Android tablets have fallen far behind the iPad in terms of support and app availability — Google hasn’t even released a tablet since 2015. That hasn’t stopped Samsung from rolling out the occasional Android-powered slate. The super-premium Tab S4 arrived last year, and now Samsung has a new midrange tablet: the $400 Galaxy Tab S5e. It’s not as fast, but it is impressively thin and light.
The Tab S5e is almost identical to the Tab S4 with a 10.5-inch 2560×1600 OLED. Samsung is the only manufacturer making tablets with OLEDs, and they look fantastic. However, the Tab S5e won’t work with the company’s S Pen stylus, which is bundled with the Tab S4. Even if you buy an S Pen separately, the Tab S5e lacks a digitizer to enable the pen.
Samsung also talks up the tablet’s speakers — there are four of them with support for Dolby Atmos. It managed to cram those four speakers into an incredibly slim 5.5mm metal chassis. The entire tablet only weighs 400g. Making the tablet that thin also comes with a drawback: there’s no headphone jack. You can at least use the included Type-C to 3.5mm adapter to plug in your headphones if you’re not a fan of Bluetooth.
The Galaxy Tab S5e will run on a Snapdragon 670 chip (the Tab S4 is an 845), which is one of Qualcomm’s “premium” midrange designs. It has eight Kryo 360 CPU cores clocked at up to 2GHz and an Adreno 616 GPU. There’s also a 7,040mAh battery, 64GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM. It splits the difference between budget tablets in the $200 range and the Tab S4 at $650. It will also ship with Android 9 Pie.
Samsung also has DeX bundled with this tablet. That means you can fire up a desktop-like interface to use apps in windows. That helps a little bit with the lack of tablet apps on Android, but DeX is less touch-friendly. Samsung also cautions that the Tab S4 is more suited for heavy multitasking. It’ll still sell you a pricey keyboard dock for the tab S5e if you want.
The real question is whether Samsung is going to see any traction with this device versus the iPad. You can get Apple’s tablet for as little as $329 now, and the app ecosystem clearly favors Apple on the tablet side. We’ll find out when the Galaxy Tab S5e launches in the second quarter of this year.
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