Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 8.4 marries a terrific screen with a ridiculously light and thin build. But is it worth a US$170 premium over the 2013 Nexus 7? Let's see if comparing the two tablets' features and specs tells us anything.
Here's the first bonus that extra $170 gets you. The Galaxy Tab S is about 7 percent longer and 11 percent wider than the Nexus 7. The razor-thin Tab S is also 24 percent thinner.
Despite being the much bigger tablet, the Tab S is only 4 g (0.14 oz) heavier than the Nexus 7. It feels incredibly light in hand.
No premium-looking metallic builds here, as both tablets' exteriors are made of plastic. The Tab S' finish looks a lot like the Galaxy S5's, but during my hands-on time with it, I found it to feel firmer than the GS5's slightly soft-touch finish.
We're looking at two color options for each tablet, though you'll want to note that the white Nexus 7 is only available in a 32 GB Wi-Fi only model.
The Nexus 7 only gives you 70 percent as much screen area as the Tab S does. And that doesn't quite tell the whole story, as the Nexus 7 usually devotes the bottom row of its display to onscreen navigation buttons. The Tab S has physical and capacitive buttons below its screen, so you'll always have 100 percent of its display available for apps and media.
According to Samsung, the Tab S' killer feature is its Super AMOLED screen. I didn't exactly see a dramatic improvement in most apps, but when watching video, its colors, contrast and blacks looked phenomenal.
The Tab S has a significantly sharper screen, coming in at 359 pixels per inch (PPI). But I wouldn't base your decision on this, though, as the Nexus 7's 323 PPI display is also plenty crisp.
That dimpled faux leather finish isn't the only thing the Tab S borrowed from the Galaxy S5. The tablet also has a swipe-based fingerprint scanner in its home button.
Both tablets are available in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi with LTE models, though the Nexus 7's LTE edition is tied exclusively to the 32 GB storage option.
Internal storage options are equal, though the Tab S also adds a microSD card to the mix.
The Tab S has the much faster processor, no matter which version you choose. The Exynos Octa CPU listed above is for the Wi-Fi only Tab S, while the LTE model has a Snapdragon 800 in its place.
The Nexus 7's 2 GB of RAM is pretty standard in recent high-end Android devices, while the Tab S joins a few other recent Samsung mobile products with 3 GB of RAM.
We haven't yet tested the battery life in the Tab S, but we do know that the Nexus 7's uptimes could be a little better than they are. In our hands-on testing, it didn't last as long as rivals like the Retina iPad mini.
I'm not sure how many people use their tablets as cameras, but, at the very least, they can be handy for snapping a few shots in a pinch. The Tab S has the higher-resolution shooters, but until we get some extended hands-on time, this is another area that we can't yet jump to any conclusions about.
Both tablets run Android 4.4 KitKat, with the Play Store supplying apps. Samsung's tablet is skinned with its own TouchWiz UI, though, while the Nexus 7 runs stock Android.
One of the Tab S' most unique features only applies if you also own a Galaxy S5. SideSync 3.0 lets you pair your GS5 with the Tab S to send and receive calls and text messages, and even view and control your phone – all on your tablet's screen. This can come in handy if you like to leave your phone sitting on a charger while you fiddle with your tablet.
Samsung had originally announced July as a launch window for the Tab S, but the company recently said that the tablet will be available in the US starting on June 27. The 2nd-gen Nexus 7 is approaching a year old, so it's possible we'll see some kind of new Nexus tablet before long.
Apart from running stock Android, there aren't many reasons to choose the Nexus 7 over the lighter, thinner and larger-screened Tab S. But this $170 discount is the biggest reason to consider the Google/Asus tablet. And if you keep your eyes open, you might find the aging Nexus 7 starting for even cheaper than its $230 suggested price.
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