The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 ($650+) is the company’s newest 2-in-1 Android tablet and the next generation of last year’s Galaxy Tab S3 tablet. A decent amount has been updated with the new model. The Tab S4 has a 32-percent larger screen, 10.5-inches versus the 9.7-inch screen on the Tab S3, yet Samsung also shrunk the bezels and removed the Home button on the Tab S4 so that it only feels marginally bigger.
The other big thing is that Samsung integrated new Samsung DeX software into the Tab S4. You probably know Samsung Dex as the docking station from Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone line, which allowed you to connect your Galaxy smartphone to an external monitor and give you more of a PC-like experience. With the Tab S4, there’s no charging dock, but you can enable a Samsung DeX mode that allows the Tab S4 to quickly switch from mobile to PC mode. The benefit here is that you can have a number of PC windows opened, as well as Android apps, all at the same time, and drag and drop between them. Essentially, you’re able to use the Tab S4 more like a computer. Maybe even replace it.
Samsung DeX mode on the Tab S4 can be used with or without a monitor. If you have an HDMI cord and Samsung’s USB-C-to-HDMI adapter, you can easily connect the Tab S4 to an external monitor for dual screen mode, showing separate windows on each screen. When connected, the tablet can be used as a trackpad or a sketch pad, but Samsung says that it can also still operate as a fully functional Android tablet — two screens to accomplish different tasks. Before with the Tab S3 you were only able to mirror screens, which was fine for presentations, but not really if you wanted to utilize the full power of dual screens.
The Tab S4 will include an S Pen straight out of the box, which is a first for Samsung and a clear shot at Apple, who requires you to pay an extra $99 for its Apple Pencil. The S Pen has also been redesigned so that is thicker and easier to hold; it also has a preventive notch that stops it from rolling off a counter. A couple S Pen features from its Galaxy smartphone line have been carried over, such as Screen-Off Memo, Translate and Live Messages (amongst other things, this allows you to make your own animated GIFs).
There are a couple other noticeable improvements. The Galaxy Tab S4 comes with four, AKG-tuned speakers that support Dolby Atmos immersive sound technology. It has a surprisingly large 7,300mAh battery, which the company claims will deliver 16 hours of video playback — really good for a tablet. It supports fast charging, too.
The two biggest features — bigger screen and Samsung DeX software — are really designed to increase productivity, but also enable you to use the Tab S4 as an entertainment device. Watch movies. Stream YouTube. Listen to music. It’s also designed to maybe replace your everyday laptop.
At first glance, the Galaxy Tab S4 looks like a pretty impressive improvement to Samsung’s tablet line. There are some question marks and concerns, however. We don’t know how well the Android apps and PC windows, running at the same time, will work — today’s demos ran smoothly, but that was in a controlled environment. Even though the S Pen is included in the box, Samsung’s keyboard attachment ($150) and HDMI adapters to hook it up to your external monitor have to be purchased separately. And latest, this is still a tablet that’s hedged heavily in Samsung’s app ecosystem. If you use a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, you’ll probably love it. If you have an iPhone or Google Pixel, maybe not.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is available in wi-fi and LTE models. The wi-fi model will cost $650 on August 10, and you’ll be able to purchase it from Amazon, Best Buy or Samsung.com starting August 10. The LTE model will be available for purchase starting August 10, exclusively from Verizon. Other cell providers will offer options later this year.
Display: 10.5-inch Super AMOLED (2560×1600)
OS: Android 8.1
Processor: Snapdragon 835 Octa Core
Cameras: 13-megapixel AF (rear-facing); 8-megapixel w/ flash
Battery: 7,300mAh, Fast Charging
Models: wi-fi or LTE
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