Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: Performance

October 14, 2014 by Adama D. Brown Reads (218,788)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Usability
    • 8
    • Design
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 10
    • Features
    • 10
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 10
    • Total Score:
    • 9.20
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Going under the hood, the Wi-Fi-only version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 features a Samsung Exynos 5420 8-core CPU, whereas the LTE versions use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 with four Krait cores instead.

LTE users won’t miss the octa-core CPU, though. On four runs of Quadrant benchmarks, the Tab S 10.5 LTE averaged a whopping score of 22,355, making it easily the fastest Android tablet we’ve tested. That even beats the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition), which sports the Exynos 5420 found on the Wi-Fi-only Tab S. There’s no letdown in the subjective performance either, with even the complex apps running as smooth as glass.

For such a flagship device, it could be a little disappointing that the Tab S only comes in 16 GB and 32 GB versions — and the 4G LTE variant is only found in 16 GB. Fortunately, the Tab S sports a microSD memory card slot, allowing for you to add up to 128 GB of additional memory. With cards that size costing as little as $110 as of this writing — and 64 GB cards being available for under $35 — the amount of internal memory feels almost moot. But only almost; with flash memory being as cheap as it is, it would be nice to have a little more right out of the box, especially if you’re going to eat 6 GB of it out of the box by loading the device up with tons of apps that no one asked for.

Communication

The Galaxy Tab S 10.5 supports all the currently available versions of Wi-Fi, including both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks. HDMI is also in there, supposedly, although it’s only accessible through one of the terribly inconvenient “MHL” adapters. Rounding out the usual suspects are Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy and GPS.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 -- Magazine UX

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 — Magazine UX

There is one thing that’s a little disappointing here. For whatever reason, the Tab S doesn’t include Near Field Communication (NFC). To be sure, that’s not a huge complaint — we doubt there’s many people who really use NFC on a tablet very often. But that’s a self-reinforcing problem. There’s no demand for it to be universal if people don’t use it, and people won’t be likely to use it unless it’s universal. NFC beaming is, at the very least, convenient. And it is bizarre that 10 years after Bluetooth was supposed to solve this problem, the easiest way to send a file to another device in the same room is still by email.

As mentioned earlier, the Tab S 10.5 is available in an LTE version on all four major carriers. Unfortunately, no one version of the device is compatible with all four services, but this does mean that some carrier-specific customizations are available. For instance, Sprint’s version also supports the telecom’s tri-band aggregation technology, called Spark, which is supposed to offer download speeds of up to 60 megabits per second. Don’t get too excited though, because Spark is still in very limited deployment; from our location, the nearest Spark city is 300 miles as the crow flies, so we weren’t able to test that specifically.

Otherwise signal performance of the LTE radio is about on par with what you would expect from a good smartphone in terms of holding on to a connection.

Software

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 -- Multi Window

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 — Multi Window

Here’s where we run into one of the only real foibles of the Galaxy Tab S 10.5. Like most manufacturers, Samsung modifies Android. Sometimes, this works well; the quick access in the notification shade to turning on and off things like Wi-Fi and GPS, for instance, is great. So is the fact that there’s only one notification shade, thus fixing Google’s worst interface design decision in years.

But then there are changes which don’t work so well. “Magazine UX,” the tiled newsfeed system they build into Samsung’s new tablets, is one of those times. It doesn’t really do anything that you couldn’t already do with widgets, and it doesn’t go away. Overall this is a kind of petty complaint, but on a tablet that’s otherwise so excellent, some of the annoying software does tend to stick out.

Besides Magazine UX, the Tab S is loaded with both Samsung customizations and third-party apps. One of the most prominent of the former is multi-window mode, which lets you run two separate apps side by side in split screen. We’ve gone into this in greater detail with previous devices, but it still merits saying here that it’s a very handy feature, possibly the most useful real customization on the Tab S. Being able to work with two things at once — say, looking at a web page on one side of the screen and Google Maps on the other, or splitting it between GPS navigation and playing videos for family road trips. Multi-window on a 10-inch tablet essentially gives you the equivalent of two 7-inch screens to work with, which can be very handy.

There’s also a staggering heap of third-party apps loaded onto the Galaxy Tab S 10.5, far too many to go into detail about. Many of the usuals are there such as Amazon’s bevy of apps, Samsung’s app store, Flipboard, eBay, Spotify, Hancom Office, et al. Also featured is Samsung’s SideSync, which lets you share files between your devices easily as well viewing your tablet screen on your PC, or your smartphone on your tablet. Unfortunately, this only works on very select Samsung smartphones and tablets.

Camera

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 -- Camera App

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 — Camera App

One of the surprises working with the Tab S is the camera. Even on high-end tablets like this, you can usually only expect so much out of the camera, especially in low light: usually meaning anything other than direct sun. So it was a nice discovery to make that the Tab S produces brighter pictures with more detail in less than optimal light than other devices we’ve used, including my Galaxy S4. Mind you, that’s not to say that the camera is GOOD in low light–photos are still lacking in focus and high in noise — but it’s visibly better than average. Considering how stagnant mobile device cameras have been for years, any improvement is good news.

Battery Life

Despite its extreme thinness making you wonder how Samsung could possibly have actually fit a battery inside there, the battery life on the Tab S 10.5 is surprisingly powerful. Actually, let me rephrase that: it’s shockingly powerful.

Usually a rule of thumb is that a 10-inch tablet would probably max out at 10 hours of battery life, maybe 6-8 if you’re running it hard. Samsung rates the 10.5 at 9 hours, which would be fairly average, but it considerably outpaces that prediction. You probably couldn’t run down the Tab S 10.5 in less than 8 hours by anything other than the most ludicrously power hungry activities … and under somewhat more cautious use, the Tab S will go for 12 hours or more.

It’s hard to define “average use” these days with such a widely diverse sets of requirements, but if you’re accustomed to getting a full day out of competing tablets, the Tab S 10.5 will make you very happy indeed.

Price and Availability

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is available without LTE, as of this writing, from Samsung starting at $399.99 and Amazon starting at $397.99.

Just a bit more: Page 3 wraps up our final thoughts on this high-end tablet.


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2 Comments

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  1. BigLakeSailor

    This Tablet is a piece of garbage that is poorly made and is not backed up by Samsung. I purchased the tablet on 11/4/2014 and kept in a pocket is my padfolio. The tablet had a cover and was never dropped, banged or any other impact damage. In early December I took out the tablet and notices the glass was cracked across the entire screen. One single crack. There was no impact marks or any other indication of damage. I brought the tablet to the Samsung booth and Best Buy and the representative looked at it and said it looked like a defective glass but since it was a4G he couldn’t do anything. He gave me the number to send it in for repair. I called and got an RA and was told that once they inspected it and determined it was defective they would repair as a warranty repair. Well I soon discovered that all that was a lie. I sent it in and 3 days later got an email and bill for $258.72 for repair indicating that it was out of Warranty. When I contacted the Samsung Customer I-Don’t-Care I was told that it was out of warranty and it would be charged to fix. When I said that it was purchased on 11/4 she responded that I could send a receipt but that would not matter since they would charge to repair the screen. I said what about warranty repair and she responded that she could reduce the charge to $150 but since the unit was broken they had to charge to fix. When I stated that it was broken because it was defective she said that was all she could do and wanted my credit card. I declined. This is total Bull S***T. What kind of warranty charges to fix the item? I will get the tablet back and probably use it for target practice. Never again Samsung. You need to learn as a company that when you lie to customers and cheat them they don’t want to deal with you anymore!

    I just received the tablet back from Samsung and there is one more crack in the screen!!! They put another crack in it!!!!

    Update: I posted a review on the Samsung site stating that the screen broke and they would not consider backing it up. I received an email from Samsung stating that my review was rejected. It seems unless you have a good review for their products they will not publish them. What does that tell you about the company?

    Update: After complaining to Samsung that when they returned my tablet they broke the screen even further I was told to send it back for repair. Well today I got the confirmation on the repair and a bill for $258.00 to fix what they broke!!! You have to stay away from this company.

  2. MichelMerlin

    Too thin tablets are FRAGILE and DANGEROUS
    ~–~–~–~ -~–~–~- ~–~–~–~ -~–~–~–
    1. Too thin = too FRAGILE
    I am NOT surprised by “BigLakeSailor” report of 19 Jan 2015. See
    http://www.gsmarena.com/compare.php3?idPhone1=4854&idPhone2=6435&idPhone3=6235
    Comparing Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100, Tab S 8.4 LTE, Tab S 10.5 LTE
    The last one (Tab S 10.5 LTE) is 37 times as long as thick. This can’t help making extremely prone to breaking as soon as you put even a very light pression over it. Which probably happened to poor “BigLakeSailor”.
    By comparison my Note II n7100, already very thin, is “only” 16 times as long as thick.

    2. Too thin = acts as a BLADE
    Some 4 or 5 decades ago I had a friend badly injured in a car accident that should have been benign. But he was listening to a radio set of that era, that he was holding in his hands on his lap. The set entered him and caused bad damages to his internal organs.
    Now just imagine what can do a “radio set” which in addition is 37 times thinner than long, while very sturdy… acting nearly as a knife blade.

    I think makers should better optimize thinness. Sure making devices thin is good, but keep them reasonable please. By making the Tab S 10.5 LTE moderately thicker, say 12mm instead of 6.6mm, makers would be able to make them at the same time STURDIER and LIGHTER, as well as easier to maintain (more room around elements inside).

    Versailles, Sun 19 Jul 2015 18:35:00 +0200