August was always expected to be a busy month for Samsung. And Samsung wasted little time in unpacking its latest updates.
A little over one week before the company is expected to introduce its next phablet smartphone, the Galaxy Note 9, Samsung is taking the wraps off a revamped Galaxy Tab S4 tablet.
This latest Android slate will be available August 10, cost $649.99 for the WiFi-only model, and is poised to compete with the latest devices from Apple and Microsoft. A cellular version offered through Verizon has no pricing yet.
The Tab S4 has a vivid 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display with slimmer bezels and a larger display than the 9.7-inch Tab S3. The design on the new model is modern and sleek. As with the Tab S3, the Tab S4 has four stereo speakers . The S4 also adds a larger battery that Samsung claims will provide 16 hours of video playback, up from 12 hours on the S3.
While there is no wireless charging, Samsung has added fast charging, a welcome addition. Samsung has similarly removed the fingerprint sensor, though it has built-in an iris scanner to unlock the device with your eyes, similar to its latest high-end phones.
However, at that roughly $650 price point Samsung is hoping users will want to do much more with this tablet, creating content in addition to consuming.
The company includes its latest S-Pen stylus in the box. It also has built-in its DeX platform, which transforms the standard Android interface into one that resembles a traditional PC desktop.
A $149.99 "Book cover" accessory adds a keyboard without a trackpad. You can add a cursor with an optional Bluetooth mouse.
Users can activate the DeX mode by docking the tablet into the keyboard accessory or by swiping down to open it from Android's notification tray. All your regular Android apps will work in this mode, including Microsoft's Office suite. You can even add a second display by connecting to a monitor through the USB-C port.
In a brief hands-on, the device seemed nice, with the keyboard feeling tactile and the screen looking crisp. I felt comfortable holding it in one hand.
But at close to $800 Samsung is pricing this device to compete with not just iPad Pros, but the latest PCs that run on Windows. Android has struggled to compete with the former on apps. And with a Qualcomm 835 processor and 4GB of RAM, the Tab S4 is significantly underpowered on paper than even many cheaper PCs, making this new tablet a potentially very tough sell.
As for if it's worth it, we'll have to spend more time to find out.