The smaller of Samsung's two new tablets, the 8-inch Tab S2 is a powerful little slate featuring a stunning AMOLED display and a fast octa-core Exynos processor in a very svelte, lightweight design. While its battery life could be better, when it comes to the best Samsung tablets, the Tab S2 should not be overlooked by anyone in search of a compelling Android tablet.
The Galaxy Tab S2 is sleek and sexy without being pretentious. It's an all-black slab with shiny bezels and rounded corners. It's crazy thin, but it doesn't feel fragile, possibly thanks to a matte, soft-touch back that makes it grippier than competitors like the iPad Mini 3.
Directly below the display are the standard Android device controls: the back icon, the physical home button and the icon which shows all opened apps and controls multi-window mode.
Measuring 7.8 x 5.3 x .22 inches and weighing 9.3 ounces, the Tab S2 is thinner and lighter than the $399 iPad Mini 3 (7.87 x 5.3 x 0.29-inches, 12 ounces), as well as the Dell Venue 8 7000 (8.5 x 4.88 x 0.24-inches, 10.72 ounces) and the HP Pro Slate 8 (8.2 x 5.4 x 0.31-inches, 12 ounces).
The 8-inch, 2048 x 1536-pixel AMOLED display on the Tab S2 is a beauty, rendering images with rich colors. When watching the trailer for Sony's "The Secret Life of Pets" , he pinks and purples of a sunset, yellows and greens of bird feathers and golden browns and tans of a rotisserie chicken popped off the screen with such vibrancy that it fooled me into thinking I was a part of this crazy, adorable animal world.
It's not surprising that the Tab S2 can display an incredible range of color, displaying 184.9 percent of the sRGB color gamut. That's better than the Dell Venue 8 7000 (173.3 percent), the HP Pro Slate 8 (94.3) and the iPad Mini 3 (67.3 percent).
The screen isalso fairly accurate when presenting those colors, scoring 2.87 on our color accuracy scale (closer to 0 is better). That's better than the tablet category average (5.3) and the Venue 8 7000 (4.2), but the iPad Mini 3 was slightly better (2.4).
The Tab S2 is a bright tablet as well, notching 420 nits on our test. That's well over the category average (352), the Venue 8 7000 (235) and the iPad Mini 3 (383), and it just beats the Pro Slate 8 (417) as well.
The 8MP rear camera on the Tab S2 took fairly crisp photos.
The pictures I snapped around my office of potted plants, boldly colored walls and desk toys were so true-to-life that they almost looked better than the actual spaces themselves.
However, the 2.1-MP front-facing wasn't great.
While my skin tone looked accurate, the outlines of my face and hair were blurry. The beauty tool at the top of the camera window smooths skin and makes it look porcelain-perfect. There are also live-effects you can place over images as you take them, including monochrome filters and faded color.
Android OS and Software
The Galaxy Tab S2 runs Android Lollipop with Samsung's TouchWiz overlay, which allows you to quickly access settings as well as run two apps side by side via the Multi Window feature.