Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review: the one true iPad alternative

Don’t want an iPad? If you’re after a tablet, you may want to go for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4.

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T3 Verdict

Android tablets have a lot of work to do to beat the iPad range, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is the closest any company seems to have got. There are a few weaker points to this tablet, but if you’re looking for a media powerhouse that can also handle the odd productivity task when needs be, the Galaxy Tab S4 is perfectly designed for you.

Reasons to buy

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    Beautifully sharp and bright display

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    Enviable design that grabs the eye

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    S Pen stylus is impressive and comes with it

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    Top audio quality for a tablet

Reasons to avoid

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    Average battery life

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    Doesn’t come with keyboard case

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    Outdated chipset inside

It has been a long time since I got excited about an Android tablet - mostly because there aren’t many launched each year - but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 has managed to hook me in.

It remains difficult for Android tablet creators to make a device that compels those looking to upgrade to tear away from the iPad range, but if any company can do that - it’s likely to be Samsung. This new top-end slate is clearly designed to defeat the iPad Pro 10.5 in your search for a new slate.

It’s similar to the iPad Pro 10.5 in many ways, and in some it manages to even beat the Apple tablet. Below you’ll find my review with the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S4.

Also, if you want to get bang up to speed on the two other new additions to the Galaxy range of devices, be sure to also check out T3's Samsung Galaxy Watch hands-on review and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 hands-on review, also.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review: video trailer

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review: design

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review

It’s nigh on impossible to make a sexy tablet, but Samsung has got close here with glass on both the front and back, premium metal edges and a slim and lightweight design. All of that combines to offer a beyond premium look.

Samsung has slimmed down the bezels around the screen from the last generation by losing the fingerprint scanner that sat below the screen. Instead opting for an iris and face scanner for security purposes.

I found the security tech to work well - it’s remarkably similar to the scanner on the Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S9 phones.

The Tab S4 is light enough to hold in one hand too, which is a bonus for when you’re trying to use this in public. You may find the glass on the rear a little slippery, so be sure to keep a tight grip.

The design is just as premium as an iPad, and you won’t be embarrassed to be seen using this on a train or a plane. One of the main reasons for that is the bold, vibrant and beautiful 10.5-inch screen on the front of the device.

It’s Samsung’s own Super AMOLED tech being used here, and it boasts an impressive 2560 x 1600 QHD resolution display. That’s 287ppi, which makes this even sharper than the iPad Pro range. Our favorite benefit though is the fact it has a HDR-enabled screen.

The visuals are even more impressive on the screen when you’re playing HDR content from services such as Netflix, and if you’re looking for a tablet to watch TV shows and movies, you’d be hard pressed to go wrong with the Tab S4.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review: features

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review

Keeping on movies, the speakers on the Galaxy Tab S4 are some of the best I’ve used on a tablet. It features four speakers - two at the top edge, and two along the bottom - which are made with top-end audio company AKG, plus it supports Dolby’s ATMOS technology too.

If you’re in public and don’t want to disturb those around you, you can use Bluetooth headphones or the 3.5mm port for wired headphones.

Another big benefit of the Galaxy Tab S4 is its stylus support. Useful for note taking, lists or even sketching, the stylus comes in the box and I found it to work fantastically well.

This probably isn’t a specialist device for artists that need a stunning stylus experience, but it’s good enough for the average joe who wants to play about with a stylus to make the odd sketch or ditch their paper notepad.

Although the S Pen comes in the box - if you want a stylus with the iPad Pro 10.5, you need to spend extra - it doesn’t come with the keyboard case. That costs an extra £119.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review: performance

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review

Inside the Galaxy Tab S4 is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, which isn’t the top-end chipset right now. It was sported by a lot of the flagship phones last year, so it’s a little outdated and that’s a bit of a shame.

That said, I didn’t notice any slowdown compared to other tablets I’ve tried. As it’s paired with 4GB of RAM, it always speedily opened up apps and played games smoothly with ease.

There’s 64GB of storage onboard as standard, which some may find frustrating if you want to fill it full of HDR-enabled movies to watch on the go. If you do need more space, you can always opt for a microSD card.

The tablet also runs Android 8.1 software - I’d expect it to get Android Pie in the future too - but this isn’t as good for tablets as iOS 12 is on the iPad. Android on tablets isn’t as intuitive as Apple’s system is, but it has improved a lot recently and I found the software to still work well on the Tab S4.

Battery life is OK on the Galaxy Tab S4 too. The fully charged tablet went down about 8% from watching a downloaded episode of Preacher - those last 45 minutes - on full brightness. That likely means it’ll last around 12 hours, but it may be a touch less if you’re playing around with other features as well.

I found that five hours of fiddling around playing games, using the S Pen, watching movies and browsing the internet meant the battery went from around 92% to 61%. That means if you’re consistently using this tablet, you’ll likely get around two days usage before it needs to be recharged.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review: verdict

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 isn’t perfect, but it’s the nearest I’ve seen an Android tablet get to being a recommendation over the latest iPad range. There aren’t many improvements over the Galaxy Tab S3, and this is the most high-end spec and premium feel tablet the company has ever made.

The display is absolutely beautiful, the design looks slick, the internals are powerful enough, plus the added S Pen stylus is a useful added extra you don’t get with every other tablet.

Seriously consider the iPad Pro 10.5, but if you’re set on Android and everything else
here sounds up your street then the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 will suit you just right.