Tab S5e: Light, gorgeous and ready for work and play

Mala Bhargava | Updated on July 03, 2019

Samsung throws up a good, affordable S series tablet that also comes with a detachable keyboard

I’ve been a consistent user of a Samsung top-line tablet for many years. True, I have the iPad, but somehow a Tab S has had its own place in my daily routine and I find myself tempted to go out and buy the newest one each time, except that the older ones haven’t given up on me yet. There’s no word on whether a Galaxy Tab S5 will be coming into India this time, but there’s certainly a Tab S5e, just launched by Samsung.

The Tab S5e is a little narrower and taller than the regular Tab S tablets have been. It has a 10.5-inch display, making it still roughly the size of an A4 paper though not quite the same dimensions. The very first impression as one lifts it out of its box is that it’s really light and thin — which it is. I can vouch for the fact that these tablets do need a protective case as they can fly out of your hand if something knocks into them. I’ve dropped every single one of my tablets over the years though thankfully they didn’t shatter and apart from a scratch on one of them, have continued to work at top speed. The back of the Tab S5e is a premium looking metal which can be in black, silver or gold.

The tablet has as wonderful a screen as you’d expect from a Samsung device, only here, there’s more of it. Very thin bezels frame a bright screen with 2560x1600 pixels per inch in a 16:10 aspect ratio. The screen is a deal-maker reason to buy this tablet because it has strong contrasts and rich colours, perfect for those who want to binge on movies and online content. To go with whatever you decide to watch is a set of quad AKG-tuned speakers, giving loud and deep sound, which is quite nice and doesn’t seem possible from such a thin device. There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack so you’ll need to use an adapter (provided in the box) to make existing headphones compatible.

The tablet uses the Snapdragon 670 chipset, a favourite on mid-range phones, and pairs it with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB storage plus a memory card slot to expand up to 512 GB. This is probably not as generous as it could have been considering phones that cost less have higher specs but it more than does the job for everyday usage. The Tab S5e isn’t meant specifically as a gamer’s device of choice so may not need a lot of power, but it’s sad that it uses specs that are now relegated to budget phones.

Being totally new, the Tab S5e is smooth and lag-free, but only time will tell how the device would fare in the long-term. My Tab S3 seems to have not slowed down at all over the years, but then the processor used there is flagship class. To put things in perspective, the flagship Tab S4 from 2018 costs ₹57,900 and has S-Pen support and when it launched had a processor being used by the top-end phones. If you don’t need to use the stylus and don’t need anything specifically very powerful, the current Tab S5e is worth considering for Rs ₹35,999 for WiFi only or ₹39,999 for WiFi and LTE, while an additional keyboard cover is ₹7,999. Unless you move in on the introductory offer in which you get the keyboard for less than half the price.

Down to work

The Samsung keyboard is in fact recommended because it does add a whole new layer of functionality to the tablet, apart from keeping it safe from damage. It isn’t a brilliant keyboard and a little cramped for everyday use for long work sessions, but one gets accustomed to using it. I find it takes time before I find my equation with it enough to not press two keys or leave out letters while typing at a fast clip. But very soon, I work better with it and have touch-typed articles on it without having to later edit too much. The keyboard is anything but silent, so remember that when using it on a flight or some other quiet place. Otherwise, as a travel companion, the tablet-plus-keyboard is a great option because it’s so light and so ready to be flipped open and used like a little laptop. I’ve often carried the previous Tab S versions with me on trips and barely felt the weight of the device in my bag or backpack and the S5e is even lighter. As soon as you snap on the keyboard, it’s ready to go and first invites you to enable DeX, Samsung’s software to connect your tablet to the screen of say, a computer. You can then use the bigger screen and get some work done. The S-Pen is not something you can use with this tablet though, so that’s one functionality one has to forgo for the more affordable version. The software experience is nice and smooth because Samsung has used their fine-tuned OneUI here on top of Android Pie. One warning however: Samsung doesn’t have a great record with Android updates so one can’t say whether the tab will go to the next level, but again, my previous Tab S is doing fine with Android 8.0.

This tablet comes with a 15 W charger and has a 7,040 mAh battery. In my short time of using it so far, I find it holds up just fine through the day. If you use it lightly, you can even take it safely into the next day. It uses a fingerprint sensor mounted on the power button on the side, which works fine though not at lightning speed as on phones. There’s also face recognition, if one prefers to not have to keep touching the button.

Price: ₹35,999 (WiFi only), ₹39,999 (WiFi+LTE), Keyboard cover is ₹7,999

Pros: The best in tablet displays, good sound, relatively affordable, smooth performance with both software and hardware, light and portable, premium

Cons: Should have had more RAM and storage, maybe a better processor

Published on July 03, 2019

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