Android tablets were popular alternatives to iPads back in 2014. It felt like OEM’s like Asus, Samsung, Acer and Huawei were shipping (at the time) some fairly solid competitors to Apple’s tablet titan.
Samsung in particular was launching tablets, refreshes, and cheaper alternatives quite frequently to counter the iPad range Apple had at the time. Their Note 10.1 tablet, A series tablets and S series were fairly decent competitors and held up well in day to day use (I owned the Tab S2 and even with the funky USB 3.0 Micro USB connector, the unit was still a decent Netflix, e-reader, and web browsing machine). However as the years have gone on, and Samsung launched the Tab S3 and then the Tab S4 and even though those tablets were well built, they had their fair share of criticisms. The Tab S3 was slow, only had 4GB of Ram onboard, had a year old CPU (Snapdragon 821) at launch and had frequent software issues as a result of the poor CPU/Ram combination. The Tab S4 tried to fix what the Tab S4 failed at, by adding better support for landscape apps, Samsung’s Dex software and better s-pen support, however it also had a year old CPU at it’s launch as well (A snapdragon 835 – which while it was a capable CPU, the 840 series had better thermals and memory management)- which hampered it’s sales and it never really stood out against the iPads. Apple kept iterating and improving on their existing iPads, and even the cheapest iPad (with Apple Pencil Gen 1 Support) and the new iPad Air beat this unit hands down.
Samsung seems to have taken a lot of this feedback onboard, and articles & videos this morning seem to reinforce this point, as the new Galaxy Tab S6 has launched to some pretty positive initial hands on impressions.
The Tab S6 was announced August 1st and Samsung definitely want you to consider this over your iPad, and there’s a few standout features as to why. For starters, the new tablet is 420g & 5.7mm thick which is crazy thin. It’s minimalistic bezels are backed by a solid 10.5 Inch Display. Samsung also bundle in their S-Pen with the tablet, which has the same Bluetooth features from last years Note 9 (swipe gestures for changing camera, and acting like a remote to take photos from a distance). The tablet also packs (THANK, GOD) a modern Snapdragon 855 CPU, which interestingly enough, is a fairly popular Chip in the Windows ARM world, with a few portable Windows devices that don’t have intel chipsets in them actually run this chip.
This new chip allegedly gives the unit a 81% faster CPU performance compared to the Tab S4 and a 64% faster CPU which should be a fairly noticeable difference if you are upgrading directly to this tablet; but new users may not feel it as much aside from it being a responsive slate.
The tablet also bundles in Samsung’s Dex software again with some further changes, which combined with the newest Book cover, makes this a very viable small portable laptop alternative. Why do you ask? Well the Book cover seems to have it’s typing experience overhauled compared to the last 2 generations, but it also includes a freaking trackpad!! Android does have cursor support built into the OS so this addition is a super slick way to standout compared to iPad Pros and even some higher end Chromebooks.
There is also a dual camera array with a wide lens and a standard one which on first glance seems to take some fairly solid photos gathering from the videos I’ve seen, yet a proper hands on will need to be done to fully determine the extent of the detail on these photos.The tablet will be packing a 6GB/128 configuration or a 8GB/256 configuration (with 4G LTE options available) and Android 9 Pie at launch with Samsung’s Skin on top, but there has been no mentions of expandable storage options.
Right now this seems poised to finally offer some viable competition to the iPad productivity market and those (like me) who get a lot done on their iPad Pro’s with a keyboard attached. The only glaring downside is it is running Android, and while Android itself is a great operating system, has a solid track record for phones – it doesn’t offer much in the way of decent tablet app support. Pre-Orders are open now on Samsung’s website with the slate launching on August 27th.