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Samsung Galaxy TabPro S review: This Surface Pro clone is drop-dead gorgeous

Gordon Mah Ung | March 30, 2016
Sporting the first OLED screen out in the wild, the TabPro S will turn heads…and almost makes the wait for the tech worth it.

It’s more iPad than Surface

Many people have described the Galaxy TabPro S as a Surface Pro clone, but that’s not quite right. Instead, it more closely emulates the iPad Pro. Why? I believe that the Surface line’s signature feature is its kickstand, which lets the convertible stand on its own, without the need of a keyboard cover. So HP’s Spectre X2 with its built-in kickstand, for example, is more of a Surface clone in my view.

The TabPro S, on the other hand, is really a beautiful tablet with a clever keyboard case. That case connects using magnets and a set of pins on the bottom side, and when closed, wraps completely around the tablet. (It’s a nice touch for those who don’t like scuff marks on their device.) When open, the cover props up the tablet at either a 65-degree or, roughly, 165-degree angle. You can’t use the keyboard with the tablet laid flat (180 degrees), as the pins won’t make contact.

galaxytabpros ipadpro13 keyboards 
Both the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S and 12.9-inch iPad Pro feature keyboard covers that act as kickstands. Both lack the adjustable angles of the Surface Pro’s keyboard. Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

The TabPro S’s keyboard looks similar to the Surface Pro 3’s, in that all the keys sit flush with each other, but in actual use it’s a far different experience. The TabPro S's keys feel sloppy—they’re very loose and just a little too slow on the return. It’s also a bummer that the keyboard isn’t backlit. That feature used to be a luxury, but now it’s expected on high-end devices. (Heck, even the budget Surface 3’s keyboard cover has backlighting.)

It’s not all bad, though. The trackpad is quite usable, though still not as nice as what you'll find on the recent keyboard covers for the Surface Pro line. And Samsung has integrated an NFC reader into the keyboard (there’s also one on the back of the tablet). In theory, you can pair a Samsung Galaxy S6 or newer phone with the TabPro S to share the phone’s data connection over Bluetooth or unlock the tablet by using the fingerprint reader on the phone. Unfortunately, I couldn’t test these two features as the app wasn’t ready during our review.

samsung galaxy tabpro s keyboard 
Although not horrible, one of the more disappointing aspects of the Galaxy TabPro S is its loose-feeling keyboard. Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

But it still competes with the Surface

Despite the Galaxy TabPro S seeming more like an iPad Pro, there’s still the lingering question of whether it’s the convertible that finally beats the latest in the Surface Pro line.

 

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