Solid metal build
Beautiful AMOLED display
Well thought out keyboard hinge
USB Type-C port
Only 1 USB Type-C port, no other ports
No card reader
Underwhelming battery life
Default software settings wake device from sleep too often
While the Surface Pro 4 has been the leader of the growing, thriving 2-in-1 tablet market, Samsung has a viable competitor on the market, in the form of the new Galaxy TabPro S.
The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is a Windows 10 powered 2-in-1 tablet with removable keyboard, decent specs and its own sense of style. Loaded with a few Samsung tweaks on top of Windows 10, and an AMOLED display, this is not your typical Windows tablet. Let’s see what this metal tablet is all about in our Samsung Galaxy TabPro S review.
From the top down, the Galaxy TabPro S is one of Samsung’s finer built devices. A metal casing meets a full glass front, and a 12-inch sAMOLED display offers some of the brightest and richest colors we’ve seen on a Windows device. The default orientation is in landscape.
Looking around the device, you’ve got a 5 pin connecting port on the bottom, made for magnetically connecting to the detachable keyboard. The left edge houses one of two speakers and a single button, for brevity, we’ll call it the Windows button, as it brings up the Windows start menu as its default action. The top edge has the power button and volume rocker and the tight edge offer the second speaker, a single USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The front of the device shoots your smile with a 5MP camera, with the sizeable bump out the back, and huge lens area, you’d think there was a larger camera pointing away from you, but it is a 5MP shooter as well.
As previously mentioned, there is a magnetically detachable keyboard, which doubles as a pretty decent leather-esque case for the tablet. The keyboard stores as detached when the case is folded up, but then the back cover folds away to become a stand, allowing the tablet to reconnect with the keyboard for use. Multiple positions are available from the cover, which folds to form the various docking positions.
The keyboard is a near full size qwerty keyboard with a rather tiny trackpad up front. The trackpad is well supported, you hardly notice that it is about half the size of the trackpad on my normal laptop.
The single USB Type-C port doubles as the charging port, so you’ll be wanted to have a look at some of the USB Type-C hubs and docks out there to make the most of this tablet.
Looking a little closer at the TabPro S, you’ll find pretty similar specs to competing 2-in-1 tablets.
Powering things is the Intel Core m3-6Y30 on our model, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. 256GB are available with upgrade. That sAMOLED panel packs 2160 x 1440 pixels of resolution, a 5200mAh battery keeps the lights on, or tries at least, and Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro are available.
Truth is, these specs let us down a little. There is more to the experience and performance of a device than just what the spec sheet says, but we really did want to see more. Put in context, these specs are, at best, on par with the Surface Pro 4. The Galaxy TabPro S is a brand new device, the Windows tablet is a full year old now, see what me mean?
Continuing the stroll down specifications lane, Samsung does have a couple nifty tricks up their sleeve, the Galaxy TabPro S rocks MIMO a/b/g/n/ac WiFi and NFC. Bluetooth 4.1 and GLONASS GPS round out the bulk of it all.
We were initially very disappointed in the overall performance of the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S. Not just a little underwhelmed, I’m talking about total disappointment, the tablet couldn’t play solitaire. Good news, running the available updates of the Samsung software, Windows and drivers yielded new results, impressive results.
Before I spill the stats, let’s talk about the experience. Simple enough, navigating the OS, loading our favorite web pages, watching a few YouTube videos and, yes, playing solitaire all happens in a very snappy and smooth manner. We certainly notice when the 4GB of RAM are tapped out, but if we keep our tab count fairly low or don’t try to play multiple videos simultaneously, things work out as well as can be expected.
|Ultrabook tests||PC Mark 8|
|PC Mark 8 |
|PC Mark 8|
(Top Read/Write Mb/s)
|HP Spectre 13 - v050na|
2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U, 8GB RAM, Intel HD 520
|Dell XPS 15|
2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ, 16GB RAM, GeForce 960M - 2GB
|Microsoft Surface Pro 4|
1.51GHz Intel Core m3-6Y30, 4GB RAM, Intel HD 515
|Razer Blade Stealth|
2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U, 8GB RAM, Intel HD 520
1.1 GHz Intel Core m5-6Y54, 8GB RAM, Intel HD 515
|Dell XPS 13|
2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U, 8GB RAM
|Lenovo Yoga 900S|
1.51 Intel Core m7-6Y75, 8GB RAM, Intel HD 515
|Samsung Galaxy TabPro S|
1.51 Intel Core m3-6Y30, 4GB RAM, Intel HD 515
Looking at those numbers, what I really want to call attention to is the 3D Mark Skydiver test. My initial drop from the sky produced a score of 1820, updating those drivers and such bumped that a little, 2984 is not a spectacular score, but it certainly exceeds all other Intel Core m3 chips we’ve tested. Actually, it outperformed the Core m5 and Core m7 chipsets in this same test.
As an end result, the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is one of the best performing devices when compared to the similarly equipped competitors in the Windows powered 2-in-1 market. Now, if only there were upgrades available to m5, m7 or even i5 and i7 chipsets.
One last note on performance, battery life has not been stellar. Put in perspective, this tablet lasts longer than a traditional Windows laptop, but comparing it to other tablets, those 5200 mAh of juice just don’t last very long.
As I’ve mentioned, Samsung has added a few little tweaks to the base Windows 10 install. Nothing drastic, just a small settings menu to control display characteristics around the AMOLED panel, Pattern Log-in and a Battery Life Extender that caps your charge to just 85%.
I have a huge frustration with this tablet, perhaps it’s just Windows and the default auto-restart for updates, but every time I leave this thing sit for just a few hours and try to come back to use it, it’s either in the process of restarting or already done, having woke itself from sleep, done whatever it feels like doing and leaving me with no battery remaining.
With more than a few Windows 10 devices in my world, this is the most self-activating machine I’ve ever used, and by far the most tethered to the power cord just to get through the day. I have not yet had the time to identify if this, again, is just the Windows software, or if Samsung’s additions play a part.
Now that I’ve ranted, the trade-off is debatably worth the frustration, when the Galaxy TabPro S is up and running, things are as fast and smooth as can be. Screen rotations is as predictable as can be expected, the auto swap between Windows normal and Windows Tablet Mode when you disconnect the keyboard is fast and reliable. Basically, you get and experience the best of Windows 10 in this tablet.
Sound & keyboard
I have just a few words to say on each of these topics, starting with the keyboard. The expanded keys make for a layout that has no gaps between keys. This does make for larger keys that otherwise roughly span hand placement close to that of my full size mechanical keyboard, no complaints there. It will take a bit to get used to this design, however, the keys sort of just blend together without that bit of gap in between.
On a positive note, the hinged magnetic bar that actually attaches the keyboard to the tablet, swivels to accommodate the various angles at which you may prop the tablet. The Surface Pro 4 handles the connection differently, and very well, but the Huawei MateBook all but fails in this feature. Good on Samsung for thinking this through, allowing us to get comfortable with our tablet.
Sound is provided by those stereo speakers that point out the side of the tablet. If holding the device in hand like a normal tablet, you’ll possibly cover up the speakers with your hands, but the speakers are high enough to provide hand-hold space below. What I really wanted to say, despite providing fairly loud and clean sound, if maybe a little hollow, there is no question that the speakers are not pointing at you. The sound seems to fill the room, I found myself cupping my hands around the speakers to avoid bothering my neighbors too much.
|Samsung Galaxy TabPro S|
|Display||12-inch, 2160 x 1440, sAMOLED|
|Processor||Intel Core m3-6Y30|
|Internal Storage||128GB SSD|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro
|Camera||5MP front and rear|
|Connectivity options||WiFi a/b/g/n/ac MIMO
|I/O ports||1x USB Type-C
|Battery life||Up to 10.5 hours|
|Dimensions & weight||11.43 x 7.83 x 0.25 inches (without keyboard)
Pricing and final thoughts
Samsung has a respectable first entry in the ‘definitely competing with the Surface Pro 4’ category. The Galaxy TabPro S is a pleasant tablet to hold, provides a sturdy laptop experience and that AMOLED display is one of the best panels around on a tablet.
Battery life is a bit of a let down, but the experience otherwise has been respectable. We wish that Samsung would have broken the mold a little with the single USB Type-C port, we wish that we could use any old 5V, 2A USB charger to fill the battery, but we can understand having to lug around a dedicated charging brick, even if it does just look like another USB charger.
Expanding on the things we wish we had in the Galaxy TabPro S, Samsung is well known for pushing hard to include a micro SD card slot on their Android phones and tablets, but no card reader is here. We understand that another global leader in mobile electronics has a little laptop out there that relies on a single port on the device to connect all USB peripherals, as we mentioned, there are some great USB Type-C docks and adapters out there, but feel this could have been avoided by adding just one regular USB port.
With the suggested retail price of $899.99, most vendors have it going for $799.99 including the keyboard case, we think the Galaxy TabPro S is actually a good value for the money. The addition of Samsung services like Samsung Flow, that allow you to unlock your laptop from your Samsung phone, will appeal to many, making this a valuable 2-in-1 consideration for your portable Windows device needs.
Now that we’re at the end, the verdict is simple, the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is a solid Windows tablet with detachable keyboard. It manages to distinguish itself in one major way, the picture quality of the sAMOLED display. A bright and colorful panel is not enough to declare this tablet as being better than the competition, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Attention to detail in the little things, including where to use hinges and magnets, are not overlooked, Samsung has put together a solid device. We look forward to, perhaps, another iteration with more flexibility in specification options.
Does the Samsung brand name make the Galaxy TabPro S an appealing device to you, or would you rather stick with a proven device like the Surface Pro 4?