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Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen series - Affordable tablets with S Pen
By Cookie Monster - 12 Jul 2015,4:00pm

Performance & Conclusion

Performance benchmarks

The Galaxy Tab A with S Pen Series are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core 1.2GHz processors and 2GB RAM. As a quick recap, the Snapdragon 410 is Qualcomm's first 64-bit processors. It was unveiled in December 2013 as part of Qualcomm's project to lead the transition of the mobile ecosystem to 64-bit processing.

We will be comparing the Galaxy Tab A with S Pen Series against the ASUS MeMO Pad 8 (ME581CL), which used to have a launch price equal to the Galaxy Tab A tablets, but it is now available for much less in retail. Let's take a look at the benchmarks right after this comparison table:

Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen Series vs ASUS MeMO Pad 8 (ME581CL) 
  Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen (8.0) 4G Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen (9.7-inch) 4G ASUS MeMO Pad 8 (ME581CL)
  Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen (8.0) 4G Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen (9.7-inch) 4G ASUS MeMO Pad 8 (ME581CL)
Launch SRP
  • From S$498
  • From S$598
  • From S$499
Operating system
  • Android 5.0.2 Lollipop
  • Android 5.0.2 Lollipop
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat with ASUS ZenUI
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core 1.2GHz
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core 1.2GHz
  • Intel Atom Z3560 64-bit quad-core 1.83GHz
Memory
  • 2GB RAM
  • 2GB RAM
  • 2GB RAM
Display
  • 8.0-inch / 1,024 x 768 pixels / TFT
  • 9.7-inch / 1,024 x 768 pixels / TFT
  • 8-inch / 1,920 x 1,200 pixels / IPS
Camera
  • Rear: 5-megapixel
  • Front: 2-megapixel
  • Rear: 5-megapixel
  • Front: 2-megapixel
  • Rear: 5-megapixel with PixelMaster technology, f/2.8 and autofocus
  • Front: 1.2-megapixel
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, LTE CAT 4
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, LTE CAT 4
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/m/ac (dual-band), Bluetooth 4.0 (LE), Miracast, NFC, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
Storage
  • 16GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 128GB
  • 16GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 128GB
  • 16GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 32GB
Battery
  • 4,200mAh
  • 6,000mAh
  • 4,000mAh
Dimensions
  • 208.4 x 137.9 x 7.5mm
  • 242.5 x 166.8 x 7.5mm
  • 213 x 123 x 7.45mm
Weight
  • 338g
  • 490g
  • 299g
Network
  • 4G LTE CAT 4
I/O Ports
  • micro-USB port, 3.5mm audio output jack

 

Quadrant

Quadrant evaluates a device's CPU, memory, I/O, and 3D graphics performance. Though both the Snapdragon 410 and Intel Atom Z3560 chipsets are 64-bit processors, the former loses the benchmark fight by a huge margin (~58%). This model of the Snapdragon processor was never meant to be a high performance part unlike Intel's Atom Z33560.

 

 

3DMark (2013)

Originally developed as a PC gaming benchmarking tool, 3DMark now supports multiple platforms including Android. The Ice Storm benchmark is designed for smartphones, mobile devices and ARM architecture computers.

For an in-depth understanding of 3DMark for Android, do head over to our article, "3DMark - Android Device GPU Performance Review." In a nutshell, it is an OpenGL ES 2.0 benchmark test that uses fixed off-screen rendering to run two graphics tests designed to stress the GPU performance of your device and a physics test to stress its CPU performance. The benchmark consists of three test portfolios: Standard (720p resolution rendering), Extreme (1080p resolution rendering with higher quality textures and post-processing effects), and Unlimited (disabled v-sync, display scaling and other OS factors that make it ideal for chipset comparison).

Since the ASUS slate could only run the Unlimited benchmark, we will only be looking at the scores for that particular benchmark. Once again, the Snapdragon 410 processors are no match for the Intel Atom Z2560 processor; the latter fared a whopping 300% better in this benchmark!

 

 

SunSpider JavaScript

SunSpider JavaScript helps measure the browsing performance of a device when processing Javascript. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance, but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is at delivering a high-speed web browsing experience. It is quite apparent that the Snapdragon 410 chipset is not as optimized as its Intel counterpart.

 

Putting aside the benchmark scores, user navigation on the Galaxy Tab A with S Pen Series was generally smooth. For its price and hardware specs, performance was pretty decent even though it fell flat in all of the test-based benchmarks.

 

Battery performance

Our standard battery test for tablets include the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

 

The Galaxy Tab A with S Pen Series fared well in our standard battery tests with the 8-inch variant lasting over 7 hours and the 9.7-inch an hour more. In comparison, the MeMO Pad 8 only clocked a mileage close to five hours. The difference is likely attributed to the display resolution; the ASUS slate has a far higher resolution display which equates a higher power drain. This is confirmed in our Power Consumption chart where the MeMO Pad 8 has a higher power consumption of 3.14W. 

 

Portability

We measure the portability of a device by calculating its battery life to (weight x volume) ratio. Due to its better battery mileage, the Galaxy Tab A with S Pen (8.0-inch) tops the Portability Index while its larger sibling lost out mainly due to its larger footprint.

If you are the sort who doesn't quite care of the screen quality, then you will naturally appreciate the Galaxy Tab A's long running time that helps it rank well where 'portability' is concerned. However in absolute figures, the ASUS MeMO Pad 8 is much lighter, compact and has a Full HD resolution display, which makes up for the lack of a long running time. We reckon many older folks who may not have great eyesight, may be more inclined to choose the Samsung Galaxy Tab A as they can't differentiate the screen sharpness on the ASUS and might as well take advantage of a device that can last much longer between recharging.

 

 

Camera performance

You will find a 5-megapixel autofocus rear camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera on the Galaxy Tab A with S Pen Seriess. As entry-level tablets, don't expect it to deliver quality photos as tablets in general are not well suited for mobile photography. Software-wise, you get options such as panorama, continuous shot, beauty face, Sound & Shot, Sports mode and three different effects (negative, sepia, grey-scale).

The image quality is actually decent although details can be murky once you zoom in.

  

Conclusion

Samsung has indeed one-upped the competition in the entry-level tablet segment with its Galaxy Tab A with S Pen Series. At the moment, there is no viable alternative in the market that offers the same or comparable suite of features such as the S Pen and its software features.

Starting from S$398, the Galaxy Tab A with S Pen series is a good deal for consumers who are looking for an affordable yet feature-packed tablet - from an S Pen perspective. The S$299 7.9-inch Xiaomi Mi Pad may be able to undercut Samsung in price, but it is only available in Wi-Fi model and lacks useful features such as Multi-Window and Air Command. Here's how the various Galaxy Tab A models stack up in terms of price:-

  • Galaxy Tab A with S Pen (9.7-inch) 4G - S$598
  • Galaxy Tab A with S Pen (9.7-inch) Wi-Fi - S$498
  • Galaxy Tab A with S Pen (8.0-inch) 4G - S$498
  • Galaxy Tab A with S Pen (8.0-inch) Wi-Fi - S$398

However we cannot stress enough that the display quality is lacking for a 2015 tablet and Samsung should have at least considered a 720p screen. This alone affects the desirability of the tablet in an era where Full HD is fast becoming the minimum resolution standard for mobility products. Clearly, the decision to stick a 1,024 x 768 pixels resolution screen must have been solely for cost savings, which brought an unintentional side effect that gives the tablet a very long running time. Apart from that aspect, the S$499 ASUS MeMO Pad 8 (ME581CL) has an edge over the 8-inch Galaxy Tab A with S Pen series in display resolution, build, weight and performance, but lost out in battery mileage. Assuming that you do not use or need the S Pen and/or its software features, the Mi Pad and MeMO Pad 8 are much better alternatives for consumers where core basic features are better covered.

Having said that, the Galaxy Tab A series is the only tablet in this price bracket to be endowed with a capable S Pen stylus and its myriad of functions that it brings along. If you can picture yourself using these functions to fast track your daily usage needs, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen series of tablets come recommended if you are on a budget. For those who can splurge another $200 or more, you can easily land yourself one of the best tablets in the market, the Galaxy Tab S series, which has no compromises whatsoever.

Our Final Ratings
Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen (8.0-inch) Click for detailed results break-down
Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen (9.7-inch) Click for detailed results break-down

 

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