        1. handle

          Re: Storage costs aren't always commutable @ Kubla Cant

          Accessed identically, with the advantage that the device can still access it at the same time.

        2. Kubla Cant

          Re: Storage costs aren't always commutable @ Kubla Cant


          I dare say that my Mint system will mount my Android 4.4.4 phone too, once I've set aside the time to upgrade to the latest Mint version. But all I wanted to do was copy a few new music files to the phone, not perform major system maintenance.


          No such settings - you must be imagining it (or perhaps we have different phones).

          @everybody else

          Yes, yes, yes. I know there are solutions. I even know what some of the solutions are. I'm just irked to encounter a further example of ill-defined indirection layers on top of well-understood computer features. The incomprehensible "Libraries" in Windows 7 are another.

      2. phen

        Re: Storage costs aren't always commutable

        Settings -> Storage -> Menu -> USB computer connection -> Mass storage (UMS)

        1. Simon_E

          Re: Storage costs aren't always commutable

          There's no such setting on my phone..

          And after the kitkat update ate the ability to have an app write to anywhere I told it to on the (external) SD card, I'm left with either using the irritatingly non-syncable MTP to copy things across one directory at a time, or having to unmount and remove the SD card every time I want to copy something straight to, for example, /ExtSdCard/Music/ instead of being able to just press a button or two on my phone and have it all happen automatically courtesy of cheetahsync, or airdroid.

          If this carries on, my next phone will probably be the first one without removable storage since the K750i...

      3. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

        @Kubla Cant - MTP instead of USB HDD mode

        Yeah, this was really off-pi... um, off-putting. I have an HTC One X with fixed internal storage: no SD card.

        I managed to work out (with difficulty) how to make Kubuntu on my PC communicate using MTP, but I'm stuffed when it comes to the car: I used to be able to connect with USB and play podcasts, music, etc. from the phone. Now the car headunit just reports "Media Error".

      4. Your Majesty

        Re: Storage costs aren't always commutable

        Yeah, you need to access it through MTP. If for example you have KDE, you can fetch kio-mtp and access it through dolphin using mtp:///

      5. Peter 48

        Re: Storage costs aren't always commutable

        have you tried switching the phone from MTP (Media Device) to PTP (Camera) in the USB options? That should in theory work like a normar external storage device.

  9. DrXym Silver badge

    What's the point of the 4G?

    What's the point of paying a large premium for a 4G enabled tablet plus the hassle & added expense of a phone plan that covers the extra SIM when the phone in your pocket can be tethered?

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: What's the point of the 4G?

      Convenience, battery life, better aerial/signal, network redundancy to name but 4 reasons.

    2. Ben 47

      Re: What's the point of the 4G?

      Depending who you are with and what plan you are on, it's not always possible to tether via your phone.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: What's the point of the 4G?

      I find I use my tablet both as a hotspot and for surfing especially when abroad. In such cases having one that takes a SIM is pretty useful. The bigger battery makes it more suitable for tethering than a phone.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's the point of the 4G?

      4G no longer has a higher premium than 3G on most networks

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Elephant in the room

    Is the battery replaceable??

    (Everything else sounds great, although dual sim would be nice).

    In light of the GCHQ revelations, I am surprised El Reg hasnt removed all the other icons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Elephant in the room

      "Is the battery replaceable??"

      How about you google that, and tell the rest of us?

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Elephant in the room

      If it's anything like my Galaxy 8.9 then no, the battery isn't replaceable. I'm sort of ambivalent on this for tablets as I can understand the design constraints. My 3 year old device still easily gives me 2 days use (as long as it's not being used as a hotspot). Methinks capacity is declining but it's still totally acceptable and I love the form factor.

      In the nearly 20-odd years that I've had a mobile phone I've only ever once replaced the battery but I have had at least three phones where I had to do something to keep the battery connected - having to remove a battery in order to change a SIM card is a design fault in my view.

    3. Al Taylor

      Re: Elephant in the room

      No it's not. I took that as read but in retrospect should have clarified the point.

  11. Marcus Aurelius

    Tab S 8.4 Model Numbers

    There appears to be a series of tables with T-700/705 model numbers and some with T-320/325

    Are some Galaxy Tab Pro whilst others are Galaxy Tab S.

    Whats the difference?

    Update: I think I've just self edumacated myself - see

  12. Nate Amsden Silver badge

    Let me at that battery

    I drained my note 3's big battery by 40% in 20mins with vpn, citrix reciever and skype on LTE not long ago. Video doesnt hit the battery much I assume because its almost all GPU.

    Im sure battery isnt the most efficient these days as the phone spends about 18 hrs a day charging on one of a few inductive chargers that I have.

    When will tablets get wireless charging? Or maybe there are some other than the HP touchpads (of which I have 3 one is unopened -got 5 at fire sale decided to keep that one wrapped up. Two other android 7 and 8" tablets go unused just not big enough relative to phone to be useful for me)

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Let me at that battery

      I think you should get that device looked at though persistent data connections will hammer any device: I seem to remember some law where data speeds correlate quadratically with power use.

  13. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Very Tempted

    Good review.

    I've got a three-year old Galaxy 8.9 which I bought at the time for the form factor – it's as wide as an I-pad so watching video on it is the same but without the black bars above and below but at 450g it was significantly lighter. At the time I was very tempted by the AMOLED 7.7 but decided to go with the 8.9 for the screen estate. I've been waiting for an AMOLED version since then. I think this might just have to be my Christmas present… though it will have to be rooted to remove all the crapware. Fortunately, rooting Samsung devices is pretty easy.

  14. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Good hardware companies have always gotta crap on the software

    Why doesn't Samsung stick to what they're good at, leave the OS to Google, and get rid of Touchwiz so I can buy one?

    1. Peter 48

      Re: Good hardware companies have always gotta crap on the software

      probably because it allows them to offer core features that vanilla android doesn't support such as multi-window and contact merging from multiple sources.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aspect ratio > resolution

    I'd strongly consider this, except that the 16x10 aspect ratio is too narrow to read tech PDF books on in portrait mode (my main use). An ipad mini is 4x3, which means I can read most cropped books in portrait mode on the 8" screen.

    I don't care about the pixel density once it's above about 175 or so. Higher numbers tend to mean slower performance and lower battery life anyway.

    1. Peter 48

      Re: Aspect ratio > resolution

      are these american based books per chance? the Imperial page sizing favours the squatter 4:3 ratio whilst the european sizes are more rectangular, making them more suitable for the 16:10 ratio.

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