• Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review

  • Samsung makes the iPad Mini look squat

  • Headphone jack and microUSB port down south

  • IR blaster and microSD card slot present and correct

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review

  • This kid is a crazy good golfer - and slightly more saturated on the Tab S

  • Don't worry, them blades can't get ye

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review

It's taken Samsung a while, but there have been signs of late that it's finally cracked this whole tablet thing. 

Just last week we proclaimed the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 to be the best full-sized Android tablet on the planet. And now here comes the similarly specced 8.4in model out to repeat the trick.

On the surface it’s almost identical to its predecessor, the Galaxy TabPro 8.4 (stick with us), but it does have a new AMOLED screen, a slimmer, lighter build and a few software tweaks.

All of which adds up to far more than the sum of its parts. In fact, it’s the first small Galaxy tablet that we’ve truly loved living with. 

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 review

This screen's a stunner

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review

This kid is a crazy good golfer - and slightly more saturated on the Tab S

Don't worry, them blades can't get ye

What. A. Screen.

If you thought the Tab S 10.5’s display was tasty, get ready for a mesmerising staring session with the Tab S 8.4.

With a 2560x1600 resolution and at this size, it’s sharper than the bigger Samsung tablet - a whopping 360ppi - and it’s also a bright, punchy Super AMOLED panel.

It’s the brightest small tablet we’ve ever used, in fact, so a bit of sunlight won’t stop you catching up on emails. And by sharp we meant insanely sharp, like the TabPro before it, with extra detail on hi-res images and in full HD videos to make your jaw drop. The fact that it's a Super AMOLED panel also means that deep blacks are seriously impressive. And if you like your colours vibrant, you won't be disappointed.

All that and it’s both taller and wider than the iPad Mini with Retina display’s 7.9in screen in a very similar sized body. So is it better?

After a lot of testing and squabbling, the iPad Mini just edges ahead. Why? The Tab S 8.4 might display beautifully inky blacks but whites in apps, movies or webpage backgrounds have a bit of a blue tinge to them and don’t look as pure and crisp as on the iPad. We got the best out of it when we manually chose a Super AMOLED setting to get eye-popping homescreens and Papergarden magazines then switched to Basic for movies. The iPad looks gorgeous with no alien colours or skintones no matter what you throw at it. If you plan to use it mainly for movies or gaming rather than browsing the web, though, you can’t get better than the Tab S 8.4.

Us? We use the internet too much. 

READ MORE: The 30 best free apps for Android

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Performance just short of perfect

As much as we like the feature-packed, grown-up looking version of Touchwiz, sadly it must be responsible for the occasional lag we experienced when using the Tab S 8.4. Because it can’t be that beastly Exynos 5 Octa processor and 3GB of RAM.

It’s minor but up against flawless performance from the iPad Mini, it shows. Open and close Chrome or the Gallery a couple of times or swipe between Magazine screens and homescreens and you’ll see stutters.

When taxed with Asphalt 8 or less intensive games such as Blek though, the Tab S 8.4 is dreamy. Downloads are fast and 1080p video playback is smooth. With an AnTuTu score of 34,411 and that silicon, they should be too. It’s not an Android niggle, it’s a Samsung one.

Still, storage is a bright spot. £320 for a 16GB machine doesn’t sound so bad when you can drop another £80 on a 128GB microSD card if you really want locally stored media. A 128GB iPad Mini with Retina display costs £560. Do the maths. 

READ MORE: The £260 LG G Pad 8.3 review 

Capable Cameras - If You Need Them

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review

It goes without saying that Samsung has stuck a pair of decent cameras on the Tab S 8.4. Well, we wish it went without saying so we didn’t have to look like a berk testing the rear 8MP camera, but hey, some people use tablet cameras.

It fares better in daylight - at times getting close to matching smartphone cameras with rich colours and good exposure. Things get fuzzy at night, but essentially the rear snapper can step in when your smartphone’s sleeping. There’s an LED flash on the back too and the 2.1MP front camera handles Skype calls nicely.   

Stuff says... 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review

This light, bright Super AMOLED star is one of the best small Android tabs out there
£320
Good Stuff 
Stonkingly good screen
Magazine UI has really come into its own
Easy to hold, solid build
Bad Stuff 
The iPad Mini 2 is now much cheaper
Some UI lag
Google Play apps aren’t tablet optimised
build
0
screen
0
power
0
apps
0