Friday, November 28, 2014

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7" First Impressions Update

I had a rather successful Grey Thursday yesterday, in terms of shopping. I purchased a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7" for $149. That is down from the normal price of $199. Yeah, shopping on Black Friday isn't the smartest thing, or even the savviest thing for deals, but the hype caught up with me. Anyway, I now have a new tablet for Android development. Let's get into the first impressions.

First off, here are the specs:

Display- 1280x800 WXGA (slightly above 720p) TFT, 216 PPI
Processor- Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 @ 1.2 GHz Quad Core
GPU- Adreno 305 @ 450MHz
Cameras- Rear: 3MP Fixed Focus, Front: 1.3MP
Storage- 8GB, with 32GB Micro SD expansion
Battery- 4000 mAh
RAM- 1.5GB
OS- Android 4.4.2 KitKat (although the T-Mobile LTE 8" version has 4.4.4)

I have used this tablet for about 3 hours, most of it messing with settings. That is what makes it a first impressions. As a technology enthusiast I get an odd thrill preforming first time device setup.

I purchased the white version of the tablet. Personally I favor black, because dirt and stains are less apparent, but the white version was the sole version available for sale. Whatever.


The display is great. Based solely on the specs, one would expect a sub-par display. That is not the case in my experience. Yes, you can see pixels if you try, but in normal usage that wont really be a factor. If your primary use case for tablets is as an e-reader, then you may want to spend more for a 1080p display, but otherwise the WXGA is a non-issue.

The 8 GB of storage space is not really true. Unfortunately due to the Samsung bloat, it is more like 4. Thankfully the tablet features 32GB Micro SD card expansion. Still, considering that not all apps can be moved to the SD card, and the fact that this is an app and media device typically, I would much prefer more space. In fact, I think that for tablets, 16GB should be the bare minimum.

(Update 12/1/14): The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 has truly amazing battery life.  It lasted from the night of November 27 to the morning of November 29, with heavy use. I was playing games, checking e-mail, social networks, and using Google Now for most of the day. Unfortunately, I found that the gaming performance is subpar, with noticeable stuttering in games such as Clash of Clans. However, for using the OS, e-mail, search, web browsing etc., the performance is great, even when throttling the CPU in Power Saver mode.


Ugh. The tablet is obviously running TouchWiz, complete with un-uninstallable bloatware, and the messy settings menu. I am very glad that Lollipop allows the pre-installed apps to be in a separate OEM partition as opposed to System. I really hope that Samsung, LG, and all of the OEM's and carriers use this. Upon first starting the tablet users will find two photos apps, two music apps, three video apps, two web browsers. That is completely ridiculous, especially for a normal consumer.

Do I use Internet or Chrome? Do I use Music or Play Music? Do I use Play Store or Galaxy Store? Those are not questions that a first time buyer of a tablet should be asking.

I understand that a lot of people really like TouchWiz. That is fine, and those people will enjoy this tablet. Personally, I replaced the TouchWiz launcher with the Google Now Launcher.

The one great feature about TouchWiz for me is multi-window. Running two apps at once is a feature is a important feature on tablets for me, and one that I wish would become a part of stock Android. I actually feel like this feature would make the Nexus 6 worth the immense size.

Under the skin, the tablet is running Android 4.4.2. I hope that it gets an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop, but I am not holding my breath. It is a low-end tablet after all, and probably not on Samsung's priorities.

The camera isn't very high quality, but then again it is a tablet.

Lastly, this tablet does not have a port of CyanogenMod in active development. In other words, don't expect the hacker community to save everyone with a stock port of Lollipop. To me, that is a major downside, but again, the regular consumer does not care about this. The tablet works just fine for them.

For the price, I think that this is a fine tablet, especially for those in the Samsung ecosystem. I still firmly believe that the Nexus 7 (2013) provides much better value, if you can manage to purchase one. I am excited to get more time with it.

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