Android tablets don't seem to be as popular as they used to be, and very few manufacturers are launching new models these days. Some companies that still make Android tablets, such as Xiaomi, don't bring them to the Indian market. However, Samsung is one of the players that has been producing and launching a large number of tablets in the country on a regular basis for some time.
We recently tested the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e and found it good that it offers a good experience at a relatively attractive price. While the Tab S5e is a prime example of an affordable Android tablet, the recently launched Galaxy Tab S6 is considered the best tablet Samsung has to offer. So should you invest in a Galaxy tablet or would you be better off with an Apple iPad? We put it to the test to find out.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 design and specifications
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is not the successor to the Galaxy Tab S5e (test) that we recently tested. If you're looking for something stronger in India than the Galaxy Tab S5e, the Galaxy Tab S6 is one of the few options you'll find. This premium Android tablet has a 10.5-inch AMOLED display with a WQXGA resolution (1600 x 2560 pixels).
The display has large frames all around, which is acceptable given the size of the device. You need at least a few bezels on a tablet to hold it without touching the screen. Samsung has also installed a built-in fingerprint sensor in the Galaxy Tab S6, which however does not correspond to the ultrasound of the Galaxy S10 series. Instead, an optical CMOS sensor is used. You will notice that this AMOLED display lights up around the fingerprint scanner.
With a thickness of 5.7 mm, the Galaxy Tab S6 is slim, but its 7040 mAh battery makes it heavy at 420 g. The one-hand operation is very cumbersome due to the weight and volume of the device. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is available in Wi-Fi and LTE variants, and apparently the company only introduced the LTE option in India. Samsung has positioned the power and volume buttons on the right as well as a microphone hole and the SIM compartment for a nano SIM and a microSD card.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 has four AKG speakers, two of which are at the top and the other two at the bottom. These speakers are loud and the tablet supports Dolby Atmos. There is no headphone jack on the tablet, and you don't get a Type C dongle up to 3.5 mm in the package. It is best to use Bluetooth headphones for this device.
There are two cameras on the back of the Galaxy Tab S6. The touchscreen supports a stylus, and Samsung includes an S-stylus. This pen is much larger than the one you would get with Galaxy Note smartphones like the Galaxy Note 10+. The pen is chunky and is easy to use on this large tablet.
In contrast to the Galaxy Note series, this tablet does not have an internal silo for the stylus. Instead, Samsung has provided a groove directly under the camera module on the back, which is lined with magnets so that the pen sticks to the back of the tablet. It also has a tiny charger that charges the pen when it is docked.
We are not very happy with this type of dock as it slightly lifts the tablet up on a flat surface. In addition, the magnet that holds the S Pen in place is not strong enough and can easily be knocked off. We've seen this a few times during the review period and there was no on-screen message that could increase the likelihood of losing the included S Pen. It turned out that there is a setting for pen proximity alarms that can be activated for it. We would have liked it to be on by default.
This tablet has a 4-pin connector on the left for compatible accessories and two notches in which the Book Cover Keyboard Case can be inserted. These accessories are not included with the Galaxy Tab S6 and must be purchased separately. Samsung sent it along with the Galaxy Tab S6 and we spent some time using it. We'll talk about it soon.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC, the flagship processor for the first half of 2019. It has 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. You can expand the storage with a microSD card by up to 1 TB. 4G VoLTE is supported together with dual-band WLAN 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5. This tablet is packaged in a 7,040 mAh battery, and Samsung ships a 15 W charger in the box.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 software, bookcase keyboard cover and DeX
On our test device for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, One UI 1.5 was run together with the September security patch on Android 9 Pie. The user interface is similar to that we saw on Samsung Galaxy smartphones. It has only been enlarged for the larger screen. While the user interface looks beautiful on a smartphone display, the space offered by the tablet is not fully exhausted, and it could be better optimized.
We have found that most gestures are similar to implementation on Samsung smartphones. There is a multi-window taskbar with shortcuts that can be opened by swiping in from the right edge of the display. This can be done from any screen. You also get S Pen promotions, just like the Galaxy Note 10+. You can find detailed information on this in our Galaxy Note 10+ test. Screen-off memos are also available. In contrast to Note 10+, which starts this app as soon as you take the S Pen out of the silo, you have to hold down the button on the Galaxy Tab S6 and tap the display first. Taking notes on the tablet is a breeze and palm rejection is very good.
Samsung has an interesting feature called Call and SMS on other devices that you can use to take calls or SMS messages to or from the Galaxy Tab S6. Yes, the Galaxy Tab S6 can make and receive calls, but by default these are routed through the device's speakers, which is not ideal. If you want to divert calls, you need a compatible Samsung smartphone. Both devices must be signed in to the same Samsung account.
Samsung also sells a keyboard cover for the Galaxy Tab S6 separately for Rs. 10,999 that was sent to us for this review. In contrast to the keyboard case for the Galaxy Tab S5e, which we used in the test, the new keyboard case for the book case is available in two parts. Part of it is the keyboard itself, which snaps into place on the left side of the Galaxy Tab S6. The other serves as a cover and stand on the back of the tablet. We noticed that the magnets for the back cover are weak and are not securely attached. We couldn't use the stand at a wide angle because the back cover would simply peel off instead of supporting the tablet. The keyboard, however, stayed in order. It also has a trackpad that can be used in both OneUI and apps.
Clicking the keyboard activates Samsung DeX mode so apps can run on Windows. This way, multiple apps can run at the same time, and multitasking between them was a breeze. We were happy with the performance of the trackpad, but found that the keyboard was too tight for our liking. We typed part of this test for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 and found that after a few days we can get used to the keyboard. The keyboard cover of the book case also has magnets near the trackpad so that it stays closed when folded.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 performance
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is equipped with a powerful processor. This becomes clear when you put this tablet through its paces. We could multitask easily, and 6 GB of RAM help apps run in the background. This model is much more powerful than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e with only 4 GB RAM and the Snapdragon 670 SoC.
We enjoyed viewing content on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 because the 10.5-inch AMOLED display had expressive colors and excellent viewing angles. We streamed videos from various streaming platforms and found that the tablet is very suitable for media consumption. The four-speaker configuration adds to the overall viewing experience. The speakers were loud enough that we didn't need a Bluetooth speaker. Switching Dolby Atmos on also improved the audio output.
Yes, the Galaxy Tab S6 has a dual camera setup with a 13 megapixel primary sensor and a 5 megapixel depth sensor. For selfies, it also has an 8 megapixel front camera. We've found that camera performance is average for a tablet, but we don't see people using this bulky device to take photos. The selfie camera captures good details and can be used for video calls.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is not the ideal shape or size for games like PUBG Mobile. We tried anyway, and the tab could do it with the highest settings without a hint of lag. Asphalt 9: Legends and Clash Royale are games that are more suitable for tablets. Both ran without problems. We could also play Asphalt 9: Legends on the keyboard.
We ran our standard benchmarks to measure performance. The Galaxy Tab S6 achieved 4.38.177 points in AnTuTu. In PCMark Work 2.0, the Galaxy Tab S6 scored 9,858 points. For graphics, the device managed to achieve 24 frames per second in the GFXBench car chase scene and 39 frames per second in the Manhattan 3.1 scene. The Galaxy Tab S6 managed to last 11 hours and 46 minutes in our HD video loop battery test. When we were using it, we watched some videos on YouTube, tried Samsung DeX and ran some benchmarks for two days, still 57 percent of the tablet was in the tank. The included charger can charge it to 25 percent in 30 minutes and 50 percent in an hour. It takes just over two hours to fully charge the tablet.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is Samsung's current flagship and costs Rs. 59,900. It has the best possible hardware in terms of performance for an Android tablet. We like the lively AMOLED panel and the quad speakers make it a good device for consuming media. Fortunately, there is no great competition for Samsung, as the manufacturers have almost completely stopped producing Android tablets. If you absolutely need an Android tablet, the Galaxy Tab S6 is the best choice.
However, things change drastically when you look at Apple's iPads. The Wi-Fi-only version of the latest iPad Air model is available at a lower entry-level price of Rs. 40,000, and you could still buy an Apple pen and keyboard case. If you want a cellular connection, the Apple iPad Air also offers this for Rs. 55,900. Alternatively, the iPad Pro 11 inch, a smaller version of the Apple iPad Pro 12.9 inch we tested, is the direct competitor of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6. It has several advantages in the form of a 120 Hz display and a more powerful processor as well as its iPadOS software, which has been developed over the years. However, you have to pay a substantial premium for the LTE variant. If you need a compatible Apple Pencil pen, add another Rs. 10,000 to your budget. If you want to do most things without breaking the bank, the Galaxy Tab S6 is the right choice.