Introducing the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro Lineup

Samsung Galaxy series of tablets and smartphones have been well received since they first started appearing on store shelves, and with good reason. Not all manufacturers really get industrial design, aesthetics, and the goal of building a cohesive whole that doesn’t cut corners. With the latest Pro series of tablets, Samsung looks to improve on their existing devices, with better performance, some tuning of the industrial design, and some software updates as well. We have the 8.4” and 10.1” Galaxy Tab Pro models in house, though there’s also a larger 12.2” model and a Note version of the 12.2” model that includes a Stylus as well as some other tweaks. Also worth mentioning is the that the Note 10.1” 2014 model appears to be nearly identical to the 10.1” Tab Pro, other than the fact that it has a stylus (S Pen). Here’s the short overview of the current Galaxy Pro product stack:

Overview of Samsung Galaxy Tab/Note Pro/2014 Models
  Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 Galaxy Note Pro 12.2
Dimensions 128x219x7.1mm
(5.1"x8.6"x0.28")
243x171x7.3mm
(9.6"x6.7"x0.29")
244x173x7.6mm
(9.6"x6.8"x0.31")
296x204x8mm
(11.6"x8.0"x0.31")
295x204x7.9mm
(11.6"x8.0"x0.31")
Display 8.4” WQXGA
(1600x2560)
10.1” WQXGA
(2560x1600)
10.1” WQXGA
(2560x1600)
12.2” WQXGA
(2560x1600)
12.2” WQXGA
(2560x1600)
Weight 332g (WiFi)
(0.73 lbs.)
470g (WiFi)
(1.03 lbs.)
541g (WiFi)
(1.19 lbs.)
751g (WiFi)
(1.65 lbs.)
732g (WiFi)
(1.61 lbs.)
SoC (CPU) Snapdragon 800
(Qualcomm MSM8974)
(4 x Krait 400 @ 2.3GHz)
Exynos Octa 5420
(big.LITTLE up to 1.9GHz,
4+4 Cortex-A15+A7)
Exynos Octa 5420
(big.LITTLE up to 1.9GHz,
4+4 Cortex-A15+A7)
Exynos Octa 5420
(big.LITTLE up to 1.9GHz,
4+4 Cortex-A15+A7)
Exynos Octa 5420
(big.LITTLE up to 1.9GHz,
4+4 Cortex-A15+A7)
SoC (GPU) Adreno 330 Mali-T628 Mali-T628 Mali-T628 Mali-T628
Connectivity 802.11ac WiFi 802.11ac WiFi 802.11ac WiFi 802.11ac WiFi 802.11ac WiFi
Memory 2GB 2GB 3GB 3GB 3GB
Storage 16GB 16GB 16GB/32GB 32GB 32GB/64GB
Battery 25.4Wh (~10 hours) 31.2Wh (~10 hours) 31.2Wh (~9 hours) 36.1Wh (~13 hours) 36.1Wh (~13 hours)
Online Price $399 $499 $549/$599 $649 $749/$849

Many of the core elements in the new line of Galaxy Pro offerings are similar –the displays for example are all WQXGA, and frankly that’s probably the biggest selling point right there. Coming from the world of laptop reviews, it’s awesome – and a little disheartening – to see such great displays on tablets. I’ve been asking for good laptop displays for years, and while we are starting to see a shift in the marketplace, most budget laptops still have lousy displays. Not all tablets come with awesome displays, but just about every tablet out there right now at least uses an IPS panel, and more and more we’re seeing high resolution displays as an added bonus. Worth note is that the 10.1 and 12.2 models are available in either black or white versions, but the 8.4 only comes in white (for now?); I actually prefer the white version, though, so that’s not a problem.

Obviously the size and weight of the three core models differs, and the Note versions with their S Pen weigh a bit more, but somewhat surprisingly the SoCs aren’t all the same. The odd man out here is the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, which uses a Snapdragon 800 processor whereas the other four all use the Exynos 5 Octa 5420. (Reportedly the LTE versions of the Pro 10.1 models appear to also use the Snapdragon 800.) What’s ironic about this bifurcation is that in most of our benchmarks the Snapdragon 800 and up being faster than the Exynos 5420. It’s not a major difference in performance, but it is measurable. Battery life on the other hand appears to be better on the Exynos SoC, so it’s not a clear victory regardless. Basically, not all SoCs are created equal in every area.

Wrapping up our quick overview, the amount of RAM varies slightly; the 8.4 and 10.1 "Tab Pro" models come with 2GB, but the 10.1 Note and 12.2 models come with 3GB memory. Battery capacity also varies, with the larger devices having larger batteries – presumably to help power the larger displays, though in practice it often means the larger tablets also get better battery life. The cameras are the same 8MP rear/2MP front, with a flash on the rear camera as well. There are of course different storage capacities available, though they’re more limited than what you might see with, e.g. Apple, as some of the devices only have one eMMC size. The 8.4 and 10.1 Tab Pro models we received have 16GB, with the 10.1 Note 2014 having 16/32GB options; the 12.2 Tab Pro gets bumped to 32GB (only) while the 12.2 Note has 32/64GB options. At least all the models come with an SD card slot (up to 64GB SDXC supported), though that doesn’t necessarily help with (all) applications.

In terms of pricing, the 8.4 is the least expensive of the devices, with an MSRP of $399. The 10.1 costs $499 ($50 extra for the S Pen in the Note, and another $50 to go to 32GB eMMC storage) and the Tab Pro 12.2 costs $649 while the Note Pro 12.2 costs $749 ($849 with 64GB eMMC). LTE versions of the 10.1 and 12.2 devices will typically add another $100 or so (off contract), but there’s no LTE 8.4 option. While none of these are inexpensive tablets, I do have to say that after using the 8.4 and 10.1-inch models, I find myself gravitating towards the 8.4-inch form factor. It’s small enough to be easily transportable and you can hold it with one hand, but it’s significantly larger than any smartphone so it doesn’t overlap that use case. I also generally like using the 8.4 in portrait mode, though some of that is certain personal preference. The fact that it also happens to be a bit faster in many cases doesn’t hurt either, though it would be nice to have a 32GB option.

Let’s move on to a subjective overview of the two devices we received for testing.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Subjective Analysis
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  • SilthDraeth - Saturday, March 22, 2014 - link

    On my note phone if I want to take a screenshot, I hold the power button and the Samsung Home button. Give that a try. Or, on my wife's note 10.1 first edition, it has a dedicated screenshot softkey that appears where your normal android home keys, etc appear. Reply
  • FwFred - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    LOL... 'Pro'. Surface Pro 2 just fell off the chair laughing. Reply
  • Brian Z - Saturday, March 22, 2014 - link

    Antutu? Really... Maybe somebody kidnapped Anand and Brian. Frigging Antutu Reply
  • grahaman27 - Saturday, March 22, 2014 - link

    Better than just posting the browser speed tests for CPU, and draw final thoughts from that, which they have gotten in a habit of doing. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    What's wrong with running one more benchmark and listing results for it? Sheesh... most of the time people complain about not having enough data, and now someone is upset for me running AnTuTu. Yes, I know companies have "cheated" on it in the past, but the latest revision seems about as valid in its reported scores as any of the other benchmarks. Now if it wouldn't crash half the time, that would be great. :-\ Reply
  • Egg - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    You do realize that Brian has, for all intents and purposes, publicly cursed AnTuTu and mocked the journalists who used it? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    The big problem is people that *only* (or primarily) use AnTuTu and rely on it as a major source of performance data. I'm not comparing AnTuTu scores with tons of devices; what I've done is provide Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 vs. 10.1 scores, mostly to show what happens when the CPU in the 10.1 hits 1.8-1.9 GHz. It's not "cheating" to do that either -- it's just that the JavaScript tests mostly don't go above 1.2-1.3GHz for whatever reason. Octane and many other benchmarks hit higher clocks, but Sunspider and Kraken specifically do not. It's probably an architectural+governor thing, where the active threads bounce around the cores of the Exynos enough that they don't trigger higher clocks.

    Don't worry -- we're not suddenly changing stances on Geekbench, AnTuTu, etc. but given the odd clocks I was seeing with the 10.1 I wanted to check a few more data points. Hopefully that clarifies things? It was Brian after all that used AnTuTu to test for cheating (among other things).
    Reply
  • Wilco1 - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    The reason for the CPU clock staying low is because the subtests in Sunspider and AnTuTu only take a few milliseconds (Anand showed this in graphs a while back). That means there is not enough time to boost the frequency to the maximum (this takes some time). Longer running benchmarks like Geekbench are fine. I wouldn't be surprised if the governor will soon start to recognize these microbenchmarks by their repeated bursty behaviour rather than by their name...

    Of course the AnTuTu and Javascript benchmarks suffer from many other issues, such as not using geomean to calculate the average (making it easy to cheat by speeding up just one subtest) and using tiny unrepresentative micro benchmarks far simpler than even Dhrystone.

    Also it would be nice to see a bit more detail about the first fully working big/little octa core with GTS enabled. Previously AnandTech has been quite negative about the power consumption of Cortex-A15, and now it looks the 5420 beats Krait on power efficiency while having identical performance...
    Reply
  • virtual void - Monday, March 24, 2014 - link

    You cannot disregard the result produced by something just because the load generated by the benchmark comes in very short burst, that is the _typical_ workload faced by these kind of devices.

    The result in Geekbench give you some hint how the device would handle HPC-workloads, it give you very limited information about how well it handles mobile apps. Another problem with Geekbench is that it runs almost entirely out of L1$. 97% of the memory accesses where reported as L1-hits on a Sandy Bridge CPU (32kB L1D$). Not even mobile apps has such a small working set.

    big.LITTLE is always at a disadvantage vs one single core in bursty workloads as the frequency transition latency is relatively high when switching CPU-cores. Low P-state switching time probably explains why BayTrail "feels" a lot faster than what the benchmarks like Geekbench suggest. BayTrail has a P-state latency of 10µs while ARM SoCs (without big.LITTLE) seem to lie between 0.1ms - 1ms (according to the Linux device-tree information).
    Reply
  • Wilco1 - Monday, March 24, 2014 - link

    What is claimed this is CPU performance at maximum frequency, not a latency test of bursty workloads. It would be interesting to see Anand's browsing test reporting both power and performance/latency results as it seems a reasonable test of actual use. However SunSpider is not like a real mobile workload.

    The datasets for most of the benchmarks in Geekbench are actually quite large, into 20-30MBytes range. That certainly does not fit into the L2 on any SoC I know, let alone on L1. So I suggest that Geekbench gives a far better idea of mobile performance than a benchmark that only measures the set of JIT optimization tricks to get a good SunSpider score.

    Intel doesn't have magic that makes frequency scaling 10-100 times faster - PLLs and voltage regulators all use the same physics (until recently Intel was using the same industry-standard voltage regulators as everybody else). The issue is one of software, the default governor is not recognizing repeated patterns of bursty behaviour and keeping clocks high for longer when necessary. Intel avoids the Linux governor issues by using a separate microcontroller. I have no doubt that it has been well tuned to the kind of bursty behaviour that SunSpider exhibits.
    Reply

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