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Best Samsung Tablet


For the best mix of power and portability, Samsung’s top tablet is the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0.

Andrew has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at Android Central since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at andrew.martonik@androidcentral.com or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.

Best overall

Galaxy Tab S2 8.0

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

See at Amazon

Samsung has hit a great balance of size and portability with the Tab S2 8.0, which of course has an 8-inch display. It’s notably bigger than even the biggest phones out there, giving you plenty of screen real estate to work with, but it’s also extremely thin and light so you can use it in one hand if you want. The metal body is simple and strong, and you get a fingerprint sensor below the screen to keep all of your information safe.

On the inside you get a capable processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, which is plenty for a Wi-Fi only tablet, and you also get Samsung’s latest Marshmallow software that’s relatively clean and very powerful. It’s all powering a very nice 2048×1536 Super AMOLED display that’s a bit wider than what you may be used to, but it’s actually a good thing — it means the Tab S2 8.0 feels comfortable in both portrait and landscape orientation.

Yes it’s a year old at this point, but Samsung hasn’t made anything better in the last year … and the Tab S2 8.0 is still a very capable tablet, especially if you find it on discount from its original $399 price.

Bottom line: If you like Samsung’s hardware and software, this is the tablet to get.

One more thing: Because it’s a year old, it’s unfortunately still using a Micro-USB charger.

Why the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is the best

Android tablets with big screens and high price tags have always been a tough sell, so models with smaller screens and lower prices have hit a nice middle ground overall. Not only are they cheaper, but they’re also easier to use and cover up some of the shortcomings that still exist today in the Android app catalogue.

The Tab S2 8.0 is amazingly thin and light, which makes it perfect for using in portrait mode — even with one hand — for reading, browsing or typing out quick messages and emails. The screen is fantastic, and the slightly unconventional 4:3 aspect ration means it’s still “wide” enough when in portrait mode, while giving you enough room to use side-by-side multi-window apps when in landscape. The battery isn’t huge considering that minimal thickness and weight, but that’s a fine trade-off for a device you’re likely to use casually and let sleep most of the time.

From our full Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 review:

The Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is thin, light, powerful, has a great screen, and is sprinkled with extra features like a fingerprint sensor, good battery life, a decent rear-facing camera and a solid side-by-side app implementation.

Samsung’s newest software offering, based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, closely matches that of what’s available on the Galaxy S7 today, which is to say it’ll be familiar to Samsung users while also being powerful and relatively sleek. And because these are Wi-Fi-only, you won’t have any carrier bloatware to deal with.

While it isn’t the biggest tablet out there, the Galaxy Tab S2 offers the best combination of size, portability, features and price that you can get from Samsung.

Best bigger screen

Galaxy Tab S2 9.7

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7

See at Amazon

As the name would lead you to believe, this is the same tablet as our top pick, but with a larger 9.7-inch display that goes toe-to-toe with the iPad. You get the same hardware internals, same great external metal build and fingerprint sensor, but it’s all wrapped around a larger display that can better handle multiple windows.

The larger screen is also better suited for landscape orientation, especially when paired up with a keyboard from either Samsung or one of its partners. The keyboards slickly snap onto the back of the tablet with included snap points, meaning you don’t have to have a big bulky case wrapped around it just to have a keyboard. When you combine the two pieces, you have something approximating a tiny laptop, letting you type and work better than you ever could on a small tablet with a virtual keyboard.

You pay more for the bigger real estate and the keyboard accessories aren’t included, but if you want something bigger then this is your go-to choice from Samsung.

Bottom line: For the same great Tab S2 experience with a bigger screen that can work with a keyboard, the 9.7-inch version is the one to get.

One more thing: Be sure to check out the various keyboard offerings available for the Tab S2 — you don’t have to buy the one from Samsung.

Best for less

Galaxy Tab A 10.1

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1

See at Amazon

We get it, Samsung’s top-end tablets also come with top-end prices. If you don’t want to shell out $500+ for a big Galaxy Tab S2, we wouldn’t blame you for looking at the Galaxy Tab A series instead. If you want the Samsung software and design at a lower price, we recommend the Galaxy Tab A 10.1, which comes in at $299 retail.

So where does it make those savings? Well, a little bit of everywhere. The Galaxy Tab A 10.1 has a lower-resolution 1920×1200 display, a bit lower-end processor, less RAM at 2GB and less storage at 16GB. It also lacks a fingerprint sensor.

But in general, while it doesn’t have the highest-end specs and features, it can still get the job done for someone who wants a big tablet for casual browsing and media reading. The 10.1-inch display will give you more than enough room to run multiple windows at once, though it won’t be as portable as something like the Tab S2 8.0.

Bottom line: To get the best bang for your buck with a big screen, you’ll want the Galaxy Tab A 10.1.

One more thing: Because of the 16GB internal storage, you’ll want to invest a little in a microSD card to expand for media.

Conclusion

If you want a Samsung tablet that’s fast, feature-packed and with a great screen that’s also light and portable, your best option is the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0. You can get a bigger display with the Tab S2 9.7, or save some money with the Tab A 10.1, but the best overall offering is the Tab S2 8.0.

Best overall

Galaxy Tab S2 8.0

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

See at Amazon

Samsung has hit a great balance of size and portability with the Tab S2 8.0, which of course has an 8-inch display. It’s notably bigger than even the biggest phones out there, giving you plenty of screen real estate to work with, but it’s also extremely thin and light so you can use it in one hand if you want. The metal body is simple and strong, and you get a fingerprint sensor below the screen to keep all of your information safe.

On the inside you get a capable processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, which is plenty for a Wi-Fi only tablet, and you also get Samsung’s latest Marshmallow software that’s relatively clean and very powerful. It’s all powering a very nice 2048×1536 Super AMOLED display that’s a bit wider than what you may be used to, but it’s actually a good thing — it means the Tab S2 8.0 feels comfortable in both portrait and landscape orientation.

Yes it’s a year old at this point, but Samsung hasn’t made anything better in the last year … and the Tab S2 8.0 is still a very capable tablet, especially if you find it on discount from its original $399 price.

Bottom line: If you like Samsung’s hardware and software, this is the tablet to get.

One more thing: Because it’s a year old, it’s unfortunately still using a Micro-USB charger.



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