The rise of casting services like Netflix has been one of the most discernible trends over the last couple of years. Oddly this trend has also been accompanied by a steep decline in tablet sales and launches. Look around, from the London Underground to the Delhi Metro, commuters now consume content on their smartphones. The average smartphone now sports an HD display that is upwards of 5.5-inches. Apple’s iPad, battling slow replacement cycles, seems to be the Lone Ranger in the tab segment. The obvious question – is the Tab still a relevant gadget in 2018. Samsung certainly thinks so; it has just unveiled the Tab A. Does this deserve your attention?
If there’s one reason we’d recommend the Samsung Tab A, it’s the form factor. Samsung has knocked off the bezels. It isn’t quite the Infinity display of the Galaxy S9 and the Note 9 but it’s still mighty immersive. Last year’s cheaper, sub Rs 20,000 Tab A featured an 8-inch display. The 2018 Tab A ups its entertainment creds with a 10.5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1200 pixel resolution / 16:10 aspect ratio) display. It’s a great place for all your Content to converge. I enjoyed catching a couple of films on this screen along with the powerful 4-speaker set up augmented by Dolby Atmos. This is certainly not in the league of the Super AMOLED displays of the Samsung flagship phones but works with its vivid colours and large screen.
Battery life – it’s the one thing we dislike about most smartphones out there. It’s one of the Tab A’s biggest strengths (the device is kitted with a 7300 mAh battery). Samsung claims 14 hours of video playback; it’s a fairly accurate claim based on my video consumption on this device. And then there’s fast charging that is a cool touch for a tablet.
Samsung’s decision to power this tab with an underwhelming Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor and 3GB of RAM might turn off number crunchers but it might be an indication of Samsung’s reading of its intended targeted audience for this device. It’s enough firepower for basic gaming and MS Office applications. But if you’re looking at graphics-intensive gaming, look elsewhere. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt, tabs are not a smart choice for creating content like killer PowerPoint decks. They’re good enough for a Word document or a simple Excel spreadsheet and the Tab A is geared for such tasks. Samsung hasn’t yet launched a keyboard that can effortlessly hook up with the ‘Smart connector’ pin on this device.
One of the positives about the explosion of large screen phones is that we don’t see too many people looking silly at malls and tourist spots, trying to snap images on tabs that are bigger than their face. It’s why the average results on the 8MP rear cam and the 5MP selfie cam are not a deal breaker. Your tab is hardly ever going to be your primary cam and the 5MP selfie cam more than works for video calls or even the occasional selfie with AR stickers that can entertain your friends at your expense. The front cam also aids the face unlock feature that was quite sluggish.
The Tab A has enough options to store your content. There’s 32GB onboard, support for Micro SD cards and Android’s easy connectivity allows you to read content off USB sticks with a Type-C dongle. This is one of the strong use case scenarios for an Android tablet like the Tab A.
Let’s face it, selling a Tab in 2018 requires exceptional persuasion skills. Large screen smartphones work better as entertainment hubs while ultra-light notebooks are what you need for productivity on the go and content creation. But there are still users who see value in investing in a Tab, even if they don’t replace their tabs as often as their phones. Whether you’re reading a graphic novel or binge-watching Ghoul, a large screen has its advantages. If you’re one of those and are happier on Planet Android, then the Samsung Tab A might be one of your only options in 2018.
The Samsung Tab A (2018) costs Rs 29,900 and offers Wi-Fi and data connectivity through a SIM card slot.