The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 Reviewby Brandon Chester on October 15, 2015 8:00 AM EST
Tablets have always been devices where performance can be pushed further than a smartphone. There's much more thermal headroom and bigger batteries to drive high performance SoCs. Both Apple and NVIDIA have SoCs that cannot feasibly be put in a smartphone due to their heat and power usage, and these chips find their way into tablets where these factors can be managed and the additional performance can be utilized by more sophisticated applications. At the same time, some vendors opt to use the same silicon in both phones and tablets. In the case of the Galaxy Tab S2, Samsung has decided to use their Exynos 5433 SoC which previously shipped in the Galaxy Note 4 Exynos.
The CPU side of Exynos 5433 is a quad core Cortex A57 cluster with a max frequency of 1.9GHz, and a quad core Cortex A53 cluster with a max frequency of 1.3GHz. The GPU is ARM's Mali-T760 MP6 GPU with a max frequency of 700MHz. On average the results should be similar to the Galaxy Note 4 Exynos, although software improvements to both the browser as well as Android itself will obviously have an impact.
When examining the overall score in BaseMark OS II one may think that the Tab S2 performs extremely poorly. However, when looking at the sub tests it becomes clear that the overall score is being brought down by very low storage and graphics scores. What's surprising is the large gap between the graphics resuIts on the Tab S2 and the Galaxy Note 4 Exynos which uses the same Exynos 5433 SoC. I re-ran the benchmark several times to see if there was anything strange going on but there doesn't appear to be any problem with the testing, and I'm not quite sure why there's such a large gap between the two.
Moving past storage and graphics, the Tab S2 gets fairly good scores in the web and system tests. However, it still lags very far behind the iPad Air 2, and there's really no way to excuse this when both devices cost the exact same amount.
PCMark is still an Android only benchmark so the results here will strictly be comparing to other Android tablets. Overall, the Tab S2 does well. Upon examining the sub tests it can be seen that the Tab S2 is always fairly close the top of the charts, with certain devices achieving extraordinary scores in some tests which makes the Tab S2 look comparatively slower than it would be with more devices for comparison.
Exynos 5433 is not Samsung's best silicon, and even Exynos 7420 would likely struggle to compete with an SoC designed exclusively for full sized tablets. In the end the Tab S2's performance is just not competitive with the iPad Air 2 or even the Nexus 9 which is priced at $399 and often sells for even less. If I were looking at the 8" Tab S2 I would probably consider its performance acceptable relative to the competition at that size and price, but the market segment of full sized flagship tablets costing $500 or more is a completely other story.
I think Samsung definitely needs to reconsider their process of designing tablets, and part of that has to involve using chips that befit the larger size and greater capabilities of a tablet compared to a smartphone. It's in everyone's best interest to not have one company holding an enormous performance lead in any market, and if there's any company that has the capabilities, integration, and resources to fight with Apple over the tablet performance crown I would think it would be Samsung.