Over the years, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab series has become one of the most viable options for tablet buyers who do not want to be a part of the iOS ecosystem. And the sheer number of tablets offered by Samsung ensures there is a large portable device out there for pretty much everyone.
The latest tablet on offer in the Indian market, the Tab A 10.5 dropped on our desk a few weeks ago, and we have used this time to thoroughly test the Tab out of it.
Design & Build: Impressively Industrial
In an age where smartphones and tablets alike have waged war on bezels, the Tab A minimises them enough to look modern and sleek, but keeps them large enough to be perfectly ergonomic with no accidental touches.
The black Tab A that we tested, looked very much like a stealth fighter, due to its gorgeous rubberised matte finish. All black is definitely the way to go for anyone wishing to buy the Tab A.
The front is absolutely dominated by the 10.5 inch display, and if you look closely, a front camera and sensors. Samsung has dropped their usual haptic touch buttons in favour of on-screen navigation which we definitely like better. The top and bottom sides receive dual speakers each, for immersive sound, but it's tough to get the most out of them as your hand is bound to block one of them at least. Meanwhile, the top houses an AUX port while the bottom houses a USB C charging port.
The power button and volume rocker both are on the right hand side and seem well built with good feedback while the left side has the connections for the charging dock.
In terms of build quality, Samsung has pretty much hit a home run with the Tab A. It's slim, it's elegant and best of all, ergonomic.
Performance and OS: Very Samsung-y
Anyone coming from a mid range Samsung phone will feel right at home with the Tab A and its OS. The layout and app icons look almost identical and you can expect the same suite of apps that come pre-installed on any other Samsung device.
The 1.8 GHz octa core processor with 3GB RAM keeps things pretty snappy in day-to-day use.
Of course, the Tab A won't be winning any speed tests, but by no means feels slow either. It is when you try to play heavier games like PUBG, that you get a slight sense that the Tab A is not in its element. The game is quite playable in the lowest graphic mode, with an occasional stutter here and there.
The lack of gaming performance should not be a deal breaker for anyone but the most hardcore of gamers. The Tab A seems ideal for casual users who want a smartphone-esque experience in a larger form factor.
One of the areas where the Tab A shines is in battery life. And why wouldn’t it, considering it has a 7300 mAh behemoth under the hood. Combine that with a frugal processor and you are left with a media consumption device that is ideal for movie marathons.
Camera: Like the early stages of cataract
Let’s get things straight first. Tablets are really not meant to have great cameras. There is really no use for them except for video calling and maybe scanning documents, but even then it does not need to have crystal clear imaging. Please don’t be that one guy who whips out a tablet in a concert to click pictures because you think it takes bigger pictures. Just, please don’t.
The cameras on the Tab A are by far not the best in the business. And that’s a good thing. Baffled why it’s good? Let us explain. Camera modules are expensive. Giving the Tab A an average camera keeps the cost low and allows Samsung to provide better and more usable components.
The camera app has a decent number of options. Nothing too fancy or out of this world, but enough to keep you entertained for a while.
It needs a helping hand once in a while in Auto mode to calibrate the exposure, but in most cases it manages to take a shot just fine, if a bit on the grainy side.
The front camera performs slightly better on the Tab A. It also has portrait mode which works decently well and does a good job of blurring out the background. To be honest, it does have a bit of trouble separating the background from the edges of the foreground, but we are quite happy with the result.
Both, the 8MP rear and 5MP front cameras are not at par with a smartphone in the same price bracket, and that’s how it should be. Just imagine, what kind of dolt would get out a 10.5 inch tablet for some impromptu photography.
Most tablets have always fallen in that grey area where they are too big to be carried around without a backpack, while not having the performance, hardware and OS to replace a laptop. Of course, the Surface tablets are exceptions to the rule, but you get the gist.
What they have always been great at though is bringing the smartphone experience to a larger form factor, making entertainment more immersive and enjoyable. And with the Tab A, Samsung has done just that. Concentrated on providing the best possible entertainment as they can while keeping the price reasonable.
The beautiful and sharp display is a pleasure to behold and the four speakers provide decent amounts of sound separation for a reasonably good immersion, Although we would recommend a good pair of headphones to go all in.
Add to that a massive and long-lasting battery and you can see why the Tab A makes a great device for media consumption.