In the tablet world, there is Apple and the rest. With more than 70% of the market in September 2019, Tim Cook’s business is in a virtual monopoly. Only Samsung seems to resist it with its 15% market share, which does not leave much to other manufacturers.
After a very good Galaxy Tab S5e, mid-range tablet, Samsung is back with the Galaxy Tab S6, its new high-end model. Comes with its inseparable S Pen, this tablet stands out as the one and only alternative to the iPad Pro. Is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 convincing?
Finesse, lightness and OLED screen
It’s hard to make it more “portable” than this Galaxy Tab S6. 5.7 millimeters thin and light at just 408 grams, the Galaxy Tab S6 is incredibly comfortable to handle. We don’t feel like we are holding a technological device at all. Its aluminum design gives it a beautiful impression of solidity and can only make us love this tablet. Only defect, it is not equipped with jack.
The Galaxy Tab S6’s screen is also one of its greareview assets. At a diagonal of 10.5 inches, this is a truly impressive Super AMOLED panel. It offers an infinite contrast ratio that nods (a little) the iPad Pro and its borders are really very thin. Samsung signs here a very beautiful design. We can hardly blame it for its 16: 9 format, perfect for watching videos, but restrictive for everything else. A tablet is not a phone, and we don’t necessarily need a full-length screen.
Note that with a brightness of 491 cd / m2, the screen of the Galaxy Tab S6 is very satisfactory for a tablet for outdoor use. Only the iPad Pro does better today with its 515 cd / m2. A minimal difference. The color fidelity of the Galaxy S6 is also very satisfactory, as shown by the Delta E measured at 3.23 by our laboratory. Samsung hits hard again.
The questionable location of the stylus
Over the years, Samsung has developed the unique ability to offer products that may have been perfect, but are not. The Galaxy Tab S6 is no exception to this rule: the space dedicated to recharging its S Pen stylus borders on the ridiculous. Magnetic like the Apple Pencil of the iPad Pro, the latter attaches … to the back of the tablet. It is therefore impossible to lay it flat on a desk. More boring, by storing it in a bag, the stylus comes off almost systematically. You really need to store your Galaxy Tab very carefully and make sure nothing has moved.
An S Pen still as convincing
Despite this dubious choice, the Samsung S Pen stylus does not lose in practicality. Long enough to use as a pen, it will delight people (like your servant) who love to write. We use its integrated button to call the Samsung shortcuts panel, we select the application Notes and make way for creativity! The Korean company offers many possibilities and the accessory is extremely precise. The feeling experienced during writing is practically identical to that which one would have in front of a real notebook. Only downside, in the absence of a 120 Hz screen like on the iPad Pro, digital ink is still a few fractions of a second behind the tip of the S Pen.
New directly inherited from the Galaxy Note 10: the Galaxy Tab S6 can be controlled by gestures. By pressing the stylus button and moving to the right, you can, for example, skip to the next song. Do you think this is just a gadget? We will not prove you wrong.
An optional keyboard
Another advantage of this tablet, magnetic connectors allow you to connect a keyboard without having to pair it by Bluetooth. Unlike the S Pen, the latter is not included and is sold as an option at a very high price of… 179.90 euros. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to try it.
However, we tried to connect a Bluetooth keyboard to the Galaxy Tab S6. Bad surprise, the virtual keyboard continues to appear on the screen despite the presence of a Bluetooth keyboard. We did not find a solution to this bug which mainly encouraged us to settle for the touch keyboard.
Very good performance
Of all the Android tablets we have reviewed, the Galaxy Tab S6 is certainly the one that left the best impression on us. Thanks to its Snapdragon 855 processor and 8 GB of RAM, it benefits from perfect navigation fluidity. There is no animation bug, the applications run without any problem and you can play on the device without any slowdown. Samsung proves once again that its mastery of the hardware does not have much on the market.
On its tablets, Samsung offers a “DeX” mode. The latter turns Android into (almost) Windows, with a taskbar and resizable windows. On the Galaxy Tab S5e, DeX mode created slowdowns. On the Galaxy Tab S6, everything works perfectly. It looks like being in front of a mini PC.
In terms of battery life, the Galaxy Tab S6 also leaves us with a very good impression. Its 7040 mAh battery allowed it to withstand 11.55 am in our versatile autonomy review and 10:06 am when playing video files, which is quite satisfactory. In actual use, we had to recharge the Galaxy Tab S6 approximately every 3 days, which is equivalent to a lareview generation iPad. To recharge the tablet, it takes 2h33. Again, this is a very good result given the high capacity of its battery.
An unusable fingerprint sensor
To unlock the Galaxy Tab S6, there are two biometric solutions. You can either use facial recognition (not secure), or use the optical fingerprint sensor built into the screen. Yes, there is a fingerprint sensor under the screen of this tablet. Its location just above the USB-C port is absolutely inconvenient, especially since the sensor does not work every time. We would have preferred a capacitive sensor located on the side.
An ultra wide-angle on a tablet
Another amazing feature of this Galaxy Tab S6 is that it is a tablet equipped with a dual camera module. In addition to a correct 13 Mpix sensor (which takes satisfactory photos without more), it has an ultra wide-angle attached to a 5 Mpix sensor. With such a definition, no need to tell you that the disappointment is great. Having this possibility is pleasant but it is not as good as on a high-end smartphone.
Android, a major weakness
As you can see, we really like this Galaxy Tab S6. Despite some caveats, its complete equipment has everything to convince. Unfortunately, there is one major flaw: Android.
As exceptional as this operating system on smartphones is, the converse is not at all true on tablets. Truth be told, Android for tablet doesn’t exist. Most of the time, it just enlarges the smartphone applications and does not exploit the large area offered by slates at all. Even Samsung in its official apps, like settings, doesn’t make the effort to create a multi-column interface. It’s simply unusable…
I am currently reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 which is really a great tablet. Screen, power, stylus … it’s really not bad. Unfortunately, 80% of Android apps behave like on a big phone. What a pity, what lost space … pic.twitter.com/r7x0Jl6Tf2
– Nicolas Lellouche (@LelloucheNico) October 20, 2019
What is most frustrating here is the lottery side of this experience. Take for example a developer like Facebook. Its main application is divided into two columns (as on the iPad version) but Messenger is only a vulgar enlargement of the smartphone app while the iPad has an optimized application). At Twitter, only one tweet appears on the screen when you hold the tablet horizontally. It’s ridiculous. Very few applications have made an effort to adapt and working on an Android tablet comes with too many sacrifices to be viable.
Another unfortunate defect, unlike iPad OS, Android does not know how to split an application to allow you to use it twice. We would have loved to see a note on the left of the screen and write a second on the right of the screen. It’s impossible today and it’s a shame. The Galaxy Tab S6 has everything from the perfect tablet … except for its operating system.
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