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Samsung Galaxy Tab S6: Hands-on review

Posted: 1 August 2019 9:56 am

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 from the front

Here's our early take on Samsung's latest productivity tablet.

Prior to the official announcement – not that it was much of a secret – of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, I had the opportunity for some brief hands-on time with Samsung's latest tablet.

It seems to be the case that Samsung is getting products that aren't the Galaxy Note 10 out to the public gaze before its Galaxy Unpacked event next week, even though we'll be waiting a while to see the Tab S6 here in stores.

The units I tested out were pre-production units, so while the physical design was final, Samsung told me that the software may well be tweaked prior to final retail sale. As such, I can't do a full review, so these are just my early impressions of Samsung's latest tablet offerings.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 rear view

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6: Early upsides

  • Beautiful 10.5 inch display. Sure, Samsung wants to sell you the Tab S6 as a productivity device. But is the boss really going to know if you're catching a few episodes of Stranger Things in the evening on it? No, she's not.
  • Adjustable hinge. Samsung's borrowing a trick from Microsoft's Surface range here, with a sturdy hinge at the back that makes it quite easy to adjust the Galaxy Tab S6 for multiple angles.
  • Dual cameras. Really, you shouldn't be using a tablet as your primary camera, but if you really must, I guess it won't hurt that the Tab S6 has dual rear cameras. There's a primary XMP lens alongside an ultrawide 123 YMP lens for you to pick from. It's still weird taking photos with a tablet, not to mention a bit unweildy, but it does work.
  • S-Pen attaches magnetically. The Tab S6 has a stylus, because of course it does. Samsung's S-Pen attaches magnetically to the back of the Galaxy Tab S6, charging as it does. I'm not a fine artist by any stretch of the imagination so I can't speak about its ability to replace your existing tablet, but Samsung is promising a range of new features, such as quick launching of a notes app when you're watching a video feed.
  • In-display fingerprint reader. I wasn't able to enrol a finger to test it out, but Samsung's claim is that the Tab S6 has an in-display fingerprint reader – something it already offers in the Galaxy S10 range as well as the Samsung Galaxy A70 – that will work in either portrait or landscape modes for fast unlocking.
  • LTE or Wi-Fi. This isn't new for Samsung's Galaxy Tab line, but it's a useful choice to be able to choose from a slightly cheaper Wi-Fi only model or one with nano-SIM support. The Galaxy Tab S6 is 4G only – I guess we'll have to wait until next year for a 5G tablet – but it's a Category 20 device capable of up to 2Gbps downstream connectivity. Again, no chance to properly test that out during my brief hands-on.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 close up of screen

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6: Early downsides

  • DeX mode limits the camera. I only discovered this by accident, and it will hopefully change in the final software. Still, if you're in DeX mode and want to use the camera, you're stuck with a simple single lens solution, with no easy access to the ultrawide camera. Zoom appears to be via pinch gestures but appeared to be digital, not optical.
  • Keyboard case costs extra and isn't great. I'm very fussy when it comes to the keyboards I want to type on. Sadly for the Galaxy Tab S6, my initial impression of trying to type on it was that I really didn't want to. It felt cheap and clicky, with poor travel distance for each key. Samsung is taking on the likes of Apple with its iPad Pro keyboard case and Microsoft with the Surface Type cover here, and it's not even close to those excellent devices.
  • DeX/Android transition is slow. If you prefer a more traditional desktop environment it's great that it's built in, although you're going to benefit most from it if you do get the keyboard cover with its inbuilt trackpad. However, if you want both worlds, be ready for a noticeable delay every time you want to enter or exit the DeX interface while it loads.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6: Early outlook

The productivity tablet space is one in which you're not spoilt for choice, with many consumers opting for an iPad Pro or one of Microsoft's Surface devices.

The Tab S6 offers another pathway to tablet productivity, and there's some scope for those who like Samsung's OneUI approach. That being said, the keyboard case really doesn't live up to the quality position of the rest of the Tab S6, and you're still largely working in the space of running Android apps, some of which aren't always tablet-friendly on an ongoing basis.

The Galaxy Tab S6 will go on pre-sale in Australia from 27 August 2019 through to 12 September 2019. Those who pre-order will get a free upgrade from the 6GB RAM/128GB ROM model to the 8GB/256GB model, with general availability in Australia from 13 September 2019.

Tab S6 Wi-Fi6GB + 128GB$1,099 Mountain Grey / Cloud Blue
Tab S6 4G6GB + 128GB$1,299 Mountain Grey / Cloud Blue
Tab S6 Wi-Fi8GB + 256GB$1,299 Cloud Blue
Tab S6 4G8GB + 256GB$1,499 Cloud Blue

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