A couple of months ago, Samsung unveiled one of its most clever TV campaigns. It wasn’t for one of its flagship phones but its latest tablet – the Galaxy Tab S5e. It played on the incredibly thin form of this tab – just 5.5mm thick. This tab arrives in India almost 4 months after it was revealed along with the Galaxy S10 flagships. It comes at a time when tab launches are a rarity and consumers seem to have ditched tabs as smartphone screens continue to expand almost encroaching the 7-inch tab territory. The Tab S5e is positioned as a work + play device and that may well be the only niche that tabs can leverage from.
The Tab S5e is a key device for Samsung, it’s only serious new iPad alternative. Apple has rejigged its iPad line with three launches over the last 9 months but the most significant iPad announcement from Apple has been the new iPad OS that is currently in beta mode. It’s a clear indication that there’s still a market for productivity on the go coupled with the traditional area where tabs have thrived – Content consumption. This is also an area that the Tab S5e is designed to ace. While you might think twice before slipping this tab under the door (like in the cool S5e TVC), there’s no doubt that this device looks stunning.
It’s not just remarkably thin but also weighs just 400 gms, quite impressive for a device that sports a vibrant 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display (1600 x 2560 pixels / 298 PPI/ 16:10 aspect ratio). Samsung knocks off the bezels, pushing the screen: body ratio well over 80%. This immersive screen compares favourably vis-a-vis the iPad Air (2019), the device’s primary rival. The quad-speaker set-up tuned by AKG adds to its entertainment prowess. This is a terrific device to watch HD content. Samsung’s 14-hour battery (7040 mAh battery) claim is certainly not an exaggeration. We experienced similar battery life with a combination of videos, web surfing and working on MS PowerPoint and Word (this review was typed on the Tab S5e).
The TabS5e’s light form works equally well while reading comics or graphic novels even as you take advantage of the large 10.5-inch screen. While tabs like the iPad Air and the Tab S5e seem sorted in the Content consumption space, it’s productivity that is the hard sell. The Tab S5e rides on two key propositions. Samsung offers a POGO keyboard (additional accessory) that is designed for this tab. I found the keys quite responsive, the key travel is great. But don’t expect the same ease as a laptop keyboard; this one’s quite cramped. It’s always a tightrope ride for tab keyboards that have to balance a compact form with typing comfort.
It’s Samsung’s DEX feature that gives this tab a serious edge. It mimics a desktop experience making multi-tasking a tad easier, while Microsoft Office Apps work quite well in this mode too. But there’s no escaping the fact that it is essentially Android repurposed. It’s time Android gave tablets like the S5e something to work with; Apple’s upcoming iPad OS has been long overdue but it finally takes the iPad closer to a laptop experience.
We were surprised with Samsung’s decision to power this tab with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 Processor (the same under the hood of the Google Pixel 3a). It’s certainly not as formidable as the A12 bionic chip in the new iPad Air. The Snapdragon 670 teams up with 4GB of RAM in the Tab S5e and 64GB of Internal memory (extendable up to 512GB). It’s enough fire power for most gaming (it didn’t stutter even in intense gaming scenarios) and productivity tasks as long as you don’t have too many tabs open. Android’s more open environment allows you to plug in external storage devices aside from the SD card. I was also able to easily connect this tab to a large screen and run a presentation (with a HDMI connector) and also use an external mouse via Bluetooth.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S5e is the Android tab to beat. We dig its lightweight form, the immersive screen and solid battery life. At under Rs 40,000 (with the keyboard) it delivers a strong value proposition. The big question is do you need a tab that’s great for Content Consumption and to get some work done on the go? That might well boil down to your use case scenarios.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e costs Rs 35,999 for the Wi-Fi only variant and Rs 39,999 for the Wi-Fi +LTE variant. The POGO keyboard costs Rs 7,999; you can buy it for Rs 3,500 along with the Tab S5e as part of a launch offer (until July 31, 2019)