iPad Air (2019) vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e full review

There's a new iPad Air for 2019 so we thought it best to take a look at how is compares to Samsung's Galaxy tablets, the Galaxy Tab S4 and Tab S5e. Here we see how they're different in price, design and specs.

Although there's a new iPad Mini also, we're focusing on the iPad Air here since it's a full-size tablet like the Galaxy Tabs. Read our Galaxy Tab S4 review is still a worthy challenger.

Price

The Galaxy Tab S4 might be from last year but it still costs £599/$650 from Samsung. That makes it the most expensive here despite the Tab S5e being the new model. 

Having the 'e' on the end is a signal that the specs you get a lower, hence the more affordable price of $399 - we're still waiting on UK pricing.

It's worth noting that it's particularly hard to find the higher capacity storage models for Samsung devices in the UK.

The iPad Air sits in the middle here on price at £479/$499 but you have to bear in mind that Apple doesn't include the Pencil but the Tab S4 does come with an S Pen. The Apple Pencil, if you want one, is £89/$99. Order from Apple.

On both sides of the fence you'll need to splash out on the accompanying keyboard case if you want a laptop-like experience - which is sort of the point with these tablets. Samsung's Book Cover is £119/$149 and the Apple Smart Keyboard is £159/$159.

You can see the new pricing structure below:

  iPad Air (2019) Galaxy Tab S4 Galaxy Tab S5e
64GB £479/$499 £599/$650 $399
128GB - - TBC
256GB £629/$649 £699/$750 -

To avoid complicating the table, we've stuck to Wi-Fi only models rather than including the 4G cellular options. Add on around £150/$150 for that. 

Design & Build

When it comes to design, the  Galaxy Tab S5e and iPad Air are pretty similar with metal bodies. Meanwhile, the Tab S4 (below) has a glass back which might look nice but is slippery, attracts fingerprint marks and is at risk of cracking.

Galaxy Tab S4 design

One small but important thing here is that the Tab S5e is the only one without an headphone jack. An adapter is included in the box but that might not enough of a fix for you.

On the plus side, it means the Tab S5e is the thinnest and lightest tablet here by some margin. The iPad Air beats the Tab S4 in this respect. 

It's also worth noting that the iPad Air and Tab S5e have fingerprint scanners, while the Tab S4 relies on facial scanning. Smaller bezels on the S5e mean that it's mounted on the side.

All three have metal connectors so you can attach accessories like a keyboard cover for a laptop-like experience. These are option extras, mind.

When it comes to colours the Tab S4 is just available in black or grey. The Tab S5e (below) and iPad Air are both available in three colors: silver and gold with then either a black or grey option respectively.

Galaxy Tab S5e

Specs & Features

We've left the iPad mini out of this comparison because it has a smaller screen. These three tablets are all 10.5in which is a modern full-size device.

The iPad Air is a little behind on pixel density but a more important difference is that it uses a 3:2 aspect ratio while Samsung opts for 16:10. There's no right or wrong here, they just work better for various tasks. For example, watching films and TV will be more suited to the widescreen aspect ratio of the Galaxy Tabs.

You can use the Apple Pencil with the iPad Air's screen if you are prepared to buy it, but the Tab S4 comes with an S Pen. There's no stylus support for the Tab S5e.

iPad Air 2019

In terms of core specs, the Tab S4 and iPad Air are closely matched on things like processor and storage. Just bear in mind that only Samsung offers a microSD card slot here. The Tab S5e might have less storage at its higher capacity but is cheaper and the 128GB model comes with a decent 6GB of RAM.

Cameras shouldn't sway your decision much but the Galaxy Tabs have higher resolution sensors at the front and back. They also have a four-speaker system while the iPad Air has two, but as mentioned earlier, the Tab S5e lacks a headphone port.

Battery life is a more important area and based on manufacturer figures, the iPad Air is a little lacking here but we've found iPads in the past to last very well. 

What's hugely important here is whether you opt for iOS or Android. Which is the right one for you depends on a number of factors including your personal experience and needs. If you're a long time user of either operating system and you're happy with it then you should probably stay loyal.

Galaxy Tab S4 DeX

Samsung offers its DeX software (desktop experience) which is a little like having Windows on Android. The iPad Air has iOS 12 which has features like the ability to run apps side-by-side (similar to Android). If nothing else, this is a more affordable option if the iPad Pro is too expensive.

Here's a full specs table comparing all the iPad Air (2019), Galaxy Tab S4 and Tab S5e:

  iPad Air (2019) Galaxy Tab S4 Galaxy Tab S5e
Display 10.5in Retina display, 264ppi 10.5in AMOLED, 287ppi 10.5in AMOLED, 287ppi
Processor A12 Snapdragon 835 Snapdragon 670
RAM Unknown 4GB 4/6GB
Storage 64/256GB 64/256GB - expandable 64/128GB - expandable
Cameras 8Mp rear, 7Mp front 13Mp rear, 8Mp front 13Mp rear, 8Mp front
Operating system iOS 12 Android 8 Oreo Android 9 Pie
Connectivity Lightning port USB-C USB-C
Biometrics Touch ID Iris scanner Fingerprint sensor
Speakers Four Four Four
Headphone jack Yes Yes No
Stylus Optional  S Pen included No
Battery 10 hours video 16 hours video 14.5 hours video
Dimensions 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1mm 249.3 x 164.3 x 7.1 mm 245 x 160 x 5.5mm
Weight (Wi-Fi) 456g 482g 400g

Verdict

In terms of value for money, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e wins hands-down here with the best balance of cost, design and specs. However, it might be off your list due to the lack of headphone jack or its lower grade processor.

The iPad Air is similar to previous models but now has Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard support - although those are fairly expensive extras.

We'd avoid the Galaxy Tab S4, despite it's impressive specs. It's very expensive and there's likely to be a proper Galaxy Tab S5 in the next few months to replace it.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e: Specs

  • OS: Android 9.0
  • Display: 10.5in WQXGA Super AMOLED, 287ppi
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 Octa-core processor (2×2.0 GHz & 6×1.7 GHz)
  • Memory: 4/6GB
  • Storage: 64/128GB + microSD up to 512GB
  • Cameras: 13Mp rear, 8Mp front
  • Ports: USB3.1 (Type C), POGO (Type-C headset connector Provided)
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, RGB Light Sensor
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4G+5GHz, VHT80 MU-MIMO, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth v5.0 GPS, Glonass, Beidou, Galileo
  • Audio: 4 speakers sound by AKG, Dolby Atmos
  • Battery: 7,040mAh, Fast Charging, 14.5 hours video playback
  • Dimensions: 245.0 x 160.0 x 5.5mm
  • Weight: 400g
  • Accessories: Book cover Keyboard, POGO Charging Dock, Slim cover, Book cover (not included)

iPad Air (2019): Specs

  • A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine and M12 coprocessor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 64GB/256GB storage
  • 10.5in laminated 'Retina' screen, 2224 x 1668 resolution at 264ppi, 500 nits brightness, True Tone, supports Apple Pencil
  • 8Mp rear camera, f/2.4, 1080p HD video, Slo-mo (120 fps), Live Photos
  • 7Mp front camera, f/2.2, 1080p HD video at 30 fps, Retina Flash
  • 30.2Wh rechargeable battery: claimed battery life 10 hours on Wi-Fi
  • Stereo speakers, dual microphones, 3.5mm headphone jack, Lightning port
  • Wi?Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit-class LTE, Nano-Sim and eSIM
  • 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1mm
  • 456g/464g (Wi-Fi/cellular)

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

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