Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7"

By James Fordham, January 18 2016
Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 continues the evolution of the Galaxy Tab range, bringing more power and versatility to the popular Android tablet.

We’ve found it to be an impressive performer, and coupled with the Samsung Keyboard Cover it makes a portable, convenient alternative to your laptop for light business work, emails and web browsing.

Initial impressions of the Galaxy Tab S2 are great – it’s slim, lightweight, and easy enough to hold in one hand, which is perfect for when you’re fumbling for your passport and trying to pull up your ticket information at the same time.

The 9.7-inch version we tested weighs in at just 392g and a super slim 5.6mm thickness, but Samsung also offers the Galaxy Tab S2 in an 8.0-inch flavour, dropping over a third of its weight and gaining a couple of hours in battery life.

If you don’t need a lot of screen real-estate, the smaller option may be even better than its big brother for business travel, thanks to its reduced weight and improved battery life.

Despite the Galaxy Tab S2 being lightweight and portable, the materials don’t feel flimsy or frail. The  Galaxy Tab S2 sports a metal housing on the front, and a plastic covering on the back, which we preferred to the sometimes-slippery all-metal composition of competitor tablets.

Like most tablets these days, there’s very little in the way of tactile buttons. The power button and the volume controls are on the right side and the ubiquitous centre button and dedicated ‘Back’ and ‘Menu’ controls on the front of the Tab S2.

The microSD slot is also housed on the right side, making it easy to expand storage and it’s hot-swappable, so you can switch out microSD cards on-the-go for even more storage. The bottom edge is where you’ll find the micro-USB charging port as well as two inbuilt speakers and the headphone jack.

At its heart is the eight-core processor and 3GB of RAM, giving the Galaxy Tab S2 formidable performance. The Galaxy Tab S2 runs on Android 5.1, and if you’re familiar with previous Samsung devices there’s not much change to the way things work in terms of UI.

When testing the Galaxy Tab S2 under heavy multitasking, including high-end games and other apps that tend to slow other tablets down, the Galaxy Tab S2 remained responsive and agile.

While power is not an issue, perhaps the biggest concern when travelling for business will be the battery life - Samsung advises just 7 hours of battery life when browsing the internet on 3G, and up to 12 hours if you’re using it for video playback.

With a mix of web browsing, video playback and a large portion of time dedicated to Word and Excel throughout the day, we found the battery gasping its last breaths after around 6 hours.

The shorter-than-we’d-like battery life is most likely attributable to the stunning display. Dishing up the visuals is a Super AMOLED 2,048-by-1,536 pixel screen – beautifully vibrant and rich in colour, the screen is specifically designed so that it reduces glare in the sun.

Samsung has also released a companion Bluetooth keyboard ($199 RRP) that comes with its own cover and makes the tablet a quite capable laptop replacement for light work such as making documents or editing presentations.

In terms of content, Samsung preloads the Galaxy Tab S2 with the usual gamut of apps that we’re used to seeing on Samsung products, some handy and some unnecessary. A couple of perks of the  Galaxy Gifts program include a free 6-month subscription to The Economist and  The Guardian, as well as 100GB of free Microsoft OneDrive space to use for 2 years if you have  a Microsoft account – handy for backing up files, photos and other documents in the cloud. 

The 4G connectivity of our test version was perfect for keeping files and documents synced up while on the road, but Samsung also offers a Wi-Fi only version for those who don’t need 4G.

There are a number of competitors in the large tablet and small tablet market - the 9.7-inch version of the Galaxy Tab S2 is firmly aimed at iPad Air 2 territory, while the smaller 8.0-inch variant has its sights set on the iPad Mini 4.

Overall, we were impressed by the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 - the more we used it, the more natural it became to reach for it instead of the laptop for light business work and web browsing, which is exactly what a flagship tablet should be doing.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is available in the following variations:

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, 8.0”, Wi-Fi: $499
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, 9.7”, Wi-Fi: $599
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, 8.0”, 4G: $649
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, 9.7”, 4G: $749

Follow Australian Business Traveller on twitter: we're @AusBT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 700

Is this sponsored?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2549

No. (Here's a handy hint to tell if it an article is 'sponsored content': if it is sponsored content, it'll carry a clear declaration of such.)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 700

Ok thanks

I just remember Samsung having something to do with Virgin and up there in the photo is a Virgin Boarding pass with a Samsung Tablet.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2549

That's only because the flight during which we tested the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 was a Virgin Australia flight.

17 Jun 2011

Total posts 64

Of course it's sponsored....by caffeine :)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Sep 2012

Total posts 132

I've just bought the 9.7 4G version for my wife to replace her iPad2. I'd weaned her off her iPhone4 to a Galaxy S5 then S6 - and now she has a Galaxy Tab.

Love the device. The screen is great. The responsiveness is great. Best bundling the thing with the official tablet case. 

Battery life thus far has been great. Uses the thing for leisure at home - emailing with work. 

Syncd with Netflix, Plex and Deezer - for media. Bloody brilliant!

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