Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 review: Make it two

GSMArena team, 19 April 2012.
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Design and build quality

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 looks a lot like the Galaxy Note 10.1, which we recently previewed. The only way to tell them apart is the LED flash and the darker finish of the Note's rear. The Note is also a tad slimmer but the difference of less than a millimeter is negligible on a 10" slab.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 next to Galaxy Note 10.1

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is built around a 10.1" PLS LCD screen with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. The resolution is only average by today's standarts - the iPad 3 and the Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD have raised the bar too high.

The screen is quite decent though - viewing angles are very good (although there's a noticeable blue tint when viewed at an angle) and the blacks look reasonably deep.

Pixel density is nothing exciting (149ppi), but big tablets like the Tab 2 10.1 are supposed to be viewed from a greater distance than phones. And no, it's obviously no match for the Retina display, but as we said, it's not supposed to compete with it to begin with. The iPad 2's XGA screen has 132 ppi.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 0 200 0 328
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus 0.17 196 1141 0.34 424 1236
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 0.31 257 826 0.55 502 915
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 0.33 293 887 0.55 479 878
Motorola XOOM 0.12 216 1853 0.21 436 2041
LG Optimus Pad 0.19 170 889 0.57 458 811
Apple iPad 2 0.18 167 925 0.55 429 775
Apple iPad 3 0.21 167 809 0.6 477 779

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 has no hardware controls at the front - it doesn't need any with Ice Cream Sandwich inside. All you get here is the front VGA camera and some sensors.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
A close-up of the front-facign camera and sensors

There's no earpiece but the tablet can be used as a phone in either loudspeaker mode or with a headset (wired or wireless). That's one of the improvements over the original Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The two speakers are on either side of the screen. You have to be careful not to cover them with your thumbs when you hold the tablet landscape. The speakers aren't as powerful as the grille size may suggest but the front-facing position is better than having them on the sides as in the first Tab 10.1.

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The 10.1" PLS TFT display on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Stereo speakers

At the top we find the 3.5mm audio jack along with the SIM compartment and microSD slot, both covered with plastic lids. There's also the Power/Lock button next to the volume rocker.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
The busy top side houses the SIM, microSD slots along with 3.5mm audio jack, volume rocker, power/lock key

The microphone is at the bottom and you are warned upon launch of the camcorder app against covering it with a hand.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 uses a proprietary 30-pin connector for charging and connectivity, which is located at the bottom of the tablet.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
The bottom has the speakers, the primary mic and the connectivity port

Single, multi-function ports like the 30-pin connector on the Tab 2 10.1 mean you'll need a proprietary cable for both computer connections and charging. Although the tablet officially doesn't charge off USB, we found that the battery can get a little charge from a computer connection. is too slow to be actually useful, though - about 1% per hour

At the back of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is the 3.15 MP camera lens. There's no LED flash this time round. The original Tab 10.1 has one and so does the 10-inch Note.

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The back of the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 A close-up of the camera

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is powered by a non-replaceable 7000 mAh Li-Ion battery.

The back cover is made of soft plastic, which is nice to the touch and offers decent grip. It's matte too, so it hides fingerprints very well. As you would imagine, you can't pop this cover open to access the battery.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 can actually be held in one hand but we don't think of too many scenarios when you'll have to. That's something for the Note tablet to worry about with the S Pen occupying your other hand. Anyway, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is reasonably portable and comfortable to handle. It's not as slim as the original or the Note tablet but the increased thickness seems to actually make it easier to hold. It's a solidly built tablet too.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 held in hands

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