The iPad has become synonymous with tablet computers in general, and a lot of people mistakenly call any tablet an iPad. While Apple’s iPads are definitely the most popular tablets around, it isn’t the only company making them â€” a handful of manufacturers still produce Android tablets. The company that started it all was Samsung, which introduced the big-screen hand-held device concept to the Android platform in 2010. Samsung recently introduced its latest tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e.
Priced at Rs. 35,999 onwards, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is all about the big screen, offering an iPad Pro-like approach to design at a much lower price. The highlight of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is its 10.5-inch QHD-resolution AMOLED screen, promising to make this the best portable entertainment device available for under Rs. 40,000. Does this Samsung tablet live up to expectations? We find out in our review.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e design and specifications
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is the successor to last year’s Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 (Review), but is positioned differently. While the Galaxy Tab S4 was priced at Rs. 57,900 at launch, the Tab S5e has a much more affordable price tag of Rs. 35,999 for the Wi-Fi-only variant (on review here), while the LTE variant is priced at Rs. 39,999. An explanation for this reduction in price comes through the â€˜e’ at the end of the model name; it’s a similar approach to that of the Samsung Galaxy S10e (Review), which offers most of what its more expensive S10-series siblings do, but at a lower price.
In the case of the Galaxy Tab S5e, Samsung has retained the high-resolution screen and premium design of the Galaxy Tab S4, but has gone with a less powerful mid-range processor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670. Furthermore, just one configuration is available, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The only option buyers have is between the Wi-Fi and LTE variants. Specification buffs might find the downgrade from a Snapdragon 835 to a Snapdragon 670 disappointing, and we’ll find out a bit later in our review how much of an impact that has made in terms of real world performance.
Processor aside, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e looks good, is built well, and has a good set of specifications for a tablet. The front features slim borders around the 10.5-inch QHD-resolution AMOLED screen, with just the front camera breaking the stark, featureless look. The tablet has a metal unibody and is just 5.5mm thick.
Despite its size, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e weighs just 400g, making it lighter and slimmer than the Apple iPad Air (2019), with a screen of the same size and roughly the same resolution.
The back of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e also tries to be minimalist in design, although its antenna lines do break the starkness of the metal back. Just like on iPads, the Samsung logo is reflective, and the single rear camera is in the top-left corner, although the sensor sits in a larger housing and sticks out slightly. Charging is through a USB Type-C port at the bottom, while the power and volume buttons are on the right side.
The power button doubles up as a fingerprint sensor, and the tablet also has face recognition for biometric authentication. Both of these work well. The fingerprint sensor is extremely quick and works with even the slightest touch. However, having the fingerprint sensor on the power button makes it a bit hard to reach, and the power button itself is a bit hard to press because of its shape. We usually found it easier to use a double-tap to wake the tablet, and then let face recognition unlock it.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e has a total of four speakers. Two are placed at the bottom and two are at the top, putting one near each of the four corners of the screen. The sound has been tuned by AKG â€” part of Samsung subsidiary Harman International â€” and there’s also Dolby Atmos support for better sound when watching movies or TV shows on the Galaxy Tab S5e.
The Galaxy Tab S5e has a 7,040mAh battery and comes with a 15W charger, which took around three hours to fully charge the tablet. There are also pogo points on the left side to allow charging through a dock or to use Samsung’s Book Cover Keyboard, which you can purchase separately. With regular use, we were able to go for three to four days between charges. In our HD video battery loop test, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e lasted 13 hours and 10 minutes.
You get a 13-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel front camera on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e. The rear camera has autofocus but no flash, and video recording at up to 4K resolution is possible. These cameras are quite basic and aren’t suited to anything more than the occasional picture when you don’t have easy or quick access to a smartphone, and video calls.
Interestingly, this tablet also has Call and Message Continuity, a feature that lets you accept calls and reply to messages received on a compatible Samsung Smartphone, on the tablet itself, when both are set up to do that.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e software, Book Cover Keyboard, and DeX
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e runs the company’s One UI 1.1 overlay on top of Android 9 Pie. At the time of this review, the tablet was running the April 2019 security patch. Naturally, the software is the same as what we see on Samsung smartphones, although the larger screen does mean that the layout is more spaced out. This looked a bit awkward to us, but we didn’t have any real issues with using the interface.
Like its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e lets you use Samsung’s DeX, which is a modified version of the regular Android interface with a computer-like approach. DeX is ideal for use when the tablet is on a table-top, especially when docked with a compatible accessory such as the Book Cover Keyboard. While the interface looks different, functionality remains largely the same. In DeX mode, apps run in windows rather than full-screen by default, which means that you can have multiple apps open on the same screen. Some apps such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video can’t be used this way.
Samsung sent us the Book Cover Keyboard for review along with the Galaxy Tab S5e. When used with this accessory, the tablet can be propped upright and used like a laptop. The keyboard draws power from the tablet itself and doesn’t have a battery of its own to be charged. The book cover magnetically attaches to the back of the tablet, and the keyboard connects using the pogo pins. The bottom of the keyboard is also magnetic, securing the screen of the tablet when folded closed.
We found the keyboard to be a bit too compact, and typing long emails and documents on it wasn’t easy. However, it did work well for basic use, and was a definite improvement over on-screen typing, especially when using DeX mode, and it’s something you could get used to as you spend more time with it. The cover, although magnetically attached, sticks to the tablet firmly and keeps it safe both when in use and when being stored.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e performance
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e isn’t like the previous S-series tablets from the company in one big way: the processor. There is a mid-range Snapdragon 670 powering the S5e, instead of the 800-series ones on the S4 and some of the older models in the range. However, Samsung believes that it hasn’t skimped on the features and specifications that matter to tablet users, and we agree.
The 10.5-inch 2560×1600-pixel AMOLED screen makes this tablet a media powerhouse. Streaming from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hotstar was an absolute pleasure, with all platforms able to stream at up to full-HD resolution, and the picture was clean and easy to watch at reasonable viewing distances. Unlike the Galaxy Tab S4 though, the Tab S5e does not support HDR. This holds the Tab S5e back from being as capable as its predecessor.
The only real drawback of the screen is the 288ppi pixel density. This isn’t a lot, and naturally, in some situations, things don’t look very good on the screen. While the low pixel density wasn’t an issue for us when watching video content streaming at full-HD resolution or higher (provided we kept the tablet at a reasonable viewing distance), the lack of sharpness did somewhat show in the interface, and in certain apps such as Google Chrome and Spotify, as well as games like Sniper 3D.
This is because we tend to hold the tablet closer when using most apps in order to read text or view images closely, and the poor tablet optimisation of most Android apps brought out the weaknesses in what is otherwise a very good screen.
The mid-range processor does, for the most part, handle apps and games capably. While we weren’t able to play graphically-intensive games at the highest settings, most casual games ran comfortably enough. For commonly used functions such as audio and video streaming, productivity, and browsing the Internet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is adequately powerful. The tablet performed as expected in benchmark tests, with an AnTuTu score of 153842, and GeekBench scores of 1634 (single-core) and 5682 (multi-core).
With just 4GB of RAM, the tablet is somewhat aggressive at shutting down apps that you might think are still running in the background, which then increases the time it takes to reload them.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e also really stands out for its speakers. The AKG-tuned four-speaker system is quite possibly the best we’ve experienced on such a portable device yet. The sound is loud, clean, and crisp, and did full justice to the display’s picture quality when streaming videos. The sound tuning has been set for best results when watching movies or TV shows, but the speakers do a decent job even with music.
This tablet also has a Dolby Atmos mode. Turning it on did change the sound a bit, but in our opinion it didn’t really improve (or for that matter, worsen) the quality. Regardless of whether the mode is used or not, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is excellent when it comes to audio.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S range has so far been the tablet equivalent of the flagship S-series for smartphones. This meant having the best hardware an Android tablet could have, but that made the prices of previous models higher than what you’d pay for a similar Apple iPad model. So while this new â€˜e’ approach might be surprising to some, it actually makes a lot of sense to us.
The mid-range processor powering the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e helps bring its price down, but Samsung has retained the key features that make it so appealing â€” the screen and the sound. Although the low pixel density does occasionally show at times, the screen is, for the most part, a capable one. Coupled with the excellent speakers, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is excellent for media consumption, most Android games, and every other purpose you can think of for a tablet.
An iPad might be a more tempting option for just one big reason â€” the apps. The app ecosystem for iPads remains significantly better than on Android, and a large number of those apps are properly optimised for iOS. Android apps are improving, but quality and tablet optimisation still have a lot of catching up to do. However, if you’re looking at a media-focused tablet experience, or are simply more comfortable with Android, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is definitely worth considering.
iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max Demand Surpasses Expectations; New iPad Air Also Grabs Attention: Kuo
Demand for the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max has surpassed expectations, while the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini demand is not as high as expected, according to a note released by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. While many believed the lower priced iPhones would be the big sellers for Apple, this shows that…
Demand for the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max has surpassed expectations, while the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini demand is not as high as expected, according to a note released by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. While many believed the lower priced iPhones would be the big sellers for Apple, this shows that more buyers than expected would rather spend extra for the premium option. Kuo also reportedly mentioned in his note that the initial demand for the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro based on the Apple M1 chip was better than expected. The latest MacBook machines were launched earlier this month — as a part of the company’s transition from Intel processors.Citing his latest survey for the fourth quarter of 2020, Kuo said that overall iPhone 12 shipments were higher than the predictions, as per a technology blog MyFixGuide report. The analyst however did not provide any numbers showing the growth in shipments.Kuo reportedly stated that the shipment momentum of the iPhone 12 series would continue in the first half of 2021. It is also considered a sign that the replacement demand for the next-generation iPhone models could be in line with the demand for the iPhone 12 series.Apart from the iPhone 12 series, Kuo is said to have mentioned in his note that the demand for the new iPad Air was better than anticipated. This growth is also likely to continue next year, with the launch of new iPad models that are speculated to include mini-LED displays and 5G support. Apple is also predicted to launch a new low-priced iPad model in the second half of 2021.Kuo also reportedly highlighted in the note that the demand for the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE was outpacing expectations. Similarly, the new MacBook models based on the M1 chip are said to have a better demand than expected. Kuo also predicted that Apple would unveil its redesigned MacBook models with its in-house silicon next year.On the part of audio offerings by Apple, Kuo said in the note that the AirPods shipments dropped in the fourth quarter. He also predicted that the AirPods shipments would be flat or decline by five to 10 percent in the first half of 2021. This is lower than the market prediction of 20 percent year-over-year growth.The report stated that the supply chain of the AirPods was tight — chiefly to give priority to the new iPhone models. However, Apple is said to have postponed the shipments scheduled for the new AirPods, aka AirPods 3, towards the end of second quarter of 2021. This is likely to create some replacement demand for the new AirPods in the second half of next year.iPhone 12 Pro Series Is Amazing, but Why Is It So Expensive in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
iPad Pro Lineup to Get OLED Displays in 2021: Report
Apple is preparing to launch a new iPad Pro lineup in 2021 with OLED screens, according to a report. The new lineup could be following the next-generation iPad models that are rumoured to come with mini-LED displays. OLED panels on the iPad Pro models are expected to result in higher brightness as well as lower…
Apple is preparing to launch a new iPad Pro lineup in 2021 with OLED screens, according to a report. The new lineup could be following the next-generation iPad models that are rumoured to come with mini-LED displays. OLED panels on the iPad Pro models are expected to result in higher brightness as well as lower chances of burn-in issues. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently predicted that the iPad family would start moving to mini-LED displays in the first half of 2021. The iPad Pro models are likely to receive the new treatment first, though it is likely to gradually shift to other iPad versions as well.Samsung Display and LG Display are currently developing a new OLED panel that will be featured on the new iPad Pro models in the second half of 2021, TheElec reports. The existing iPad Pro lineup uses LCD panels that Apple calls “Liquid Retina” display.Samsung Display has reportedly revamped its production line to produce the new OLED screens for the iPad. “The company was adding a distribution chamber to the origin material deposition chamber to deposit red, green, and blue in tandem. This will allow the firm to deposit one layer of RGB, send the substrate back to the front of the production line, and stack an emitting layer atop it,” the report reads.The new OLED structure is expected to allow two to three emitting layers to be stacked to enhance the longevity of the display panel.Similar to Samsung Display, LG Display is also reportedly busy preparing its new OLED panels for the next-generation iPad Pro lineup.Before switching to OLED, Apple could be bringing mini-LED displays to the iPad family. Multiple reports have suggested in the past that mini-LED iPad models could go in mass production in the coming months. While the iPad Pro lineup may shift first to the mini-LED displays, Kuo in one of its notes to investors earlier this year mentioned that the new technology would also be a part of the new iPad mini models.The report by TheElec notes that Apple’s adoption of OLED for the iPad Pro lineup could be delayed — depending on the “scale of adoption” of mini-LED displays. It also mentions that the mini-LED iPad Pro could arrive as early as the first half of 2021.iPhone 12 Pro Series Is Amazing, but Why Is It So Expensive in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
HBO Max App Now Available on Amazon Fire TV
The HBO Max app will be available starting Tuesday on Amazon Fire TV devices, Amazon Fire tablets, and Fire TV Edition smart TVs, WarnerMedia has announced. This solves one of the biggest pain points for the nearly six-month-old streaming service HBO Max, as Amazon’s Fire TV platform is the most popular media streaming device in…
The HBO Max app will be available starting Tuesday on Amazon Fire TV devices, Amazon Fire tablets, and Fire TV Edition smart TVs, WarnerMedia has announced. This solves one of the biggest pain points for the nearly six-month-old streaming service HBO Max, as Amazon’s Fire TV platform is the most popular media streaming device in the US. And you might not even to download it — the existing HBO app on Fire TV will automatically update to become the HBO Max app.More importantly, HBO Max will be compatible with Alexa. That means you can simply open the HBO Max app by saying “Alexa, find HBO Max” into the included Alexa Voice Remote or any paired Echo device in your household. You can even play HBO Max shows directly, for example: “Alexa, play Game of Thrones.” HBO Max series and movies will also be included in Fire TV search results, if you ask “Alexa, find comedies” or “Alexa, find dramas”.The HBO Max Fire TV app is also making it easier to log in. You can use your existing HBO credentials, or your Amazon credentials, if you subscribe to HBO through Prime Video Channels. And lastly, you can even sign up for HBO Max directly in the new HBO Max Fire TV app.With this, HBO Max solves one of its biggest living room pain points. (It still doesn’t offer 4K or HDR, but that’s another matter altogether.) Roku remains as a hold out, with the dispute reportedly continuing over advertising sales on HBO Max’s future ad-supported tier that is expected to launch sometime in 2021. Together, Amazon and Roku make up over 70 percent of the media streaming player market.Currently available only in the US and some US territories, HBO Max had 8.6 million active subscribers at the end of September, according to WarnerMedia parent AT&T. Only 3.6 million are direct paid subscribers though, with the remaining getting access to HBO Max through wholesale agreements such as included with a pay TV provider.Since its launch in May, the streaming service has struggled to convert even its existing HBO subscribers over to HBO Max. Those who pay for HBO on TV are eligible for free access to HBO Max, which otherwise costs $15 per month. HBO Max has a nominal total of 28.7 million subscribers, including HBO on TV members, but those extra ones haven’t bothered to activate their HBO Max account.“We are very excited that Amazon customers will now be able to enjoy the best-in-class content that lives within HBO Max,” WarnerMedia’s head of sales and distribution Tony Goncalves said in a prepared statement. “Our continued goal is to make HBO Max and its unparalleled content available to customers across all the devices they love. Fire TV is a favourite among customers and we look forward to working with the Amazon team to engage and grow our existing subscriber base by showcasing all that HBO Max has to offer.”Amazon’s vice president for entertainment devices and services Marc Whitten added: “We’ve worked closely with HBO for many years to bring their great content to Fire TV and to make it easier to discover and enjoy with features like search integration, Alexa and personalised recommendations. We are excited to continue that partnership with the launch of HBO Max to bring even more incredible content to customers on Fire TV.”HBO Max is currently exclusive to the US. It is scheduled to launch in 2021 in parts of Europe and Latin America. There are no plans for other countries, including India, with WarnerMedia stating that it will continue working with existing partners for now. In India, WarnerMedia has ties with Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+ Hotstar.