The Samsung Galaxy Tab Active sports a 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm 8026 processor, along with 1.5 GB of RAM. Once again, this is more in in-line with the mid-range tablets on the market at the time of this review than it is the flagships, but you wouldn’t know it based on day-to-day performance.
This is an especially zippy tablet, and it handles even intensive apps just fine – including games. Productivity apps should pose no problem for anyone, and we were able to pull up and edit extensive spreadsheets with the new Microsoft Excel app without issue. It takes about 30 seconds to power up from a cold start, which is on the slow side of things. It shuts down in seconds.
The benchmarks actually betray the real-world performance. The Tab Active falls in line with the similarly-spec’ed Tab 4 Nook, which sits just above the 2012 Nexus 7 in the Geekbench 3 benchmark. Other recent tablets score much higher. But again, this score is not reflective of actual usage experience.
The Tab Active supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, but not the new ac standard, unlike most new mobile devices. It’s likely most businesses looking to deploy the Tab Active have yet to upgrade to ac routers anyhow, so it’s a moot point in 2015.
Both cameras are poor by any standard, which is surprising given Samsung’s imaging prowess. In addition to the low resolution, images are soft and don’t respond well to anything other than ideal lighting. It’s bad enough that we’d think twice about using this for imaging for anything other than as a backup. This could be an issue for an insurance inspector or appraiser.
As of this writing, there is no LTE version of the Android tablet. That should change soon, given Samsung is pitching this device for field work.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Active ships with Android 4.4 (KitKat). Thankfully, Samsung kept its Touchwiz refinements and bloatware to a minimum, but retained the genuinely useful multi-window feature that allows users to run two apps congruently, side by side. Other tweaks include an omnipresent “my files” shortcut on the bottom left corner, as well as an “all apps” option on the bottom right. Both are utilitarian additions.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Active ships with 16 GB of onboard storage, of which approximately 11.3 GB are available for apps. Even with the microSD card slot, that’s a bit low as some apps exceed 2 GB in size.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Active has a 4,450 mAh lithium ion battery. Samsung claims users can squeeze out about 12 hours of Internet time on a full charge.
In our rigorous battery drain, we ended up getting 6 hours and 35 minutes. This involves streaming video over Wi-Fi with the display set to maximum brightness. In other words, this is close to the bare minimum users can expect to get out of the tablet battery, and it’s very good. Dim the display a bit and we easily see this tablet hitting Samsung’s 12-hour mark.
All of this is rendered slightly moot by the fact that the Tab Active has a user-replaceable battery, and it’s easy to carry a charged extra and swap it in when needed. This design feature is missing on too many devices (sacrificed in the name of thinness).
Being an enterprise tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active boasts features not found on consumer tablets … the kind of features that CIOs and IT managers care about. That includes a standard 3-year warranty (most consumer devices have a 1-year warranty), and Samsung KNOX 2.0 support for business-grade security. It also certified Citrix ready for Citrix’s mobility, virtualization, networking, and cloud platforms. And finally, it’s SAP certified for SAP Work Manager, which includes asset management and SAP CRM service manager.
In addition, Samsung has a host of partners making all manner of enterprise accessories for the Samsung Tab Active, including cases for hazardous and explosive environments (like those found in the oil and gas industry), charging carts, and vehicle mounts, to name a few.
Finally, it ships with a protective cover, which adds a good deal of protection and protects the Galaxy Tab Active from drops of 4 feet (up from 3 without), and includes a docking station for the C Pen, which also ships with the device.
The C Pen is a simple stylus that does no more than duplicate a finger touch; it’s not active or smart like the S Pen featured with the Galaxy Note series. But Samsung is once again thinking of gloved users with its inclusion. There’s no need to expose those digits to the elements thanks to the C Pen.