Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 Review: Fantastic but Expensive

Galaxy Tab S4 with One UI
Galaxy Tab S4 with One UI

When Samsung launched the Galaxy Tab S4 last year, Samsung aimed to target people who wanted to do more productivity out of their tablets. The Galaxy Tab S4 aimed to be a laptop replacement.

The Basics

  • Display: 10.5” WQXGA Super AMOLED (2560×1600)
  • CPU: Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 64/256 GB
  • Battery: 7300 mAh
  • OS: Android Pie (as of May 2019)
  • S-Pen: Pressure levels: 4096 Pen Tip diameter: 0.7 mm
  • Dimensions: 249.3 x 164.3 x 7.1 mm
  • Weight: 482 g (Wi-Fi), 483 g (LTE)

For more information, check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 page

What I enjoyed

One UI is a refreshing change

Recently Samsung updated the Tab S4 to include their new One UI interface as well as Android Pie. One UI is a big overhaul of Samsung’s UI elements that have successfully simplified and sped up Samsung’s interface while maintaining the extra functionality that Samsung is known for.

For users that are used stock Android, you will feel right at home. The settings panel is similar to that of stock, with an added One UI design language. Additional features like a blue light filter and true dark mode are also available.

No longer does Samsung’s UI feel bloated and bogged down by unnecessary features and customization. One UI is now smooth with features that provide real benefit to the user.

Gorgeous Display

I don’t think I need to repeat how gorgeous Samsung displays are. The Tab S4’s screen is no exception. Bright and vibrant, watching movies on the device is a joy. If content consumption is your primary usage, you won’t be disappointed.

Good Lock app adds functionality

If you haven’t tried using the Good Luck app on a Samsung device, you are missing out. The Good Lock app adds plenty of functionality that is. Although this app is not limited to the Tab S4 (some high-end Samsung phones and tablets support it as well), it does bring some crucial functionality that I used daily.

One of those features is the ability for apps to continue running even when they aren’t in focus. Some video streaming apps will stop playing videos the minute you click outside of the window, making multi-tasking impossible. The Good Lock app is able to prevent this from happening making it a crucial application for multi-tasking.

S-Pen support

The S-Pen on the Tab S4 is exceptional with all the usual features you would expect. Air view and smart select are all here. If you’ve used a recent Note device, you will feel right at home.

Battery life is great

With a large 7300 mAh battery, the battery life will last you roughly 9-10 hours of continuous use. The tablet also supports fast charging, making it really great for a device on the go.

What I found frustrating

Android apps are not optimized for tablets

One of the major reasons Android tablets have lagged behind Apple is the lack of tablet-optimized applications. Most Android apps operate as blown up versions of themselves on the tablet with some even locking to the portrait orientation. This makes using the tablet with some apps frustrating. Even Samsung’s own “Galaxy Wearable” app has this problem, where every time I connect the Galaxy Buds to the device, it launches the apps forcing the tablet to switch to the portrait orientation.

DeX is able to alleviate this issue by running all applications in windows, but ironically DeX has the opposite problem of locking the tablet into landscape orientation.

If Samsung is able to find a solution to this problem, it would greatly increase usability of the device and its goal for being a laptop replacement.

Samsung’s keyboard case is horrible

It isn’t even the cramped design or the lack of a touchpad. The biggest problem with the Samsung keyboard case is the dropped keys. Often times the keyboard would skip a key or type an extra letter. I would not bother getting the keyboard case and look for third-party cases and keyboards

What I have mixed feelings about

DeX is missing some nice features

DeX is a great way to multi-task on Android. The ability to run Android apps in a window mode is a great addition to making this a true laptop replacement.

There is one major feature I wish DeX has and that is edge snapping. Allowing users to easily resize apps to 1/2 of the screen would be a great addition and make multi-tasking much easier in DeX.

Would I recommend it?

If you are looking for an Android tablet that has stylus support, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is a great, albeit expensive option. DeX may even be enough for basic users to completely replace their laptops. At a price of $499, there are competitors like the Surface Go that would be better productivity devices. But if you enjoy what the Android ecosystem brings and wants a tablet, the Galaxy Tab S4 is a choice I would recommend.

At the end of the day, the Galaxy Tab S4 is a tablet first that tries to be a laptop, while the Surface Go is a laptop first that tries to be a tablet. Which one you choose depends on where your priority lies, content consumption or productivity.

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