Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e full review

If you’re after a good-quality Android tablet, there isn’t a whole lot of choice. Not many companies make them and new models are relatively few and far between. We’re fans of Huawei’s MediaPad M5 but if you want a screen bigger than 8.4in, you’ll probably have to look at Samsung’s Galaxy Tab range.

The latest model is the 10.5in Tab S6, but you’d be forgiven for wondering how it fits into the lineup given that the recent S5e isn’t superior to last year’s Tab S4.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to explain here: the differences between the S6 and the S5e.

Price & Availability

You can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, with shipping expected by 30 August.

The S6 starts at £619/US$649 for the 6GB / 128GB model and there's a step-up 8GB / 256GB version which costs £689/$729. The 4G version adds £70 to the price.

Like the Galaxy S10e, the Tab S5e is a cheaper model, and starts at £379 / $399 for the 4GB / 64GB model and it's £429 / $479 for the 6GB / 128GB version. 

If you fancy the Tab S6, with its S-Pen, but don't want to wait, the Tab S4 is a good alternative but you can also browse our roundup of the best tablets.

Features & Design 

At a glance, you'll be hard-pushed to tell which tablet is which. They both have the same 10.5in AMOLED screen, and a slim bezel. From the rear, though, you'll see which is which because the S6 has two cameras: the same 13Mp as the S5e but an additional 5Mp wide-angle lens. 

And although the S6 also uses a fingerprint scanner (as opposed to the Tab S4's annoying iris scanner) the new model puts it underneath the screen rather than on the side. Neither have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you're reliant on a USB-C converter or Bluetooth headphones. 

The biggest difference, though, is that the S5e doesn't come with a stylus - the S-Pen - which you get with the Tab S6. And as you'll see in our Tab S6 vs Tab S4 comparison, that S-Pen has useful upgrades.

Here's how the three tablets compare for their main specifications.

  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
S-Pen included Yes No Yes
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

Another thing that separates the S6 and S5e are the available colours. Here are your options for the S6, although the blue version is not currently available in the UK, sadly. The S5e comes in silver, black and gold.

Galaxy Tab S6 vs S5e

If you want to - sort of - use your tablet like a laptop, you can pair both tablets with a Keyboard Book Cover. These are not identical, though. As you can see, the S5e's cover doesn't have a trackpad, and the S6's keyboard book cover has some extra keys, too. It's more expensive, though, at $180.

Galaxy Tab S6 vs S5e

Both tablets run Android 9 and Samsung's One UI which offers that desktop experience as well as a customisable Android home screen.

We've mentioned the S-Pen already, but it's worth noting that you cannot use an S-Pen with the Tab S5e.  It isn't simply an optional extra: the S5e's capacitive touchscreen doesn't have the necessary hardware to work with the S-Pen.

Performance is the final area where these two tablets differ. Most of the internal hardware is the same - Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc. - but the S6 has a Snapdragon 855 which is a lot more powerful than the midrange Snapdragon 670 chip in the S5e.

If you go for the top-end S6 with 8GB of RAM, you'll have a much better time when running lots of app and switching between them than on the S5e.

Early Verdict

As we've yet to run our benchmarks on the S6 and fully test it out, we can't quite give a definitive verdict. However, based on features, price and specs, the Tab S6 is clearly superior to the S5e. That doesn't automatically make it the better buy: if you don't need the S-Pen, extra performance or any of the Tab S6's other extras, then the S5e will be better value. It's more suited to entertainment rather than a laptop replacement, although you may find that 10.5in screen a little to small - along with the corresponding keyboard - for comfort compared to, say, a 13in laptop.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e: Specs

  • OS: Android 9.0 with One UI 1.1
  • 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)

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

Click here for the best Samsung deals and Samsung voucher codes.