According to Samsung, the aging Galaxy Tab S2 and Tab S3 tablets still sell well, as they fill a void for those not wanting to splash out on the expensive Galaxy Tab S4, but still want a strong tablet at a decent price. To ensure these people don’t have to make do with an older device, it has introduced the new Galaxy Tab S5e. The “E” in the name stands for Essential, which Samsung says denotes that it’s still a premium product, just with a more affordable price attached.
What strikes you first is the look. It’s not only minimalist and attractive, with a new metal unibody design, but it’s also Samsung’s thinnest and lightest tablet yet. It’s just 5.5mm thin, which is an outrageous reduction in thickness from the already slim 7.1mm of the S4. The weight is also down from the S4’s 482 grams to just 399 grams for the S5e. This makes it more manageable, and more comfortable to hold for extended periods of time. It comes in grey, black, or gold.
Entertainment, and Bixby
Made for entertainment, the Super AMOLED screen measures 10.5 inches, has a 16:10 ratio, and a 2,560 x 1,600 pixel resolution, providing an 83 percent screen-to-body ratio. On the body are four speakers with an interesting and helpful feature — the audio is optimized depending on whether you’re holding it in landscape or portrait orientation. No more messy stereo separation here, plus there’s Dolby Atmos support with AKG audio enhancements too.
Samsung is also pushing its artificially intelligent assistant Bixby more in 2019, and the S5e is the first tablet to come with Bixby Assistant. The tablet listens for the Hi Bixby wake-word using far field microphones, and provides access to Quick Commands to alter settings or start apps, or call up features like the weather. New for the Tab S5e is the ability to control SmartThings Internet-of-Things devices with Bixby, with tasks augmented by a new Bixby-enhanced SmartThings app for tablets.
Accessories, and tech specs
If you want to purchase accessories for your Galaxy Tab S5e, Samsung will offer a $130 keyboard case, and a Samsung DeX dock. This increases the tablet’s usefulness for those who want to use it for productivity, and it features the same capabilities as a DeX docked Tab S4, along with the same PC-like desktop menu system. However, the Tab S5e’s smaller Snapdragon 670 processor may not support multi-tasking as effectively, and it doesn’t support the S Pen stylus either.
Other technical features include 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage capacity, a fingerprint sensor, a 13-megapixel camera on the back and an 8-megapixel front cam, Android 9.0 Pie, plus a 7,040mAh battery good for about 14 hours of media playback. Interestingly, the tablet can also make and receive calls, and be used to send messages when linked through a Samsung account connected to your Samsung smartphone. We’ve seen this call and message integration work well on Apple products. They don’t need to be in close proximity either: For example if you leave your phone at home, any calls are routed through Samsung’s servers from the tablet and placed normally.
Price and release
The Galaxy Tab S5e will cost $400, and fits in between the $330 Tab A 10.5 and the $650 Galaxy Tab S4 in Samsung’s current Android tablet range. It moves up from the purely entertainment-focused Tab A, but doesn’t quite reach the full productivity experience offered by the Tab S4. Samsung is also targeting its smartphone owners by providing more reasons to buy a Samsung tablet — the calls, SmartThings integration, and Bixby — rather than buying an Apple iPad, for example.
Samsung says the Tab S5e will be available between April and June this year, with cellular models coming to U.S. carriers later in the year.