This is our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4, Samsung’s latest Nexus 7 competitor…
Design & Build Quality
Let us take a look at the device and talk about the Design and the Build Quality. At the top we have the headphone jack, on the left hand side we see the micro sd card slot, on the bottom we have the stereo speaker and the micro usb port. Moving over to the right hand side we see the IR Blaster, the volume rocker and the power button. One nice thing here is the recessed power button in comparison to the more pronounced volume rocker which makes it easier to distinguish one from another.
The tablet is very light weighing in at only 331g which is great for a 8.4” device. The Tab Pro feels solid not overly premium though since it almost feels too lightweight and slightly shallow, the good thing here, there is no flex or any sort of squeaking noticeable. The faux leather on the back feels fantastic, very soft and grippy, definitely better than either the cold aluminum of the LG G Pad or the weird soft touch coating of the Nexus 7.
The display for some reason feels more like plastic than actual glass and is also quite slippery which makes a long press sometimes harder due to moving while pressing. About the actual build quality, the sides on mine are slightly loose cause a clicking or cracking sound when touching the display near the bezel. Nothing to really concern about but it could be annoying for a few people out there.
Here we have with, the actual highlight of this tablet, the 8.4 display with a resolution of 2560×1600. It is extremely sharp and crisp, the benefit of it is less noticeable though for videos and pictures if you don’t have any actual content with such a high resolution. The difference is way more visible when viewing at a lot of text and similar stuff. The display can be very dim but also very bright, not as bright as the Nexus 7 though, which is still pretty much unrivaled in this department.
Whites are super white and have exactly the right temperature, not too warm and not too cold. Neither blue nor yellow. It is easily on par if not better here than the Nexus 7 2013. Blacks could be a bit deeper, there is just slightly too much backlight visible here. Therefore it still manages to show a lot of details and there’s not even a hint of backlight bleeding or similar present though. Colors are balanced pretty much perfectly with exactly the right amount of saturation, not overblown or washed out in any way.
Viewing angles are really convincing, very stable on horizontal and vertical tilt and almost lose no colors accuracy or brightness. Only 45° angles end up in a slightly washed out screen but that’s pretty much impossible to avoid on LCD screens in general anyways.
There is one quite annoying issue though. Scrolling attempts often get recognized only as a tap which sometimes causes mishits and a bit of confusion. Maybe it’s a device defect or a software bug, it’s hard to tell for now.
The sound definitely get be pretty loud for such a compact device, it is noticeably louder than the Nexus 7 or the LG GPad. There is even a slight hint of bass present if the sound gets reflected properly. Treble and mids do a fine job overall. The speaker placement though is quite stupid since the lower one gets blocked and therefore sounds muffled almost all the time when holding the device in landscape mode. It is especially annoying when playing games due to the vibration the speaker causes.
The performance in general is pretty good, sadly though not completely consistent throughout the whole system. While being in apps it is fast and very smooth but for some reason it just lacks the feeling of being snappy almost all the time. App switching often happens with lots of visible slowdowns, moving around the OS feels a bit heavy and sluggish from time to time.
As for the browsing performance, as long as you stick with Chrome or Samsung’s browser you are good to go. The browsing experience is among the best out there on Android, it offers good even though not super fast loading times, the scrolling is very smooth and only has a few rare hiccups here and there, especially on heavier websites.
Webkit browsers sadly though perform way less satisfying. Using Naked Browser, Lightning browser or Opera things get noticeably more janky. Loading times are still ok but the scrolling is less smooth with lots of lag which makes the overall experience way less convincing.
Normal apps like Amber, Newsstand, and also twitter clients are extremely smooth and noticeably better than on the N7 and the LG Gpad. The PDF performance is on a very poor level, compared to the N5 it is way less smooth and the re-rendering of the fonts is also slower here. Checking it’s multitasking capabilities and taking a look at multi window you will quickly notice a severe drop in performance, lag and especially slowdowns become much more visible and then there’s still the lacking multi window support missing on a lot of apps. Slower sluggish app switching and throttled multi window performance allows only for a limited amount of additional productivity compared to most other tablets out there after all. Games are smooth in general but seem to struggle a bit more often with slowdowns when comparing it to other high end android devices. It is still more than playable but the overall experience could get slightly diminished in the end after all. On heavy load the device gets slightly warm in the lower center of the tablet, is it nothing to be concerned about though.
A full charge form 5% when the screen starts dimming up to 100% when the screen automatically turns itself on telling you it’s finished charging, takes up pretty exactly 3 hours which is quite good in my experience, not breathtaking though. Thanks to the very power efficient Snapdragon 800 the standby drain in general is very minimal good for hours and hours of battery life.
The actual screen on time you can expect here, is about 6-8 hours depending on each persons personal use case scenario. Doing what I usually do, so things like hangouts, twitter, browsing and a lot of youtube and G+ I mostly ended up with about 7 to 7.5 hours with a total time of 24 hours and more. I think it should be easily enough for one pretty heavy day, 2 days of moderate use and 3 or more days of casual use.
FIrst of all, from a users perspective, Touchwiz is way less obtrusive and in your face than ever before, from a design perspective it still looks quite childish and cheap though. It is nice to see most gimmicky features are turned off by default though. The launcher itself is ok but starts to lag when switching between the more common home screen over to the magazine UX part which is essentially just a bunch of flipboard widgets put together in a slightly different design. The tabbed settings layout feels unfamiliar if coming from something more stock like but it gets the job done well once you get used to it.
The single notification bar design is pretty ugly and looks totally out of place but at least it is quite functional offering customizable Quick Settings which allows fast adjustments and changes.As for the storage, you get 11 out of 16gb of storage left free for your personal use.The amount of bloat apps is kept within reasonable limits, some apps even make perfect sense like for example remote desktop , the full office suite and some other ones.
The Tab PRO 8.4 has a very nice not cheap feeling build quality, the display is best in class, period. The delivered sound experience is absolutely satisfying but not mind blowing. The software has become toned down and seems way better than before, it still seems to cause performance issues like slowdowns while app switching and gaming after all though. The performance itself is a bit of a 2 edged sword, mostly super smooth on most common apps but laggy and burdened by slowdowns while apps switching and on some specific apps, the webkit browser performance also leaves room for improvement here. The battery life is solid and shouldn’t be a problem at all for almost anybody.
Opinion and comparison to the Nexus 7 and LG GPad 8.3
Let’s end this review with my opinion and a general comparison with competitors like the Nexus 7 and the LG Gpad. Even with some quirks I consider the Tab Pro among the best if not the best android tablets available at the moment. The bigger screen really makes up for a lot, which personally is the reason for me why it surpasses the Nexus 7 in overall. If the bigger screen is not compelling to you though, there is nothing to say against the N7 here. After all you still get the newest updates first and can enjoy the lightweight feeling of stock android here, and don’t forget the quite big amount of money you will save buying the Nexus 7.
The better display and overall convincing qualities makes life way harder though for the LG Gpad.With a current street price of about 270€ it still offers the better price/performance ratio than the Tab Pro. If you consider the 350$ of the Google Play edition though, this advantage is mostly gone. Then the Tab Pro offers just more and also more high end specs, the way better display and also better sound quality. The Gpad feels more solid but the Tab Pro is far from feeling cheap as well. The finish is more of a personal preference here, personally I would prefer the nice faux leather feel though. The overall package of the Tab Pro is quite convincing but slightly fails to completely impress and mesmerise me enough to give it my highest recommendation after all. It is great, not outstanding though. But in the end it still ends up being one of the tablets at the very top end of the line and should be able to satisfy almost anybody out there.