Today Samsung announced availability and pricing for the Tab S2, the company's next top-of-the-line tablet. Announced last month, the Tab S2 is the first "premium" Android tablet we've seen in some time. And with a 4:3 screen ratio, this is Samsung's closest direct match for the iPad yet — at least in terms of design. The front in particular resembles Apple's tablet, mostly thanks to the chamfered edges. Around back the Tab S2 isn't nearly as much of a clone and feels pretty nice in the hand.
Despite a metal frame (the actual back has a soft-touch feel), it's also impressively thin and light compared to last year's model, measuring 5.6-millimeters (noticeably thinner than my Galaxy Note 5) and weighing 9.4 ounces (8.0-inch model) or 13.8 ounces (9.7-inch model). Samsung has sought to address one of the glaring issues of this tablet's predecessor: performance. The Tab S2 is powered by the same octa-core chipset that went into the Galaxy Note 4. And while that's not quite as powerful as what's inside the S6 and Note 5, the faster chip helped features like multi-window and split-screen zip along in our initial hands-on time. Last year, those often lagged or stuttered. So performance seems satisfactory. Samsung also says the Super AMOLED QXGA (2048 x 1536) display has been improved over the previous hardware, though wouldn't specify exactly how.
Samsung wanted to make a speedy tablet
As for software, well, it's TouchWiz, and Samsung criminally hasn't (yet) brought over the theme store from its latest smartphones. Being able to mask the default icons and other user interface elements was enough to sway me into buying a Note 5, so it's a shame not to see it on tablets. The company told me themes may show up in the future, however. Samsung is also pushing its SideSync feature, which lets you mirror your Samsung phone on the tablet screen and use apps, send texts, or receive calls. And there's also tablet-to-TV (and vice versa) functionality built in, though you'll need a recent Samsung-branded TV to make the most of it.
The Galaxy Tab S2 comes with 32GB of storage on board (Best Buy will offer an exclusive 64GB Wi-Fi-only version) and supports microSD cards up to 128GB — another thing it's borrowed from the Note 4. The 8.0-inch model will sell for $399.99, with the larger 9.7-inch version costing $499.99. If you want LTE, expect to pay around $150 more. Preorders open today and it'll go on sale September 3rd. Does the Tab S2 stand any chance against Apple's iPad in a tablet market that's already fading fast? We'll have more to say about Samsung's latest soon.