- Mediocre battery life
- 4:3 aspect ratio not great for movie viewing
- Some flexing when twisted
A year after the Galaxy Tab 2 10.5, Samsung released the Tab S2 9.7 – an updated and redesigned version of the popular tablet and direct rival to Apples iPad Air 2. It is actually both thinner (0.22 inches) and lighter (390 grams) than the iPad Air 2. Like other Samsung devices, it comes with a matte, plastic back and a metal trim. For the most part experts call the overall look and design "professional" though they add the build quality leaves much to be desired as they noticed some flex when applying pressure or twisting. Still, they add they'd rather have it thin and compact as it improves comfort and overall ease of use.
The 9.7 part of the Tab S2 comes from the 9.7-inch, Super AMOLED display. The 2048 x 1,536 resolution only works out to around 264ppi due to its large size. While not as sharp as its predecessor, critics still described it as very crisp and clear. Like other Samsung products, the AMOLED screen on the Tab S2 9.7 provided experts with vivid albeit oversaturated colors, excellent contrast and dark, inky blacks. They also were impressed with the screen brightness with Stuff.TV states, "…you can reach eye-searing levels, bright enough for outdoor reading on a sunny day." Perhaps the biggest change is in the aspect ratio from 16:10 to 4:3. This means the screen is squarer, which experts preferred as it made it easier for them to browse the web and improved their experience with productivity tasks like spreadsheet work. Still, they found movie viewing experience better on a 16:10 as this size matches most TV screens.
Samsung equipped the S2 9.7 with an octa-core processor – four cores run at 1.3GHz for battery saving and the other four run at 1.9GHz for enhanced performance – and 3GB of RAM. While not as fast as the iPad Air 2 during benchmark tests, experts found it to be incredibly fast during real life tests as it provided smooth performance handling any tasks they threw at it. Multi-tasking was a breeze for them and it played even the most graphics intensive games without stutters or frame rate drops. The biggest issue is battery life. The 5,870mAh battery lasted critics around a day of moderate use, which is average at best. With that said, they were hoping for a little more, especially since Samsung touts this as a multitasking tablet.
Tablet cameras aren't a major selling point for most people, but Samsung manages to provide what reviewers consider a serviceable 8MP shooter. They were able to take decently detailed pictures in bright light settings though they did notice colors were not always accurate and moving objects often became just a blur. Indoor pictures surprised experts as they were able to produce pictures with only minimal noise. Besides the main camera, it also comes with a 2MP front camera for selfies and video calls.
Despite some qualms with the battery life, most reviewers highly recommend the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7. PC Mag states, "The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 is one of the best Android tablets on the market." Expert Reviews add, "It's slim, light and has a generally excellent screen…It wins a Recommended awards."