The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 can replace a laptop – if you’re willing to put up with some quirks and don’t rely heavily on specific desktop apps to get the job done. I put this new 2-in-1 tablet to the test.
The device is expensive, aimed at a group of people looking for an Android laptop alternative. It is not an easy tablet for playing games and watching movies, but a device on which you can do some work.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Specifications
|Display||10.5-inch WQXGA Super AMOLED, 2560 × 1600 resolution, 16:10 aspect ratio, 287 ppi|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|Cameras||13MP, 1.12μm, f / 2.2 + 5MP, 1μm, f / 2.0 aperture. |
Front: 8MP wide-angle, 1.12um, f / 2.0 aperture
|Security||Integrated optical fingerprint reader, Knox security suite|
|Connectivity||microSD slot, Nano SIM card slot (LTE model), USB-C port, keyboard contacts|
|LTE network:||Cat.20 (DL up to 2.0 Gbps) Wi-Fi: 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac (2.4 / 5 GHz), MIMO Bluetooth 5.0|
|Audio||Four speakers (one at each corner), AKG sound, Dolby Atmos, no 3.5mm jack|
|System and software||Android 9 Pie, OneUI|
Design and Comfort
The Galaxy Tab S6 is small enough to fit even in some of my smallest bags, while still being lightweight. Although the bezel is thin with a 10.5-inch screen, there is still enough room to hold the tablet in your hand without touching the display.
Compared to the iPad Pro, the Tab S6 bears similarities to the 11-inch model. There are few differences in the large rectangular parts, as well as in identical bezels. The back design of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is made of durable aluminum, so the device won’t break even if accidentally dropped.
Is the S Pen attached to the back? Yes. On the back, where the S Pen rests, there is an elongated groove that effectively holds the stylus in place using strong magnets. In addition, if you are using a stand cover, it also has a notch. This place serves not only for storage, but also for recharging the S Pen.
The Galaxy Tab S6 is available in gray, blue or pink. A keyboard cover is not included, but well worth the purchase. I worked on this 2-in-1 hybrid tablet while sitting on my lap at the airport, in the park, and on the plane. And I’ve never been embarrassed. It’s easy to adjust the kickstand on the back, which is not the case for the iPad Pro and Apple’s Smart Keyboard.
The fingerprint sensor is hidden under the display, but it doesn’t use ultrasonic technology like the Galaxy Note 10 Plus. It’s optical, so it’s not as safe and reliable, although I didn’t have much of a problem. Instead, I used the face unlock feature. However, it is not as secure, effective as Apple’s Face ID, and has difficulty in low light.
Screen and multimedia
The Super AMOLED screen on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is beautiful and bright. Everything is perfectly readable, even when I was editing texts in a street cafe, on a bright sunny day. Any content here looks sharp thanks to the 2560 x 1600 resolution.
The colors are saturated. Dim scenes in the video are easily distinguishable due to the high brightness. There is also support for HDR10 +, if you watch movies in HDR, then you will get additional contrast. I enjoyed the episodes of Netflix series that look fantastic on this tablet.
The four-speaker acoustics from AKG completes the above. It delivers clear and dynamic sound, making the Galaxy Tab S6 a superior entertainment system. However, we don’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack. This is Samsung’s disappointing omission.
Keyboard and S Pen
The individual keys of the keyboard have deep travel, however, in my opinion, they could be slightly larger. They also lack backlighting and I found it difficult to type in the dark. That said, we get a smoother experience than Apple’s Smart Keyboard, where the keys are so thin they can barely be felt.
The trackpad is excellent here. It helps a lot when navigating software (especially in DeX mode) when you don’t want to slide your finger across the screen. Unfortunately, text selection is not as intuitive, double tap, in most applications. You can also swipe up and down with two fingers on the trackpad to flip through apps, which is convenient.
The S Pen has aerial actions like the Note 10, which can be used to trigger certain actions in some applications, such as the camera. They work well, but I didn’t really need to.
I enjoyed writing notes with the stylus, the experience is better than the Galaxy Note 10. The screen is larger, so there is more space to write. While the technology for not recognizing the palms has improved, it’s still worth making sure they don’t touch the edges of the display. This will activate the scroll bar in the Samsung Notes app, which in turn causes the S Pen to malfunction.
If your handwriting is legible, the Notes application will automatically transcribe it into typed text. Formatting takes a little bit of work, but it does a good job of transcribing. If you like to write notes by hand, this speeds up transcription a lot.
Galaxy Tab S6 cameras
Of all the cameras on laptops and tablets, I only use the front camera for video calls. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6’s 8-megapixel front sensor doesn’t disappoint, offering 1920 x 1080 resolution. Shooting quality is good with sufficient lighting, however, grainy in poor lighting.
Although I don’t take photos from a tablet, many users do. Samsung reported that 86% of Galaxy Tab S4 owners used the camera on a daily basis. What is my experience? The main 13-megapixel camera is capable of producing detailed, colorful photos that are sometimes overly saturated. At night, the quality of the shooting drops noticeably, but the results remain acceptable.
To add to the versatility, Samsung has installed a 5MP wide-angle lens on the back for different perspectives in photography. The 123-degree field of view covers most of the scene, and the sensor delivers more natural colors with surprising accuracy than the main lens.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 did not disappoint with its performance. The gadget is powered by the processor found in most of this year’s flagship Android phones: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855. The model I tested had 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, as well as a microSD card slot in case you need more storage space (8GB RAM and 256GB ROM model available).
Even with multiple tabs open in Samsung’s internet browser and app windows on top of each other, the Tab S6 didn’t slow down. Apps launched quickly, resized instantly, and games like Alto’s Odyssey, Pako: Forever and Grand Mountain ran smoothly.
Here are some test results:
- AnTuTu 3DBench: 352 209.
- 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme: 4819 Vulkan, 5395 OpenGL.
- Geekbench 5 CPU: 725 single core 2392 multi-core.
The results are on par with other Snapdragon 855-powered devices, although the numbers from Geekbench are lower (this could be a Geekbench bug as users on the net reported problems after updating the app). The AnTuTu score is not as high as the iPad Air, but close to it. However, synthetic benchmark results do not always indicate real performance. In practice, the Galaxy Tab S6 will delight you with its speed and responsiveness.
DeX operation and mode
Samsung has moved forward by adding a system tray in the lower right corner with access to notifications, navigation buttons, and an app drawer. In the lower left corner, we have apps that can be resized. Not all Android apps can be changed, even if you force them with software customization. Instagram is a prime example of this. Still, posting to Instagram with the Galaxy Tab S6 is a process I’ve never experienced before. While this is possible on other tablets as well, things are much simpler here thanks to DeX.
Only minor quirks distract from the general desktop. Pressing the search button on your keyboard opens the application window, but you need to type a letter twice to start searching. Pressing Alt-tab quickly to switch to the previous application is also not smooth. The trick is to press and hold Alt, then slowly press Tab, which seems confusing.
The highlight is Samsung’s internet browser, which turns out to be surprisingly useful. It almost always displays the full version of websites, unlike Chrome, which shows the mobile version. I wrote this review on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, and since text highlighting works with the trackpad in Google Docs, it worked effortlessly and without complications. I could place two web tabs next to each other on a split screen when I typed. It’s easy to move apps or resize windows to view others at the same time.
Granted, I haven’t been able to run as fast as a regular laptop, but I have quite successfully replaced my laptop over the past few weeks and it was a pleasant and comfortable experience. Note that my work revolves around using the browser, Google Docs, and that’s it. If you rely on other services or apps, make sure you have an Android app (or an alternative) available to you in advance. For example, I used Lightroom CC on the S6 to edit some photos with the S Pen.
Day of battery life
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 will help you get through a hard day at work. I used it on an airplane for four hours in a row, the battery went down to 60%. Throw in a few more hours of use in a hotel room and the tablet is 30% depleted before going to bed.
If you plan to use this device non-stop for 8 hours, the Galaxy Tab S6 will survive, provided that you don’t play or use CPU-intensive programs. I had a similar experience with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. While the performance is good, it doesn’t quite live up to Samsung’s claim of 15 hours of battery life.
In a standard video playback battery test, when I played a YouTube video at 1080p over Wi-Fi at maximum brightness, the Tab S6 lasted 11 hours and 1 minute. That’s better than the more affordable iPad Air, which fell asleep after 6 hours and 17 minutes. I think most will be more than satisfied with the S6’s battery life. Energy replenishment is not very fast, it will take you a little over 2 hours to go from 0 to 100%.
If you’re looking for a tablet that can get some work done, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is your best bet. The only problem is the price. Competition is very strong today, so your buying decision will also depend on how well Android suits you as your main operating system.
The Galaxy Tab S6 will last three to four years before the battery life drops noticeably. This is good equipment for a good price.
Should you buy?
Yes, but only if you are looking for a laptop replacement with the best tablet capabilities.
- Convenient DeX mode.
- High performance.
- Beautiful 10.5-inch screen.
- Built-in trackpad and keyboard.
- Good battery life.
- Nice design and build quality.
- Still expensive.
- DeX mode has special features.
- The keyboard is expensive and has no backlight.