Samsung Galaxy S Tablet is Crazy Thin [Hands-on]

Samsung doesn’t have quite as big of a slice of the United States tablet market as they do in smartphones, but they’re still in second. There’s a huge gap between them and Apple, and although market share is being mostly driven by low-cost tablets recently, it hasn’t helped that Samsung hasn’t really put anything out that could be identified as a flagship tablet that could compete with the iPad. That all changes with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablets.

The Galaxy Tab S tablets are very light, very thin and very powerful. There will be 10.5” and 8.4” models, both of which will run on Exynos 5 Octa processors, which combine a quad-core 1.9 GHz processor and a quad-core 1.3 GHz processor. That will be combined with 3 GB of RAM. They’ll run Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box.

But, it’s the display that’s the real attraction here. The Galaxy Tab S tablets will feature 2560 x 1600 resolution Super AMOLED displays – 287 ppi for the 10.5” model and 360 ppi for the 8.4” model. Samsung is also promising that these Tab S tablets will have improved contrast ratios, which should make these displays better than those on Samsung’s Pro tablets. Besides that, there’s an 8 MP rear camera with auto-focus and LED flash, a 2.1 MP front camera, and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi. No word yet on battery life, but the 10.5” model will have a 7,900 mAh battery, while the 8.4” model will have a 4,900 mAh battery. There will be a built-in fingerprint scanner, which you can use, among other things, to create multiple profiles on one tablet.

All of this is packed into a very small frame. Both models will be 6.6 mm thick, with the 8.4” tablet weighing under a pound and the 10.5” tablet weighing only 1.03 pounds.

Samsung is using the new tablets to launch Papergarden, their platform for subscribing to and reading magazines. Early partners include Cosmopolitan, Elle, Vogue, GQ, and Rolling Stone, and they’ll be offering single issues for free until the end of July.

The Galaxy Tab S tablets are both available for pre-order now, and will ship in July. For now, you’ll only be able to get Wi-Fi-only 16 GB models, but later in the year, LTE models will be available through AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Only Verizon will get an LTE model of the 8.4” tablet. Sprint users will be able to grab a 10.5” Tab S made for Sprint’s new Spark network. The 8.4” model will cost $400, with the 10.5” model coming in at $500.

These are by far Samsung’s lightest tablets, and their most advanced. It’s the first time in a long time, anyway, that Samsung has put out any tablets worth mentioning in the same breath as the iPad, and after playing with them in person, we can say that that praise is warranted. To that effect, the tablets feel unbelievably thin and lightweight to hold in your hand. And their displays, when placed side by side with the iPad’s retina display, really do offer more color vibrancy and better contrast.