There isn’t a single Android tablet we can currently wholeheartedly recommend, but the new 10.5-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e looks like it could be a contender — at $399, it’s not only far more affordable than the flagship $649 Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, it’s arguably surpassed it in some ways.
For starters, the Tab S5e has the thinnest and lightest metal unibody of any Galaxy Tab, measuring 5.5mm thin and weighing just 400 grams — even compared to the 11-inch iPad Pro at 5.9mm thick and 468 grams, the Tab S5e is both lighter and thinner.
The company also claims they’ve maximized space with the Tab S5e’s massive 81.8 percent screen-to-body ratio, which on paper, is an improvement over the Tab S4’s lower 79 percent ratio. It’s also right on the heels of the 11-inch iPad Pro’s ~82.9 percent screen-to-body ratio.
And unlike Samsung’s previous attempt to make its 10.5-inch tablet more affordable, this slate doesn’t skimp on the screen and not nearly as much on the processor. Samsung’s Tab S5e is a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED device with a 16:10 aspect ratio and 2560 x 1600 resolution, while its octa-core Snapdragon 670 processor should provide solid mid-range performance. Samsung’s also promising up to 14.5 hours of battery life.
The Tab S5e is also the first tablet from the Korean tech giant to ship with Pie, the latest version of Android, along with the new Bixby 2.0 virtual assistant and information tool. Samsung is also carrying features like Dex, a desktop-style Android environment, over from other Galaxy devices, like the Note 9 and Tab S4. It allows users to interact with their device using the screen, a mouse, keyboard, or all three. However, Dex definitely needed some work the last time we used it, so it’ll be interesting to see if it has received much needed improvements. You’ll still be able to attach an optional keyboard cover, but there’s no S Pen stylus support this time around.
The Tab S5e also comes equipped with AKG-tuned, quad surround sound speakers, because tablets are first and foremost media consumption devices. To supplement multimedia usage on the Tab S5e, there’s 64GB of internal storage to store your multimedia (microSD expandable to 512GB), with 4GB of RAM to keep the system running smoothly. Samsung also lists a 6GB RAM/128GB storage option, but pricing is currently unknown.
For shooting photos — because why not — the Tab S5e comes with 13-megapixel back and 8-megapixel front facing cameras, capable of shooting 4K video at 30 frames per second. Since photography isn’t the primary purpose of tablets, there’s no reason to expect anything groundbreaking from Samsung here, but those are the same specs as the Tab S4.
We weren’t big fans of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 at $649, but we did admire its brilliant screen and multitasking chops — so a sleeker yet far less expensive version with that same screen and updated software would be very welcome indeed. Just note that Samsung isn’t aiming to replace the $649 Tab S4 with the new Tab S5e. Instead, the Tab S5e serves on its own in the middle price point, while the WiFi-only Galaxy Tab A sits at $329.
The new Galaxy Tab S5e will cost $399 for the 4GB/64GB variant and will launch in the second quarter of 2019, in black, grey, or limited edition gold colorways on Samsung’s website and at major retailers. Also, cellular models will follow later the Wi-Fi versions later this year.