Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 hands-on: thin bezels, quad speakers, and a super-wide screen

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 hands-on: thin bezels, quad speakers, and a super-wide screen
Well, here's a surprise — we knew that a Galaxy Tab S4 was coming, but we actually expected it to be announced alongside the Galaxy Note 9. Instead, Samsung announced it today, a bit earlier than next week's Galaxy Unpacked event.

We got some quality time with the tablet and are ready to share our hands-on impressions. Let's check it out!

2018 design


Flagship smartphones have been doing the 18:9 display aspect ratio and thin bezels since 2017. It was only a matter of time before tablets got the upgrade. And here it is — the Galaxy Tab S4 has an extra-wide screen with a somewhat thin bezel around it. We appreciate that it still leaves ample room for gripping the device without accidentally touching the screen.

The frame is still made out of metal and the back has a glass panel of its own. No, there's no wireless charging, it's just glass for the sake of it as far as we can tell. Though there is a proprietary 4-dot connector on the side of the tablet, which is meant for various Samsung accessories to link with the device. It looks quite nice, sure, but we are not sure about the weight and the sticky fingerprint feel.

On the front, we have a 10.5-inch 2560 x 1600 (WQXGA), gorgeous-looking Super AMOLED screen. No surprises there, Sammy has been on top of the AMOLED game for years now and the Tab S4's screen looks as beautiful as expected.

Here's the kicker — there's absolutely no fingerprint scanner anywhere on the device. Instead, the Galaxy Tab S4 relies solely on the iris scanner for biometrics. Of course, it also includes Samsung's "Intelligent Scan", which uses both iris and facial-recognition in combination for a more secure lock.

The whole unlocking ordeal is actually pretty fast and painless, really. Though, unlocking the tablet when it's placed in a landscape position requires one to lean towards the side of the tablet, which can be weird. We will continue playing around with this and post final impressions on how this mechanism works in our full review.

Multimedia and productivity in a tiny package


The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 greeted us with a quad speaker setup and a "Tuned by AKG" logo on the back. We were quite eager to test these bad boys out. First impressions are mixed, though. The speakers definitely sound full but are not as loud as we hoped and seem to be lacking in bass. Stereo separation, however, is delightfully good and would make for good immersion when enjoying a movie or a game on the tablet. It's a definite above-average speaker setup, but we need to spend more time with it for a final verdict.



Now for the big one — the Galaxy Tab S4 supports DeX mode (Samsung's full desktop experience) without the need for a DeX Station or an external monitor. When we reviewed the DeX Pad back in May, we noted that the desktop experience it provides is pretty good, but that the fact that it needs a monitor and power outlets severely bogs down its usefulness.

Upon launching DeX Mode on the Tab S4, we are greeted by the same work environment we saw with our previous tests of DeX, so this looks quite promising. According to preliminary information, you can still use an external monitor with DeX and have the tablet work as a secondary screen. We will be testing this further for sure!

Accessories maketh product



Just like its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S4 comes with an S Pen in the box. That Samsung's proprietary stylus, powered by Wacom technology. It's accurate, quick, has built-in palm rejection, and is among the best-working styluses out there on the market.

It's bigger than the S Pen you would usually find inside a Galaxy Note smartphone and feels a lot more like an actual pen. Unfortunately, it doesn't have its own storage chamber inside the Tab S4 — this S Pen is permanently out. Unless you get this next accessory, that is.

Next up is Samsung's own Book Cover Keyboard case. This one is, unfortunately, sold separately. We did get to try it out as well — its keys have a decent amount of travel to them and a nice click. We could definitely see ourselves getting used to it and will be testing it further for our full review. The Book Cover also has an S Pen holder on its side, so you don't lose that coveted stylus.

There's one more accessory for the Galaxy Tab S4 that will be sold separately — the "Charging Dock Pogo". It's basically a charging stand, which will hold your tablet in a landscape position — it clicks in the 4-dot connector on the side. It's meant as an easy-in, easy-out charging solution, which also allows you to view content while the Tab S4 is getting its juice.

Yes, it has cameras


Whether or not you need a good camera on a tablet has been a debate for a while. Few people out there will take their 10-inch mobile device out of the house and even fewer will use it to capture memorabilia. But hey — you do need a front-facing camera for video chats and a main camera is always nice to have whenever you want to share a snap of whatever you are looking at. Yes, even on a tablet.

So, the Tab S4 has a 13 MP main camera on the back and an 8 MP shooter on the front. First impressions — the front-facing camera is pretty good and will show your face just fine for Skype sessions. It even has a "Selfie Focus" mode (Portrait Mode) for some pretentious selfies, but we weren't super-impressed with its ability to separate the foreground from the blurred background. The 13 MP camera on the back seems to do its job just fine, but we'll make sure to pit it against a Galaxy S9 when we get the chance.

Expectations


All in all, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 seems to be a pretty solid tablet. Some might be a bit disappointed in the hardware that powers it — it's got last year's Snapdragon 835 instead of the contemporary Snapdragon 845 — but if that helps Sammy keep its price down, we'd be all for it. For what we see, it runs and feels quite well, it has integrated desktop experience, which works fine, a brilliant screen, and speakers that are better than most tablets out there.

Of course, we are still eager to find out what the final price would be. Also, stay tuned for our full review!

Update: prices are in!

Related phones

Galaxy Tab S4
  • Display 10.5" 1600 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2350 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 7300 mAh

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19 Comments

1. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Imo the 835 is more efficient than the 845. I've never bought into Samsung but this tablet has got my interest in a good way. Decent hardware, accessories, small bezels and quad speakers.

6. BuffaloSouce unregistered

Don't tell that to the spec monkeys who instantly believe higher numbers automatically makes something better

9. Mr.Pussy

Posts: 348; Member since: Feb 16, 2017

Let's put iPad pro (IOS) a side. This is far the best looking Android tablet so far. If you like Android this it. If you like IOS then get the iPad pro.

17. baldilocks

Posts: 1545; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

In your opinion? So, it's not fact? Gotcha. No need to bother with reading the rest of your comment.

2. surethom

Posts: 1730; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

90% dont care about keyboard, is there a just a Book Cover style like all the other Samsung Tab tablets?

3. surethom

Posts: 1730; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

This look like in landscape the screen is smaller height than the Samsung tab S 10.5" is this true, i hope not? Samsung s 10.5 - 247.3 x 177.3 x 6.6 mm Samsung S4 - 249.3 x 164.3 x 7.1 mm

4. CX3NT3_713

Posts: 2363; Member since: Apr 18, 2011

Price?? Looks promising

7. surethom

Posts: 1730; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

$650 not given UK price yet, im waiting for a sale not paying that much,

5. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Sold my last tablet because I just didn't use it a lot but, this one has my attention. Just may be my next tablet.

8. bucknassty

Posts: 1372; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

no FPS???? they need to improve that intelligent scan when using glasses first

10. Sammy_DEVIL737

Posts: 1529; Member since: Nov 28, 2016

Is iris scanner as fast/reliable as FPS?

11. MarvzIsFallen

Posts: 646; Member since: Aug 11, 2017

Considering android apps in a tablet is big no.

12. path45th

Posts: 407; Member since: Sep 11, 2016

4 gb for an Android device is a little bit too little. It doesn’t sound so much pro to me. I think even the entry level iPad is a better choice. It’s a lot cheaper, it gets great apps, Apple Pencil technology surpasses all rivals, and the A10 is a very fast CPU while iOS is much lighter and optimized than Android.

13. Godlymansean

Posts: 339; Member since: Apr 14, 2017

Looks so nice, decent specs.

14. Fellwalker

Posts: 541; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

I'll stick with my Tab S3 thanks. Better screen ratio, and the only thing the new one had that I'd have preferred is the storage capacity. If you've had some quality time with the new one, then this was a very light weight review, much more like a first impressions held it for an hour short of article. I've just come across your specifications page, where you state "no cons". But you mention last years processor as a con in this article, and the price vs performance, and what about the low audio volume? And it seems to have the old do nothing s-pen.

15. Fellwalker

Posts: 541; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

Duplicate

16. MDave

Posts: 210; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

I would have bought this in 4:3 aspect ratio. It doesn't make any sense to try to sell a 16:10 display as a productivity device when it's only good for watching movies.

18. S4NDY

Posts: 265; Member since: Mar 14, 2016

My M5 Pro is better than this copy Bigger screen 10.8" Fingerprint scanner Desktop mode works without keyboard Keyboard is better and its have track pad And its much cheaper than overpriced tab S4 (500€ +100€ keyboard versus 800€+ 150€ keyboard in Tab s4

19. japkoslav

Posts: 1552; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

On Samsung ... DeX works without a keyboard. You can use any keyboard and mouse you like - it's Android after all. M5 is not an Amoled + Samsung has a better stylus. Huawei released great tablets, especially that 8" version. But you really can't compare half priced Huawei to Samsung, that is just not fair - Samsung does everything better, except the speakers, they will be much better on Huawei. 3,5mm jack?

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