Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7-inch Review


High-end Android tablets are becoming few and far between, indicating to us that the tablet segment in general has been seeing a slowdown. Most consumers seem to be more gravitated to either picking up a low-cost laptop hybrid, or the many inexpensive tablets that pack reasonable value for the money. On that note, it’s no surprise to us that many companies have stopped production and development for high-end tablets on the Android side. And then there’s Samsung!

If there’s one company you can count on for that, it’s no other than Samsung, because seriously, they absolutely love to get their presence everywhere. Although we’ve waited more than a year at this point, we’re seeing a successor to its popular and premium Galaxy Tab line. With the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7-inch, they’re ensuring that they’ll remain relevant, as this full-size offering packs a dose of premium tablet goodness in such a svelte package.

The package contains:

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7-inch
  • microUSB cable
  • Wall charger
  • Quick start guide
  • Safety & warranty documents


It’s so lightweight and comfortable to use, you’d hardly know that you’re using a tablet.

Dramatic changes have come to this new tablet, as it totally sports a new design that actually follows after the Galaxy Note 4’s design language. That’s evident in how it employs a thin metal trim accent around its edges with a matte plastic chassis, which combine together nicely to give it a more appealing design than last year’s model. We can tell that it’s been designed to compete against the iPad Air 2, just because it trims off a lot of the fat to come up being skinnier, lighter, and having a smaller overall footprint than its rival. And it helps, too, in making it comfortable to use with one hand thanks to its feather-like weight – to the point that we have no discomfort holding it for a period of time.

One new, notable change is that Sammy opted to go with a portrait-style layout, as opposed to the landscape orientation of last year’s Galaxy Tab S 10.5-inch. And finally, we also find the same two dimples on its back to accommodate various covers and accessories made specifically for it. While we applaud the updated design, one that makes marked improvements over its predecessor, it doesn’t reach the same kind of premium craftsmanship we get from the iPad Air 2 – albeit, it’s surely one of the best-looking, new Android tablets around right now.

Like many of Samsung’s newer products, it now features the newer fingerprint sensor, used by devices like the Galaxy S6 and Note5, so that it’s less of a hassle to operate than before. Gently resting our finger over the home button unlocks the tablet, which is considerably better than the frustrating swipe down motion that was implemented by its predecessor.

Becoming a consistent practice of Samsung of late, the Tab S2 9.7-inch ditches the IR blaster altogether, indicating to us that it’s going to be a common thing going forward. That’s a shame to tell you the truth, seeing that the tablet also centers on multimedia consumption at home, so the lack of an IR blaster lessens its value by some degree – more so to those who religiously used it.


Oddly, the resolution is a step below its predecessor, but it’s still a generally good looking display.

An odd gesture from Samsung, a company that’s known to always outclass its previous efforts in the specs department, they’ve decided to fashion the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7-inch with a lower resolution display. This time around, it’s flaunting a 4:3 aspect ratio with its 9.7-inch 1536 x 2048 Super AMOLED display – whereas with the Tab S 10.5, it offers a widescreen format 10.5-inch 2560 x 1600 Super AMOLED panel. Even though there’s still a great deal of detail produced by it, thanks to its 264 ppi pixel density, it’s technically still not as pixel dense than Samsung’s previous effort.

There are improvements made to the screen’s quality, evident by its better ~6600K color temperature and color reproduction accuracy. Starting with the former, it betters the substantially colder ~7000K color temperature of its predecessor, which gives the screen an even more balanced tone – so it’s neither too warm nor cold. To no one’s surprise either, Sammy definitely knows how to produce an accurate screen – giving it that true-to-life representation, as opposed to the slightly saturated tones from before.

Another area that takes a step back, especially for Sammy, is seen in how the screen emits a lower luminance. In this particular case, it maxes out at a meager 375 nits, which poses trouble when it’s used outdoors with the sun’s presence glaring down on it. By comparison, the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 fared a bit better at 395 nits. While it's a fact that the screen is a step backwards from its predecessor in certain areas, it’s still a pretty good looking panel! There’s enough iridescence, wide viewing angles, and brilliance to make it a compelling visual treat to the eyes.



1. manojmcn

Posts: 634; Member since: Jul 16, 2015

Would be interesting to see the tablet sales for this quarter. Samsung's tablet offerings this year has been tricky re-packaging with a different aspect ratio. Nothing was improved in specs, rather they are saving dollars on some feature cut. May be the tablet sales have dried up and is not worth spending much. Even Apple skipped iPad update this year.

5. TerryTerius unregistered

People tend to treat tablets more like laptops. There isn't a high rate of upgrading, so sales have slowed down dramatically because of it. I don't really think tablets are going away but there isn't really a reason for manufacturers to invest heavily in them when the market trends are very clear.

2. aesthetics

Posts: 128; Member since: Oct 02, 2014

It should have exynos 7420

10. vincelongman

Posts: 5720; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

It should have an "7420X" Flagship tablets should have tablet SoCs E.g. higher clocks and the MP16 variant Like how the A8X has double the GPU of the A8

15. aesthetics

Posts: 128; Member since: Oct 02, 2014


42. Clars123

Posts: 1078; Member since: Mar 16, 2015

Can you honestly say that if it came with the 7420 and you were now limited to 32,64 and 128GB memory options you wouldnt complain?

3. Kruze

Posts: 1285; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

I wonder why Samsung went with 4:3 aspect ratio, iPad wannabe? 16:9 is better IMO. It still won't help your sales if you follow Apple's footsteps.

7. manojmcn

Posts: 634; Member since: Jul 16, 2015

Since there is no major changes in specs, the 4:3 aspect ratio allows them to sell it along with the Tab S 16:9.

8. TerryTerius unregistered

It doesn't really matter at this point, because everyone's tablet sales are going down across the board including Apple. It won't really make much of a difference no matter what you do in this space at this point. The sole exception thus far being the Microsoft Surface line which has had improving sales year-over-year, but that's different since it's running a full fledged desktop OS. I'm not really sure if the iPad Pro is going to be the same since it's just iOS on a bigger device that very nearly costs as much as a MacBook once you add in the stylus and keyboard cover. But who knows? Maybe it'll be popular with the enterprise side of things.

11. MDave

Posts: 210; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

16:9 is plain horrible for a tablet, period. 16:10, which is the format the Tab S and 99% of Android tablets use, is somewhat better but still awkward for portrait use on large tablets and suitable only for widescreen video, really.

53. JulianGT

Posts: 89; Member since: Oct 15, 2012

3:2 is the best IMO

55. MDave

Posts: 210; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

It may well be (the ratio used in Google's new Pixel C sounds interesting as well). 3:2 is definitely not bad at anything, and wide enough to make it useful and natural-looking in portrait, without hurting video playback too much.

4. WAusJackBauer

Posts: 455; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Wonder how battery life will be when Marshmallow lands.

6. mobi_user

Posts: 152; Member since: Jun 18, 2013

No Andriod 5.1, average maximum brightness, same old design. And still so high in rating. At least deduct some points. It will not effect your balance sheet much PA.

9. TerryTerius unregistered

I don't remember Phonearena ever actually deducting points for design language being consistent. At least not in the case of Sony, Apple, Samsung, or LG. Although they have deducted points for the chosen materials feeling terrible or build quality being bad. And they already did deduct points, that's how it wound up with an 8.

16. mobi_user

Posts: 152; Member since: Jun 18, 2013

you should see the review of One plus 2

19. TerryTerius unregistered

They didn't knock it for having similar design language to the one. They knocked it because according to them the material felt much cheaper this year than it did last year, and felt more flimsy. According to them anyway.

12. MDave

Posts: 210; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

5.1.1 is already available as an update (at least in the US)

22. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Try it. I had it since August and it's a fantastic tablet that compliments my GS6 very well with side synch. I like it better than my iPad Air and even the iPad Air 2 when I had it for a month. The design isn't the same at

13. gaming64 unregistered

I'm still thinking it's an iPad wannabe. But still, I'm giving Samsung praise for eliminating the 16:9 aspect ratio.

14. MDave

Posts: 210; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

The truly disappointing and the sore point for this tablet is actually the screen. Not only has the dpi been decreased from the Tab S, Samsung in their infinite wisdom, and in move consistent with their efforts to undermine themselves at every opportunity, has also switched to a disgusting Pentile submatrix for the display. This means that if you've got sharp eyes, you will notice that the text is anything but crisp. In short: it sucks, very especially on a tablet designed and promoted to consume websites and "printed" material. It seems that reviewers, clueless as usual, are simply unable to appreciate the difference since they only look at the numbers so things might actually work OK for Samsung and get away with it.

24. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Um I don't think the 9.7 is pentile.... The 8.0 might be but that's just like last year. The 8.4 was pentile but the 10.5 wasn't. My eyes are pretty sensitive to pentile unless it's over 500ppi like the GS6 and the Tab S2 9.7 looks pretty sharp to me. If the text is worse then it's either the lower ppi or what LG did to save power that ruined the text on the G3.

33. MDave

Posts: 210; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

What can I say. It doesn't look sharp to me at all. And I've checked three different units on store, in case it was a lemon. Anandtech's review will put the screen under the microscope hopefully.

17. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

The Tab S2 brightness actually jumps over 500 nits under the Sun, making it very readable.

18. Manyci

Posts: 116; Member since: Aug 03, 2015

Wow since the Note5/Edge Plus reviews all reviewed products get insanely low ratings... What's going on? Did I missed something? Did the standards go this high? Or its just for the Iphone 6s to get topping 9.9/10 review? o.O

20. TerryTerius unregistered

That's usually what happens. Once any manufacturer raises the bar, it is up to everyone else to reach it. And if they don't... Well you see what happens. That's been happening since the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6 came out. If you are competing in the flagship space... Then you should be prepared to be judged by the standards that the best devices have set. And it's only been two major phones I can think of that got slammed. The ZTE Axon pro came out around that time and it got over at 8. Although I definitely am suspicious about the score of the 1 + 2, & I think they got a faulty review unit.

30. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

9 for the Note 5 and 8.7 for the edge plus is pretty low. This 8 score is reasonable but they could have easily marked this up to a 9 using an Apple scale. This tablet performs great, looks and feels fantastic despite the Note 4 specs. Just like the iPad mini using old specs, it still performs pretty much the same as the iPad Air 2 but smaller despite using old specs. Same thing here. Performs just as nice as my GS6 somehow.

21. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

They Obviously Lowered The Resolution To Increase The Tablets Performance, They Saw How The E5433 Struggled With The High Resolution On The Note 4(Add The Note For To The Benchmarks Test) It Would Have Been Stupid Of Samsung To Use A Resolution Higher Than That Of The Note 4. So To Me Its Good They Went With A Resolution That's Lower Than The Tab S 10.1 Cause Its Actually Higher Than The Note 4's.

25. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

No....... There is no such thing as 2k in a 4:3 aspect ratio. They had to use the iPad resolution or change aspect ratios or go much higher than 4k. Probably like iPad pro resolutions.

29. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Much higher than 2k I mean.
Galaxy Tab S2 9.7-inch
  • Display 9.7" 1536 x 2048 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 2.1 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 1900 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 5870 mAh

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