Samsung Targets iPad Pro with Galaxy Tab S4

Posted on August 1, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 23 Comments

Samsung apparently didn’t get the memo that the future of productivity-focused Android tablets is with Chrome OS. Today, the consumer electronics giant announced the Galaxy Tab S4, a new tablet with an optional keyboard case that appears to look and work much like Apple’s iPad Pro.

“People are doing work differently than they’ve ever before,” Samsung’s Alanna Cotton said at a media event today. “Our goal is to power the individual, to power the enterprise.”

At a high-level, the Galaxy Tab S4 appears to mimic the iPad Pro pretty closely: It’s a 10.5-inch tablet with four speakers, two cameras, 64 or 256 GB of storage, and an active pen. The display looks decent, with a 2560 x 1600 resolution and a 3:2 aspect ratio. You can add an Apple-like keyboard case to use the device sort of like a laptop.

But the Galaxy Tab S4 also diverts from the iPad Pro playbook—and, conspicuously, from the rest of the Android/Chrome OS ecosystem by supporting Samsung’s proprietary Dex technology. So instead of running Android apps in windows on a Chrome OS desktop, you can run Android apps in Windows on an Android-based Dex desktop, complete with mouse and keyboard support. (That said, the keyboard case doesn’t come with its own touchpad.)

Curiously, the Galaxy Tab S4 is based on the previous-generation Snapdragon 835 that powered smartphone flagships in 2017, and not the newer and more powerful Snapdragon 845. Pricing also seems a bit high, starting at $650. Or $800 including the keyboard case.

I’m not particularly interested in Samsung’s proprietary side-trips away from the Google standards, so it’s unlikely I’ll be buying this device. But I do like seeing Apple’s chief rival going after the iPad Pro like this. And I’m curious to see whether the Galaxy Tab S4 is at all successful.


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Comments (24)

24 responses to “Samsung Targets iPad Pro with Galaxy Tab S4”

  1. thalter

    I always thought the biggest obstacle for broader acceptance of Android tablets was not the hardware (which looks pretty decent here), but the lack of tablet optimized applications. I haven't looked at Android tablets for years: Has the app situation changed at all?

    • JustDavid

      I'm very happy with the Galaxy Tab S3, using OneDrive, Microsoft Launcher, and most any other app I need. I'm not a 'power user' but use the tablet a lot more than I thought I would while sitting on the couch, or weekend trips to visit my grandchildren. I haven't found an app that I needed that wasn't available. And Angry Birds is excellent on the larger form factor.

    • christian.hvid

      In reply to thalter:

      Naturally, the answer to that depends entirely on what you would use the tablet for. In my personal view, a tablet is a recreational device meant for watching movies/TV, reading the news, reading books and do some light gaming (in most other areas, either a smartphone or a laptop does a better job). And of course, those types of apps have always been optimized for tablets.

      If I didn't already have an iPad Pro, I would probably go for the Huawei Mediapad M5, which is half the price of the Samsung Tab 4 and optimized for media consumption.

  2. christian.hvid

    Minor correction: the Tab S4 uses a 16:10 aspect ratio, not 3:2. Notably, this is different from the "iPad-esque" 4:3 ratio found on the Tab S3. This also puts the Tab S4 somewhat closer to the aspect ratio of an A4 paper (~1:1.41) than a Letter size paper (~1:1.29).

  3. dontbe evil

    "Samsung Targets iPad Pro with Galaxy Tab S4" … ROTFL (and I'm not an apple fan at all)

  4. HellcatM

    This is an interesting product that misteps in a few ways, by using an older SOC and Android instead of using the newer SOC and ChromeOS with Android apps. Maybe Samsung wanted to bring the price down on the tablet so they used the older SOC and maybe they thought ChromeOS with Android isn't quite there yet (or maybe they haven't gotten Dex to work with it yet) but still is this the right move?

    The question I have is are they using the same 4GB of ram used in their phones are are they upping it to 6GB Or 8GB? People may use this more like a PC so the extra RAM would be needed. Last thing people want is slowdown while they're doing work.

    I probably won't buy one because of the price, I'd rather buy a laptop running Windows personally but I see some people might find this intriguing. In a time that its cool to hate on Microsoft no matter how good a product is they bring out, and for people who aren't blinded by apple, this could be a good product. I'm still stumped at the use of Android over ChromeOS, but if its because of Dex and ChromeOS and Android apps not being ready I can see why they chose it. If using the older SOC will bring the price down by $100 or more then I can see that too. We'll just have to see if Samsung did the right thing or did they make just another tablet no one is going to buy? Only time will tell.

  5. wright_is

    I find it interesting they are using the Snapdragon and not their own Exynos processor, as they have used in their Galaxy S phone for the last few years...

  6. Nonmoi

    Compare to this, Surface Go 8gb version looks like true bargains (so are 2018 iPad, but then that's not Apple's flagship at the screen size).


    "Curiously, the Galaxy Tab S4 is based on the previous-generation Snapdragon 835 that powered smartphone flagships in 2017, and not the newer and more powerful Snapdragon 845."

    If you did your research about Samsung's flagship tablet line. You should know that there is nothing curious about it. Samsung had keep doing this stupid and horrible thing for like forever. (Well, at least before S3 you can say that that was they attend to keep the price within reasonable range. Which in itself is ridiculous as it is flagship, but still a somewhat rationalish argument.) I know many people who refuse to buy Samsung flagship tablet because of this, myself included.

    • digiguy

      In reply to Nonmoi:

      Yes, an android "productivity-oriented" 10" tablet for 650$ ? Surface go destroys this completely in terms of productivity and value for money.... And don't come saying Android is better optimized for non productivity, as surface is perfectly fine for watching videos (better with the kickstand actually) and browsing the web, reading and writing messages etc.

  7. Jorge Garcia

    What a contrast. On the same day that Apple - the company that used to be known for making the FINEST computing products - not just the most fashionable - is being celebrated wildly for perfecting and escalating the fleecing of a stagnant, but very loyal user base...Samsung, a Korean conglomerate that also makes washing machines is rolling out a device that in my mind is the most significant consumer-facing computer product since the Mac. FINALLY, there is a computer that is not off-putting to the largest part of the human intelligence bell-curve, AND that accomplishes everything that a "normal" consumer would expect it to. The boss emails you an Excel spreadsheet and tells you to change some numbers? No problem, Microsoft has (foolishly, IMO) optimized a version of Excel just for DeX, and you can easily plug in a mouse for precise input (can't do that on any iPad). Your girlfriend texts you saying that she needs you to look at her most recent Instagram post? No problem, not only did her text appear on your display (via various apps that accomplish this) but you can then easily go get the REAL version of Instagram from the play store and launch it in a new window...that you can scroll through with your fingers! All the while, getting the battery life and standby prowess of a mobile device (a very key attribute). This all might sound pretty silly to us, but these are the things normal people want to do and there has always been a big BUT somewhere. Samsung DeX finally removes all the old BUTS. To me, this is exactly what the geniuses at Xerox PARC envisioned and pioneered in the 70's...a computer for the average Joe that is easy enough so as to not require any expert external support (sorry, but as someone who OFTEN has to give support for Windows, it still does require a lot of it)... and yet still manages to accomplish REAL tasks. And of course for the Pros, there will always be various full-boat OS's around to meet their needs. To me, this is exactly how things should be. Normal people have no business struggling with Windows or even MacOS. That being said, I still think Google will squash Samsung's efforts once they're finished with their one OS to rule them all.

  8. Waethorn

    "Samsung apparently didn’t get the memo that the future of productivity-focused Android tablets is with Chrome OS."

    No that's not it. Chromebook makers will still make Chromebooks. The days of slate tablets is over - OEM's are just moving their Chromebook offerings to convertibles and 2-in-1's. Acer releasing a slate tablet to the education market isn't unusual. Acer has always offered tablets before other PC companies. Remember the first 8" Clover Trail Windows tablet? That was Acer. The first Bay Trail follow-up was also Acer. They had higher-end models in the W series before other PC OEM's offered anything too. They lead other releases in the market, and sometimes that market segment fails, but Acer's releases never dictate the market. The Chromebook Tab is not a sign of things to come.

  9. graham_wilton

    No problem with Samsung hardware, S9 plus been best phone I've ever had, it just works. You end not using the Samsung stuff anyway and it just sits there in the background with no impact. I'm all in on Microsoft launcher and apps and I really dont notice or feel hindered by Samsung Android.

  10. skane2600

    It think Dex support is more of a footnote than a compelling reason to buy one of these. This device is less of a departure from Google standards and more of an attempt to compete in a market that Google doesn't seem to be interested in - iPad Pro-like devices.

    • Jorge Garcia

      In reply to skane2600:

      Give it time. Samsung, with DeX, is barking up the exact same tree that Google, with ChromeOS+Android+future iteration) is starting to bark up aggressively...and that is simply removing the necessity for Microsoft's flavor of Windows from -most- people's daily lives. Google will almost certainly win the fight, though, as "free" is always the winner....and given that workaday folks already despise Windows, it won't be hard to get them off. Inertia and "legacy" software is the only thing helping MS right now in the non-pro market.

  11. Daekar

    I'd be far more likely to buy this than an iPad Pro or Chromebook. Android already has keyboard and mouse support, USB OTG, etc, and as much as people complain about Android tablets (for some reason) I have never had a problem doing something I need to on one. It also has the additional bonus of being more de-Google-able than ChromeOS.

    I'm not sure how one would judge "success" for a tablet these days. I only know one person in my personal who uses a non-Window tablet with any frequency, and that's my dance teacher who has her whole life on an old Galaxy Tab.

  12. Bats

    There is no memo for Samsung to receive. They have always considered their hardware products to be 100% theirs and no one else's. Even with Android on their Galaxy phone lines..... theirs. To them, Android doesn't really exist, but more like a raw product that they can refine and resell as their own original product.

  13. david.thunderbird

    Paul has it right, just say no to samslung schlock.

  14. wunderbar

    I've played around with Dex on the Galaxy S8 and while I actually see the utility in it, the usefulness is limited because you need to provide a keyboard, mouse, monitor, and the Dex hardare (though 3rd party knockoffs that work exist).

    The utility of this is much more complelling because you can use it as a normal android tablet, put it in Dex mode on the tablet screen, or attach it to a monitor and use it that way as well. I really like the idea.

    I won't be buying it because I literally just picked up a new XPS13 last week, if I hadn't needed to make that purchase I might have bought this.

  15. jrickel96

    There's no market for Android on tablets, at least not like this. iOS is 65% of the tablet market based on usage according to Statcounter. It's 53-47 for the iPad on NetMarketshare. Amazon is the #2 tablet maker, so a lot of those Android tablets are Fire tablets. Most Android tablets are running version 4.4 - KitKat according to NMS, though Statcounter says different. I don't know where Amazon forked Android and how Fire OS registers. But we do know that Amazon passed Samsung as the #2 tablet seller last year. There are a lot of Amazon tablets and a lot of dirt cheap Android tablets.

    Android on tablets is far from a success. Business use cases are rare. I use them for clients mainly due to sideloading ability for game interactions with fans and sporting venues. No one likes them (always Samsung), but they serve the purpose. I see a lot of retail that run their entire POS on iPad and know of several large firms that are moving in that direction. Android tablets are not an option for this due to security issues. The iPads can also play well with a Windows Server that locally runs the POS.

    With the Surface Go hitting this pricepoint, I see no future for these kind of Android tabs. Like Android phones, the primary market is cheap devices. Same for ChromeOS. Hardly anyone uses them in the real world. Android has found success in phones because everyone feels like they need to have one and not everyone wants to pay for an iPhone, but the average Android phone is bought for around $200 whereas an iPhone goes for $750 and a Windows PC for around $700.

    Samsung does have what little premium Android tablet market there is, but there isn't much. They only have 7 Chromebooks in their lineup with very few reviews on their website. They have a lot more tablets in their lineup (many older models that they keep) and those don't sell like crazy. Tells you how poorly ChromeOS does.

    The also tells you why they make an Android tablet instead of ChromeOS. They know that no one really wants a Chromebook, that's why they don't make many and they don't update them very frequently.

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