Wood grain says high-tech to you?

The S is for Shameful

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 was not worth the few strokes I had to perform in order to secure it

A month or so back I entered a competition on an Android news site and filled in my email address and phone hoping I might win some Google Play vouchers. Instead last week I got a call and an email from a mobile network telling me I had won the grand prize, a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4. I do not intimately know the complexities of Samsung’s involute product line up, so I hoped it would be grand. How viciously my hopes were dashed!

The first clue that Samsung had lined up a different kind of technological experience to vex me was the packaging. Does dirty wood grain say “High-tech wizardry” to you? It did not to me either.

Bamboo says high-tech to you?

Getting it out of the box showed it to be of the cheap, crude plastic construction that Samsung are renowned for. It had a dimpled back and the front was scarred by a huge home button-cum-fingerprint scanner. On either side of that were two capacitative buttons performing same function as on every single other Android tablet, but on the Tab S their positions were reversed.

Not quite sleek lines

You may be able to see on the photograph above, the mark that makes the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 a truly epic piece of shoddy tat: the faux gold plastic bezel around the Tab S’s edge. Let us take a closer look at that shall we?

The faux gold plastic rim in all its gory

Mmmm… tasteful! Does not the complete lack of design sensibilities shine from that?

However, I was eager to power it up as it boasted an impressive 2560×1600 8.4” OLED display, and a Samsung Octa-core Exynos 5420 Quad A15/Quad A7 processor. It should have been fast and a treat for my eyes.

The display was indeed marvelous but what it displayed… oh dear… What Samsung do to Android seems to have one main purpose: they want to make it mind-buggeringly ugly. Two shots of the launcher are shown below; look not if you doubt your aesthetic surety!

The keyboard that was provided for use, before you opened the Play Store with a hammer to download the Google keyboard with a minimum of delay, was clearly modeled on a very senior Samsung engineer’s favourite typewriter.

Grandpa's typewriter

The filthy swine had even managed to make the Android settings screens, which are never usually the epitome of fun, utterly stomach churning.

Satan's settings

I could install the Google Now Launcher and not have to see Samsung’s crimes, unless I went to the settings or pulled down the notification menu, but that wonderful screen deserved more analysis before I got out a saw and turned a spare pair of shoes into ice skates.

Sadly, the internals were made in a similar cack-handed fashion as the external design elements. The Samsung custom GPU was less than half the speed, in every benchmark I ran, of the oft-stuttery Nexus 9. The A15 cores were pale shadows of the ones I had encountered in an Nvidia Shield tablet. The Samsung Tab S 8.4 had the face of a sow but did not move as quickly.

As both Dani and I were Samsung virgins, we found ourselves horrified by what Samsung had done to Android and a device running it, even after six years of being pilloried for their aesthetic crimes. The display was indeed amazing, truly fantastic, and the fingerprint scanner was about a fifth as reliable as Apple’s. However, what the latter gave access to and the former displayed would shame the interior designer of a North-Eastern suburban Chinese restaurant. Not a keeper!

I would have been more amused if the mobile operator had sent me a particularly large poo in a lunch box rather than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4. It is clearly well-known to be junk, apart from to me until I saw the box, that is, as the Computer Exchange only coughed up a gnat’s wing over one hundred pounds, even though it retails for £249.95, which is not much less than the delightful, brilliant Sony Xperia Tablet Z3 Compact. The CeX shop had better not risk charging much more if they sell it lest they risk getting all their locks filled with Superglue and every staff member being posted a large poo in a lunch box.


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