Hands-on with Samsung's shrunken-down Galaxy Tab S2

How do you follow up one of the best Android tablets? For Samsung, it's by taking a completely different direction with its new Galaxy Tab S2. We adored last year's model, primarily for its gorgeous Quad HD display, and quite honestly, there wasn't much that tablet lacked. So instead of just upping the specs (which it also did), Samsung reframed the Galaxy Tab S2 with a more square 4 x 3 aspect ratio, making it better-suited for browsing the web and reading e-books. In a briefing with the press today, Samsung reps said they found customers did plenty more than just watching movies with their tablets, so a different aspect ratio was more appropriate. They also mentioned wanting to "standardize" with the market and avoid fragmentation among tablet display formats, which seemed likely a thinly veiled nod to Apple's iPads, which all have 4 x 3 displays.

So was the change worth it? After handling the Galaxy Tab S2 for a few minutes, I can't come up with a definitive answer yet. The new tablet certainly feels more comfortable than its widescreen predecessor, simply because it's easier to hold a square display than a rectangular screen with one hand. It's a tad thinner at 5.6 millimeters, and it's also lighter than the last model, clocking in at around 0.87 pound. It feels freakishly light for a tablet with a 9.7-inch screen. The iPad Air 2, in comparison, weighs 0.96 pound. I can't imagine anyone can actually feel the difference between the two, but you can bet Samsung will take advantage of its bragging rights (until Apple inevitably debuts a lighter iPad Air 3).

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