For the year 2019, Samsung is shaking up its first-party tablet range. The Galaxy Tab S series has been extended to include a new "essential" mid-range tablet. So can the new Galaxy Tab S5e actually combine all the essential functions of a tablet into an affordable package? We were able to begin to answer that question with our first hands-on.
The cheapest S-model tablet you can buy
It gets a little more complicated when you look at the new pricing structure of Samsung's tablets. Last year in the premium range Samsung only had the Galaxy Tab S4. If you didn't want to pay more than $650 for a tablet or didn't need all the features of a flagship slate, you had to reach for the Galaxy Tab A (2018) models, which were priced at 270 euros ($300) (Wi-Fi) or 339 euros ($380) (LTE). There was no middle ground between these two Samsung tablet worlds...until now! With the Galaxy Tab S5e, which cost 419 euros ($470) and 479 euros ($540) respectively, Samsung has closed the gap.
Just like the new entry-level model, the Galaxy Tab A 2019, Samsung has scheduled European availability of the Tab S5e for April 5. Buy in the pre-order phase, which begins on 14 March, and you'll get a pair of AKG Bluetooth Y500 on-ear headphones, in blue, worth 150 euros free of charge.
In the US the base model Tab S5e will start at $399 with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. A 6GB/128GB version will also be available for $479. Both will be available in the second quarter of 2019.
Incredibly thin and light
When the Galaxy Tab S5e was introduced, it sounded like marketing talk again. The Tab S5e is one of the lightest and thinnest tablets on the market. Despite this fact, it is only when you hold it in your hand that you realize how thin and light the tablet really is. The Tab S5e is only 5.5mm thick and weighs only 400 grams.
Of course, there will certainly be a thinner and lighter Android tablet somewhere in the world, but combined with the high-quality appearance of the Galaxy Tab S5e, I personally have not yet been held a tablet that features this combination of quality and sleekness.
This new lightness, however, is offset by a drawback. Because of the very low overall height, the headphone jack has been sacrificed. So you have to go down the dongle route, or buy a new headset and use Bluetooth if you don't already own one. In addition, a fingerprint sensor has been implemented in the side power button, but you are not forced to use it since the new tablet can also be unlocked with the help of facial recognition.
A display that brings a touch of premium quality
While the Galaxy Tab A 2019 still manages with a TFT-LCD panel, the Tab S5e has Super AMOLED display which is a treat for the eyes of users. The display is not only easy on the eye, but also contributes to the fact that the tablet is only 5.5mm thin. Samsung has eliminated the space which would normally be required between the glass and the display panel.
If you want to use the Galaxy S5e as a device for work instead of a notebook, you'll be happy to hear that Samsung has given the Galaxy Tab S5e DeX capability as well. So if you connect the tablet to a monitor with a USB-C to HDMI cable, you can activate a desktop display.
OneUI including Bixby
When it comes to software, the Galaxy Tab S5e comes with Samsung's OneUI for tablets. Compared to the Galaxy Tab A variant, however, the S5e can still use Bixby Home with Smart Things integration. Why this can't be found in the cheaper model, also, lies in the fact that the Tab S5e is equipped with far-field microphones, so that Bixby Voice can also be used. Both the microphones and Bixby Voice are not available for the Galaxy Tab A 2019.
Thanks to Bixby Home and the Smart Things integration, owners of a Galaxy Tab S5e will in future also be able to use the tablet as a control center for their smart homes. The advantage of the S5e is that you don't have to open an app. Thanks to Bixby Voice, you can also manage your home with your voice.
A mid-range engine in a premium chassis
The Tab S5e gives the impression of being a premium tablet in terms of look, feel and display quality. But on the inside, the story is a little different when it comes to power. Samsung uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 SoC with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 512GB.
Four speakers for a tablet-hallelujah
In terms of audio, Samsung relies on AKG's know-how. Even with the Galaxy Tab S4, the audio engineers were allowed to help, but only at a late stage of development. With the Galaxy Tab S5e, Samsung got AKG technicians involved in the development earlier. Samsung also makes this clear on the back of the tablet, with the words "Sound by AKG" instead of the old "Tuned by AKG". The quality and volume of the four loudspeakers integrated into the tablet was quite convincing in my first "listening test".
Cameras for video chats and facial recognition
Oh yes, there was something else: the Galaxy Tab S5e has two cameras. A 5-megapixel unit sits on the front, which is not only used for selfies but also for video chats and for the already mentioned facial recognition. The rear main camera has an image sensor with a 13MP resolution. Both should be useful for photos and selfies in good lighting conditions, but certainly nothing more than that.
Enough battery for more than 14 hours of cinema experience
With the battery, or rather the capacity, there was a little surprise: Samsung squeezed 7,040 mAh into the 5.5mm thick tablet. According to the Korean manufacturer, this should offer the user a maximum runtime of up to 14.5 hours. That's enough to enjoy any blockbuster trilogy back-to-back, off one battery charge. If the battery actually runs out, it can be completely charged via USB-C with fast charging in 3 hours and 10 minutes.
Additionally, there is the option to charge the tablet with the optionally available Pogo Stand in landscape mode via pogo pins. In this case, however, the maximum charging time is 290 minutes. The pins are not only useful for the stand, it also makes contact to the optional available keyboard cover.
The Galaxy Tab S5e can also be a practical helper in times of need thanks to reverse charging. If one of your electronic devices runs out of power, such as your smartphone, the Galaxy Tab S5e can serve as a power bank.
The Galaxy Tab S5e is intended for those Android users who don't necessarily need the fastest processor and graphical performance, but are still looking for a premium device. Samsung has actually improved the Galaxy Tab S5e by removing some of the weak points of last year's Tab S4. The back of the glass has been replaced with an aluminium unibody case so that it is easier to grip.
In addition, the fingerprint sensor is an alternative to face unlocking and, above all, there is now an inexpensive premium tablet in the range for those who want more for less money. Let's see if the market accepts the Galaxy Tab S5e, or if it ends up being a flash in the pan.