While Microsoft’s Surface devices and Apple’s iPad Pro might get the praise for leading the larger tablet front in recent years, Samsung also rather quietly joined that market some two years ago, with the launch of the Galaxy TabPro 12.2.
Unfortunately, its success was somewhat overshadowed by the company’s better Tab S (and later S2) line of tablets, and so the first generation of the TabPro slinked off with little traction from the public.
Samsung is hoping that will change with the TabPro S, a 12in tablet that replaces its predecessor’s Android operating system with a Windows 10 OS for a closer-to-PC experience.
Better still, it comes with a full-size keyboard case to aid its laptop replacement goal, which already puts it one up on Microsoft and Apple’s efforts. Read on for our first impressions.
Features and specification
The TabPro S offers a 12in, 2160 x 1440 AMOLED display and is the first product from Samsung in some time to offer a Windows operating system – particularly strange since it carries the Galaxy name usually reserved for Samsung’s Android products.
Combine that with the fact it now also carries the S sign of Samsung’s flagship products (like the company’s SUHD TVs and the existing Galaxy S range of phones and tablets), and it shows Samsung is really serious about making this tablet part of its core offering.
At 6.3mm thick and just 693g, the TabPro S is slimmer and lighter than both of its big rival tablets, particularly the Surface Pro 4, which is 8.5mm thick and weighs in at 766g at its lightest.
Samsung’s tablet is helped in this respect by the fact it uses a lower powered CPU – the Intel Core M – which doesn’t generate as much heat as an i5 or i7 chip and doesn’t require a cooling system.
This does mean its performance won’t be quite as snappy as the beefier processors, but with 4GB of RAM to back it up, we’d expect it should be more than ample for most on-the-go tasks.
It certainly seemed smooth and lag-free in our limited time with it, but we’d need to wait for our full review before passing judgment on that.
There are matching front and back 5MP cameras and storage choices are either 128GB or 256GB, with a claimed battery life of 10.5 hours. Samsung also says it should charge from flat to full within 2.5 hours too.
Unlike Samsung’s most recent Galaxy phones, the TabPro S returns to Samsung’s plastic designs of old. It’s not too much of an issue though, as the keyboard cover is likely to be on for much of the time.
There isn't the same premium feel as with the likes of the iPad, but even with the cover off, it's sturdy enough and you don't feel like you’re going to break it.
The slim and lightweight design you get in exchange is a good trade off though, making it both easy to hold and to carry around in place of your laptop.
The choice of Windows 10 as an operating system also makes it a real bridge device between work and play, enabling you to run full Windows programs like Adobe Photoshop by day and Netflix by night.
Windows 10 is still a little fiddly compared with iOS or Android, but placing it in the built-in tablet mode certainly helps, and there’s a Bluetooth Pen stylus available separately for more precise tasks.
We didn’t have too long with the TabPro S, so making a critical call on its display is tricky, but from our brief hands on it certainly looks to be a good one.
Samsung has managed to rein in its tendency for oversaturated colours in more recent devices, and it looks to be the same here – serving up a vibrant and punchy, but largely natural, colour palette.
Detail levels look good, with edges and outlines sharp and well etched, while the AMOLED display makes for impressive black levels and bright highlights.
We’ll be sure to put it thoroughly through its paces in our full review and see if it holds up to expectations.
Samsung Keyboard Cover
Included in the box is Samsung's Keyboard Cover, and similarly to the iPad Pro’s offering, it doesn’t require any separate charging or pairing, taking it all from the tablet via Samsung’s Pogo pin connector instead.
We particularly like the way the cover snaps magnetically onto the back of the TabPro S for a fuss-free, bulk-free design, and allows dual angle viewing for different tasks.
It holds a full-sized keyboard and also a trackpad for mouse-based antics, with the keys feeling more like a regular keyboard to type on than the low-travel keys on the iPad Pro. We found it largely accurate in use, but as always with these things, it will take some time to adjust.
Both the keyboard cover and the tablet itself feature NFC, which allows you to pair the tablet with your Galaxy phone to make use of Samsung's Galaxy Continuity feature.
Not only does this allow you to unlock the TabPro S using your phone, but you can also take calls and messages through the tablet, plus you can quickly set your phone up as a wi-fi hotspot with one click to share your settings.
The Galaxy TabPro S certainly seems like a more serious attempt to offer a Samsung-flavoured laptop replacement than its predecessor was, and one that looks to bring with it enough to take on the big rivals from Microsoft and Apple.
While its design might not feel as premium as some, it still looks the part, and its slim and lightweight statistics really add to its all-important portability.
Its screen looks great and performance seems snappy, plus that included keyboard really helps to hit home that this is a tablet squarely aimed at taking on your laptop. The fact it’s the only one out of its competition to do so only makes for a more compelling proposition.
Of course, what will really matter here is the price, and we can only hope that Samsung keeps things competitive when it launches the TabPro S in February. We’ll be bringing you our full review as soon as we get our hands on it.
MORE: iPad Pro review
See all our tablet reviews