Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Review: The Best Tablet Android has to Offer?
While Android tablets seem stagnant compared to Apple’s tablets, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 may just be the only good tablet that can compete with the iPad. Priced starting at ₹59,999 (~$847), the Galaxy Tab S6 offers top-of-the-line specifications that compete directly with the iPad Pro. With the optional keyboard folio case, the Tab S6 aims to be the laptop replacement that some of you are looking for. However, many tablets before the Tab S6 have tried this strategy with little success. So, is the Galaxy Tab S6 any different? We’ll take a look at this question in our review of the LTE variant of the Galaxy Tab S6.
|Specification||Samsung Galaxy Tab S6|
|Dimensions and Weight||
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855;
|RAM and Storage||
Expandable up to 1TB via dedicated microSD card slot
|Front Camera||8MP, f/2.0|
|Android Version||One UI based on Android 9 Pie|
About this review: This unit of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 was loaned to us by Samsung India.
The Galaxy Tab S6 features a sleek, unibody metal design befitting a tablet in this price range. It has a metal backplate with the Samsung logo in the center and a thin indent right below the dual camera module to house the included S Pen.
On the front, the tablet has a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display at a resolution of 2560 x 1600 and thick bezels on all sides. At first glance, I didn’t like the chunky bezels, but I soon realized that they were there for a reason: They help you hold the tablet without accidentally touching the display, something that would be difficult to achieve if it had slimmer bezels. For the same reason, most other tablets in the market also have relatively thick bezels. But much like the iPad Pro, the ones on the Galaxy Tab S6 are comparatively slimmer than the rest.
The power and volume buttons can be found on the right (or top, depending on how you’re holding it) edge of the tablet. On the opposite end, the tablet has a proprietary magnetic connector to help you easily clip on the keyboard folio case without any hassle. Towards the bottom, the tablet features a USB Type-C port for charging and data which is flanked by speaker grills on both sides.
There are two more speaker grills on the opposite end for a total of four speakers. That’s nice to have, but on the other hand, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack. On the LTE version, you’ll also find the SIM card tray on the same side as the power button, and it features a microSD card slot for expansion up to 1TB.
The Galaxy Tab S6 is incredibly thin—measuring in at just 5.7mm—and it weighs just 420g so it’s a pleasure to use. Adding on the keyboard folio case does make the tablet a bit chunky, but that’s a sacrifice you’ll have to make if you want more productivity out of your Tab S6.
The keyboard folio case comes in two parts with a back cover that adheres to the tablet using a reusable sticky pad. The back cover has a hinge running down the middle, which allows you to fold the bottom half to use it as a kickstand. The back cover also has a small flap at the top that has room to accommodate the S Pen while it’s charging on the back of the tablet. The other half of the folio has the keyboard that attaches magnetically to the proprietary connector on the tablet. The keyboard is surprisingly quite rigid, making for a decent typing experience while using it on a desk. However, when I used it on an uneven surface, like on my lap, the entire setup wobbled a lot and I was concerned that it would fall—this isn’t new to the form factor, but it’s an issue the Tab S6 fails to rectify.
Display & Audio
The 10.5-inch display on the Galaxy Tab S6 has a wide 16:10 aspect ratio at a 2560 x 1600 resolution. This translates to a pixel density of about 287ppi, resulting in crisp visuals. The Tab S6 makes use of an AMOLED panel, which is still quite rare in the tablet market, giving it an edge over the iPad’s Liquid Retina IPS LCD. The quality of the panel is fantastic—much like other AMOLED displays from Samsung—and it’s great for media consumption with its deep blacks and punchy colors. Sadly, the display is capped at 60Hz, which pales in comparison to the 120Hz display on the iPad Pro. The panel also gets sufficiently bright, so it’s easy to use outdoors on a bright, sunny day. On top of that, it features HDR10+ support, so if you watch HDR movies on the Tab S6, you’re going to have a great experience.
I watched a 4K HDR stream of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on it, and it looked superb. Indeed, in terms of quality, this is likely one of the better consumer device panels that money can buy. The quad-speaker setup added to the experience, offering great stereo separation and crisp audio quality, even at maximum volume. The tablet can get surprisingly loud, easily beating the dual-speaker plus sub-woofer setup on my Dell Inspiron 7567. Even with a dedicated sub-woofer, my laptop couldn’t match the Tab S6’s low-end performance. By this point, I was already convinced that the Tab S6 is the perfect buy for someone who just wants a tablet to watch movies or TV shows.
Thanks to its flagship specifications, you can do a whole lot more than just consume media with the Galaxy Tab S6. The tablet features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, and my review units came coupled with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. With these specifications, the tablet breezed through everything I threw at it, including multitasking and gaming. Benchmark results were also consistent with what you’d expect from such hardware. Of note, however, was the fact that I didn’t have a particularly great experience playing games on it because of the large form factor.
The Galaxy Tab S6 managed to score 431,300 in AnTuTu 3DBench, 746 in Geekbench’s single-core test, and 2471 in the multi-core test. In 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme, the Tab S6 scored 5523 in the OpenGL test and 4832 in the Vulkan test. These results fall in line with other Snapdragon 855 devices, as expected, which means you are sure to get excellent gaming performance from this device. The real-world performance matched my expectations of a powerful Snapdragon 855 device as I faced no issues whatsoever playing games like PUBG Mobile or Shadowgun Legends or opening multiple tabs in Chrome with multiple background apps running. This changed as soon as I jumped into Samsung’s DeX mode, though.
Keyboard and Samsung DeX
In my experience, the DeX mode felt half-baked and a few apps didn’t transition well to the desktop experience. Most productivity apps like Microsoft’s Office suite work quite well, so you can easily get some work done on the tablet. But some apps like Instagram and Autodesk Sketchbook don’t scale well in DeX mode. Samsung does give you the option to force apps to resize in DeX mode, but that option doesn’t work with all apps. And there are other problems, too.
Websites opened in Chrome don’t load up as the desktop versions of the sites by default, so you’ll have to turn on the desktop user-agent option for each individual website. Another issue I faced while using Chrome was that if I tried to edit Google Docs in the browser, the Tab S6 kept prompting me to use the Android app instead of letting me edit the document in the browser like I would on a laptop. This problem persisted across all GSuite apps. DeX mode also doesn’t let you split browser tabs to open them in separate windows, which further detracts from the experience. Additionally, switching to DeX mode takes a fair bit of time, and I wish Samsung would do something to make the process a bit faster.
On top of all that, DeX mode on the Tab S6 is pretty much useless without a keyboard, and the layout is a pain to use with just the touchscreen. This means that if you’re planning on using the tablet as a laptop replacement, you’ll have to invest in the keyboard folio (which is hard to find in some markets like Indian), adding another $180 to the price of the tablet.
Now, let’s talk about the keyboard folio itself. Although I was initially concerned about the durability of the sticky pad on the cover, I ended up facing no issues whatsoever, even after removing and re-applying the cover several times. The keyboard itself is just about okay with some flex and minimal key travel. I had problems adjusting to its compact layout because of my large hands, but I’m sure most of you don’t have gargantuan hands like mine, so that shouldn’t be a problem. The keyboard deck also has a small trackpad that you can use to navigate on the Tab S6, and it also includes support for gestures, which is a welcome addition.
While Samsung doesn’t include a keyboard with the Galaxy Tab S6, it does include the new and improved S Pen. The S Pen connects wirelessly over Bluetooth to the tablet for certain features, including air gestures, but I used it mostly for taking notes and doodling. Since I’m not much of an artist, I gave the Tab S6 to my brother for a while to test out the S Pen’s capabilities, and he was quite impressed.
The pressure-sensitive tip on the S Pen makes it a great drawing tool, even for professionals, and it can easily replace the Wacom pen tablet you might have lying around. Palm rejection while using the S Pen is also spot on, which greatly improves the note-taking or drawing experience. The S Pen charges wirelessly when attached to the tablet in the indent on the back. However, without the case, it’s quite easy to knock it off its position. With the case, though, the S Pen gets a storage space with its own cover which is definitely a better solution.
The Galaxy Tab S6 features a dual-camera setup on the back consisting of a 13MP f/2.0 primary camera and a 5MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera. On the front, the device has a single 8MP f/2.0 selfie shooter. As you’d expect, the Tab S6 can capture some decent photos from the front and rear cameras, but I doubt they’ll be used all that often. Due to the Tab S6’s size and form factor, taking pictures with it is rather uncomfortable and awkward.
At most, you’d probably use the front camera for video calls, and it serves well for that purpose. Photos taken with the primary camera have accurate color reproduction, decent dynamic range, and a good amount of details. This carries forward to the wide-angle camera as well, but you’ll notice a significant loss in detail.
The selfie shooter also does a decent job, but the photos aren’t worth writing home about. The Tab S6 definitely applies some sort of smoothening effect to my face, and that’s with the beauty mode turned off which should have taken care of it.
Lastly, let’s talk about battery life. The Galaxy Tab S6 has a massive 7,040mAh battery. In my testing, the tablet never died on me during the day. I typically used it to browse the internet, check my email, and watch videos on YouTube and Netflix. With the brightness set at 30%, the tablet managed to deliver a screen on time of over 7 hours during the day, which primarily consisted of watching videos. And even then, it had about 50 percent battery left to last me another day.
As you can see in the screenshots above, even though I spent close to 8 hours on YouTube and Netflix, the Tab S6 was still left with about 30% charge. In conclusion, no matter what you’re doing on the Tab S6, I’m sure it’ll easily last you a day or maybe even more. However, if you’re planning on playing games on the tablet, you might be able to drain it completely within the day. Thankfully, Samsung packs in a 15W charger in the box which takes about two hours to charge the tablet back up to 100%.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6: Should you buy it?
Priced at ₹59,999 (~$847), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is a great buy for artists or people looking for a portable media device. Sure, it may seem a bit too expensive for that purpose, but that’s the premium you’ll have to pay if you want a flagship Android tablet. The price is still lower than that of the WiFi-only iPad Pro base-variant which is priced at ₹68,305 (~$947). With the Tab S6, you get an impressive AMOLED display, a powerful quad-speaker setup, the S Pen, expandable storage, and LTE support. But it’s not just the hardware that differentiates the two devices. The Galaxy Tab S6 lags behind on the software front, with iPadOS offering a significantly better selection of tablets apps and polished functionality that better bridges the gap between laptop and tablet.
If you’re planning on getting the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 as a laptop replacement, you’ll need to purchase the optional keyboard folio case which isn’t all that cheap. But then again, it’s much cheaper than the smart keyboard folio from Apple, so that’s another point in favor of Samsung. You could, however, go with the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 with Windows 10 if you’re looking for the best laptop replacement out there. But that, too, is much more expensive than the Galaxy Tab S6 as it comes in at ₹71,890(~$997) without the type cover and the Surface Pen. All-in-all, the Galaxy Tab S6 is a great Android tablet for someone looking for flagship performance, great media consumption prospects, and light productivity, provided they’re fine with a couple of compromises. It would be a stretch to say the tablet is affordable, but when compared to the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 6, it’s at least competitive if you can look past the modern Android tablet’s biggest downside… which is Android itself.
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