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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  • jwh7 - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    "I really can’t find any other direct competition in the Android market for the Samsung Pro 8.4 right now, so it's an easy recommendation."

    LG G-Pad 8.3 !? ...and now easily found for $250 or less; or there's the Play Store edition with newer Android version. (Yes, I have the former and I'm using it now, so perhaps I am biased :-) Sure it is 'only' a 1920x1200 display in comparison to the Samsung 8.4, but I really like the LG added features versus what I've read in reviews of its Play Store edition. I only wish / hope the LG version updates to Android 4.3, or newer, eventually. I don't think I would like the Samsung's home/back button setup, either. I will close only by saying I like the LG enough that I have no desire to root/ROM it, which is saying something.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    Snapdragon 600 and 1080p means I don't really consider it "direct competition". Sorry if that wasn't clear. It's more like an alternative in the lines of the Nexus 7 -- different, good, but not all the same features. Reply
  • realtanu - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    No one will sell me a Samsung 10.1 Note 2014 - This is why Apple wins. I want a Samsung 10.1 Note 2014 with Cellular. I drive to BestBuy and they try to sell me one with WiFi, no Cellular - but they have Apple. I go drive to a Verizon Store in NJ and they can order and ship one for me, but easier to order online. I order online at Verizon Wireless (since they are only ones offering cellular) and I fill out extra forms because my delivery address is different than home address. They say not a problem and call a 800 # after placing order to confirm shipping address; and I get an email saying the same. I call 800 #, am on hold for 20 minutes, get to a representative, on hold for another 5 minutes and they tell me they automatically cancelled my order and I cannot get it shipped to a different address online. I call a NY Verizon Wireless store and ask them whether they have it stock; they try to sell me an old 10.1 and then after clarifying, they tell me they don't have any in stock in NY and to go to NJ or order online.

    After ~5 hours wasted trying to buy a Samsung 10.1 Note 2014, I think I will just order an iPad Air from Apple.com with AT&T data plan - and it looks like I can order with Amazon Prime too. I really didn't want to buy into the Apple ecosystem, but I'm now seeing the value of it... just being able to buy the product easily is eye-opening versus my Samsung/Verizon experience.
    Reply
  • hughlle - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    Funny, because i can go straight onto Verizon and order one straight away. I don't find much merit in your argument ;) Reply
  • realtanu - Monday, March 24, 2014 - link

    Wasn't making an argument as much as reporting the news ;)

    I order online at Verizon Wireless (since they are only ones offering cellular) and I fill out extra forms because my delivery address is different than home address. They say not a problem and call a 800 # after placing order to confirm shipping address; and I get an email saying the same. I call 800 #, am on hold for 20 minutes, get to a representative, on hold for another 5 minutes and they tell me they automatically cancelled my order and I cannot get it shipped to a different address online.
    Reply
  • 996_gt2 - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    The disk performance benchmarks are not completely correct for the Dell Venue 8 Pro.

    The disk performance numbers for the Venue 8 Pro are roughly doubled after the newest A05 BIOS, which enables eMMC HS200 by default. (HS200 could be enabled in earlier BIOSes, but was not enabled by default).

    So the Venue 8 Pro should really be at the top of all of these charts, instead of at the bottom.

    With the A05 BIOS, I get the following results in Crystaldiskmark:

    Sequential read: 175.2 MB/s
    Sequential write: 76.67 MB/s
    4k read: 15.04 MB/s
    4k write: 14.07 MB/s
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    I'll see about retesting before posting any final review. Thanks. Reply
  • themossie - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    I assume these benchmarks are for the Venue 8 (not the Venue 8 Pro). Is the BIOS update for the non-pro as well? Reply
  • 996_gt2 - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    @themossie:

    Good call. I read the charts and was thought that the results looked very low for the Venue 8 Pro, and then I did some searching and saw that there was also a "non-Pro" Android based Venue 8. If the #s reported in the charts are for the Android Venue 8, then they could very well be correct. Rather confusing naming on Dell's part.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 23, 2014 - link

    Okay, that explains things -- I was wondering where I would get a BIOS update for the Venue 8. LOL. So it seems the Venue 8 has rather slow NAND compared to the Venue 8 Pro. Reply

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