- ✓Fabulous Super AMOLED display
- ✓Long battery life
- ✓Full Windows 10 OS with solid performance
- ✓Lightweight and sturdy design
- ✓Keyboard accessory included
- ✓Cool Galaxy smartphone integration
- ✕No microSD card slot for storage expansion
- ✕Limited screen angles with keyboard cover
- ✕Single USB Type-C port
A couple years ago, Samsung had at least ten Android tablets available from 7.0 to 12.2 inches in display size. In a rather surprising move, Samsung announced its first Windows 10 tablet at CES 2016, squarely taking aim at Apple's new iPad Pro.
The Microsoft Surface Pro sets the bar when it comes to portable Windows computers that serve both laptop and tablet roles. The Apple iPad Pro sets the bar for tablets. For the last 10 days I've been testing out the new Samsung Galaxy TabPro S and if you want to use a Windows device primarily in tablet mode then it may be just what you are looking for.
- Processor: Intel Core M3 dual-core 2.2 GHz
- Display: 12.0 inch 2160 x 1440 pixels resolution Super AMOLED
- Operating system: Windows 10 Home (Pro version also available)
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 128GB SSD (option for 256GB)
- Cameras: 5 megapixel rear auto-focus and 5 megapixel front-facing fixed-focus
- Other: Bluetooth 4.1, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, NFC, GPS
- Battery: 5,200 mAh with USB Type-C fast charging
- Dimensions: 290.3 x 198.8 x 6.3 mm and 693 grams
The only specification that concerned me when I saw the list is the 4GB of RAM. It turns out that the computer performed well, even when I threw some engineering apps at it, watched movies, and played games.
693 grams is 1.53 pounds, which makes the Galaxy TabPro S a fantastic device for the commuter or business traveler. By comparison, the M3 version of the Surface Pro 4 weighs in at 1.69 pounds and the iPad Pro 12 inch WiFi model is 1.57 pounds.
The Galaxy TabPro S is only 6.3mm thick with the Surface Pro 4 coming in a 8.45mm and the iPad Pro at 6.9 mm.
When I first took the Samsung Galaxy TabS Pro out of the box, I thought Samsung made a mistake and sent along an Android model for me to test out. It looks and feels like a Samsung tablet, but upon closer inspection it is even better with use of metal around the entire frame. It is thin, but feels well constructed and of premium quality.
The 12 inch Super AMOLED is stunning and the experience for media is very enjoyable on the Samsung device. The bezel is pretty even around all four sides of the display with the front facing camera above the display in landscape orientation.
There is a power button and volume button on top, speakers on either side, headphone jack and USB Type-C port on the lower right side, and Start button on the upper right side. The camera is centered on the upper back.
The back is matte black plastic material that feels well made and looks great. It does tend to collect fingerprints though.
The stereo speakers sound good and I enjoyed watching Creed with no headphones.
Samsung states that the Galaxy TabPro S lasts for 630 minutes (10.5 hours) and charges up to 100 percent in 150 minutes via the USB Type-C port. Over the past 10 days I saw battery life in that range and was very satisfied by the time between charges.
Unlike the Surface Pro 4 and Apple iPad Pro, the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S comes with a keyboard in the box, available at no extra cost. Microsoft charges $129.99 for the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover and Apple charges $169 for the keyboard on the 12.9 inch iPad Pro.
The Galaxy TabPro S keyboard is similar in design to the earlier Surface Pro Type Cover with very little spacing between the keys and a smaller trackpad than what we see on the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover. While the spacing between the keys is less, the keys themselves are larger than that found on the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover. I prefer larger keys over spacing and was able to type up this review as fast as I can with my Surface Pro 4.
The keyboard has no backlight, but with the angle the tablet rests on the keyboard it is well lit by the display. The keyboard is powered by the tablet connection so no charging is needed. The keys have decent travel and are fairly quiet. There are six rows of keys, including an upper function row that provides quick access to several common functions.
You can prop up the TabPro S at either 65 or 165 degrees. The majority of time you will likely use it at 65 degrees since the lower 165 degree angle is primarily used when you want to look down on the display. The attachment mechanism consists of pins mounted on a thin plastic bar with magnets to hold the tablet securely in place. The bar rises and rotates as you lay the tablet back into the low angle position.
The Galaxy TabPro S is propped up by the magnetically attached folio case that is integrated with the keyboard positioned at the bottom of the folio. The top has three hinge lines, similar to an iPad smart cover design.
Like the Surface Pro 4 and iPad Pro, an optional Galaxy TabPro Pen is coming soon. Samsung also stated that a multi-port adapter is coming to make it possible to connect the Galaxy TabPro S to an external monitor and other USB devices. I haven't seen either of these accessories so cannot comment on their performance.
When consumers think of a tablet, it's likely their first thought is the Apple iPad. While Apple leads the market in tablet sales and offers a large screen iOS experience, business customers appreciate the full power of Windows and find iOS too limiting. The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S looks like an iPad in tablet mode, but doesn't limit you to mobile-focused applications. I tested a Windows 10 Home model, but there is also a Windows 10 Professional version of the software for the enterprise.
Windows 10 works well on the tablet and thankfully its a fairly pure Windows experience. You won't find the device loaded with bloatware and extra junk, primarily just the Windows apps and utilities. I did see Candy Crush Soda Saga, but that's it.
Samsung provides Galaxy settings that include a battery life extender utility, screen mode switcher (just like what we see on Galaxy smartphones), and a pattern log-in utility that Samsung clearly states is less secure than using your Windows password.
Samsung Flow is one unique aspect of the Galaxy TabPro S that provides some cool functionality for those with a compatible Samsung smartphone. Supported phones include the Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, Note 5, S6, S6 Edge, and S6 Edge Plus. I own the new Galaxy S7 Edge so I can use that phone to unlock the tablet with my fingerprint rather than entering a PIN or password on the Galaxy TabPro S. There is no Windows Hello camera support. You can also use Samsung Flow to respond to text messages, see phone notifications on the tablet screen, and connect to your mobile hotspot quickly and easily which makes not having LTE in this model easier to accept.
Pricing and competition
The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is available now in black or white with a 128GB SSD for $899.99. Remember, this includes the keyboard and folio case accessory. A Windows 10 Professional version is $100 more and includes some extra business security features.
The similarly specced Intel Core m3/4GB RAM/128GB SSD Surface Pro 4 is also priced at $899, but it does not come with a keyboard. The 12.9 inch iPad Pro with 128GB of storage is $949 and also does not come with a keyboard.
Make sure to check out the CNET Review, awarding the Galaxy TabPro S a 8.2/10 rating.
Daily usage experiences and conclusion
The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S was announced at CES, but as a Surface Pro user I honestly didn't give it much consideration. As the device started to hit store shelves, I saw people praising the device and it piqued my interest. Samsung sent one along for me to test out for a couple of weeks and I'm glad I gave the device a chance.
I commute on a train for more than two hours a day and my Surface Pro has served as an efficient commuter computer. However, after using the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S for the last couple of weeks I appreciate a slightly lighter weight device that is a bit easier to use on my lap with the included keyboard.
Battery life has been excellent, matching the stated 10.5 hours of battery life. The keyboard also functions very well, which is a key advantage for the Samsung device over an iPad with keyboard limitations.Downloaded movies and streaming video content looked awesome on the high resolution display. If you use your tablet for media, then you will appreciate this large Super AMOLED screen.
As a professional engineer, I tested out Excel, Rhino, and AutoCAD. All three applications performed well, which was a nice surprise given that the Galaxy TabPro S comes with a single Intel Core M processor option. There is also a 4GB RAM limit, but I didn't notice any real limitation with this either. I use the default Edge browser, but did read Google Chrome users had some slowdown with lots of tabs open in Chrome.
If I was in the market for a tablet, I would seriously consider the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S, but I primarily use my Surface Pro 4 in laptop mode as a super portable device and don't use it much in tablet mode. The Galaxy TabPro S is more powerful than an iPad, reasonably priced at $899, and lets you work without compromise.
|TFT Technology||Super AMOLED|
|Diagonal Size||12 in|
|Diagonal Size (metric)||30.37 cm|
|Native Resolution||2160 x 1440|
|Image Aspect Ratio||3:2|
|Features||Accelerometer, MIMO technology, capacitive touch screen, light sensor|
|Clock Speed||900 MHz|
|Number of Cores||Dual-Core|
|Wireless Protocol||802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC|
|Features||CMOS sensor, autofocus|
|Data Link Protocol||Bluetooth 4.1, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, NFC|
|Run Time (Up To)||10.5 hour(s)|
|Product Line||Samsung Galaxy|
|Installed Size||4 GB|
|Features||CMOS sensor, autofocus|
|Type||Windows 10 Home|
|Dimensions & Weight|