The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is a new Android tablet that has quite a lot to offer. Even though it’s not a super high-end tablet with prices starting at 399 US Dollars, it has tons of premium features. Among those are a very pretty 10.5-inch Super AMOLED screen, a super slim full metal body, and a Snapdragon 670 octa-core chipset. Well, should you get it? That’s what you’ll find out in this Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e review.
Design & Build Quality
To begin with, let’s check out its design and build quality. This is a major highlight of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e because it is one of very few Samsung tablets to ever ship with a full metal body. While that is great and makes it feel very high-end, it gets even better. In fact, with just 5.5mm it is the thinnest tablet I’ve ever seen. That makes it thinner than the 5.9mm iPad Pro.
At the same time, it weighs just 400g which is super light for a tablet of this size. 10-inch tablets can often get a bit heavy after a while. When you’re reading a book or are surfing the web, you’ll be able to hold it in just one hand much longer.
Other aspects of the design are great too. Its black bezels around the screen are very slim and I think it looks modern.
We get a power button and volume controls on the right side. There is a fingerprint scanner built into the power button and that’s great. The fingerprint sensor works very fast and is precise. It’s certainly one of the better ones. There’s a microSD card slot below the volume rockers. And if you get the LTE 4G version, that’s where you’ll be putting the SIM card too.
On the bottom sits a USB C 3.1 Gen 1 port. Yes, you can connect accessories like keyboards or even external SSDs. We get a PIN connector for an optional keyboard cover on the left side but I don’t have the official one.
You might have guessed it already: The headphone jack is missing. However, there is a USB C to headphone adapter included with this tablet. And if you get the LTE version, you’ll get headphone too.
Speakers & Cameras
Just like the Galaxy Tab S4 and pretty much all premium tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e has four speakers in total. And the quality out of those speakers is very good. You will hear real bass and the sound is much clearer than what you get with most cheaper tablets.
Its 13-megapixel camera on the back sticks out a bit but I guess that’s a must if the body is so slim. While photos and videos don’t look amazing, they are very good for a tablet. I mean, yes, most smartphones will make nicer pictures. But this is a tablet and for that, it’s totally fine. And that’s what I can say about the 8-megapixel front-facing camera too. Nothing outstanding but certainly good for a tablet.
Display: An AMOLED Screen
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e has a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display which is probably exactly the one we get with the Tab S4. It has a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels which is very high. Because of that, this is one of the sharpest 10-inch screens you can get.
I really like this display. Its colors seem very accurate, it has high contrast, real blacks, and it is readable outside. The display is very bright and has wide viewing angles. Samsung makes very nice OLED screens and this is the best display you can get with an Android tablet right now.
As I said, colors look nice out of the box. But if you want, you can adjust the screen a bit in the settings. And you can activate a blue light filter at night.
So, the screen is really good. However, when compared to the 11-inch iPad Pro, the Apple tablet is noticeably brighter. Yes, the iPad Pro costs twice as much and a comparison is not fair. But it’s an interesting fact.
You can’t use any kind of active pen on the Galaxy Tab S5e. I tried the S Pen from other Samsung devices and they don’t work.
By the way, the tablet has a Widevine Level of L1 and you can watch Netflix in HD.
Hardware & Performance
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e ships with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 octa-core processor. It consists of two 2GHz and six 1.7GHz cores. We also get 4GB of RAM and a 64GB internal storage. You can also get a 6GB RAM and 128GB storage option. My review unit has 4GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage. Out of those, you can use 48,8GB out of the box.
Yes, the Snapdragon 670 is not as fast as the Snapdragon 835 of the Galaxy Tab S4. That’s what you can clearly see in my benchmark comparison. However, it is faster than the Galaxy Tab S3 and gets really close to the Huawei MediaPad M5 10. So, based on benchmarks, the Galaxy Tab S5e clearly is very fast but it’s not the fastest.
With that being said, in real life, I did feel that this tablet is very snappy. I didn’t encounter any hiccups at all when browsing the web, watching YouTube, or doing other standard tasks. That’s the case with multitasking too. You can open two apps side by side and they both run fine.
Depending on which Games you play, you might notice differences with those though. Obviously, simple games run great. And the same goes for a bit more demanding ones. PUBG Mobile runs smoothly if you set the graphics to HDR, for example. It does not look as good as on an iPad Pro but that’s to be expected. Need for Speed No Limits looks great. You can also play Shadowgun Legends with high graphics settings. If you set it to ultra high, you will see some stuttering. But it’s smooth with high graphics.
There is one major exception when it comes to gaming. While the Galaxy Tab S5e is one of few Android tablets that are capable of running Fortnite, you can play it with lowest graphics only. I think it should be capable of playing Fortnite with at least medium settings. But the only ones you can select are its lowest. Well… it does run great with lowest settings.
I think Epic Games, Samsung or both could fix that with an update. So… I hope they will.
WiFi Issues: Should You Be Worried?
You might have heard of WiFi issues that are plaguing the Galaxy Tab S5e. Those do exist indeed and it seems to be a design flaw of the WiFi antennas. Apple experienced something similar a couple of years ago. If you’re holding the bottom of the tablet in landscape view with the camera to your left, the WiFi signal can drop. Some say to almost zero but in my testing, it dropped to about 50 percent.
I don’t think Samsung can fix that with a software update. But there is a very simple solution. Just rotate it and everything works fine.
Honestly, I don’t think I would have ever noticed this on my own. That’s because I didn’t encounter any WiFi issues when using it as my daily tablet. I’ve watched lots of YouTube and Netflix and played PUBG and Fortnite.
All of that worked fine. So, chances are, that you probably won’t notice anything either. At least if you have good WiFi. It might be worse if you have bad WiFi already. But well, if you notice it being slow, just rotate your tablet. I don’t think it’s a huge issue but for some, it might be.
Read: These Are The Best 4G LTE Tablets
Software: Android 9.0 Pie
Samsung is the first manufacturer shipping tablets with Android 9.0 Pie and the Galaxy Tab S5e is one of them. I mention it every time I review a tablet from them: Compared to others, Samsung is really good with updates for their tablets. Usually, the Galaxy Tab S series gets at least two big software updates. That’s more than what we get from all Android competitors. Apple is keeping its iPads up-to-date longer of course.
On top of Android 9 runs One UI. That is the own interface from Samsung. While it customizes the operating system quite a bit, I think it looks modern. Well, at least it runs smoothly. I like that there are not too many apps pre-installed anymore. There are some standard ones, the ones from Google, as well as OneDrive and Office Mobile from Microsoft. That’s pretty much it.
We do get tons of extra features though. There are some great ones like a blue light filter, a split screen view, energy saving modes, and the Samsung Notes app. And then there are some that could be useful for some but probably not for many. For instance, there’s a dark mode built-in. But it only turns Samsung’s own apps dark. The rest remains bright. You can activate a Kids Mode too but that seems to be made for very young kids only. We also get Bixby which is not that useful.
Samsung Dex: A Desktop Mode
A feature that could be very useful for some is Samsung Dex. That’s a desktop mode that we’ve seen with the Galaxy Tab S4 and a couple of higher-end smartphones already. It transforms Android into a desktop operating system. Obviously, it’s still Android. It just looks different – more like Windows.
There’s a taskbar at the bottom and you can open apps in separate windows. This means you can open more than two apps at the same time and sort them how you want to. It can be much faster to work with that way – especially if you connect a mouse and keyboard. You can connect those with most Android devices, but it’s more useful when you have a desktop mode.
If you want, you can connect the Galaxy Tab S5e to a monitor at the same time. That turns it into a desktop computer.
One day I’ve been working a whole morning in a cafe equipped with the Galaxy Tab S5e, a Bluetooth keyboard, and a mouse. I used Samsung Dex exclusively and when using apps like Chrome, Gmail, Twitter and even Word it works pretty well. I didn’t miss my notebook. Samsung Dex should be good enough for most kinds of office work. Personally, I would not replace my main working machine with it. But it can act as a nice light-weight alternative for when you’re traveling or just working a bit in a cafe.
I did notice a couple of problems with Samsung Dex though. For instance, while a lot of apps are supported, that’s not the case for all. I couldn’t open LastPass while using Samsung Dex, for example. And while I could select text just like on a desktop machine with my mouse in Samsung’s own apps, that wasn’t the case in third-party apps like Word and Gmail. That is an issue of Samsung Dex because it works fine when Dex is turned off.
Read: The Best Android Tablets Of The Year
In my standard battery test, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e got a runtime of 13 hours and 30 minutes. For this, I’m always looping an HD video at medium brightness. As you can see in my comparison chart, that’s a pretty good result.
The same is true for its real battery life during normal use. I’ve written down a detailed battery diary once. One day, it lasted me 15 hours and 30 minutes with an active screen time of excellent 9 hours and 30 minutes. The screen was set to adaptive brightness. Out of those 9.5 hours I worked for 2.5 hours using Samsung Dex, played games for about an hour, and the rest was occupied with mostly YouTube and some web-browsing.
Samsung GalaxyTab S5e Review: Final Verdict
Alright, that’s the end of my Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e review. I really enjoyed using this tablet. Its build quality is excellent, we get a very pretty Super AMOLED screen, and up-to-date Android 9 Pie. I also like that it has four good speakers and a fingerprint scanner. While it is not the fastest Android tablet you can get, I think the performance is very good for its price.
I can’t find any real big downsides. There’s the WiFi issue. But I think for most, that’s more of a theoretical problem. Or at least it can be dealt with easily by just turning the tablet. Being a Fortnite fan myself, it’s sad to see that you can play it with lowest settings only. I hope it’ll be fixed at some point.
But overall, I think the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is a very good Android tablet. It’s not overpriced, I think the value is good.
Let’s check out some possible alternatives.
If you’re looking for the fastest Android tablet available, you’ll have to get the older Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. It has the same screen but a faster processor. And the S Pen is included. You’ll have to live with a glass back and an iris scanner though. It does not have a fingerprint sensor. You could also wait a couple of month for the Tab S5.
Another alternative is the Apple iPad Air. You’ll have to spend a bit more but you’ll get much better performance. With that one, you can play Fortnite with highest settings and it looks great. While it has a metal body too, it’s a bit thicker and doesn’t look as modern. But you get a much larger selection of apps that are optimized for tablets.
- Fantastic metal body
- Pretty AMOLED screen
- Good speakers
- Great battery life
- Fingerprint scanner
- Android 9.0 Pie
- Good performance
- Not perfect for gamers
- Theoretical WiFi issues