The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is by far the best Android tablet on the market, but it's smaller sibling, the S6 Lite isn't bad either.
*Both the Samsung Tab S6 and S6 Lite was reviewed using hardware provided and sent to us by Samsung/EE, but in no way influenced the review.
Galaxy Tab S6
For a long time, Apple has been the dominant leader when it comes to tablets for the more professional market, as the majority of tablet owners have them to keep their kids quiet, or to simply browse social media - there are countless tablets available to this market, but for serious users, Apple's iPad Pro range have been the go to devices for a very long time.
This makes the Galaxy Tab S6 carry a tremendous weight, as these are the people old Sammy are targeting, and high price not withstanding, this is by far the best Android tablet available.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 has been available since late August 2019, with prices starting from £689 for the base 6GB RAM/128GB storage Wi-Fi model, whilst the LTE model with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM will run you an expensive £759 and means you'd be a fool to hand this over to your kids to chew on.
However, compare these prices to Apple’s iPad Pro range, and the S6's 256GB model looks good at £759, as the iPad Pro's 256GB model is a whopping £1,069 - and that's without the £119 for the Apple Pencil. All of the S6 models include the new and improved S Pen, so in comparison, it's a good £400+ savings.
You will however have to pay extra for Samsung's keyboard cover, just as you do with Apple's version.
The S Pen has always been something that's been more than an afterthought, with Samsung building the device into it's Note line, and it's had the same treatment here. There is a hollowed out groove on the back of the S6, which has a magnetised strip where the S Pen latches on. It's quite a sturdy magnet, although I did manage to knock it off a few times. The Tab S6 recharges its S Pen when it’s locked in place, with a complete refill from empty taking 90 minutes.
Whilst I wasn't sent the official Tab S6 case, I purchased a (much cheaper) case from Amazon, and it includes a housing that keeps the S Pen secure - something that is absolutely essential if you're moving it around a lot for work.
I've been a big fan of the S Pen for a number of years, and Samsung is an expert at stylus technology, and the 10.5-inch Galaxy Tab S6 display makes for a wonderful canvas for this versatile tool. The Tab S6 has replaced my Microsoft Surface for digital art, and whilst I still prefer the artist app Leonado on Windows, ArtFlow has been a really great replacement app, and at just £4.99, it's far cheaper than Leonado's £39. asking price. The S Pen works fantastically, and the Tab S6 is a joy to work with, and after some warm up sketches and navigating ArtFlow, I started a John Wick piece, which I spent a few hours on:
Whilst I still don't think ArtFlow is as intuitive use compared to Leonado, it's still a brilliant app for artists, and more importantly - the Tab S6 is a fantastic tool for digital art.
The Apple Pencil is still the better stylus, but the S Pen isn't far off, and as the Apple Pencil is £119, we'd like to think that the S Pen shouldn't be better of the two.
Design and Display
When it comes to all-around design, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 isn't the most original, but it's still a gorgeous slab of glass and metal.
The first thing you'll notice is the gorgeous 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a 1600 x 2560 resolution and 287ppi. It's an impressively vibrant display with excellent contrast (including HDR10+ certification) and deep, rich blacks. It is honestly a beautiful display, with vibrant colors no matter what content you're using it for.
My biggest criticism of the display, is the paltry 60hz refresh rate - a device of this price should be 90hz or 120hz (the iPad Pro rocks a brilliant 120hz display). Whilst the 60hz works fine, if you're used to using a phone with a higher refresh rate, you'll instantly notice.
The outside of the Tab S6 is a sleek metal affair, and feels good in the hands, although it is a tad slippery. There's a good amount of heft to it, but not as heavy as the iPad Pro.
The screen also holds an in-display fingerprint sensor, but it's not the fastest on the market. It's a great way to trim the fat from a bezel, but it's still faster to unlock using facial recognition.
The S6 also has four tremendously good AKG-tuned speakers, but there is no 3.5mm headphone jack, so bluetooth headphones it is.
(If you're curious what bluetooth headphones we recommend, check out our AKG Y500 Wireless Headphones review)
Battery and Camera
Samsung has estimated that the Galaxy Tab S6 is good for 14 hours of usage, and through the rigorous testing, I got a good full day out of it.
The cameras on the Tab S6 are fine, we're never blown away by a tablets cameras, and nor would I want to be (if you're using your tablet for photography, you're a criminal to the camera world!) but the option is nice to have. Surprisingly, the rear of the Tab S6 has a twin set up of a 13MP f/2.0 main sensor paired with a 5-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide back-up, which compared to most smartphones isn't anything to get excited about, but on a tablet that's quite the advancement. Again, I don't recommend using it for wedding photos or anything of the sort, but it's by far not the worst camera on a tablet.
There's an 8MP camera on the front, but I really hope this is just used for unlocking the device and video calling - please, no selfies with a tablet, it's ridiculous.
Performance and Interface
Samsung has fitted the Tab S6 with the Snapdragon 855, which makes it an incredibly fast device - perfect for gaming and even editing, with apps like Photoshop and video editors working really well.
On the interface side, the Tab S6 is currently sporting One UI version 2.1, based on Android 10. Whilst this is still a Samsung overlay, it's the cleanest they've done so far (long gone is the clunky style of TouchWiz) and navigating is smooth and intuitive, and doesn't come with a tremendous amount of bloatware.
There is no denying the Tab S6 is the most powerfull, all-around Android tablet at the moment, and the 10.5 Super AMOLED display is exceptional when watching video content, whilst the four AKG Speakers make movies sound great.
Samsung Tab S6 Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is a fantastic device, and is undoubtedly the best Android tablet on the market, but it's high price means it's solely aimed at professionals, who may already have an iPad Pro.
Those in the market for the best Android tablet however, should look directly at the Tab S6 - it's sleek, powerful and packs a punch on all accounts.
Galaxy Tab S6 Lite - Mini Review
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is far more affordable version of the premium Tab S6, but it doesn’t feel like a trimmed down version - this is it's own thing, and sits well in the Tab S family, and at £349 for the 64GB version and £399 for the 128GB, it's definitely more affordable than the premium Tab S6.
The tablet feels durable, with small bezels and a solid rear that feels sturdy enough to survive hard knocks (but still, don't drop it). there's also a 3.5mm headphone jack, unlike it's premium big brother, and many will appreciate the inclusion.
As with the Tab S6, the S5 Lite comes with the S Pen included, and whilst this version isn't quite as responsive as the Tab S6's, it's still a great tool for note taking and the like.
Unlike it's older brother, the S6 Lite doesn't have a hollowed out groove for storage, instead it magnetizes to the side of the device.
Design and Display
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite comes with a 10.4-inch LCD screen with a 2000 x 1200 resolution. Whilst that is only 0.1 inches smaller than the non-Lite tablet, the lack of the higher-resolution AMOLED panel is a huge sacrifice of this budget tablet.
Upon saying that, the screen quality is good for LCD – it’s bright, and easy to view even when you’re outdoors, but comparing the two it's incredibly noticeable.
There's a really good low screen-to-body ratio which means the device has a good amount of screen without feeling overly large in the hand.
A surprise for such an affordable tablet is the inclusion of a USB-C port - as most 'cheaper' tablets have micro USB - so you get access to faster file transfers and much faster charging.
Battery and Camera
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is powered by a 7,040mAh battery, which easily lasted a day of typical use. There is 15W fast charging, which isn't the fastest, but unless you're really pushing the device, you should be able to get away with charging it overnight.
There's an 8MP snapper on the rear and a 5MP up front, they're really nothing to write home about, but for video calling and the like they do just fine.
Whilst the cameras aren't great (as with all tablets) the included amount of different modes available for selfies will be a pleasant surprise for many, including Live Focus mode, which lets you edit the background of a picture once you’ve taken it and AR Doodle, which lets you use the S Pen to draw over your face in real time,.
But please, don't be a tablet selfie user.
Performance and Interface
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite runs on the Exynos 9611 chipset, which is found in a number of mid-range and affordable phones like the Galaxy A51 and Galaxy A50s. This is paired with 4GB RAM, and if you're not doing anything too demanding, it runs well. There are lots of really well optimised games avaible on the Play Store, but anything too demanding will result in the odd bit of lag here and there.
The Tab S6 Lite is currently sporting Android 10, with the same One UI as the premium Tab S6, but every now and then there are a few hiccups with navigation - nothing major, but the Exynos 9611 is far slower than the Snapdragon 855.
Samsung Tab S6 Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a great affordable tablet, and the included S Pen makes it a really solid purchase. However, the Exynos 9611 chipset makes the device really sluggish compared to the premium version.
If you're after a powerhouse, then the premium Galaxy Tab S6 is your better option, but if you just want a stylish, feature packed and affordable tablet, the Tab S6 Lite is a good choice.