Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Review

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 offers Ice Cream Sandwich at a much lower price than its predecessor – which makes it a bargain, right?

The first-generation Galaxy Tab 10.1 was the iPad's closest rival of the time. If you didn’t want an iPad, you bought the Tab 10.1. But Samsung has a lot more competition in the large-tablet market now, including from its own Note 10.1. Sporting a 1GHz dual-core TI Omap 4430 processor, the Tab 2 10.1 has a 10.1in, 1200x800-pixel capacitative multitouch display. Onboard storage is limited to 16GB this time around (the previous Tab 10.1 also had a 32GB storage option), but there’s an SD card slot for expansion. A 3G version is also available.

There are some cosmetic changes from the original, but they are surprisingly similar devices. Indeed, the only major upgrade the Tab 2 10.1 can claim over the original 10in tablet is its operating system: whereas the Tab 10.1 was one of the first major players to run Android 3.1 Honeycomb, the second-gen Android tablet sports Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. We’d like to see 4.2 Jelly Bean, though.

Build quality

The most notable change is in the dimensions. The Tab 2 is marginally thicker, and has a metallic finish to its back. We measured it at 9.7mm; it’s also a few grammes heavier than the original Tab. It’s both thinner and lighter than the iPad. The black bezel is slightly thinner, but the screen remains the same size. Whereas the speakers previously sat recessed in the side of the Tab, now they are front-facing. The SD card slot sits at the top, next to the power and volume switches. To the right on the top is the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Subjectively, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 feels like a better-quality device than its predecessor. The Tab 2 uses the same colourful and bright, 1280x800 capacitative multitouch display. Viewing angles are pretty decent, too, although the screen is prone to finger smudges. Don't expect Apple-like detail levels, though. This Tab offers just 149ppi, and you’ll notice the difference next to the Retina-quality iPad.


The Tab’s dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM pales next to tablets such as Samsung’s own Galaxy Note 10.1, and the Nexus 7 and 10, all of which are quad-core devices. It's a fast enough device, and we had no problems in terms of general navigation, web browsing and even HD video playback, but there is no doubt that the Nexus devices are much zippier. Waking up from standby takes perceptively longer, as does opening apps. In Geekbench the Tab 2 scored a disappointing 908 points. This is by no means disastrous but, to put it in context, the £159 Nexus 7 scored an average of 1,561.

The 7,000mAh battery held up well in our tests, comfortably dealing with a full working day of use, which chimes with Samsung's claimed nine hours of battery life. In our video-looping test it held out for five hours 48 minutes. In the SunSpider JavaScript test, which measures web-browsing performance, the Tab 2 10.1 averaged 2,369ms. This is a pretty poor result.


The Tab 2 has a 3Mp rear-facing camera with no flash. We're not sure how many people would feel comfortable holding up a 10in tablet to take a photo, but we're assuming it's not many. And that's probably just as well: the Tab's camera is perfectly adequate for the occasional snap, but it's never going to replace your dedicated camera. Images are grainy and flat. However, the 1080p full-HD video recording is worth having.


The biggest update from the original Tab 10.1 is the move from Honeycomb to Ice Cream Sandwich, although this has since been rolled out to the original Tab, too. Android 4.0 is a much more mature tablet OS, offering a level of slickness previously absent from Android. It's customisable, stable and consumer-friendly. The interface looks neater, crisper and sleeker throughout.

Android 4.0 offers new features, including notifications that can be accessed from the lock screen, better text input with a spell-checker and enhanced email handling. There’s also a data-usage monitor. Typically, Samsung has laid over the top of ICS its TouchWiz UI. Honestly, we could live without Samsung's apps dominating our home screen, but that at least is customisable. And although Google Play Movies & TV is a better app than Samsung's Video Hub, the latter contains a lot more content, and the opportunity to buy, rather than simply rent movies.

A year ago we liked the Tab 10.1. For the second generation the hardware specs remain broadly the same, but it’s £100 cheaper. We love the bright screen, and adding SD support and 1080p video capture are both improvements. The problem is the competition: the Nexus 7, in particular, has changed the game for Android tablets, and is a little more than half the price of the Tab (albeit with a smaller screen, half the storage and no front-facing camera). Meanwhile, the iPad remains a cut above for £100 more than the Tab 2 10.1. But if you absolutely require a 10in Android tablet, spend £20 more on the Nexus 10.

Pros Relatively cheap; SD expansion slot; thinner and lighter than the iPad; 1080p video capture
Cons Slow; dual-core processor; grainy images; no flash
Verdict We loved the original 10.1, and the Tab 2 is even better, but there are now better options available

Specs 10.1in (1280x800) capacitive multitouch PLS screen; Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich; 1GHz TI Omap 4430 processor; 1GB RAM; 16GB storage; microSD; Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 3.0; 3Mp rear camera; 175.3x256.6x9.7mm; 587g

Source.Tablet World UK.Edition.3.2013