Samsung has introduced a pair of tablets that appear quite similar: The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 are both mid-size models that run the latest version of Android. While these are the two best choices for those in the market for a mid-size tablet from Samsung, they have significant differences.
Below is our comparison of the two so you can pick the right one.
Build and Design
These tablets are nearly identical in size and weight. The Tab 4 is slightly smaller, but the Tab S is just a bit heavier. Neither difference is noticeable enough to make one device better than the other.
Specifically, the Tab 4 is 8.3 x 4.9 x 0.3 in (210 x 124 x 8 mm), and weighs 11.3 oz. (320 grams). By comparison, the Tab S is 8.4 x 4.9 x 0.3 (113 x 126 x 7 mm) and 10.4 oz. (290 g).
Samsung puts the screen sizes of its tablets in their names, so the Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 has an 8-inch display, while the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 has an 8.4-inch one. But the differences in these go way beyond a slight variance in size.
The Tab 4 model has a 1280 x 800 resolution, giving it a pixel density of 189 ppi, below average for a tablet of its price.
On the other hand, the Tab S has a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels, four times the pixels of the Tab 4. Its pixel density is therefore approximately 360 ppi, well above average.
And the difference don’t end there. The Tab 4 has a standard LCD display, while the Tab S employs a Super AMOLED screen, a type often praised for offering very vivid colors, while being slightly slimmer than regular LEDs.
When it comes to comparing displays, the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 comes out dramatically ahead.
Buttons and Ports
Samsung is a hold-out among Android device makers when it comes to adding a physical home button to its tablets. And the Tab S goes the extra step of making its a fingerprint scanner for biometric security.
Both devices have microSD memory card slots for adding more storage capacity, but only the Tab S has an IR emitter.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 employs a 1.2GHz quad-core Marvell PXA1088 processor and 1.5 GB of RAM. Its 8480 score on the Quandrant benchmarking tool shows it has decent performance in most situations.
The Galaxy Tab S 8.4, on the other hand, was built around a Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processor. This uses a 1.3GHz quad-core CPU to save power during light-duty jobs, but jumps up to a 1.9GHz quad-core one to handle challenging tasks. The device has 3 GB of RAM. Its Quadrant score of 20,276 shows that this is a very speedy tablet.
The Tab S is a significantly faster tablet in both benchmarks and in real-world use.
Both of Samsung’s latest mid-size tablets run Android 4.4.2 KitKat, which is currently the most recent version of the OS. Samsung has layered its TouchWiz user interface modifications on both.
The Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 has a 3MP rear-facing camera, as well as the 1.3MP front camera. The Tab S 8.4, on the other hand, has a pair of much higher-resolution cameras: an 8MP one on the back, and a 2.1MP one on the front.
Aside from video conferencing, the cameras built into tablets are among their least-used features. Nevertheless, those looking for the best camera should pick the Tab S.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is the clear winner in two of the three most important criteria used in picking a tablet: screen quality and performance. But the Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 does come out ahead in the third criteria: price. Its suggested price is $270, while the MSRP for the Tab S is $400.
That said, while the Tab S costs about a third more than the Tab 4, it’s more than twice as fast and its screen has four times as many pixels, and is a Super AMOLED to boot.
That’s why we recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 to anyone looking for a high-quality, mid-size Android tablet. On the other hand, those looking for a light-duty device for occasional use should pick the Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 because of its low price, or they might even consider one of the other budget Android tablets, such as the Asus MeMO Pad 8 (2014).