By adding the PRO moniker to its latest line of tablets, Samsung was making it clear that uncompromising performance is what defines its latest series. The smallest of the bunch may quite easily be the best mid-sized, but not mid-range, tablet currently available. Here’s our in-depth review of the Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 8.4!
At a glance
- Absolutely stunning high resolution display
- Nice light weight
- Expandable storage
- Can be used as TV remote
- Very quick performance
- Touchwiz still lacking
- Battery can be withdrawn quickly if used in a demanding fashion
When it comes to design, the TabPRO 8.4 looks a lot like a blown up Galaxy Note 3. With the flat profile all around and slightly rounded corners, it’s an unassuming design, until you get to the back, which features the same faux leather plastic that was also first introduced with the Note 3.
The button layout is signature Samsung, with a physical home and two capacitive buttons, with the only difference being the capacitive menu button being replaced with a recent apps button, to allow for simplified multi-tasking. The power button and volume rocker are on the right side, when looking at the tablet in portrait orientation, with a microSD card slot on the opposite side.
At just 331 grams and 7.2 mm thick, the Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 8.4 is not only an attractive powerhouse, but also pretty easy to hold because of the form factor and flat sides that make it easy to grip with one hand. It’s one of the lighter tablets on the market, and offers a near perfect balance of screen size to display size, all while still being graspable by one hand. Many among us who have owned larger 10 inch tablets will attest to the fact that 7-8inch tablets are the near perfect form factor in that they offer the perfect blend of portability and screen size.
At the top and bottom of the screen is a nicely-sized bezel that does help with landscape handling, but with the capacitive keys so close to the bottom edge of the device, you might trigger those buttons accidentally from time to time.
Overall we’re looking at a device that isn’t all that flashy in design, is very “Samsung” in its look, but houses a lot of power underneath its simple exterior.
The 8.4-inch Super Clear LCD is the smallest of the PRO line, but comes with the same amount of power with a super high 2560 x 1600 resolution makes for one of the highest resolution to size ratios on any tablet. With a pixel density of 359 ppi, and considering the distance this tablet might stay from your face, this is a very sharp display that provides a great experience.
Samsung’s experience in producing best in class displays is more apparent than ever here, as we’re looking at the highest pixel density of any tablet ever released on the market with the release of the Samsung Galaxy TabPro 8.4.
Samsung proves its prowess once again with a screen that really exudes its colors well and provides wonderful viewing angles. You might argue that a lot of content isn’t made for such a high resolution, but that won’t stop you from enjoying all of the media you might throw it. Everything from YouTube videos to Netflix, to even games, like my current obsession, Riptide GP2, look and perform great without any issues.
You’ll find a lack of hiccups even during heavy gaming, because of the uncompromising processing package inside. A quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.3 GHz, and the Adreno 330 GPU provide a snappy experience all around.
To put it mildly, the Galaxy TabPro 8.4 simply flies, which is interesting, considering how many pixels the GPU has to push all the time. It ranks as the most powerful and fastest device we’ve ever tested, according to Antutu’s benchmark. Our extensive testing revealed very few hiccups, with some stutter. Samsung’s UI powering does struggle at times, but we think this is more due to the fact that it has such a high resolution display to power more than anything. Web browsing with multiple tabs, multitasking, and copy and pasting on this professional grade device were all a real pleasure.
That being said, TouchWiz, even this slightly updated version, has its issues with speed and occasionally stutters. It’s a little more noticeable here than with other devices, but I believe this is more an effect of the super high resolution of the display as opposed to a shortcoming in the processing. However, getting things done isn’t hard on this tablet, and even in more intense tasks like multi-window, there is little to complain about with a slate as powerful as this.
Hardware takes on a media motif first with its microSD card slot that can bolster the 16 GB or 32 GB in-built storage, which always an advantage for people big on media.
Dual speakers, that are found on the bottom of the tablet near the microUSB charging port, perform quite decently actually. Sound isn’t particularly rich, but loud enough to allow you to share any media with friends that are watching with you. Samsung does love to add on as much as they can, so along with the usual bevy, you also get an IR blaster for WatchOn.
As far as power goes, you do get a decent amount of battery life with the 4,800 mAh unit of this tablet, though the high-resolution display does gulp up the battery quite a bit.
An 8 MP shooter at the rear of the Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 8.4 provides a decent experience, but falls in line with pretty much every other tablet camera out there. As is the case with most Samsung devices, the camera software is packed with features, but pictures are decent and not of the highest quality, which is expected from a device with a camera that you’ll only use as a backup anyway.
The updated version of Touchwiz comes with a new tiled interface, called the Magazine UX, which really takes advantage of the screen, especially on the larger tablets in this line, but also works very well on the smaller 8.4-inch screen of this device.
Think of a stretched out Flipboard to imagine what the Magazine UX is like, as it is a front-end to what you would basically find in the Flipboard app. It is pretty easy to set up for news sources and social media feeds. That being said, what I didn’t like about it is that it doesn’t often take you straight to the content, and instead just opens up the relevant app, requiring you to find our way to the content again anyway.
It’s a nice addition that allows for quick and easy glances at what you want to see, but the list of available widgets is rather limited for now, and the app controllers are restricted to just the Samsung specific apps.
Other than the new Magazine UX, TouchWiz is still TouchWiz, with its bright and colorful design. Even with the move to circular buttons in the power widget, not much as changed. Functionality like multi-window does set this UI apart from others, but if you’ve been hoping for a big change, you probably didn’t get it with the latest PRO line of tablets.
|Display||8.4-inch Super Clear LCD with 2560 x 1600 resolution, 359 ppi|
|Processor||2.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Adreno 330|
|Storage||16/32 GB, expandable|
|Camera||8 MP rear camera, LED flash
2 MP front camera
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, GPS and GLONASS|
|Software||Android 4.4 Kitkat|
|Dimensions||219 x 128.5 x 7.2 mm, 331 grams|
Pricing and Final Thoughts
Priced at $399, you are definitely paying for a premium tablet, but it does live up to its price tag. The Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 8.4 provides all of the power the PRO name suggests, while keeping it all in a manageable size. While the tablet will let you get a lot of work done, it’s an absolute blast to use for fun and games, making this the all purpose device for tablet lovers. The size makes it a shoo-in for e-book reading while the nimble weight and size make it about as portable as it can get. Yes, you have to pay quite a bit for it, but if you need to do everything short of make calls on it, the price may well be worth it for you.