Tablets are struggling to keep their relevance around the much versatile and powerful smartphones. So is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e worth buying in 2019?
It can and is a great tablet but it will eventually succumb to ‘Can it replace my laptop?’ question and the easy answer is no. Is it a great tablet? Very much and here’s why.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e: Display
There’s no questioning the quality of the screen that stretches across for 10.5 inches. It’s 2560x1600 pixels in resolution which puts it slightly above a 2K resolution screen. So it’s no surprise that this is a densely packed screen with 287ppi and amazing quality.
We watched Stranger Things Season 3 and the blacks were as deep as expected. Even the contrast and colour reproduction are phenomenal. It’s slightly on the saturated side like all Samsung displays but it’s nothing that will put Ranveer Singh’s dressing to shame.
Samsung’s new displays have lower bluelight by default so it's good for your eyes but the display looks slightly warmer than usual. This is something we noticed in the new Galaxy S series smartphones as well and once you get used to it, the visual fatigue is less compared to other displays. From our experience with the Samsung Galaxy S series smartphones, we kept the UI theme on dark mode so there were less chances of warmer tones being apparent from the UI. Yes, we have sensitive eyes and also, dark mode might save some battery.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e: Body and Keyboard
It’s a premium product alright. ₹40 grand for a tablet is no joke and if you’re going to hold it in your hand, then it might as well feel like all that money went somewhere. There’s a fingerprint scanner embedded inside the power button and Samsung’s removed the headphone jack (sad) but the thin body and the rounded edges at the back feel nice to hold and grip even better.
Although the thin bezels make it hard to hold the tablet with one hand without accidentally touching the screen. Even with both hands, it gets slightly cumbersome to hold after a long period of time. Best bet is to plonk it onto the keyboard cover (₹7,999) which effectively puts it in a laptop-isque position. The keyboard cover is sold separately and it's quite expensive like the Apple iPad’s keyboard. Although this one is not a Bluetooth keyboard. It's got connector pins so you can’t change the angle at which the display rests. However, the typing experience on the keyboard is better than the iPad's keyboard but this one is not spill-resistant.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e: Performance and DeX
As a tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e gets almost everything perfectly right. It’s only when you demand productivity from it, the haphazard Android experience becomes apparent. More so with its average processor. The Snapdragon 670 is sitting in the wrong Tab if you want to do anything more than your usual tasks of streaming, gaming and social media faff.
Switch over to DeX mode and the tablet becomes a half baked experience. We kicked our work laptop and switched over to the Tab S5e, or tried to. The adventure didn’t last more than two hours and was limited to (read as: forced to) working on Google Docs and Sheets. Albeit, it was the only smooth outcome from the Tab.
For multitasking on Google Chrome, there were little but very time-consuming issues with its Android version. You cannot pin tabs inside Google Chrome when using in desktop mode which makes it very difficult for a tech journalist to rummage around social media, emails, websites and just about any work that requires multiple tabs. Noticeable lag kicks in when you want to speed through your daily targets by switching between multiple apps.
The DeX mode itself doesn’t have enough apps to support it. If you have Apple Music playing the tunes while on tablet mode, switching over to DeX mode will require you to kill the app and start it again for it to work properly. Smooth transition from tablet mode to DeX mode is not a guarantee and that made me very averse to using it for productivity in the first place.
If you have a telly, connecting the Tab into its HDMI will let you use the Tab as a mousepad and give you more screen real estate to work on but if the software experience is janky then its better off being used as a tablet.
We played Oddmar and Asphalt on the telly with a game controller. So that purpose was served and even the entire tablet can be used with a mouse. You will have to click and drag your way in the UI but Samsung have done a clever move by removing the swipe gestures from the DeX mode so if you use a mouse in DeX mode, it works pretty much like a desktop.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e: Audio
The Galaxy Tab S5e is that friend who takes you away from the office and into the beautiful land of procrastination. We’ve already told you how great the screen is and with four speakers that do a great job of delivering audio, it’s so much fun to watch Netflix.
There’s a slight focus on vocals and high range but the audio doesn’t sting your eardrums. There’s enough bass and just the right amount of clarity from these speakers. F**k The Rain by Ryan Adams sounds wholesome without the audio ever overstepping any one specific frequency. It’s not completely balanced, but close to it.
The Dolby mode just enhances the audio for a better experience. It brings up the softer dialogues in Stranger Things and emphasis the moody setting very well.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e: Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is a tablet and not your laptop replacement. Mainly because it doesn’t have enough power to do beyond Google Docs and Chrome and the software is not polished enough for sending your laptop to the trash can. Full marks to Samsung for trying something with the DeX mode and that in itself is better than cutting out of the race like Google. We just have to see how will Samsung convince us in the future about DeX, for now, it still remains pleasantly at the backseat only to offer minor but not game-changing improvements.
Can you squeeze productivity out of it? Sure, but only for some tasks. How is it as a tablet? Phenomenal. It’s a worthy Android tablet if you’re looking for one in 2019. As for us, we’ll gladly switch to the Tab on a Sunday morning to watch Netflix, stream music or reading e-books. Might even make it the home console for smart devices and the battery will last you a couple of days when you do just that.