While some people consider the iPad to be the only premium tablet, Samsung is giving Apple plenty of competition in the high-end tablet arena. With the Galaxy Tab S2, Samsung has developed a fast, thin, lightweight tablet whose specifications are either equal or better than a similar-sized iPad and whose price is lower.
The Tab S2 comes in two sizes and three colors. You can purchase it with a 9.7” or an 8” screen and you can choose black, white, or gold. I reviewed the 9.7” unit in white with cellular connectivity from Verizon. The 9.7” TabS2 is 0.22″ thin and weighs only .86 lbs. The weight bests Apple’s similar-sized devices.
Introduction to the Galaxy Tab S2
The lightness, in part at least, was achieved by using a soft-touch plastic cover instead of an aluminum shell. Samsung, however, added metal edges that outline the tablet instead of a plastic frame. This Tab doesn’t have the dimpled back of the Tab S but is just as easy to grip. Samsung seems to improve the build quality with every rendition of the Tab. The S2 both looks and feels sturdy.
The Tab S2 has an oval-shaped physical home button in the usual front bottom location. The home button also acts as the fingerprint security reader. There are also two capacitive buttons on either side of the home button. These keys light up by default every time the display is touched.
The size, thinness, and lightness of this 9.7” tablet should not be overlooked. It is easy to hold for lengthy periods of time. It can also be held in one hand quite easily without giving up the advantages of a good screen size.
The Tab S2 has a power button and volume rocker on the side. There are stereo speakers, a headphone jack, and an off-center micro USB port line the bottom.
The back also has two silver circular buttons. Although these look like buttons to be pressed, they are actually small tabs that can hold a Samsung cover for the Tab S2.
Let’s Dive Into the Specification of the Galaxy Tab S2
This Tab has a speedy Exynos chip, an octa-core processor with 3GB of RAM. The speed of the CPU coupled with the Tab’s crystal clear Super AMOLED screen makes for an awesome tablet. It comes with 32 GB of storage and this Tab has another awesome feature that you won’t find in an Apple iPad.
The Tab S2 has a microSD card slot. This can be used for cards up to 128 GB, increasing the storage capacity of the tablet immensely. It is perfect for music buffs who have a wealth of tunes or for anyone who wants to store videos, CAD designs, or other large files.
The Super AMOLED screen boasts a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 which is the same as the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4. It produces great detail and vivid colors but is actually a reduction in pixels from the Tab S which boasted 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. A side-by-side comparison showed little difference in picture quality between the two. I suspect that the number of pixels had something to do with the change in aspect ratio.
The older Tab S had a 16:9 aspect ratio, the new Tab S2 has a 4:3 aspect ratio. The 4:3 aspect ratio give lets you see more of the screen when browsing the Web without scrolling as much. One other nice feature is the screen adaptive display technology which gives you the best screen brightness for the ambient light that you are in.
Like most tablets, the Tab S2 has two adequate cameras. The front camera is 8 megapixels while the rear camera is 2.1 megapixels. The camera turns on quickly and the large aperture lens (F1.9) on the front camera is better than many in low light. It can record 2360 x 1440 videos @30 frames per second.
But wait, there’s more
All the other components that we’ve come to expect in our tablets are available in the Tab S2. This includes an accelerometer, finger scanner, gyroscope, compass, RGB Sensor, and Bluetooth 4. It has a 5,870mAh battery that is adequate for average use. The split screen allows you to work on two apps at once. The Tab S2, like the one I reviewed, can also come with 4G cellular connectivity. In my testing, this worked seamlessly on my Verizon Tab S2.
The Tab S2 comes with Lollipop 5.1.1. Right now that is a slight drawback. The newer Android 6.0 Marshmallow will give the tablet the redesigned App Drawer, greater control over app permissions, and perhaps an enhanced battery life through Doze, an operating system enhancement that reduces battery consumption. The update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow has been promised for the S2 this spring, but Samsung has been traditionally slow in rolling out updates.
In the past, the TouchWiz interface that Samsung put on its tablets was as much a detriment as it was an advantage. In the Galaxy Tab S2, however, the TouchWiz overlay has been pared down considerably. It no longer bogs down the operating system, which is a big plus.
Samsung has two features are can be helpful in sharing pictures and data. The first is SideSync which enables screens, windows, and data to be shared easily between a PC and a Samsung Android device. The second is Quick Connect which does the same with the Samsung Tab some other devices like Xbox One, Chromecast, smart TVs, and some set top boxes.
How It Holds Up
Although it has been around since the Galaxy S4 phone, I also like the palm swipe feature. When turned on in the settings, you simply swipe the side of your palm across the screen from left to right to take a screenshot.
The Tab S2 from some outlets comes with the Microsoft Office apps pre-installed. Mine didn’t have these installed, but they quickly downloaded from the Play Store. Although these apps do not have all the features of Office 365, they are free and they allow you to work on Office documents as long as you store them in Microsoft’s One Drive. Microsoft offers 5 GB of free storage.
The 9.7” Tab S2 has prices starting at $399 in the US, but I have seen some good discounts on it. If you can get a good price for this Tab, go for it. It is solidly built, looks and feels good, performs well, and has plenty of storage space.
The above article was originally posted in 2016, but the information still holds up. Read down below to see what’s still going on with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2.
Updates Regarding Its Status
While the tablet was only updated to Android 7.0 Nougat, Samsung seems to have continued pushing security updates to the device over the last four years. The latest security update for the Galaxy Tab S2, according to Verizon (via Android Police), brings the Android security patches for October 2020 to the device. In 2021, the tablet is pretty old now, and trying to run popular apps will slow it down considerably. However, there are tons of alternatives that you can find on unofficial forums such as XDA Developers and other similar websites.
Can you still update old Samsung tablets?
Yes and no. If you happen to stumble upon an unopened Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, then you can update to Android 7.0 Nougat by going through its usual update process within the Android System Settings. However, if you want a newer version of Android on it, you’re going to have to experiment a little with some hacked ROMs. You can root your Android phone or tablet by checking out this tutorial from Digital Trends.
Why is my Samsung tablet not compatible with some apps?
It appears to be an issue with Google’s Android operating system. To fix the “your device is not compatible with this version” error message, try clearing the Google Play Store cache, and then data. Next, restart the Google Play Store and try installing the app again. This usually fixes the issue unless you have a really old version of the Android operating system.