Samsung announced today two new tablets: the Galaxy Tab S4, the latest in its long-running lineup of Android-powered tablets, and the Galaxy Tab A 10.5, a less powerful, cheaper alternative. The former is the immediate successor to last year’s Galaxy Tab S3, poised to challenge premium large-screen devices like Apple’s iPad and Microsoft’s recently announced Surface Go.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
The Galaxy Tab S4, like its predecessors, has narrow bezels. It measures 249.3 x 164.3mm, making it slightly smaller than the Tab S3, and sports a 10.5-inch, 1,600 x 2,560 WQXGA Super AMOLED screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio. But it ditches physical buttons in favor of a minimalist look and new sensors: an 8MP front-facing camera with facial recognition and an iris scanner. It uses the same Intelligent Scan feature as Samsung’s Galaxy S9, automatically switching between two modes of scanning depending on ambient lighting conditions.
Around the sides and back of the Galaxy Tab S4 are four rear-firing speakers tuned by Australian acoustics company AKG (with support for Dolby Atmos), plus a single-lens 13MP camera and LED flash.
Under the hood, the Tab S4 packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, an octa-core chipset that’s a generation behind the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845. Here, it’s paired with 4GB of RAM, 64GB or 256GB of storage (expandable up to 400GB with a microSD card), and a fast-charging 7,300mAh battery that delivers up to 16 hours of playback. Ports and radios include a pogo dock for accessories, a USB-C dock, 802.11ac MIMO Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0. There’s also a far-field microphone array that works with the Google Assistant. (Curiously, the Tab S4 lacks a dedicated button for Samsung’s homegrown Bixby assistant.)
Accessories are where the Galaxy Tab S4 really shines, though. There’s an upgraded (and included) S Pen stylus and an optional $149 keyboard case — the Keyboard Book Cover. When it or any other Bluetooth keyboard is attached to the Tab S4, it switches to Samsung DeX mode, offering a desktop-like experience with a taskbar, resizeable windows (up to 20 at any one time), keyboard shortcuts, and optimized games and apps — which Samsung calls “Apps for Samsung DeX” — including Microsoft Office, Citrix, VMWare, and TripAdvisor.
The S Pen stylus, meanwhile, takes advantage of software features like Air Command, Screen Off Memos, Translate, and Live Message. Other software features of note are Samsung’s Knox security platform and an all-in-one control app for Samsung SmartThings devices.
Alternatively, the Tab S4 can be plugged into a Samsung Dex HDMI-to-USB-C adapter (sold separately), which extends it to an external monitor and switches it to sketch mode. Later this year, it’ll get dual-screen functionality.
The Galaxy Tab S4 ships running Android 8.1 Oreo with Samsung’s TouchWiz skin, and comes in multiple colors, including silver and black. The Wi-Fi-only variant will be available August 10, with LTE-equipped models to follow in Q3. It’s $649 for 64GB and $750 for 256GB, and preorders start today.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5
The Galaxy Tab A 10.5, the Galaxy Tab S4’s low-cost counterpart, doesn’t have much in the way of bells and whistles. You won’t find an S Pen included in the box, nor the Tab S4’s iris scanner or DeX support. But it doesn’t skimp when it comes to hardware.
It boasts a 10.5-inch WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200) TFT LCD screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio, and four front-firing speakers with support for Dolby Atmos. There’s a front-facing and rear-facing camera — 5MP and 8MP, respectively. And in terms of internals, the tablet has a Snapdragon 450 with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage (extendable via microSD card), plus a battery that’s the same size — 7,300mAh — as the one in the Galaxy Tab S4.
On the software side of things, the Galaxy Tab A 10.5 ships with Kids Mode, a child-friendly interface with eight free apps aimed at kids (like Brio World Railway and Toca Hair Salon 3); a multi-user feature that makes it easier for families to share the same device; and Daily Board, a screensaver feature that shows photos, calendar, or a clock when the tablet’s not in use.
It runs Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, and will ship later this year in Wi-Fi and LTE flavors.