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    Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab4 series

    Review
    By 

    Last updated: May 20th, 2014 at 12:54 UTC+02:00

    Samsung announced the latest Galaxy Tab series on April 1st, the Galaxy Tab4, which is available in 7-inch, 8-inch and 10.1-inch variants and is aimed at the low-end tablet market. Like previous years, the Tab4 series comes with specs that are nothing to write home about, but will differentiate itself with the design and pricing.

    We've had our hands on the three Galaxy Tab4 tablets for about a week now, so read on for our review.

    Design

    What's instantly noticeable is that the entire Tab series looks alike, with the traditional Samsung design language, which you would think would have changed a bit by now. Thankfully, the Tab4 slates have slimmer bezels than their predecessors, with a much better finish. Samsung introduced the “recents” button and replaced the menu key on its TabPRO lineup, and the same treatment has been given to the Tab4 as well. The tablets have a beautiful faux chrome bezel around the screen and a sturdy build, which actually makes them feel quite premium. The only backside is that the back picks up fingerprints easily, but that's okay, since you'll spend most of your time looking at the screen.

    Here's what the Tab4 tablets consist of on each side:

    Tab4 7.0
    • • Front: 7.0-inch LCD (1280 x 800) display, 1.3 MP front camera, home button, back button, multitasking button.
    • • Rear: Speaker, 3 MP camera
    • • Left side: Nothing.
    • • Right: Button Lock, volume buttons and IR blaster, MicroSD slot
    • • Top: 3.5 plugin headset
    • • Bottom: Micro USB 2.0
    Tab4 8.0 
    • • Front: 8.0” LCD 1280 x 800 display, 1.3 MP front camera, home button, back button, multitasking button
    • • Rear: Speaker, 3 MP camera
    • • Left side: Nothing.
    • • Right: Button Lock, volume buttons and IR blaster, MicroSD slot
    • • Top: 3.5 plugin headset
    • • Bottom: Micro USB 2.0
    Tab4 10.1
    • • Front: 10.1” LCD 1280 x 800 display, 1.3 MP front camera, home button, back button, multitasking button
    • • Rear: 3 MP Camera
    • • Left side: Speaker and Headset 3.5 plugin
    • • Right: Speaker
    • • Top: Button Lock, volume buttons and IR blaster, MicroSD slot
    • • Bottom: Micro USB 2.0

    Interface

    The beautiful thing about Samsung devices is that everyone understands how they work. The interface is a bit boring in terms of looks, but on the flip side, it is user-friendly. Everything looks uncluttered, the icons and text and readable, and everything is easy to find. We do think the settings menu could be better though, as it is currently a bit confusing. As with all the tablets from Samsung, the Multi-Window feature is present, which can be opened by swiping from the edge of the screen on any page. As expected, the entire interface has been renewed to match the guidelines of Android 4.4 KitKat, meaning things have become flatter and we see white status bar icons.

    SAMSUNG CSC

    Unfortunately, Samsung didn't take all the good things from KItKat. For instance, you have full-screen album art on the lockscreen on the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 3, but it is missing on the Tab4. Otherwise, the usual features like Smart Stay and Power Saving Mode are present, and it's good to see there's an option for multiple accounts, through which individual users can have their own dedicated account on the same tablet. However, the tablet does slow down quite a bit when there are multiple users active.

    SAMSUNG CSC

    Another thing we've noticed is that Samsung has pre-installed two new apps, namely Netflix (partner deal) and Kids Mode, though since we've gotten the Tab4 series from the US, things might vary by market. WatchON is an excellent choice because Samsung sells a huge amount of televisions which can be controlled using the IR blaster on the tablets (you can control third-party TVs as well, though support might not be that extensive.) Kids Mode needs to be installed by the user, which we did, and were pleasantly surprised. It has been adapted for the larger screen and is a bit different from Kids Mode on the Galaxy S5, with more animations and sounds that make it more fun to use.

    SAMSUNG CSC

    Camera

    Samsung uses the same sort of cameras throughout the entire Tab4 series, namely a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and a 3.1-megapixel back camera. We were a little disappointed by the fact that they miss basic things like a touch-to-focus option, and the highest resolution is still HD. We can forgive the latter, but come on Samsung, you simply need to have touch to focus on every device in 2014. The camera interface is the same as the one on the Galaxy TabPRO line and the Galaxy S4/Note, which should make it familiar for most.

    Overall, the cameras are nothing special and just there for the sake of it. Check out some of the photos taken with the Tab4 series below.

    Screen

    Because of the pricing, we can't expect too much of its screen. The pixel density is low throughout the Tab4 range, with each tablet have a resolution of 1280×800. That results in the following pixel density: 216ppi on Tab4 7.0, 189ppi on Tab4 8.0, and the lowest of 149ppi on the Tab4 10.1, which means you will have to grab the 7-inch model for the best viewing experience. The question remains: how long will Samsung continue to make these low-resolution screens, when the competition is offering a better hardware and price ratio? There shall always be a market for these tablets, but a full HD screen would be so much better, at least on the 10.1-inch model. Maybe something to consider for 2015?

    Battery

    We were quite surprised by the battery endurance – with one full charge we could use the tablet for around 3 to 4 days, including browsing the internet, watching some YouTube videos, and playing a game every once in a while.

    So which Tab4 tablet lasted the longest and had the best battery life? Well, from our tests we concluded that the Tab4 8-inch was the best, followed by the 10.1-inch model and the 7-inch model in second and third place. For those interested, here are the battery capacities of each tablet.

    • • Galaxy Tab4 7.0: 4,000mAh
    • • Galaxy Tab4 8.0: 4,450mAh
    • • Galaxy Tab4 10.1 6,800mAh

    Processor

    The entire Tab4 series runs on a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, which isn't exactly the best but gets the job done. The interface is very fluid – Samsung's software has been known for lagging, but on the Tab4 series we noticed very little of that, though it's possible things will change after a few weeks of usage. Playing heavy games is troublesome, but other than that, the quad-core processor does a good job on these budget tablets, and it's good to see Samsung finally upgrading them from a dual-core processor.

    SAMSUNG CSC

    Wrap up

    During our unpacking of the three tablets, what struck us the most was the upgraded build quality. The back can pick up fingerprints easily, but otherwise, the three Tabs feel quite premium for their price range. The screen isn't something you can expect much from – these should at least be HD, and if other companies can do it, so can Samsung (it will take away some of their profit, but how long can you offer a bad experience to consumers in the name of profits?) The camera needs touch focus, which we're hoping will come along in a software update or at least be fixed in the next Galaxy Tab iteration.

    The interface is fluid and the same as the more expensive Galaxy TabPRO series. Multi-user support is good, and it's good to see Kids Mode is present as well. Also nice is that Samsung has put on the latest version of Android on all three tablets, and this will hopefully also result in better and faster software updates.

    All in all, these are a good improvement over the Galaxy Tab 3 series, so a job well done!

    SAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSC

    Review Galaxy Tab4Galaxy Tab4 10.1Galaxy Tab4 7Galaxy Tab4 8

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