Convertible tablets are the order of the day, and in Samsung renew the bet with a Galaxy Tab S4 that improves in all fields compared to its predecessor and does so with a DeX mode that starts to be convincing and an S Pen that continues to behave perfectly.
The Samsung tablet has many strengths and improvements in its hardware, but Android does not help and the absence of a physical keyboard causes the potential of this device to be curtailed. After a few days of enjoying and working with this device, we detail those lights and those shadows.
Datasheet of Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
There are sensitive improvements in the list of specifications of the new Tab S4, and among them is the processor, that makes the leap to Snapdragon 835 . It is not the most powerful of recent times -we have spent months watching how the Snapdragon 845 is used in high-end phones-, but it is certainly a notable candidate for this device.
|Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 (10.5 “)|
|Screen||Super AMOLED of 10.5 inches|
|Resolution||2,560 x 1,600 pixels, 264 ppi|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835|
|RAM||6 GB RAM|
|Memory||64 GB (expandable via microSD, up to 512 GB)|
|OS version||Android 8.1|
|Connectivity||GPS + GLONASS, WiFi (802.11 a / b / g / n / ac), BT5.0 LE, LTE, MHL 3.0, USB-C|
|Cameras  Rear: 13 MP Front: 8 MP f / 2.2|
|Dimensions||249.3 x 164.3 x 7.1 mm|
|Weight||482 g (WiFi version)|
|Others  009] S Pen included, iris recognition, LTE / 4G option|
|Official departure price||575 euros|
The screen, however, shines again with its own light . The diagonal increase from the Tab S3 is sensitive, but it is more the fact that the Super AMOLED screen is still spectacular in its brightness, contrast and color.
Samsung carries time doing things very well in this section, and although it abuses a bit of saturation to show it all “too much alive”, the effect is of course fantastic . The HDR10 support that was introduced with the Tab S3 is maintained, and is another remarkable element of a screen that is still perfect to be enjoyed with video content.
That screen not only gains integers in size or resolution (now 2,560 x 1600 pixels), but also in brightness and in the work with the S Pen, a section that we will talk about later as it deserves.
To those improvements a battery of 7,300 mAh that grows from the previous edition and that offers more room for maneuver at the time of squeezing the device.
The cameras undergo changes too: in the front we have an 8-megapixel sensor (5 Mpixels in the S3 Tab) next to the IR camera for iris recognition, while in the back we have a 13-megapixel sensor that has behaved decently, as we'll see later.
Design: frames slim
If you compare the new Galaxy Tab S4 with the Galaxy Tab S3 from last year you will quickly notice the differences between both devices. The frames of the Tab S4 have thinned noticeably and in fact the fingerprint reader disappears from the front, which also does not appear on the back.
What happened to that fingerprint reader? Well, has been replaced by the iris recognition which is powered by a specific camera located to the right of the front webcam. This allows us to significantly reduce both the upper frame – without the Samsung logo – and the lower frame in which we found that sensor.
That diet that Samsung has imposed on the frames of your tablet allows us to have more screen (10.5 inches compared to 9.7 of its predecessor) in very similar dimensions. In those dimensions it surprises a decision that we receive with joy: the Tab S4 is thicker (7.1 mm compared to the 6 of the Tab S3) but that allows the battery to win whole and pass to 7,300 mAh against the 6,000 of the Tab S3.
The design maintains other decisions of the past, and for example we have those rounded sides that facilitate the grip and that are made of aluminum. On the left we find the connectors for the official keyboard of the Tab S4, not included while on the right side we have the power button, the volume controls and the slot for SIM cards and memory card .
In the upper part we have only the grilles for the speakers and a small hole corresponding to the microphone, while in the lower part we have the headphone connector, the USB-C connector and two loudspeaker grilles.
The back is protected by Gorilla Glass and has a white finish in the model we tested. In that finish highlights the presence of the 13-megapixel camera, as well as the logos of Samsung and, in the lower part, AKG, the company that has calibrated altacoces.
The unit is really stylized and has a weight of 483 grams (one less for the version without LTE), which of course allows you to move it easily and even hold it without additional support without too many problems. This 10.5-inch diagonal raises an excellent balance between size, display area and portability, and that is especially noticeable both when displaying content and when producing it.
S Pen continues to show its powers
The appearance of the stylus of the Galaxy Tab S4, more sober and very light, changes with this new edition. Samsung includes it with the tablet something that for many may not be ideal if they are not going to use it a lot (that entails an additional cost for the buyer) but that we believe really contributes whole to the user experience .
It does because here Samsung has long inherited both from previous tablets and its Galaxy Note . Access to quick tasks to use the S Pen from the left side of the tablet allows you to quickly take advantage of these functions, and the truth is that the operation of these utilities is exemplary.
Taking notes quickly or selecting portions of the screen to share them remains one of the attractions of an accessory that is perfect as an element of productivity for those who know how to take advantage of this S Pen.
This use is even more remarkable when drawing because the stylus has more than ever that aspect of pen or pencil with which to draw at all levels.
We perform some tests with Autodesk SketchBook, and the sensitivity of the S Pen (4,096 pressure levels) and its accuracy are amazing, including that inclination support that allows shading zones easily. A delight for artists who want to take advantage of that ability, of course, especially when that screen reflects so striking all our creations.
It's a pity, yes, that there is no type of magnetic mechanism to maintain the S Pen always “tied” to the tablet, but still the quality it offers is outstanding and here the fact of including it in series makes the tablet have more value from the first moment .
Performance: it that was good last year is still this
Samsung has taken again a curious decision when choosing the processor integrated in these tablets. Instead of opting for the most ambitious model of today, the Snapdragon 845, has preferred to stay with its predecessor, the Snapdragon 835.
That bet was already made in the Tab S3 that had a Snapdragon 820, and the truth is that we believe that the decision is appropriate: the power raised by this processor that dominated the mobile market in 2017 is still remarkable, and the truth is that for most scenarios the Galaxy Tab S4 behaves beautifully .
He has done it at all times in our tests. Total fluidity in the interface, without latencies when using the S Pen, launch and fast execution of applications and multitasking work also fully assumable by a platform in which for a long time as we know it is possible work with split screen.
In the performance tests, the data that we already saw in devices based on this SoC was confirmed. In GeekBench 4 we obtained 1,898 points in Single-Core mode and 6,652 in Multi-Core mode (by 1,465 / 4,090 of its predecessor).
In AnTuTu the score was 203,220 points (142,563 in the Tab S3), which again makes clear that the power we gain in this section is important. We can do more things and make them better in the Galaxy Tab S4, but the tablet does not want to compete in gross performance with more ambitious convertible tablets.
This is the case of the iPad Pro of 2017 (3,932 / 9,387 points in Geekbench, for example) or the new Surface Pro 6 that has Intel Core i5 and i7 processors and that clearly go beyond the proposal of Samsung in this case. That does not matter too much, because as we say the Samsung proposal is well balanced and we do not miss a more powerful processor in almost any scenario.
The autonomy of the battery is another of the sections in which we gain integers: those 7,300 mAh allow to extend the life of the device compared to its predecessor, but we also have a charger with support for fast charging that will leave the device fully charged in less than two hours.
All are improvements in this section, because the Snapdragon 835 is also more efficient than its predecessor, and what stands out here is that even having more screen than the Tab S3, we achieved an autonomy of more than 12 hours in multimedia mode ( Netflix permanently) in which from time to time we used the browser or attended notifications. In a more demanding use as games we estimate that this autonomy is reduced to approximately half, since we do not exhaust the entire battery in our tests but we do evaluate how much it consumed after a certain period of time.
The absence of the fingerprint sensor is is compensated by the iris recognition system, which works well but is not currently a better alternative than its predecessor: we will have to have the face “parallel” to the screen so that the recognition is made of effective way, and it will not do to place it at any distance.
It is not a perfect system especially if we have the tablet resting on the table (we will have to incorporate it a bit to meet the requirements), and the truth is that we miss the speed and accuracy of the fingerprint reader fingerprint . We can always resort to the traditional method of password / pattern / pin, but to some extent here we lose integers.
Some cameras that behave better than it seems
It is difficult to see differences in sections such as the operation of cameras: the 13-megapixel sensor is kept in the back, while we gain ground in the front camera which now reaches 8 Mpixels and allows you to take higher quality selfies.
This is not is a section in which the tablets bet as much as the mobiles, but it is true that both cameras behave very decently if the light conditions are good.
The portrait mode welcomes us in the front camera – it is not available between the fast modes of the rear -, and using it makes the results surprise us. The cut is not perfect for example in the hair, but the result is as always effective and effective.
The video recording also works perfectly with both cameras, although here the rear clearly wins the game thanks to its recording support in 4K at 30 frames per second . We are therefore facing a surprisingly solvent tablet if the conditions accompany, something that is appreciated and that adds value to the whole.
Software and multimedia experience
Google does not seem to have made an especially important effort to promote the use of Android tablets: the applications are still especially oriented to use in mobile, and although many of them are used without problems in tablets, one still has the feeling that those wide diagonals should accommodate for something else .
Applications pre-installed in the device are an example that here there could be more room for maneuver. The YouTube interface itself, which seems like a perfect service to get the most out of tablets, proves it. That interface is the same as the one we find in a mobile, but here simply everything is a little bigger and the big spaces dominate everything.
The feeling is to have a “bigger phone” instead of having an application that takes advantage of that greater diagonal and that resolution. In other applications such as the file browser or Gmail we see how the interface is somewhat more careful and creates a side panel that saves clicks, but again that feeling of becomes a quick and almost neglected adaptation .
There are options to improve, especially in the work in landscape mode that we hardly use in the mobile (except to watch videos) but that here makes much more sense since this is theoretically a solution oriented to the productivity. Even Google itself advises this in a developer's guide but for the time being Android is still making it clear that it is an eminently smartphone-oriented platform that, yes, meets decently in tablets.
The split-screen mode is probably the only demonstration of that capability offered by the tablets, and it is one of the few differential things that makes much more sense in these devices: otherwise the experience of The user we have in the Galaxy Tab S4 is practically identical to the one we would have in a Galaxy family mobile.
This is even more evident if we compare the Android 8.1 version of the Galaxy Note 9 with that of the Galaxy Tab S4, which does gain integers, for example, when navigating through the configuration menu (in two panels that simplify everything) but that in the rest seems something like a “Super Note 9” for the support of the S Pen and all its features.
One of the highlighted sections in the user experience is without a doubt the one of the video and audio contents . The four speakers developed with the collaboration of AKG show their powers with a remarkable sound, but we still prefer to use the headphone jack that (thanks, Samsung) is still present in the device.
Lo mejor , of course, it's that AMOLED screen in which all kinds of videos are seen with spectacular quality – that tendency to saturate colors and make them more vivid helps, even if it's misleading – more so now than the HDR10 standard can be exploited if the content supports this standard.
The presence of Samsung native software is, as always, remarkable, but we would not say here that the bloatware dominates that bet: many of those applications contribute (or can do it) in the field practical, and in general we find ourselves with a suitable bet and not especially overloaded . In fact we miss some more ambitious application to draw on the tablet, but as we say tools like Autodesk SketchUp solve that section quickly.
In the software section, however, there is a great highlight (for good and for the bad): DeX .
DeX is still more a promise than a reality
One of the most attractive sections of Samsung's latest devices is that commitment to the convergence they provide through DeX. This technology that turns our Galaxy family mobile or tablet into an Android-based desktop PC is most interesting, but once again – we analyzed this feature a few weeks ago- leaves us with a bittersweet feeling .
During the First iterations of DeX Samsung forced to use an accessory to connect the device to a monitor. That requirement disappears with the Galaxy Tab S4, to which a USB-C to HDMI cable will suffice to offer us that possibility. The start-up is very simple, and as soon as we connect the cable to both ends the tablet detects it and offers to activate DeX.
In doing so, the “miracle” of convergence occurs. We can connect a keyboard and a Bluetooth mouse and start working with the Galaxy Tab S4 almost as if we did it with a personal computer: several applications allow to resize windows and work in a multitasking environment as if we were doing it in a Conventional PC
The problem is that the operation of the system is still limited. Not all applications support this desktop mode, although for example the native ones pre-installed by Samsung do. We could not try the “integrated” Dex mode that is activated when the official keyboard cover of the Galaxy Tab S4 is connected, but it is perfectly possible to take advantage of this functionality with an external monitor, mouse and keyboard.
That's right: tablet becomes in this way a gigantic touchpad where we can even use the S Pen to move around the desk. If at some point we need to use the keyboard, we will also have access to this function from the tablet, so although it is more convenient to connect a physical mouse and keyboard, the tablet can replace both sections.
The problem is that the applications do not take advantage of that space that the desktop gives: even detecting that they can enjoy those extended resolutions, the applications continue to function as mobile applications, which turns their interface into something rough and wasted . It does not happen with all, but with the majority.
It's a shame, because in DeX there are many good ideas . One of them is the lower bar where we find all the important accesses to control the Android desktop with mouse and keyboard (including access to virtual buttons for the start, back or multitasking menu).
There is even access to a tool to capture the screen, and the desktop can be very useful if we work from web services in the browser: part of this analysis has been written precisely like that, and the truth is that we can do something like that without too many limitations it makes clear that DeX can be something really useful if Samsung power it even more.
Another convertible tablet that lacks a leg
The manufacturers of these devices tempt us again and again with the same message: they are supposed to be perfect substitutes for a conventional laptop. The photos show us marvelous, with spreadsheets, post-processing programs of images or games. And in many of those photos we always have the perfect room, office or room and a tablet that is almost always accompanied by the keyboard .
That is the fault. That there is no keyboard . Most manufacturers of convertible tablets sell it separately, and it is not a cheap accessory. The 149.99 euros impose an extra important cost for a device that loses a sensible capacity without this accessory.
Productivity earns many integers with this accessory, and that makes the proposal somewhat lame in the absence. There are certainly (fortunately) cheaper alternatives that work properly and can solve this section.
However once again we must regret a bet that as in the case of other manufacturers is somewhat misleading: what they offer you is not is a substitute for your laptop, because without the keyboard it can hardly be .
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, the opinion and note of Xataka
It is difficult to put a bump on Samsung's effort, that with the Galaxy Tab S4 offers us a product that earns whole on the outside and also earns them on the inside .
The problem is not in the hardware, but in the software because neither Android nor DeX just came together. The Google mobile platform takes too long without paying attention to the tablets, and in fact the recent launch of the Pixel Slate based on Chrome OS makes it clear that Google itself does not seem convinced that an Android tablet makes sense.
Nor is fine DeX, which at this point could (should) be much more than it is. Converting an Android tablet into a team dedicated to productivity is feasible and DeX gives us a glimpse of that option, but there are too many inconsistencies in its software . Maybe Samsung should focus on a very limited set of options to ensure that they work perfectly and then grow from there.
The truth is that all this is joined by its price, which is not exactly economic and also does not include that keyboard that is essential for the complete experience.
The creative facet and personal productivity (notes) is served with an S Pen that remains an excellent accessory, but even with that or an exceptional screen it is difficult to recommend a product “drowned” by Android . To compete with the iPad Pro or the Surface Pro you need more. No more hardware, beware: more software. That's not Samsung's fault.
- The screen captures us again with its brightness, color and HDR support
- Fewer frames, more work area without compromising dimensions and weight  The integration with the S Pen is fantastic again
- Outstanding autonomy
- The cameras, without being comparable to those of the top range phones, behave really well
- We miss the fingerprint sensor before a less versatile and efficient iris recognition
- A convertible tablet that is sold without a keyboard stays on a tablet
- Android does not help, and DeX still does not keep its promise
- area of productivity continues to have better alternatives
The tablet has been assigned to the test by Samsung. You can consult our policy of relations with companies