There's been a dearth of Android tablets in recent years, but Samsung hopes to change that with its new flagship device, the Galaxy Tab S4. This Android tablet replaces the smaller Galaxy Tab S3 that came out last year, and Samsung hopes it will entice users, particularly those in the enterprise, to replace their PC.
The new 2-in-1 device is the first Samsung tablet to include DeX, which allows the user to enable a desktop experience. Previously, DeX was only available on Samsung smartphones such as the Galaxy Note, the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S9.
The Galaxy Tab S4 is intended for professionals, as well as those who want to use it at home or at school. But it's especially suited for businesses because it has productivity features for the retail, healthcare and finance sectors.
Samsung announced the new tablet on August 1, 2018.
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What is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4?
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is a new 10.5-inch Android tablet that has a range of productivity features.
- Samsung DeX: Samsung DeX gives users a PC-like experience that allows them to multi-task for increased productivity.
- The S Pen: The Galaxy Tab S4 comes with an updated S Pen which allows users to navigate, translate, doodle, and take notes, as well as do tasks like document annotation and signature capture.
- Book Cover Keyboard: This optional accessory enables a PC-like experience.
- Knox Security and Configuration: This feature allows IT administrators to deploy, manage, update and protect a company's entire fleet of devices at once.
- eFota: It offers "over the air" firmware support for device management for businesses.
The tablet has an optional book cover keyboard, which is sold separately for $149.99. When that is attached, or when launched from the Quick Panel, the Galaxy Tab S4 powers on Samsung DeX so that users can switch from the Android interface to a desktop experience. With Samsung DeX, users can open multiple desktop-style windows for Android apps, including the Microsoft Office suite, directly on the Galaxy Tab S4, and resize them when needed. It's easy to drag and drop content between apps and use keyboard shortcuts and commands.
SEE: Photos—Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 features up close (TechRepublic)
If additional screen space is needed, there is an option to extend Samsung DeX to an external monitor with a compatible HDMI to USB-C multi-port adapter. Once it's connected, the Galaxy Tab S4 can serve as a track pad or a sketch pad.
Once the keyboard is connected, POGO pins create a connection, and there's no need to pair or charge the keyboard separately.
This tablet has plenty of what enterprise users need: A 10.5-inch, 2560 x 1600 Super AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa Core chipset, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage (plus microSD slot), 13MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, Android 8.1 Oreo and a 7,300mAh battery.
There are also four, AKG-tuned speakers that support Dolby Atmos for surround sound.
Eric McCarty, vice president of mobile product marketing at Samsung Electronics America, said, "While we think that most users will adapt, or adopt, to a keyboard type of experience paired with DeX, and then even a Bluetooth mouse as well, the DeX software does reside on the Tab S4. You can actually push the device into the DeX mode without connecting the keyboard case, or a Bluetooth mouse. And you could use the on-device keyboard, and certainly with touch or the S Pen versus a mouse to guide that experience, so that option does exist."
There is both a Wi-Fi and an LTE version available, and the wireless carriers will announce pricing and availability at a later date.
From a sensor perspective, McCarty said, "We continue the focus on all the different types of fun sensors you could include: accelerometer, the compass, the gyroscope. So if I'm walking around with the device or moving it around, I get that experience of being able to leverage my location and know where I am and translate that into an experience from an application perspective."
- Samsung marries new Galaxy Tab S4 with DeX for productivity boost (ZDNet)
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What is the S Pen?
The S Pen is a stylus that debuted on Samsung's Note line of smartphones, and it gives added functionality so that users can take on-screen notes, draw pictures and more.
The newest version of the S Pen is included with the Galaxy Tab S4 and allows users to take notes on the fly through the Screen-Off Memo feature, as well as navigate, translate and organize notes through Samsung Notes, and send personalized texts through Samsung Live Message.
Samsung includes the S Pen with the tablet at no additional charge. This is an advantage over Apple, which charges $89 for the Apple Pencil stylus.
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- Samsung's S Pen, Notebook 9 Pen: multiple functionalities to make work easier (TechRepublic)
How does the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 compare to the Galaxy Tab S3?
The Galaxy Tab S3 arrived on store shelves in March 2017. The Galaxy Tab S3 had a smaller, 9.7-inch screen, and it did not include Samsung DeX. The $649.99 MSRP of the Galaxy Tab S4 is $50 more than its predecessor.
What's new this year is that once the tablet is connected to an external monitor, the Galaxy Tab S4 can continue to work as a fully functional Android tablet, giving users two screens to accomplish tasks.
Both the previous tablet and the Galaxy Tab S4 come with an S Pen, and it's been updated for the new model.
The Galaxy Tab S4 has a bigger battery, at 7,300mAh, than the Galaxy Tab S3, at 6,000mAh, and it has increased processing capabilities and more memory to support the DeX experience.
"It's the combined function of S Pen productivity and DeX productivity that's driving the differentiators between the Tab S3 and the Tab S4," McCarty said.
- Photos: Galaxy Tab S4 (CNET)
- Samsung to open Galaxy Tab S3 pre-orders March 17 (ZDNet)
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Review: Finally, an Android tablet built with enterprise users in mind (ZDNet)
- Samsung's latest Galaxy Tab S3 tablet takes on the iPad Pro (CNET)
Who is the target audience for the Galaxy Tab S4?
McCarty defines the target user as a "mobile productivity user." Business users who want to increase productivity are the true target, as well as at-home users who want to multi-task and even use the tablet to control IoT-connected home accessories.
"It's designed for folks, the consumer who wants the larger screen real estate, maybe a better gaming experience, a better entertainment experience, and then also the business user who really sees this as an opportunity to potentially replace the PC or certainly augment their PC experience, particularly for remote usage," McCarty said.
SEE: 4 essential business features of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 (TechRepublic)
The goal of the tablet is to increase productivity and mobility, so it can be used at a coffee shop as easily as a co-working space at the office, he said.
It can be used in retail, finance and healthcare, or other industries. For retail and finance, it has a dual mode enabled by DeX to create a different UI for sales and customers. In healthcare, it can be used at a patient's bedside to fill out forms, as well as for notes and records access. For mobile sales, it can be used for presentations.
"We know that employees are spending more and more time away from their desk, and it's increased about 50 percent to the time that they're not at their desk," McCarty said. "And there's this growing number of employees who talk about things like using the same device for work and personal usage."
"On the flip side, we see the IT decision makers in an organization looking to mobile to drive these new lines of revenue streams, and there's a need for open collaboration in a business," he said.
The large memory, with a microSD offering up to 400GB, will benefit enterprise users who still want on-device storage, even if they're also using cloud storage.
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What kind of security does the Galaxy Tab S4 offer?
The Galaxy Tab S4 uses Samsung Knox, Samsung's defense-grade mobile security platform. This is important because mobile devices are an ever-increasing security risk for organizations.
"Millennials are this new category of workers where 70% admit to breaching IT policies, whether that's forwarding a corporate email to a Gmail account or doing something potentially on the device that might go against corporate policies," McCarty said.
There is not a fingerprint scanner or physical home button on the front, but there is an iris scanner for biometric identity. Also, the user can adjust the settings to lock the Galaxy Tab S4 if they move too far away from the device, or have it automatically unlock if they get closer to the tablet, he explained.
- Samsung Knox: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Knox integration could be the key to Android in the enterprise (TechRepublic)
- Samsung Knox isn't as secure as you think it is (TechRepublic)
- Google Project Zero: How we cracked Samsung's DoD- and NSA-certified Knox (ZDNet)
- Knox-enabled Galaxy devices approved for US classified use (ZDNet)
- Android security and privacy starter kit (Download.com)
What is the battery life of the Galaxy Tab S4?
The tablet has a 7,300mAh battery that provides up to 16 hours of video playback; this is up from the 6,000mAh battery in the Galaxy Tab S3. It also offers Adaptive Fast Charging for quicker charging when more power is needed in a hurry.
The long battery life could help business users with training videos and presentations, and this will help make the Galaxy Tab S4 more competitive in the market, McCarty said.
- Pro tip: Revive your Samsung Galaxy Tab when the battery has completely drained (TechRepublic)
- How to save battery life in Android (TechRepublic)
- 10 ways to extend your Android phone battery life (ZDNet)
- Photos: An inside look at Samsung's new battery tests (CNET)
- Batteries: The Achilles Heel of mobile devices (TechRepublic)
When can I get the Galaxy Tab S4?
The Galaxy Tab S4 Wi-Fi version will be available in the US starting at $649.99 on August 10, 2018, at Amazon, Best Buy and Samsung.com.
The Galaxy Tab S4 LTE version will be available for purchase starting August 10, 2018, at Verizon, along with other major wireless providers including Sprint and US Cellular later in Q3 2018.
Consumers can reserve their Galaxy Tab S4 starting today through August 9, 2018, on Samsung.com. Through September 8, 2018, they will also receive 50% off on the Book Cover Keyboard (MSRP: $149.99) when purchased with the Galaxy Tab S4.
Samsung has not yet released info on when the Galaxy Tab S4 will be sold outside the US.
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What are the specs for the Galaxy Tab S4?
Display: 10.5" WQXGA (2560x1600) sAMOLED
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa Core (2.35GHz + 1.9GHz)
LTE Support: LTE Cat.16 DLCA, 4X4 MIMO
Memory/Storage: 4GB + 64GB / 256GB, microSD up to 400GB
Camera: 13MP AF + 8.0MP, Flash
Port: USB3.1 (Type C), POGO
Sensors: Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope, RGB, Proximity, Iris Scanner, Hall Sensor
Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, MIMO, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth® 5.0
GPS: GPS + GLONASS, BEIDOU, GALILEO
Dimensions/Weight: 249.3 x 164.3 x 7.1mm; 482g (Wi-Fi) / 483g (LTE)
Battery: 7,300mAh, Fast Charging
OS/Upgrade: Android 8.1 Oreo
Accessories: S Pen (included)
Video: Recording: UHD 4K (3840x2160) @ 30fps; Playback: UHD 4K (3840x2160) @ 60fps
Audio: 4 speakers tuned by AKG, Dolby Atmos
Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including People, W and Women's Wear Daily.