Android tablets may not be the most exciting market nowadays, but Samsung has seen moderate success and is set to expand its lineup with a new mid-range entrant, the Galaxy Tab S5e. The naming scheme is a bit confusing, but the Tab S5e isn’t actually a successor to the Galaxy Tab S4 — it’s a mid-range counterpart that slots in above the entry-level Tab A series but below the Tab S4 that will stay on the market as the flagship Samsung tablet.
Right from the start, the Tab S5e addresses an entirely different market segment by starting at $399, versus the Tab S4 at $649. But even at a lower price, the Tab S5e has the same 10.5-inch 2560×1600 AMOLED display, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (a 6GB + 128GB model will cost $479). It also incorporates the same quad speakers with surround sound and automatic rotation, but goes back to a traditional fingerprint sensor in the power button — I consider that an upgrade.
On the downside, the Tab S5e is powered by a less-capable Snapdragon 670 processor, which will considerably limit your multitasking capabilities compared to the Tab S4. It also has a slightly smaller battery, coming in at 7040mAh compared to 7300mAh. That manifests itself in size and weight, where the Tab S5e is spectacular: it’s just 5.5 mm thick, and weighs only 399 g (0.88 lb). Part of that weight savings comes from an all-aluminum body (available in three colors), which many people will already see as an improvement over a big glass pane on the back. That thickness has necessitated the removal of the headphone jack, though — you’ll be using Bluetooth or the included USB-C adapter instead.
Even with a lower-end processor, Samsung still positions the Tab S5e as a tablet capable of pulling double-duty as a light productivity device with the addition of a full-sized keyboard attachment ($129 extra) and DeX mode. Capabilities-wise it aligns perfectly with the Tab S4, but obviously you can expect to face speed issues when running several apps simultaneously in the heavier DeX environment. Even still, the ability have a full keyboard (and mouse if you wish) on a less-expensive tablet will make this an appealing convertible option for those who need to type regularly but don’t need all of the advanced features of the Tab S4. Along those same lines, the Tab S5e doesn’t offer stylus support — not a huge loss for most people.
With this price and level of capabilities, the Tab S5e could be a relative hit.
One final positive of the Tab S5e is that it’s launching on Android 9 Pie with the new One UI interface, which will match it up with the Galaxy S10 from the start. And it has the feature you were all waiting for: the Tab S5e is the first Samsung tablet with Bixby. In fact, it’s the new Bixby 2.0 interface for both Bixby Home and voice controls. Samsung is also planning a charging dock, which will cost about $129, that could open up further possibilities with Bixby voice.
The Tab S5e will be available in the second quarter, and with this price and these capabilities I expect it to be a (relative) hit. The Tab S4 is downright expensive, but some people are looking to get some of that experience for less and currently can’t with other lower-end tablet offerings. The Tab S5e should walk a good line between the two extremes and provide a solid experience with quality hardware and a keyboard for what’s still a relatively affordable price. Expect to see the Tab S5e at all of the usual online retailers at launch; LTE models will arrive later via carriers.
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