Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 full review

Samsung has quietly revealed the Galaxy Tab S6 ahead of the hotly-anticipated reveal of the Galaxy Note 10 on 7 August, and it offers quite the upgrade over 2018’s Galaxy Tab S4. The Tab S6 offers an improved processor, enhanced security, smart connectivity and, in our opinion, a desperately-needed redesign. But, is the Galaxy Tab S6 worth the extra money, or is the Tab S4 still a tempting option?

Here, we break down the key differences between the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 and the Galaxy Tab S4 and explain which is better for your needs.

Pricing and availability

The newly announced Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is available to pre-order now with shipping expected before 30 August. It costs £619/$649 for the 6GB/128GB variant, while those wanting the top-end 8GB/256GB variant have to pay out more at £689/$729. A 4G model adds £70 to the price.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, on the other hand, has been available to buy since its release in August 2018. While it would’ve set consumers back over £500/$600 at launch, the Galaxy Tab S4 can be picked up for as little as £435 at Amazon in the UK, along with $499 at Best Buy in the US.

For more inspiration, take a look at our selection of the best tablets available right now

You can also read our comparison of the S6 with the cheaper Tab S5e.

Design and build

The new Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is a solid upgrade over the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 in the design department, offering a comfortable form factor, lightweight design and more. It arguably sports a design similar to a certain fruit-shaped company’s flagship tablet with an angular design offset by curved edges, and that camera bump looks very familiar too.

Whatever it resembles, it’s certainly a step-up from the design of the Tab S4 which, in 2019, looks fairly dated.

Most noticeably, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 sports the same 10.5in Super AMOLED display as the Tab S4, but with a difference in overall width. How? It’s due to the thin bezels featured on the more recent tablet, giving it a sleeker look when compared to its older, chunkier sibling, and allows it to compete with some of the top tablets on the market this year.

It’s not just the surface area that has got smaller, as the Tab S6 is over 1mm thinner than the Tab S4, measuring in at 5.7mm and 7.1mm respectively.

Of course, as technology advances, things get lighter, and that’s the case with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 too. It has slimmed down from 480g to 420g, which should be noticeable when held in the hand.

Along with the Tab S6 comes a brand new S-Pen that, in addition to offering new features, offers a dramatic redesign.

Like the tablet itself, the new S-Pen is more angular than its predecessors, and can be attached to the back of the tablet via built-in magnets –this is where it also gets charged wirelessly. It sports buttons for remote control, and offers wireless charging capabilities too. The S-Pen also matches the finish of the Tab S6 it’s bundled with, be it Cloud Blue, Rose Blush or Mountain Grey.

The Tab S4 also came with an S Pen, but unlike the updated variant, it didn’t sport magnets, wireless charging or remote control capabilities.

Features and specs

While the redesign of the Tab S6 is welcome, it’s the features of the latest tablet that blow those of the Tab S4 out of the water.

  Galaxy Tab S4 Galaxy Tab S5e  Galaxy Tab S6
Display 10.5in AMOLED, 2560x1600, 287ppi 10.5in AMOLED, 2560x1600, 287pp 10.5in AMOLED, 2560x1600, 287pp
Processor Snapdragon 835 Snapdragon 670 Snapdragon 855
RAM 4GB 4/6GB 6/8GB
Storage 64/256GB - expandable up to 512GB 64/128GB + microSD up to 512GB 128/256GB - expandable up to 1TB
Cameras 13Mp rear, 8Mp front 13Mp rear, 8Mp front 13Mp + 5Mp rear, 8Mp front
Operating system Android 8 Oreo (updatable to 9) Android 9.0 Pie Android 9 Pie
Connectivity USB-C, Pogo, headphone jack USB-C, Pogo USB-C, Pogo
Biometrics Iris scanner Fingerprint scanner, Face recognition Fingerprint scanner, Face recognition
Speakers Four Four Four
Headphone jack Yes No No
Battery 7300mAh 7040mAh 7040mAh
Dimensions 249.3 x 164.3 x 7.1 mm 245 x 160 x 5.5mm 245 x 160 x 5.7mm
Weight 482g 400g 420g

Let’s start with the core internals; the Tab S4 features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset (2.35GHz + 1.9GHz) alongside 4GB of RAM which, in all fairness, should provide decent performance, but it may struggle to run more graphically intense games and Pro-level apps available in 2019. That’s where the Tab S6 comes into play, offering Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8150 Mobile Platform (1x2.8GHz, 3x2.4GHz, 4x1.7GHz) along with either 6- or 8GB of RAM depending on the variant that you opt for.

It should come as no surprise that the Tab S6 offers more flexibility in terms of storage, boasting either 128- or 256GB of storage as standard, which can be expanded by up to 1TB via the tablet’s microSD card slot.

The Tab S4 matches the premium 256GB storage option, but the entry-level storage drops down to 64GB, and the microSD card expansion is capped at 400GB too. It should be more than enough for standard consumers, but power users may want to opt for the newer tablet.  

The battery life department is where things get interesting, because the Tab S4 actually has a larger battery than the new Tab S6, offering a 7300mAh battery compared to 7040mAh of the newer tablet. We’re yet to go hands-on with the Tab S6 so we’re not sure how this translates to real-world usage, but the official line from Samsung is that the Tab S4 provides around 16 hours of video playback, while the new Tab S6 offers only 15.

Arguably at this point you’re splitting hairs, but if you spend a lot of time away from home, it’s worth certainly worth thinking about.  

Camera-wise, the Tab S6 is the winner; it sports a dual rear-facing camera setup comprised of a 13Mp wide-angle lens and a 5Mp ultra-wide lens, with built-in AI that enhances overall image quality. That’s joined by an 8Mp front-facing sensor, which is nearly identical to the front-facing camera of the Tab S4. The Tab S4 isn’t quite as exciting on the rear as the newer variant, offering a single 13Mp camera.

The Tab S4 saw the introduction of a security feature that Samsung thought was the future – Iris Scanning. In theory, it’s a good idea, as eyes are pretty unique, but the real-world performance wasn’t great and having to align your eyes with the scanner every time you wanted to unlock the tablet became tiresome very quickly.

Samsung realised this and has since moved away from Iris Scanning, and like with the Galaxy S10, the Tab S6 sports an in-display fingerprint reader. This is a much easier – and more secure – way to unlock the tablet, and there’s no sacrifice to the quality of the display to make this possible either.

There’s not a lot of difference in the connectivity department, with both offering Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, although the Tab S6 offers MIMO support for faster wireless data transfer. Both feature USB-C ports for charging and data transfer, too.

The two tablets also share similarities in the audio department, with both the Tab S4 and Tab S6 offering a four-speaker setup specially tuned by AKG to provide a great stereo experience whether you’re watching a movie, playing a game or simply listening to your favourite tunes.

One unique feature of the Galaxy Tab S6 is the connectivity it offers with the Galaxy S10 range. Like iPhones, iPads and Macs, users that own an S10 (or S10+) will be able to make and receive calls and texts via the Tab S6 when it’s nearby. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but it’s certainly a bonus if you’ve already invested in Samsung’s 2019 flagship.

Is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 a worthy upgrade?

It’s hard to say without going hands-on with the tablet ourselves, but based on the specs, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 offers a range of upgrades over the Galaxy Tab S4 including better performance, improved security, enhanced connectivity with Galaxy devices and an all-round improved design.

But, if you’re a casual tablet user that doesn’t need blistering speeds or a huge amount of storage, the Tab S4 is still a great option that’s more than capable of handling everyday tasks – it just looks a little dated in 2019.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4: Specs

  • Android Oreo
  • 10.5in, SuperAMOLED, 2560x1600, 287ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, octa-core processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64/256GB storage
  • MicroSD (400GB)
  • S Pen, 4096 pressure levels
  • 13Mp rear camera, f/1.9 with auto focus
  • 8Mp front camera, f/1.9
  • Wi-Fi 11ac
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • USB 3.1 gen 1
  • Quad speakers with AKG tuning and Dolby Atmos
  • 7300mAh battery with Fast Charging
  • Up to 16 hours video playback
  • 249x164x7.1mm
  • 482g (Wi-Fi) 483g (LTE)
  • Black or Grey

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6: Specs

  • Available in Cloud Blue, Rose Blush, Mountain Grey
  • 244.5 x 159.5 x 5.7mm
  • 420g
  • 10.5in WQXGA Super AMOLED (1600X2560) display, 287ppi
  • Dual rear-facing camera setup (13 + 5Mp) and 8Mp front-facing camera
  • Qualcomm MSM8998 chipset (2.35GHz + 1.9GHz)
  • 6- or 8GB RAM
  • 128- or 256GB storage, expandable by up to 1TB via microSD
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • USB-C
  • Android P
  • Four-speaker surround sound
  • Redesigned S-Pen with Bluetooth and Wireless Charging
  • Advanced connectivity with Galaxy S10 range
  • In-display fingerprint scanner
  • 7040mAh battery

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