Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7-inch Review

Battery

Battery life seems to be way behind the pack in the tablet space.

Coming in with an even more condense package than before, the compromise in giving the Galaxy Tab S 9.7-inch its svelte construction and minimized footprint is seen in the reduction in size of its battery. From the hefty 7900 mAh juicer in last year’s Tab S 10.5, it’s been shrunken down to an even smaller 5879 mAh battery cell for the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7-inch.

Yes, it’s able to achieve more than a solid-one day of usage in our real-world, everyday experience. Despite that palpable reach, it fails way short against its predecessor and rivals in our custom battery benchmark test – to the degree of 6 hours and 46 minutes. That’s even shorter than the times we get out of most high-end smartphones, so it’s rather unimpressive.

Certainly, its 263 minutes of charging time might seem excessive when compared to some of the rapid-charging phones we’ve been exposed to of late, but it’s actually an improvement over the Tab S 10.5-inch – and it’s even faster than some other tablets out there. Well, it’s worth noting that the charging time was achieved using one of Samsung’s rapid charging wall adapters. However, it comes out of the box with a standard one.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7-inch 6h 46 min (Average)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 7h 2 min (Good)
Apple iPad Air 2 7h 27 min (Good)
Google Nexus 9 9h 24 min (Excellent)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7-inch 263
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 363
Google Nexus 9 254

Conclusion


Being that premium tablet it’s sought out to be, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7-inch comes in at the customary starting price of $500 for the base 32GB Wi-Fi model. That’s not too shabby considering it has the svelte construction, smooth performance, and diversified experience to cater to a wide array of consumers.

In the back of our minds, though, we can’t help but think that this is, in a way, a step backwards for Samsung. No doubt, it exudes and embodies the characteristics of high-end tablet, but there are a few features removed from this that were found with last year’s offering in the Galaxy Tab S 10.5-inch. With this, we don’t get an IR blaster, and its battery life has been weakened – all of them are revelations that we find alarming.

Thinking about it in that way, it makes us believe that there’s still more value found with its predecessor, especially when it can be fetched for far less now. While it certainly meets that expectation of being a fun tablet that can be used for an assortment of occasions, it still lacks the productivity specific set of functions that give the Surface 3 more of an advantage to power users. We know that Microsoft’s Office suite is preloaded here, but Android as a whole still has some limitations to it that prevents it from competing in the same scope as a Windows 10 powered tablet.

Buy this for the design and svelte construction. If not, it might be worth a shot picking up the Galaxy Tab S 10.5-inch instead – that’s just as long as you can tolerate its less-than-appealing design.

Software version of the review unit:
Android Version: 5.1.1
Build Number: LMY47X.T810XXU1BOH7
Kernel Version: 3.10.9-5659114




Pros

  • Thin and lightweight design
  • Minimalized footprint makes it compact for a full-size offering
  • Snappy processing performance
  • Accurate Super AMOLED display

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • No IR blaster or NFC
  • Weak brightness output makes it tough to view display with the sun presents
  • Underpowered internal speaker quality

PhoneArena Rating:

8.0

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55 Comments

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: 5695; 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

Exactly..

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 all....lol

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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