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Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e review: A slim tablet with decent performance

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e

While tablets aren’t as popular as they used to be, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is a great option for both business or home use.

9.1/10 average rating

While you may not see them often, there are a few companies that still make tablets outside of Apple. Samsung is one such company that has been making tablets for years. Even though smartphones are getting larger and folding screens are on the horizon, there are still those who prefer tablets to Chromebooks or laptops. Our Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e review takes a look at one of the latest offerings from the company. Read on for our full review!

Specifications

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e has the following features and specifications:

  • Processor: 2GHz/1.75GHz Octa-Core
  • Display: 10.5″ 2560×1600 (WQXGA) Super AMOLED
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB or 128GB, MicroSD card slot (up to 512GB)
  • Camera
    • Rear camera: 13.0MP, auto-focus, no flash
    • Front camera: 8.0MP, no flash
    • Video recording: UHD 4K (3840 x 2160)@30fps
  • Connectivity: USB Type-C, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4G+5GHz, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth v5.0 LE, ANT+
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, RGB Light Sensor
  • Battery: 7040mAh
    • Internet Usage Time (Wi-Fi): Up to 9 hours
    • Video Playback Time: Up to 15 hours
    • Audio Playback Time: Up to 161 hours
  • OS: Android 9 with ONE UI 1.1
  • Dimensions: 245 x 160 x 5.5mm (9.65 x 6.3 x 0.22 inches)
  • Weight: 400g (0.88lb)

What’s in the box

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e Android tablet
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • Travel Adapter

Design

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is one slim and sexy looking tablet. At only 5mm (0.22 inches) thick, it’s definitely thin and lightweight. The sides and back aluminum shell is finished in a dark gunmetal grey colour. The Samsung logo is engraved and centered on the back in black and the words “Sound by AKG” are printed near the bottom.

Back of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e tablet
Back of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e tablet.

When held vertically, the right side of the tablet is where you’ll find the power button (which doubles as a fingerprint scanner) and volume rocker in the top third section. A removable tray in the bottom third of the right side houses the microSD card slot. The left side of the tablet has a connector pin area for the optional keyboard, as well as two indents to help hold it in place. Unfortunately, we were unable to review that with the tablet. We would have loved to as I’m sure it would have helped showcase how productive one really could be with this tablet, especially on the go.

There are four speaker grilles located on the top and bottom edge of the tablet, two apiece. Centered on the bottom of the tablet is the lone port — USB Type-C to be precise. The port acts as a charging and data transfer port, as well as a headphone jack for USB-C headphones. This is just the latest in a growing number of devices that are ditching the familiar 3.5mm headphone jack.

USB-C and two of the four speaker grilles on the bottom of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e tablet
USB-C and two of the four speaker grilles on the bottom of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e tablet.

As far as build quality is concerned, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e feels sturdy. As well, it is easy to hold in one or two hands and is extremely light (only 400g/0.88lb), allowing for long term use without hand or wrist fatigue.

Display

Samsung displays are some of the best and the 10.5″ 2560×1600 WQXGA Super AMOLED display on the Galaxy Tab S5e is no different. The resolution is great for this size of screen with everything being readable and crisp at the default settings. As far as colour settings go, you can choose from AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo, Basic, and Adaptive display with further customization. The Tab S5e also includes a Night (dark) Mode which can be turned on or set to coincide with the sunset/sunrise.

The display on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
The display on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is bright, vivid, and crisp.

When using the tablet to browse the web or do some quick typing (it is a nice size for writing up articles and whatnot), as mentioned above, text is readable and crisp. The colours and resolution is also great for watching videos and playing games.

Software

The Galaxy Tab S5e runs Android 9 with Samsung’s One UI version 1.1 running on top. The tablet comes with a fair number of pre-installed apps including Samsung’s versions of popular Google apps. These apps include including Gallery, Clock, Contacts, Samsung Notes, and the like.

Access to both the Google Play Store and the Galaxy Store provides access to a large library of games and apps, although there is a lot of overlap between the two.

As far as biometric security, the tablet has face unlock and a fingerprint scanner in the power button. Both work equally well and the only time I encountered any issues with unlocking the tablet was with the face unlock in dimly conditions. Face unlock was quick and the fingerprint scanner worked quickly as well, even given its reduced scanning area.

The power button on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e doubles as a fingerprint scanner
The power button on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e doubles as a fingerprint scanner.

As mentioned in our recent Samsung Galaxy Note10+ review, the Galaxy Tab S5e also includes Bixby support and the Game Launcher app. Unfortunately, Bixby wasn’t working properly on our pre-production unit. As the Bixby functionality was released as an update after release, some of the review units require a full OEM wipe in order to properly update. Again, the Game Launcher app is one of my favourite Samsung apps as mentioned in the Note10+ review:

One of my favourite apps was the Game Launcher. Typically, I place all my games in a folder on my home screen. Game Launcher auto-detects your games and puts them in one easy to access location. The launcher also tracks your play time, offers up YouTube search results, and shows you the average Galaxy gamer play timer for said games. It even has a list of most played games by other Samsung Galaxy owners so you can easily discover new and popular games to play.

As far as updates go, Googling indicates that the August security update is the latest available. While not the most recent, a few months past is better than nothing.

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e tablet performs well for browsing and word processing. Typing with the onscreen keyboard is decent enough, in fact, most of this review was typed up on the tablet. That being said, if you’re planning on doing a lot of typing with this tablet, you’ll want to invest in the optional keyboard. As mentioned previous, it would have been nice to have been able to review the tablet with the optional keyboard as I’m sure it would only have amplified the productivity aspect of this tablet.

Apps and games load relatively quick, as does switching between recent apps. During our testing period, I had no issues with any apps stuttering or slowing down while using them, even with multiple apps in the recents tab.

Gaming is a mixed bag on the tablet though, and likely holds true for gaming on any larger tablet. While every game we tested loaded quickly and ran fine, simpler games like Angry Birds or those with tilt controls were easier to play. Games with more complex and spread out controls like Call of Duty: Mobile or Mobile Legends: Bang Bang were on the unwieldy side to control and play initially. Depending on the game, it did get easier the more you played but still felt a tad more difficult than a smaller device like a smartphone. At times, a couple of games were a bit laggy while playing which is a big concern if you’re playing multiplayer games.

Sound Quality

This is usually one of my least favourite sections when it comes to smartphones and tablets. I was optimistic when I saw that the Galaxy Tab S5e has four speaker grilles, and that optimism was rewarded when I fired up Transformers from Google Play Movies. The sound on this tablet, powered by AKG, is simply some of the best sound I’ve heard from a tablet. While there isn’t the earth-shattering bass that you get with a set of headphones, there was definitely enough that I didn’t mind watching a movie with the onboard sound and speakers. Usually, I end up reaching for my headphones for better a better sound stage.

One of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e's four speakers
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e features four speakers, two on the top and two on the bottom.

Coupled with the AKG sound, the Tab S5e also supports Dolby Atmos. It can be toggled on or off or set to Auto, Movie, Music, or Voice. When off, you can definitely tell a difference. As for the different modes, there was minor differences but not a lot and I left it on the Auto setting for the most part.

Camera

While smartphone cameras have been improving almost to the quality of a handheld camera, tablets haven’t been keeping pace. The Galaxy Tab S5e has a single 13MP rear shooter, with no flash, and a single 8MP front shooter. While they both do in a pinch, you’re still going to get a better picture from most smartphones. Not to mention, it’s pretty unwieldy to take a photo with such a large device.

100% crop of a photo from the rear-facing camera on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
100% crop of a photo from the rear-facing camera on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e.

Battery Life

Samsung claims up to 9 hours of battery life when browsing the internet on Wi-Fi and up to 15 hours while watching video. As is the case, depending on what you are doing, battery life will vary. During our testing, we saw as low as 7 hours and as high as 12 hours on a single charge. The 7 hours was a pretty gaming intensive session with some browsing and video watching while the longer session was more internet browsing with some word editing, watching a movie, and streaming music.

The Tab S5e also features quick charging so it does charge pretty quickly once the battery is depleted.

Accessories

While we didn’t test them, and thus won’t be rating this section, Samsung makes a Book Cover and Book Cover Keyboard for the Galaxy Tab S5e. Personally, I would have loved to test the tablet with the keyboard cover as I’m sure it would increase the functionality and value of the tablet.

Price/Value

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e comes in three models: 64GB, 128GB, and an LTE version. Retail pricing is set at US$399.99/CA$549.99, US$479.99/CA$649.99, and US$479.99 respectively. Unfortunately, the LTE model isn’t available for purchase in Canada.

While that may seem pricey, it is cheaper than an iPad and for the performance, screen, and battery life, the Tab S5e does offer pretty decent value for the price.

Of course, you’re going to want to pick up at least a Book Cover for US$69.99/CA$99.99 to protect your purchase. If you want more functionality, the Book Cover Keyboard will set you back US$129.99/CA$199.99.

As a bonus, the Tab S5e is currently CA$50-$100 off and if you purchase it before January 5th, Samsung will discount a pair of Black AKG Y500 Headphones down to CA$79.99 (regular $199.99). There currently is no sale on in the U.S. but Samsung is throwing in a free book cover with the purchase of a tablet.

Wrap-up

While tablets aren’t as popular as they used to be, if you’re in the market for one the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is a great option for both business or home use.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e

US$399.99+/ CA$549.99+

Design

9.0/10

Display

9.5/10

Software

9.0/10

Performance

9.5/10

Sound Quality

9.0/10

Camera

8.5/10

Battery Life

9.0/10

Price/Value

9.0/10

Nailed it

  • Slim design
  • Great screen
  • Great sound for a tablet
  • Decent battery life
  • Optional Book Cover/Book Cover Keyboard available

Needs work

  • No headphone jack
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