The Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 is powered by a Samsung Exynos 5433 octa-core processor. This includes one set of four cores running at 1.9 GHz for when performance is needed, and a second set at 1.3 GHz for battery saving.
The device includes 3GB of RAM, a fairly generous amount, and the same as its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S 10.5. The $499.99 version of this model comes with 32GB of built-in storage, which is twice as much as some similarly priced rivals. This storage can be increased with microSD cards.
Samsung’s new flagship tablet boasts impressive performance, and it’s up to the job of handling just about anything it’s asked to do. On the Geekbench 3 benchmarking test, the Tab S2 9.7 pulled in a score of 4400. It was moderately outscored by the Apple iPad Air 2 which has a 4520 score, but solidly beat the Tab S 10.5’s 2760 score.
The Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, the latest version of Google’s operating system for tablets and phones. A new version, Android 6.0 Marshmallow is expected soon, and it’s quite possible Samsung will eventually release an upgrade, but the company has not yet said anything about this.
Samsung believes in modifying the basic Android user interface in ways large and small. It gives the icons for homescreen folders rounded edges, and reduces the number of pull-down windows at the top of the screen from two to one, which many would consider a positive change.
Android OS itself doesn’t offer split-screen multitasking, but Samsung has added support for running two applications side by side. The limitation is that because this isn’t a standard feature of Android there are only a handful of apps that support Samsung’s Split View. For example, one of the most useful combinations would be Google Chrome with Microsoft Word, but neither of these applications support this feature.
There are other nice touches, like items played in the Video Player app have a pop-up mode that puts the video in a movable and resizable window that floats above any other running software.
Business & Productivity
Samsung has made a real push for the enterprise market in recent years, particularly with KNOX, its security and mobile device management suite, and productivity-focused devices like the Galaxy Note5. While the Tab S2 is no Galaxy Tab Active, it does feature some some business chops.
Our review unit came preloaded with various enterprise CRM apps like SalesForceOne, Docusign for SalesForce and Introhive, in addition to collaboration apps like Cisco Jabber, Cisco Webex, Citrix GoToMeeting, Vidyo, and Accelion Kiteworks. Citrix Receiver also came preinstalled for desktop virtualization, but for those not concerned with the IT side of things, Samsung SideSync provides a more relevant virtualziation feature for moving content to and from the Tab S2 to a PC or Mac. We had some nice things to say about it in the Galaxy Note5 review.
Those apps won’t be preloaded on store-bought devices, and typical users looking to use the S2 for work will appreciate the 4:3 screen ratio, preloaded Google and Microsoft Office apps, and the fingerprint security. Android is also very productivity friendly, and supports USB keyboards and mice. Galaxy Tab S2 owners will need a micro-to-full USB adapter to take advantage of this, or will have to turn to one of Samsung’s numerous wireless accessories. Alas, the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 does not support the S Pen.
Of course, for any business device to succeed, potential users will have to want to use it. That’s what’s helped the iPad become such a success in the business world. To that end, the Tab S2 9.7 is sleek and powerful enough to stave off any iPad envy.
The Samsung Galaxy S2 9.7 includes an 8 megapixel rear camera, which does a decent job of taking non-demanding pictures. It doesn’t deal well with moving objects, and there’s no flash so it’s not likely to become anyone’s only camera, however. The software for controlling it is the standard Android app.
There’s also a 2.1 MP front camera that is more than good enough for video conferencing.
This tablet has a 5,870mAh battery, and Samsung makes no claims about how long it will go between charges. This might be because the battery life could be better: on the Geekbench 3 benchmark, this device went for 6 hours and 12 minutes, which is substantially below rivals like the iPad Air 2, which scored 8:42 on the same test.
That said, the Samsung device was able to last two days of moderate to heavy use on a single charge in our real world tests.