In 2019, tablets don’t have the same lustre as they once did and now, more often than not, they are used as a child’s play thing or media consumption device during feeding time. While several brands are still launching their products at various price points, the Apple iPad continues to dominate in a space it started. Nowadays, brands launching tablets refrain from adding their best hardware as the ever-expanding smartphone segment is the one that’s most eye-catching. While Apple continues to breathe life into its iPads, the Cupertino-based brand’s biggest rival, Samsung is not far off the pace with its Galaxy Tab line-up.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e when reviewed, was found to be the best Android tablet that money can buy. It was a huge improvement over its predecessor, the Tab S4 and even though it did not boast flagship specifications like a best in class SoC, it still managed to be the perfect solution for everything that it advertised to be.
Now, a few short months later, Samsung is back at it again with the Galaxy Tab S6 that absolutely screams flagship as it rights all the wrongs that were found in the previous generation Tab S5e. This option doesn’t simply aim to be the best tablet in the world; but rather seeks to be a perfect cross between a tablet and a full-fledged laptop. It’s no secret that most of the bigger Android brands have given up on launching flagship tablets and it’s rather refreshing to see that Samsung has no intention of abandoning this space. The Tab S6 is a perfect hybrid that’s a testament to Samsung’s ongoing belief that Google’s Android OS has the capabilities to power its super-slim option without offering any compromises.
The Tab S6 sports a Super AMOLED 10.5-inch display that’s intended for those who want an all-in-one solution on the move and shipping with it, you get an S Pen that supports Air Gestures to remotely control all your apps. It also comes with some of the Galaxy Note 10 features such as handwriting recognition that’s always a plus point no matter how you look at it. Additionally, you can also purchase a keyboard case that aims to make this an ideal laptop replacement without the bulk. Apart from this, it offers some great performances, crisp display as well as some pretty insane battery life.
Having spent a few days with the Samsung Galaxy Tab s6, here are our thoughts on it.
If you have happened to use the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e, or even have seen it, you will be forgiven for mistaking the Tab S6 with the older edition device. This isn’t a bad thing and Apple has been employing the overall same design on the iPad for years. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6’s rear, on the other hand, isn’t made of glass like the Tab S4; instead, the brand has opted for an aluminium back with a matte finish. While flagship smartphones have taken the leap to an all-glass design, having an aluminium finish on a tablet feels rather premium as well as reassuring as it can withstand accidental drops. The mildly textured rear somehow doesn’t feel cheap in the hands and more so it doesn’t retain fingerprint residue keeping it new long past its purchase date.
Even though the Tab S6 features a 10.5-inch display, the reduction on all four bezels gives it a similar form factor to a 10.1-inch tablet — giving you a bit more real estate to work on. The tablet is quite big; however, it doesn’t feel as humongous as the 12.5-inch iPad Pro; a tablet that’s just too big to comfortably work with. Also, Samsung has ensured that the tablet is extremely slim with it measuring a mere 5.7mm. They have trimmed down its weight as well and the LTE variant, the one which we have in for review weighs a mere 420g.
A design feature we loved on the Galaxy Tab S6 was the inclusion of an in-display fingerprint scanner. This is a nice additional feature that Samsung didn’t need to throw in; but did and it works like a charm. With that being said, we certainly liked the fingerprint scanner on the power button on the Tab S5e a lot more as it was not just convenient, it was also pretty quick. The in-display fingerprint scanner, although works well, seems like two steps away to access the tablet. This was a tad bit annoying but not something that we need to dock points off for.
Perhaps, one of the main irritations we had with the Galaxy Tab S5e was the lack of a headphone jack. Unfortunately, Samsung has carried on this design trend on the flagship Tab S6 as well. This could well mean that the brand is seriously pushing for the sale of its Samsung Galaxy Buds, which are pretty capable true wireless earphones. However, having the option of a 3.5mm jack in a tablet is always a plus point.
As mentioned earlier, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 comes with an S Pen stylus and the only differentiating aspect of the Tab S5e with this model is a slight groove on the rear. The S Pen sits in this groove by way of magnets; however, if used a bit carelessly, it can easily come undone. Also, the rear hosts a tiny charging pad that’s used to charge the stylus. So, when not in use, the S Pen gets automatically recharged. This stylus is a bit bigger in comparison to the Note 10’s S Pen but has all the same functionalities. You can use it to set commands off remotely as well as other handy tasks such as taking a photo using the camera app.
While the groove is a neat concept, we would have preferred if Samsung used a dock in the body the way they did with the Note 10. The magnet isn’t strong enough for it to be secure and you may end up losing the stylus.
To sum up this section of the review, Samsung has designed the Tab S6 to perfection but minor adjustments here and there in the form of stylus location and a physical fingerprint sensor would make it all the better.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 comes with a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display that boasts a resolution of 1600 x 2560 pixels. There isn’t much difference in comparison with the Tab S5e; so, you know you’re getting a darn good display here. As far as tweaking of the display goes, the customization options are pretty slim. There’s a default standard mode which is dubbed as Natural and a Vivid mode that allows you to adjust the colour temperature. You can also adjust the RGB settings of the white balance; which gives it an edge in terms of customization, but that’s about it.
Samsung rates the brightness of this display at 500 nits and it is decent enough to use in direct sunlight with the content onscreen being easily discernible. There is a lot of sharpness here and although the screen is calibrated well, it somehow feels pale in comparison to Samsung’s job on the Note 10. However, this is the best display you will encounter on an Android tablet as it also comes with an HDR10+ display.
Interestingly, this is also the first Android tablet with the HDR10+ standard and it should not come as a surprise since this is a Samsung standard. With that being said, having HDR10+ onboard will greatly enhance your video consumption experience. Although, even watching SD content on this device is a charm.
As with the Galaxy tab S5e, Samsung has added four speakers on the Tab S6 that offer a stereo sound when held in landscape mode. The brand has done a great job here and since these speakers are designed by AKG, you will experience some great audio playback with there being a significant bass impact as well as some extension to the highs. The mids on this tablet is where it absolutely excels and overall, there is quite a good overall audio experience.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6’s biggest feature is its S Pen and unlike the Apple iPad Pro, Samsung has bundled this along with the tablet. This is a major cost advantage you have as with the Apple iPad Pro, you’d need to purchase an Apple Pencil separately.
The S Pen is a big stylus and it features a great nib that works seamlessly with the tablet. It absolutely glides across the display and it puts shame to any other tablet with stylus support. Using the S Pen feels completely natural with there being an ever so slight input lag; that most of the time won’t even be noticeable. Using this tab with the stylus, you will quickly realize that it is on par with Apple’s iPad support of the Apple Pencil; which was the best. Now, there is no separating the two and you will find that both work equally well.
Samsung has thrown in an app called PENUP which is a drawing software that can be used with the S Pen. It has plenty of attributes to it that allow you to discover drawings, fill-in colouring exercises that kids can enjoy as well as a Live colouring tab that can keep you entertained for hours.
The S Pen is pressure sensitive and can be used as a pretty handy drawing tool. However, there are a few issues we found with the stylus and they mostly have to do with accidental presses of the S Pen’s button. You need to be pretty careful here especially while sketching as an accidental press will pull up the S Pen’s navigation bar which gets a bit irritating especially when you’re concentrating on the task at hand.
The S Pen is a nice touch here and although you may not find many uses for it in most day-to-day activities; using it for what it’s meant for can be something we find most people doing which is jotting down quick notes, sketching using third-party apps and using the Air Gestures.
What separates this tablet from the others out there is Samsung’s push for it to be an actual laptop replacement — and for this; you’d need to purchase the Keyboard Cover that will set you back by Rs 10,999. No longer is the keyboard accessory a simple object with redundant keys; Samsung has fitted all the bells and whistles here and it also includes a trackpad which helps in its transition to a hybrid device.
With the Keyboard cover coming equipped with a trackpad, you get an intuitive working environment when in desktop mode aka DeX mode. Although the keyboard is a bit small, Samsung did a great job in spacing the keys with the travel being ideal for note-taking. The trackpad was responsive as well and gestures were performed as expected. Interestingly, Samsung has also added a function key which helps with keyboard shortcuts. By pressing the Fn key you have valuable shortcuts such as DeX mode, Delete as well as Escape. No longer would you need to use your finger to select various options and this is a fine example of Samsung offering the best features in a compact form factor.
DeX is Samsung’s UI that provides you with a desktop experience which allows you to access apps in windows or tabs. DeX is still a work in progress but for the most part, it just works. Samsung has continuously been working on this interface and there are subtle improvements that can be seen across the board. For starters, apps behave a lot as you expect them to on a desktop even though you have to do a few things to make them run to the best of their abilities. An example of this is you have to force apps to resize to work flawlessly in DeX Labs before opening every app you open. What’s even more frustrating is that some apps will need to restart when you make the shift from Android to DeX and this takes them a few seconds to open.
Without a keyboard, DeX seems rather pointless unless you hook it up to an external monitor. However, to get the best working experience, we advise you to purchase Samsung’s official keyboard.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 runs on Android 9 Pie and laced with the brand’s One UI. This is by far the cleanest UI Samsung has used and thankfully, they haven’t fiddled around with the software like they used to do in the past with unnecessary bloat and what not. This UI is extremely easy to use and navigation is seamless.
Being an Android 9 device, you get all the basic features here such as an app tray and drop-down notifications menu. On the left of the Home screen, you get a Take a Look page that gives you updates on the news, GIFs, Galaxy Store recommendations, schedule information and so on. This is similar to what Apple does with its left page of the home screen and Samsung’s option is a work in progress.
Like other Galaxy devices, Samsung does bundle its own apps as a standard apart from the Google apps that are also present here. However, you can choose not to download them or uninstall them if you don’t find the need for them.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is fitted with best-in-class specifications and uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor which is the same one used on the company’s US variant of the Galaxy Note 10. This chipset is paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The Snapdragon 855 chipset is paired with an Adreno 640 GPU which is as impressive as the processor and the most efficient you will find on an Android device.
Handling games like PUBG Mobile is extremely easy even though it is a demanding game. Even with the settings maxed out; you will find no issues with performance and this is where the Tab S6 has a major advantage over the Tab S5e apart from the S Pen support.
While running the Geekbench 5 benchmarking tool, the Tab S6 provides a single-core score of 695 points while the multi-core score was 2326 points. This performance is on par with most Android flagships running the Snapdragon 855 processor and is a major leap over the Snapdragon 845 chipset. In the AnTuTu test, the Tab S6 scored a mighty 428036 points which is nothing short of expected from this high-end device.
When it comes to cameras on tablets, Samsung is paving the way for offering great snappers on the Tab S6. Usually, tablets come with low specced cameras that just get the job done. On this model, Samsung has added a dual-camera setup with there being a 13MP primary sensor and a 5MP wide-angle camera. On the front, the Galaxy Tab S6 comes with an 8MP sensor that’s great for not just video calling but also for capturing selfies.
While these cameras are great for most circumstances, you can’t compare them to the ones found on Samsung’s flagship or premium mid-range smartphones. Using these shooters, you may notice a slight bit of shutter lag; however, it isn’t so bad to mar the overall experience. Paired with the fantastic display, you can compose some pretty incredible images during outdoor photography; this is a major reason why tablets are still being used to capture images and Samsung recognizes this and makes this tablet proficient in every aspect that it can.
The images captured with the Tab S6 appear ripe and colours have a nice amount of punch to them. The software helps in adding a great sense of balance to the overall light in every capture. There is a lot of detail observed in low-light images which is a plus point here considering that it is a tablet.
The Tab S6 comes with a massive 7040mAh battery and it is quite astonishing how Samsung managed to fit such a high capacity battery in such a slim chassis. Samsung claims that you can get up to 15 hours of video playback on the tablet. With the display’s brightness set to about 50 per cent, a movie streamed on Netflix which was approximately two hours long drained the battery by around 16 per cent. This shows that it should last about 12-hours with continuous video playback. If the brightness is reduced even further, you could squeeze some more life out of it. With that being said, battery life is subjective and it depends on user to user.
Priced at an incredible price of Rs 59,900, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is the tablet to buy if you prefer the Android ecosystem. This tablet is right on par with the iPad Pro in terms of performance and with the S Pen support; you can’t go wrong no matter which way you look at it.
The Galaxy Tab S6 is loaded with some incredible features and has some impressive performances to match. With this device, Samsung is aiming to redefine the way you use a tablet and they are making the transition from a media consumption device to a full-blown laptop. DeX is a work in progress and we see it getting better with every software update. So, if you are in the market looking for a great tablet with the best of specs that can also be used for basic laptop functionalities, then the Galaxy Tab S6 is your best bet.
So, with the Galaxy Tab S6, Samsung has not just priced it just right, they also have launched the best contender for the tablet of the year.