Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review

Can the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 slate rival the iPad?

Reasons to buy
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    vibrant screen

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    MicroSD card support

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    Speedy browser performance

Reasons to avoid
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    Poor cameras

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    Thicker design

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    No HDMI output

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 2 tablet packs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box, but is it still a true iPad rival?

The long-running patent dispute between Apple and Samsung continues to rage on in the courts with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 already amongst the victims (in the EU at least), but that's clearly not stopped Samsung rolling out the tablets with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 next on the conveyor belt.

We gave the original Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 a glowing review first time around and it was rightfully considered the closest thing to an Apple iPad in terms of size and capabilities.

A year is a long time in the tech world of course and since then the new iPad, Asus Transformer Prime and Google Nexus 7 amongst others have turned up on the scene.

So has Samsung done enough to maintain its tag as an iPad rival? T3 put the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 to the test to find out.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1: Build

If you had the original Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Tab 2 10.1 at first glance looks very similar in many ways, but there have been some minor changes some of which may or may have not been a result of the current patent dispute with Apple.

Opting for a plastic silver back over the more textured rubbery rear casing on the original, the new Tab 10.1 has jumped to 9.7mm in thickness compared to 8.6mm which is also thicker than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9.

The weight of the device has also increased from 565 to 581g for the Wi-Fi version and strangely feels heavier on the right side of the device.

The bezel around the screen is now slightly wider, while speakers now sit either side of the black bezel when held in landscape while the proprietary charging port sits at the bottom.

In terms of physical buttons, the on/off switch and volume rocker can be found on the edge of the device, along with a new microSD slot (that can expand storage up to 32GB) just below and the 3.5mm headphone jack positioned on the same side just below.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1: Screen

If there is one aspect of tablet-making that Samsung does pretty well with it's making great multimedia-friendly displays.

Using the same 1280x800 display as the one featured on the Galaxy Tab 10.1, you can expect a colourful, vibrant screen performance particularly when watching full HD content.

With just 149ppi pixel density compared to the new iPad's 264 ppi there is a clear difference in clarity especially when you're looking at words in the browser or an eBook up close in comparison.

Viewing angles are great though and it's definitely one of the brightest tablet screens you can lay your hands on that's not a Retina display.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1: Ice Cream Sandwich

The original Galaxy Tab 10.1 ran on Android Honeycomb and thankfully the updated model is brandishing the slicker, prettier Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

With the TouchWiz UI overlaid on top you can expect a dedicated button for taking screenshots and the mini-apps launcher that can be accessed from the bottom of the screen to gain quick access to applications like Email and S Planner (calendar).

Samsung's Hub widgets are plastered on the main homescreen including S Suggest which is an app recommendation service that has been revamped to and now break apps into categories.

Looking back at the look and feel of Honeycomb on the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the addition of Ice Cream Sandwich gives everything a more polished, sophisticated feel and adds great features such as the ability to swipe away recent apps, browser tweaks and the useful application folders.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1: Performance

In the processor department, the Tab 10.1 2 has the same 1GHz NVIDIA dualcore processor and 1GB of RAM as the original.

Invariably when a cheaper device like the Nexus 7 arrives on the scene packing a quadcore processor comparisons are always going to be made, but along with the 1GB of RAM, there is sufficient enough to power to the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 without any major performance issues.

When we swiped through homescreens we did experience some minor lag which we're sure a Project Butter-packing Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update would sort out, but the dualcore processor is more than equipped to handle HD video playback and graphically demanding games.

Something that really stood out was the speed and responsiveness of internet browsing which is definitely up there with the quickest we've seen on a tablet device.

Samsung has included the same 3-megapixel rear-facing camera but dropped the LED flash and added 1080p full HD recording (up from 720p) and a VGA front-facing camera for video calling.

Images were less than inspiring much like before, delivering grainy, noisy images which lacked any real vibrancy. We can be a little bit more positive about the 1080p HD recording, but it isn't amazing by any standards.

Thankfully speakers are not positioned as they are on the Galaxy Tab 7 2.0 and are made for landscape viewing offering clear audio, however it lacks the bass and richness in tablets like the new iPad and can distort at loud levels.

We were not disappointed by the same 7,000 mAh battery which Samsung claims to last around nine hours once again and made it throughout the day.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1: Verdict

It seems strange to see a new tablet that hasn't changed too much from its predecessor which perhaps best describes the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. Having got thicker and heavier, the specs are mostly just the same.

The screen is still an absolute joy to watch films and video while Micro SD card support and Ice Cream Sandwich are both nice and necessary additions.

Android tablets have a lot to live up to now that the Nexus 7 has turned up, but if you want a non-Apple tablet that is similar in screen size and mostly equal in performance for both multimedia and work purposes, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 certainly does the job.

If you are after the best Android tablet, there are definitely cheaper alternatives out there and a few of them can be found in the Asus camp.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 availability: Available now

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 price: £299.99

Michael Sawh

Michael Sawh studied Journalism and Media Studies at Staffordshire University before joining T3 as a Feature Writer. You can find articles by Michael on the topics of Apple products, Android phones, laptops, bikes, games consoles, smartwatches and much more on, as well as neat retrospectives on classic tech products, events and game series.