The New Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 Helps You Get More Done From Wherever You Are

Android tablets have been having a tough time of it. Phones are about as big as small tablets and more and more laptops have detachable display panels that turn into Windows tablets. On top of that, Apple’s iPad, some models of which are actually affordable, has dominated the tablet scene. The kind of apps available for the iPad still have no real parallel in the Android world.

Holding its own in this difficult scenario is Samsung’s Tab S, now just out in its fourth generation. Incredibly, I have ended up buying every tablet in this series despite being surrounded by enough big phones and tablets. Still using the Tab S3 intensively, I have the reasons on the tip of my tongue. A gorgeous screen that draws your eyes to it and responds unfailingly fast when you touch it. It’s made it easy for me to consume vast quantities of content, important in my field of work. Over a year of use, it hasn’t slowed down despite being stuffed with apps to the point that there’s no breathing space on the device. This time I have no reason to upgrade, but for anyone looking for a not-Apple not-Windows tablet, the Tab S4 is a must-consider.

On the Tab S4, there’s now more screen at 10.5 inches. The actual footprint is a bit larger, but also, the bezels are much thinner — probably about as thin as they can get without making it difficult to hold the device. To achieve this, Samsung has now done away with the Home button. The tablet now unlocks with face recognition, failing which it will have to be a pattern or pin. I found it worked very fast, both in landscape and portrait modes. In a while, I no longer ever had to think of how and when the device was unlocking. If it’s docked into the keyboard, a key press will wake it up and it will recognise your face and unlock.

Display and more

The size of the display doesn’t make reading a book feel quite the same because it’s more elongated now, but it’s still perfectly workable for that purpose. For everything else, it’s even better, specially in landscape mode. The sound is now louder because of four speakers but certainly needs to be much deeper and fuller. The sound is Dolby Atmos tuned by AKG. Movies and videos look rich and riveting on the S4’s 2560 x 1600 resolution display with Samsung’s signature Super AMOLED technology, on this tablet, HDR-ready at that.

Much as the Tab S4 can be used for feasting on content and entertainment, it’s also meant to be a work device. But that’s where things get tricky. The tablet works with a keyboard but that’s an optional additional purchase. By no means a cheap one. Still, you’re compelled to buy it because it also doubles up as a cover for the device. Comparing with the keyboard I picked up for the S3, I see that the new one has improved considerably. It attaches with its pogo pins and stays very firmly in place which is nice as these lightweight devices can bounce about too much specially placed on the knees. The whole keyboard case is also very sturdy. The keys have quite enough play to be usable and although many have referred to it as cramped, I didn’t find it so and was able to touch type at a rapid clip without a problem. The keyboard for the previous version was not quite as good quality and also had a Shift key that didn’t seem to work right from the start, but the S4’s keyboard has been great to use. When you dock it to the tablet, you it triggers off Samsung’s DeX mode and really settle down to work. Except for a few caveats...

The DeX mode turns the interface into a Windows like format so that it’s like your familiar desktop. But if you’re going to use this a lot, it begs the question as to why you wouldn’t get a Windows hybrid laptop-tablet in the first place. This is specially since the tablet versions of Microsoft Office are not as full fledged as the ones on PCs. All the same, you can do a lot of what you do on a laptop including open multiple desktop-style windows for your Android apps, including the Microsoft Office suite, directly on Galaxy Tab S4, and re-size them as well.

Another useful component of this tablet is that it comes with a stylus, or S-Pen, and this, thankfully, isn’t a separate purchase. The Pen has a holder allocated to it on the keyboard case. The surface of the tablet, like the Note phones, is specially coated for use with the stylus and does a great job of smoothness and pressure differences. Samsung has also added a large number of additional functions to the stylus so that it’s hardly just a pen for writing or drawing any more. On the Note, the S-Pen actually shoots a photo when clicked but this feature isn’t open for the tablet, probably because it’s a large device and hardly one’s choice for photography. Still, it wouldn’t have hurt because the case allows you to set it down firmly and the camera gives you a big viewfinder making occasional photos at least a possibility.

The S Pen has been redesigned a lot and one must take care not to lose it because it looks so like a regular ballpoint. If you’re unfamiliar with the S-Pen, there’s lots you can do with it, from writing and sketching in the appropriate apps to marking documents (again in software that allows it) and you can use it to navigate, scroll, select, translate, magnify and more. In fact, it’s by far the most innovative stylus in the world. My one complaint is that the tiny button on it is too flush to be felt quickly and intuitively. One fantastic thing to keep in mind is that the Samsung virtual keyboard has a mode to let you handwrite and that input is converted to text - that’s a unique feature. The Tab S4 has an acceptable set of specs. One can’t help wishing for more RAM than the 4GB it comes with but with the way it performs, there’s probably no need, unless you’re planning to game on it.

Price: ₹57,900

Pros: Unbeatable screen, S-Pen works wonderfully, DeX mode to work in desktop style, fast performance, ages well

Cons: Keyboard should be part of package, with the case is a little heavy, button on S-Pen too flush

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