Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., of Seoul, Korea, has introduced the latest addition to its line of Android tablets, the Galaxy Tab S4.
The new Galaxy Tab S4 suggests a significant change in Samsung's tablet strategy. It's predecessors, the Galaxy Tab S2 and Tab S3, were ‘classic' tablets - wafer thin, with straightforward Android implementations, differentiated mainly by internal tweaks, such as improved battery capacity on the S3. The new S4, while still very much a tablet, is being overtly touted as a "2-in-1" design, emphasizing power and capability over size and weight.
Bigger and Better
Helping to define a new role for the Galaxy Tab S4 is a significant change in physical configuration. For a start, the Tab S4 moves to a 10.5-inch screen, with 1600x2560 resolution (264ppi), from the smaller 9.7-inch display of the Tab S3, with 1536x2048 resolution (287ppi). However, the Tab S4 continues to use Samsung's Super AMOLED technology, as did the Tab S2 and S3.
The increase in specs brings an inevitable increase in size and weight. Where the Galaxy Tab S3 weighed in at 429g for the Wi-Fi version or 434g with LTE connectivity, the Tab S4 tips the scales at 483g.. Narrower bezels help limit the increase in size, but the Tab S4 does expand slightly, to 249.3x164.3mm, compared to 237.3x169.0mm for the S3. It's also thicker: 7.1mm compared to 6mm for the Tab S3.
Where the Galaxy Tab S3 incorporated a 6,000 mAH battery, the Tab S4 moves up to 7,300 mAh. Samsung states that the Tab S4 will be able to provide "up to 16 hours of video playback." However, the increase in battery capacity is bound to be somewhat offset by a boost in processing power, to the Snapdragon 835.
Following through on the hardware shift, Samsung is emphasizing inclusion of its Samsung DeX technology, giving users "a desktop experience," with multiple resizable windows, drag-and-drop content transfer and support for keyboard shortcuts.
DeX is in turn supported by Samsung's optional Book Cover Keyboard, which converts the Galaxy Tab S4 into something resembling a Microsoft Surface. (The Samsung cover includes a folding kickstand back, while the Surface incorporates the kickstand directly into the case.) The Book Cover Keyboard is an optional extra, but Samsung is putting its S Pen in the box with the Tab S4.
Again, emphasizing the serious capability of the Tab S4, Samsung's Knox "defense-grade mobile security platform" is included. In addition, the S4 includes both iris-scanning and face-scanning security.
The Galaxy Tab S4 also supports an optional HDMI-to-USB-C "multi-port adapter," allowing the tablet to "serve as a track pad or a sketch pad" while used with an external monitor. According to Samsung, it will also eventually allow the Tab S4 to use "two screens to accomplish tasks."
Samsung has not forgotten audio with this new model. The Galaxy Tab S4 incorporates 4 speakers "tuned by AKG," with support for Dolby Atmos surround technology. Samsung claims that Atmos will allow delivery of "crisper dialogue, enveloping sound fields, maximized loudness without distortion and consistent playback volume."
With the shift toward larger size and greater power, Samsung seems to be inching in the direction of the Apple iPad Pro - the tablet as a device built for serious productivity, emphasizing content creation alongside no-compromise content consumption. It's such a notable change, it's somewhat surprising that Samsung has chosen to implement it with a new model in the existing Galaxy Tab line, rather than spliting off a new model family as Apple has done.
It will be interesting to see how Samsung' s strategy plays out in the marketplace.
Details of Galaxy Tab S4 pricing and availability were not included in the initial announcement. We'll post an update when more info is released.