Galaxy Tab Active Pro Hands-on Review: Samsung's Rugged Tablet Means Business

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — For its next rugged tablet, Samsung is going big.

At its annual developer conference today (Oct. 30), Samsung took the wraps off the Galaxy Tab Active Pro, the follow-up to last year's Galaxy Tab Active 2 in the company's line of extremely durable tablets aimed at mobile workers who need a portable device that can stand up to the stresses of life in a warehouse, job site or field.

The Galaxy Tab Active Pro starts at $599 for a Wi-Fi-only model, and I got a chance to lay my hands on this heavy-duty device before its debut.

Galaxy Tab Active Pro price and release date

The Wi-Fi version of the Galaxy Tab Active Pro is shipping now for $599. Samsung will start selling the LTE-equipped version of the tablet on Nov. 15 for $679.

Galaxy Tab Active Pro specs

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Price$599, $679 (with LTE)
Screen Size (Resolution)10.1 inches (1920 x 1200)
CPUSnapdragon 670
MicroSD?Yes, up to 512GB
Rear Camera13-MP
Front Camera8-MP
Water ResistanceIP68
Battery Size7,600 mAh
Battery LifeUp to 15 hours (not tested)
Size9.6 x 6.7 x 0.4 inches
Weight1.4 pounds

Galaxy Tab Active Pro display: Works with gloves 

One of the big changes with the Galaxy Tab Active Pro is noticeable right away — it's got a 10.1-inch display, which is a step up from the 8-inch screen on the Tab Active 2. Just as smartphone users are demanding larger screen sizes, mobile workers want more display real estate on their tablets, so this was a much-requested feature, Samsung says.

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung describes the Galaxy Tab Active Pro's display as "enhanced touch," meaning you can still operate it without removing work gloves — a must for a device aimed at mobile workers. Like the Tab Active 2, this new tablet comes with a ruggedized S Pen. It slips neatly into a grove at the top of the Tab Active Pro. 

There are also physical home, back and recent buttons on the tablet, and Samsung added a programmable button to the Tab Active Pro that can quickly launch two frequently used apps.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Galaxy Tab Active Pro durability

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Don't expect the sleek edges and tapered design you see on other tablets. The Galaxy Tab Active series is built to take a licking, and the Pro version is no exception, encased in a thick frame that adds a significant amount of heft. (The tablet tips the scales at 1.4 pounds, and you notice it when you're carrying it around.)

That bulk helps the Galaxy Tab Active Pro endure the rigors of working life. It's got a MIL-STD-810G certification as well as an IP68 water resistance rating, so it can survive a dunk in 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. (The S Pen can, too.)

Galaxy Tab Active Pro battery life 

The screen isn't the only thing Samsung expanded on the Galaxy Tab Active Pro. The new tablet boasts a 7,600 mAh replaceable battery, which Samsung says is capable of delivering up to 15 hours of battery life. That's quite a jump from the 4,450 mAh power pack inside the Tab Active 2 that was rated for 11 hours of battery life.

Battery life's an important feature for rugged tablets, more so than screen size, because the target audience for the device spends the nearly all of its working day nowhere near an electric outlet. With the Galaxy Tab Active Pro, Samsung can make the pitch that this tablet can last throughout that day and then some.

Galaxy Tab Active Pro LTE

While the base model features Wi-Fi connectivity, Samsung will also offer an LTE-equipped version of the Galaxy Tab Active Pro. And unlike the Tab Active 2, which only worked on GSM-based cellular networks, this new tablet will be compatible with the networks of all four major U.S. carriers. 

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Galaxy Tab Active 2 productivity and performance

The Galaxy Tab Active Pro supports Samsung's DeX feature, meaning that when you're back from a job site, you can use a USB-C cable to hook up your tablet to your PC and use it as another display or as your primary computing device. It's the same feature Samsung introduced with the Galaxy Note 10 smartphone and that it's adding to the Galaxy S10 models via a software update.

A Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor powers the Galaxy Tab Active Pro, the same chipset found inside Samsung's Galaxy Tab S5e. The new tablet features 4GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, which you can bump up to 512GB through a microSD slot. Those are all improvements over the Galaxy Tab Active 2, which had 3GB of memory and 16GB of storage.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the back of the Galaxy Tab Active Pro, there's a 13-megapixel camera. It's joined by an 8-MP camera on the front of the tablet.

Pogo pins on the bottom of the tablet allow you to charge the tablet or connect third-party accessories. The tablet also comes with Samsung's Knox security platform as well as support for tools that IT admins configure and deploy the Tab Active Pro. To further boost the appeal to workplaces, Samsung teamed up with Citrix to include Citrix Workplace for organizing workspace apps and data on the tablet.