Do you really need a tablet? Yes, they look very stylish and appealing. Those who are carrying them always seem very busy, running around with something important at work. The truth is not everyone needs them, given how smartphones have evolved. The screens are now averaging six-inches or more in most cases, some phones have higher RAM than laptops, and you can do pretty much everything on your mobile device itself.
But for many a tablet is essential, especially for daily tasks, and finding the right one can prove to be a challenge. Apple’s iPad Pro series, seen as the gold standard by many, sports a hefty price tag. The Microsoft Surface Pro series is ideal for those who want to stay in Windows realm, but once again price is a barrier.
Then there are Samsung’s latest Android tablets which would appeal to some given what they try to offer both in terms of price and features. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S5e has the DeX mode for the full desktop experience as well. It comes in an LTE+WiFi variant and a WiFi only variant.
Samsung has also introduced a standalone keyboard cover for the Tab S5e for a notebook-like experience with the tablet. The price for the tablet starts at Rs 35,999 and goes up to Rs 39,999 for the LTE variant which makes it seem like a very reasonable proposition. But how does the Samsung Tab S5e perform? Here’s our review.
Specifications: 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display | Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor | 4GB RAM and 64GB storage with microSD slot | 13MP rear camera and 8MP front camera | 5.5mm in thickness, 400 grams weight | Samsung One UI and Android Pie | 7,040mAh battery with quick-charge support | Fingerprint scanner, Face Unlock
Price in India: Rs 35,999
Samsung Tab S5e review
With the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e, the first thing that stands out is the light and sleek design. The tablet weighs only 400 grams, though once you add the keyboard cover, it becomes thicker and heavier, but very manageable. I was convinced that it could replace the heavier laptop I use on work trips.
Attaching the keyboard cover is easy, though it took a good few minutes for me to get it right. The keyboard is sold separately at Rs 7,999, though Samsung is offering it at Rs 3,500 till July 31.
The Galaxy Tab S5e sports a 10.5-inch display, which is a SAMOLED screen with a 2560×1600 resolution. The WQXGA resolution was previously seen on other Samsung tablets and even the new MacBookAir with Retina Display has the same resolution. With the display, Samsung gets it right as always.
The blacks are rich and deep and the colours appear very vivid on this tablet. You don’t need to keep the brightness at maximum to get the best viewing experience. Games like Badland, Alto’s Odyssey look stunning on the screen. From a video or multimedia consumption purpose, the tablet has one of the best displays you can get at this price.
The 10.5-inch size is just right for a tablet in my view. Keep in mind, the display is not entirely bezel-less and continues with the thick bezels on all sides, which is a shame in 2019.
For regular tasks, such as editing documents or opening spreadsheets via Microsoft Excel, the tablet works smoothly. Watching videos, browsing through social media, video calls on Messenger were all accomplished seamlessly.
Games like Alto’s Odyssey, Badland ran without any crashes on this, but I was not very impressed with the speed. At times, there was a noticeable lag, especially during gaming as the tablet would not pick up the touch response quickly enough. In a game like Badland, the slowed touch response resulted in a dissatisfying experience.
The tablet runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor and comes with 4GB RAM coupled with 64GB storage. Samsung could have offered more on board storage because that’s something you would ideally want on a tablet without always relying on a microSD slot. The major weak point in this would be the performance, which could be faster. There are moments when the tablet freezes, where the touch response is slow, and it can mar the experience.
It does take some time getting used to the keyboard. The travel on the keys is less than on a laptop or desktop keyboard and hence it is restrictive experience. While I was able to type nearly half the review on the tablet, for more accuracy and speed I had to switch back to a regular keyboard on my desktop.
Still for taking quick notes, which is something I have to do often, the Galaxy Tab S5e is very efficient, more so than a regular smartphone, where typing on a smaller screen is much harder.
Another issue I had with the keyboard was that at times I would find myself typing on it and not get a response on the screen. This happened quite a few times when I was searching for something on Google via Chrome. I would type something but the screen would not reflect it for a few seconds. I found myself detaching and reattaching the keyboard in order to fix this.
The Galaxy Tab S5e also comes with the Samsung Dex experience where you can get a full desktop experience on the tablet as well. If you have an HDMI cable you can connect the tablet to a big screen screen as well, and use a mouse for more control. There’s also a game launcher mode in Samsung Dex for a more optimised experience, where once again you can rely on a bigger screen.
In the Dex Mode, you can see all the apps you have used recently at the bottom, along with the quick settings, the option for an on-screen keyboard, finder search. It’s quite neat and useful. When I was typing my review, I used the Samsung Dex mode as it has options for drag and drop as well.
The tablet has the option of automatically going into Dex mode as soon as you connect the keyboard, though you can turn that off stick to the regular tablet mode.
Another advantage with the Galaxy Tab S5e is the battery. This will easily last more than two days with heavy duty usage, which in my case included gaming, typing, editing documents, checking email, and social media apps. The Tab S5e does take a while to charge given it has a 7040 mAh battery on board, though it has a Type-C charging port at the bottom.
Samsung has also put four speakers on this tablet. The audio quality is loud and balanced without sounding jarring. Sadly, this does not come with a headphone jack for those who continue to rely on wired headphones. But given how popular Bluetooth, wireless headphones have become this should not be a problem for most users.
The Galaxy Tab S5e also has a 13MP rear camera and an 8MP front camera. I’m not a fan of waving a tablet around to take a picture, but I was surprised at the results with the rear camera, which managed to preserve details. The front camera works well for video calls, though the selfies are okay. Yes, the extra skin smoothing effect is evident in the front camera, and one wonders if you really need it.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e Verdict
The Galaxy Tab S5e has a long list of impressive features. It is light-weight with an excellent display and speakers, which are crucial in a tablet. The Samsung Dex support means you can connect this to a bigger screen, get mouse support for better productivity. The keyboard is useful for quick notes and on-the-go usage. The battery life is excellent.
The major let down in the tablet is the processor, which is just not as powerful. The overall performance could be smoother, faster for the Galaxy Tab S5e.
If you need an Android tablet for regular use, and this is not your daily driver, the Galaxy Tab S5e is ideal given the budget. For someone who needs a tablet to be their main device with emphasis on a lot of editing, photo-editing, etc, I would suggest loosening the purse strings and looking for something more expensive and powerful, that might not be possible in the Android world.