Home / Events / Galaxy Tab S4 evaluate: Even Samsung’s Dex desktop can’t save Android tablets

Galaxy Tab S4 evaluate: Even Samsung’s Dex desktop can’t save Android tablets

Enlarge / Samsung Dex can be utilized without or with an exterior observe.

Valentina Palladino

OEMs are seeking to make tablets that may change your computer, however maximum folks know that tablets can not truly do one of these factor for energy customers. However, those new units attempt to steadiness portability and gear, giving customers a tool that is more uncomplicated to take alongside but too can get issues finished like a conventional PC. Samsung’s newest strive at this kind of tool is the Galaxy Tab S4, the successor to remaining yr’s flagship Android capsule. And this time round, the Tab S4 boasts Samsung’s desktop-mode instrument referred to as Dex.

Samsung hopes that together with Dex will inspire customers to head all-in with Android as each their cellular and desktop running device—no less than when they are at the cross. But Android is not a desktop OS, and, whilst Samsung expenses the Tab S4 as a multitasking powerhouse similar to an iPad Pro or a Surface tool, it does not precisely carry out as such. Dex, whilst helpful in some respects, leaves so much to be desired. Starting at $649, the Tab S4’s blended bag of instrument and features proves that Samsung might need to embody Chrome OS in capsule shape quicker quite than later.

Look and really feel

Specs at a look: Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 (Wi-Fi handiest fashion)
Screen 10.Five-inch 2560×1600 Super AMOLED
OS Android eight.1
CPU Octa-core Snapdragon 835 (2.35GHz + 1.9GHz)
Storage 64GB, expandable as much as 400GB with microSD card
Networking Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, MIMO, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth Five.zero
Ports One USB Type-C port, microSD card reader
Cameras Rear: 13MP AF, Front: 8MP flash
Size nine.eight×6.Five×zero.28 inches (249.three×164.three×7.1mm)
Weight 1.1 kilos (482g)
Battery 7,300mAh
Starting worth $649
Other perks 4K video recording (3840×2160) @ 30fps, integrated S Pen, Dex era inbuilt

From purely a design perspective, the Tab S4 improves upon remaining yr’s Tab S3 well. Its dimensions are on the subject of that of the former capsule despite the fact that it does not have the visual or tangible heft of a 10-inch capsule. Samsung minimized the bezels and got rid of the house button to make extra space for the 10.Five-inch Super AMOLED, HDR-ready show, providing you with extra display actual property in a package deal that is slightly on the subject of the nine.7-inch body of the Tab S3. Even with its slimmer bezels, the capsule is simple to carry with one or each fingers, and it feels robust. Like the Tab S3, this new capsule has a Gorilla Glass again and steel edges that give it a top rate really feel worthy of its prime ticket. Our evaluate unit had a white again, which failed to grasp directly to many fingerprints (and even though it did, its mild colour concealed them smartly).

The removing of the house button approach the removing of the fingerprint sensor, however the Tab S4 has Samsung’s “Intelligent Scan” face and eye scanner as a substitute. This era makes use of the 8MP front-facing digicam to make a 2D map of your face and establish iris patterns, that manner it might probably scan for the ones attributes to release the capsule while you look on the lock display. Setting those biometric login choices is short and simple after you’re making a password or PIN—merely line up your face and eyes with the proper packing containers proven at the show, and, inside of a couple of seconds, it creates your facial profile.

The capsule appropriately known me when it was once located each in portrait and panorama modes, and it did not get tripped up once I had my hair pulled again or my glasses on. While it is a sooner, extra handy solution to release the capsule, facial reputation instrument is not as protected as a fingerprint reader. I cherished having the ability to merely have a look at the capsule to release it in only a few seconds, however if you happen to prioritize safety, it would be best to make a sophisticated PIN or password to actually give protection to the guidelines at the Tab S4.

While some will leave out the fingerprint sensor, the transfer to instrument buttons is a welcome one. Unlike the bodily buttons at the Tab S3, those on-screen buttons transfer while you exchange the orientation of the capsule, so that you all the time have simple entry to them. Samsung deviates from the common Android button order, hanging the new apps button at the left, adopted by means of the house button within the heart and the again button on the correct, however you’ll be able to cross into the Settings app to switch it again if you want. The S Pen can cause those buttons now as smartly, and a long-press of the new apps button brings up Android’s Split Screen mode. You can make a choice which of your maximum not too long ago used apps you wish to have to pair aspect by means of aspect at the display or cross to the app record and make a choice a program you have not opened but.

The Tab S4 makes use of one USB-C port to fee, and it helps speedy charging. Aside from that and the headphone jack, the one different port at the tool is the microSD card slot, which many customers will respect that Samsung hasn’t deserted. The tool comes with both 64GB or 256GB of garage, nevertheless it holds as much as 400GB of garage with the non-compulsory addition of a microSD card. That’ll turn out to be useful for the ones with a large number of knowledge, like footage, song, or motion pictures and presentations, that they need to entry simply however do not want bogging down the inner garage.

S Pen and Air Command

The greatest design exchange comes now not within the capsule itself however in its S Pen accent. The stylus that includes the Tab S4 is not the twig-like pen that Galaxy Note customers are used to—Samsung redesigned it to appear and feel extra like an actual pen or pencil. It’s longer and has a cylindrical frame and one aspect button that brings up Air Command when driven when the end of the stylus is on the subject of the Tab S4’s show. Air Command is the pop-up menu that holds a lot of pen-based apps and shortcuts, together with sensible make a choice, display write, and Samsung’s drawing and sketching app referred to as PenUp.

The new S Pen could also be my favourite a part of the Tab S4 with regards to its design, because it provides convenience, ease, and versatility to the capsule revel in—and the truth that you by no means must fee the pen is an advantage. Air Command remains to be some of the vivid spots of Samsung’s capsule revel in as smartly. You can customise Air Command to incorporate your most-used apps, and two new options have made their solution to Air Command, too: Live Message and Translate.

Live Message permits you to create animated gifs out of images and writing. The Tab S4 is the primary Samsung capsule to have Live Message, and it really works smartly with the brand new S Pen. It has more than a few enter modes for handwriting, together with sparkling, hearts, and rainbow textual content, and you’ll be able to make a choice how you wish to have to layout the gif (top of the range gif, low-quality gif, or MP4) sooner than saving it on your gallery and sending it in a message.

The new Translate characteristic permits you to hover the pen’s tip over phrases and words to translate them to a decided on language, and I want it labored in addition to Live Messages. While the translations have been proper, the characteristic wasn’t constant in figuring out the proper phrases I sought after to translate. Hovering over a five-letter phrase in the course of a paragraph on a Chrome webpage infrequently resulted within the translation for the phrase sitting within the line above it. It additionally could not translate some longer phrases, like “punishments,” and as a substitute attempted to translate parts of that lengthy phrase. The characteristic known the second one part of “punishments” as “mecensts” and tried to translate that nonexistent phrase into Spanish.

Dex options

Accessory use and UI

The kicker of the Tab S4 is a work of Samsung era that the majority would possibly not be acquainted with. Last yr, Samsung offered Dex, instrument that was once constructed into docks that allowed customers to show their cellular units into makeshift desktop PCs that run Android. The first Dex docks have been designed for Galaxy smartphones, so customers may stick their smartphone on a dock, hook it as much as a observe, attach a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, and paintings on a pseudo-desktop that runs Samsung’s changed model of Android.

The Tab S4 is the primary Samsung capsule to have Dex era inbuilt, permitting customers to release Dex with simply the faucet of an icon within the notification drawer or settings panel. Dex can be utilized at the Tab S4 on my own or when attached to a observe by means of a USB-C to HDMI adaptor, and the previous is how you could truly get the pseudo-desktop revel in. A 10.Five-inch display is okay for on-the-go duties and transportable leisure, however somebody who expects to be as productive as they might on a complete PC will want extra display area.

The Tab S4 runs Android eight.1 Oreo, and when in Dex mode, it is nonetheless working that model of the OS. Samsung changed the glance of Android to copy a desktop UI, and it did not do a foul task. On the bottom-left nook are the standard on-screen Android icons for all apps, the app drawer, house, and again, whilst the bottom-right nook has an expandable bar that holds a number of items. The time and date are a few the mainstays, nevertheless it additionally has quick-access icons for settings, the on-screen keyboard, Dex lend a hand, and battery, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi control. Icons for any open apps seem subsequent to the Android controls at the bottom-left nook of the display, and residential screen-style icons will also be positioned at the desktop anyplace you wish to have, identical to on Android’s common UI. Android diehards or even the ones handiest vaguely acquainted with Android will simply be capable of leap into Dex mode with out feeling disoriented or perplexed.

But the quirks come once you attach the Tab S4 to an exterior observe. Unless that observe has a touchscreen, you wish to have to pair a Bluetooth mouse with the Tab S4 to keep watch over the rest on that 2d, better display. Also, the capsule’s show defaults to panorama Android mode when attached to an exterior observe with Dex activated—so the exterior observe seems like a PC working Android, however the capsule itself acts and works as an Android capsule. The observe does not paintings as a display extender, so you’ll be able to’t transfer open apps and home windows from the observe’s display to the capsule’s display. I used to be hoping so that you can paintings at the Tab S4 as I’d my MacBook Pro when attached to an exterior observe, however that is not the way it works, and it was once jarring to determine that out.

Some webpages do not render the way in which you could be expecting in Dex mode when attached to a observe, as smartly. Working in WordPress was once irritating as a result of all the packing containers and classes I take advantage of incessantly have been streamlined into one column, however on my computer they are unfold out around the webpage. This might simply be a quirk with WordPress on Chrome in Dex mode, however it’s made much more complicated since the identical web page rather a lot appropriately at the Tab S4’s display when in Dex mode however now not attached to an exterior observe.

Samsung integrated its Book Cover Keyboard with our Tab S4 evaluate unit, so I used to be fortunate sufficient to have a keyboard to check the capsule. If you might be now not keen to shell out $149 for this, you will have to pair your individual Bluetooth keyboard or do with out—and doing the previous makes Dex mode even much less helpful. Since Dex is, necessarily, a desktop mode, you wish to have the whole thing you would have to run a desktop PC for it to paintings as comfortably as Samsung guarantees it does, regardless of if you are in Dex mode at the capsule handiest or when attached to an exterior observe. When the usage of the capsule on my own, it is imaginable to get by means of simply the usage of the on-screen keyboard, however that is not going to push the tool previous tablet-level productiveness.

Like maximum capsule keyboard circumstances, Samsung’s latest is solely good enough in the case of typing revel in. While I will have typed this complete evaluate on it, I did not need to after finishing a couple of paragraphs. The keys are too small and located too shut in combination for me to kind maximum phrases appropriately, and the delete key (represented by means of a again arrow icon) is painfully small. Each sentence I typed contained no less than 3 or 4 misspelled phrases, and that minuscule delete key made it tougher to edit my errors.

You additionally will have to undergo via Android’s inconsistent keyboard enhance when the usage of Samsung’s keyboard case (and most probably different Bluetooth keyboards as smartly). If you wish to have to kind in Chrome with out the keyboard case, you’ll be able to all the time wish to faucet the fitting textual content field sooner than the on-screen keyboard pops up, permitting you to kind. When attached to the Book Cover Keyboard, you’ll be able to right away kind a Web deal with or a seek question while you open Chrome. However, if you happen to use Samsung’s browser, you all the time wish to faucet a textual content field sooner than you’ll be able to kind, irrespective of whether or not you might be in capsule mode or attached to a keyboard.

The S Pen works identically in Dex mode because it does in common Android mode, however Air Command oddly does not paintings. At its core, Air Command is only a extra available menu that caters to S Pen use—so if you’ll be able to use the S Pen and handwriting-capable apps in Dex mode, why can not you entry Air Command? Samsung did not give a explanation why for disabling Air Command whilst the usage of Dex, and it was once a disappointing discovery for me.

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