(Financial News) I am a certified 100% tech junkie.
There are no two ways about it. I have considered on several occasions to just have myself committed, then I decided, f*ck that, I can just write about my gadget addiction and maybe that will help me put some extra cash in my wallet so I can feed my tech need (and maybe even my kids while I’m at it).
So here we are, Dec of 2019 and the sun is about to rise on 2020, and everyone is talking about the new phones, computers, or other gadgets they are considering putting under the Christmas tree. One area that gets little attention these days, is the Android tablet market. Let’s face it, the iPad has all but killed its rivals in this space.
Pretty much every single manufacturer has even given up on making anything to compete with the iPad, all except for one company – Tech giant Samsung. Samsung has still been producing tablets year after year, and it has primarily been a dull and boring market. At one point, I thought, “Just quit already! Give up. Stop. its embarrassing!”
Did they listen?
No! These guys never listen to me.
So Samsung went ahead pushed out what I thought was going to be another dud, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6.
Curious, I started researching the device (as I always do before I buy another gadget that I don’t really need), and I must say I was pretty impressed with what I saw in terms of specs and reviews. So when it came out, I simply had to buy it.
As a full time iPhone, iPad and Mac user for the last 5 years, it was a big leap for me to jump outside the so-called “Apple-Ecosystem,” but like any junkie true to their addiction, I simply had to feed the monkey.
So I jumped on eBay and placed the order and a couple of days later, my shiny new Galaxy Tab S6 arrived at my door step. I must say I was immediately impressed. As I un-boxed my new toy, I pulled out my 2018 11 inch iPad Pro and set them side by side, comparing build quality, dimensions and weight.
I was blown away. Samsung did it. They really did. Even before booting up my new Tab S6 for the first time, I was completely taken aback by the overall build quality.
As I write this article it is just a few days before Christmas in 2019, and I received my Galaxy Tab S6 the first week of September of this year. So I have been using it for a full 3 and a half months. About a month into this testing out period of my new android tablet, I did something I thought I would never do, I gave my iPad Pro to my girlfriend. After 1 month, I realized that I hadn’t even touched my iPad Pro since my Tab S6 arrived.
Below is my full review of the device that compelled me to step out of the Apple ecosystem. I am not paid to write this review. These are my own thoughts on the Tab S6.
The display on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is nothing short of breath taking. It has a 16:10 aspect ratio and rocks a 10.5 inch full HDR Super AMOLED display with 16 million colors. The device has small bezels very similar to the iPad Pro and has a 82.5% screen to body ratio, so it provides for a very immersive experience when consuming content. The colors are crisp and sharp and we have a pixel density of 287 pixels per inch. Consuming content on the Tab S6 is a treat and the 16:10 aspect ratio makes watching YouTube and Netflix content even better.
My review will differ from most other reviews on one key point, most reviews I have read about the Tab S6 say the same thing, its 16:10 aspect ratio is perfect for consuming video content but cramped for doing productivity work or browsing the web in landscape mode. Coming from an iPad Pro the last several years, I am one of the few people that can honestly that even for productivity related work, I prefer this screen aspect ratio and I am in love with this display!
One place that you can notice in the iPad Pro’s favor, and only when using them side by side, is the 120 Hz refresh rate of the Apple product. When scrolling between menus and animations, the 120 Hz refresh rate is just buttery smooth. That’s not to say that the Tab S6’s 60 Hz refresh rate is a slouch, but when you see them side by side it is a noticeable difference.
That being said, in virtually every other aspect of the screen, from color, aspect ratio, the vibrancy of the super AMOLED display, the prize must go to the Tab S6 and I will go as far as to say it is the best screen I have ever experienced on a tablet.
When I am at home, I prefer to consume video and audio content on the flat screen to get the true theater experience, so I primarily consume video and audio content on my tablet rockin’ blue tooth headphones, as I am normally in public when using my tablet to consume A/V content.
I don’t know about you, but I just don’t wanna be that guy on the train blasting episodes of South Park showing off my AKG speakers. However on those rare occasions that I do let the speakers rip, the AKG tuned quad speaker system on the Tab S6 is truly a joy to listen to. I would consider them very similar to the 11 inch iPad Pro. They are definitely a blast to listen to on those occasions you are not confined to Bluetooth headphones.
This is one of my favorite pros about the Tab S6, the form factor. The weight, the height and width feel perfect both in the hand to do some consumption in tablet mode, as well as great for getting more serious work done. When you look at the spec sheets, the 10.5 inch Tab S seems to have a very similar foot print to the 11 inch iPad Pro, but do not be fooled, in the hand, the form factor of the Tab S6 simply feels perfect. Whether holding it one handed while taking notes with the included sPen, watching a video on the train, sending a quick email, it always feels really good in the hand. That small size difference (on paper) between the Tab S6 and the iPad Pro 11-inch makes a world of difference in reality. I have had many die hard Apple fans agree with me on this regarding the Tab S6’s form factor.
I was excited when I read about the Galaxy Tab S6 including an in display optical finger print scanner. My excitement quickly faded after setting up my Tab S6 for the first time. The damn thing works about 50% of the time, and when it does work, its slow. The novelty of this wears off super quick and I hope Samsung gets this right in future iterations of this almost perfect device.
So for now, until Samsung gets its finger out of its butt in the bio-metric department, I will use Samsung’s facial recognition, which works like FaceID on my iPad, just not as sexy… not as secure… and not as fast… but hey it beats the 1 out of 2 tries on the “almost fingerprint scanner!”
On paper the 7040 mAh battery doesn’t seem much to write home to mom about. However in reality, the battery life is stunning. I use only my tablet over 95% of the time when working as compared to my computer. I take my Galaxy Tab S6 everywhere with me. When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere. It goes with me to work, school to pick up the kids, coffee shops, meetings, trips, the park, the subway, it is with me from the moment I leave the house in the morning to the moment I come back in the evening. I never bring my charger with me unless I am traveling. Samsung claims 15 hours of battery life, and I am using the LTE model which drains the battery quicker than the WiFi only model. I can say honestly I am averaging between 12 and 16 hours of battery life. On an average day leaving the house about 7AM and returning home around 6-8PM, I rarely return home with less than 65% battery remaining. It is only on those rare occasions that I am glued to a screen for 10 hours on end will I get lower than this. On an average day I am using Google docs, Google sheets, Gmail, Samsung Notes and the Google Chrome browser for WordPress work and doing research etc. On an average day I spend approximately 4-6 hours of actual screen time on my Tab S6 and normally return home with about 65% battery life 12 hours later. One place I have noticed a difference between the iPad Pro and the Tab S6 is in standby mode, sometimes (and only on rare occasions) the battery continues to drain even when screen if off in stand-by mode. My iPad never did this. This might happen about 1 time per month, and a quick restart brings it right back to normal.
You will never ever get a bench mark out of me, as I simply could not give two sh*ts about a number that means absolutely zero in the real world. So if you need to geek out on some numbers, this is not the place to do it. I only care about one thing, my own selfish user experience.
I ask myself the following questions. Do apps open snappy? Are there any lags or hiccups? Am I waiting around for apps to open up from memory? Am I enjoying myself?
And the answer is. NO LAGS! NO HICCUPS! APPS OPEN SNAPPY!
And yes, I AM ENJOYING THE F*CK OUT OF MYSELF!
The Snap Dragon 855 processor included with the Tab S6 makes zipping around Google docs, Google sheets and Gmail a breeze. Even consuming 4K videos while multi tasking with email and web tasks, I have never experienced a single problem, not one. My geeky friends will always be there to remind me that the A12X processor included with the iPad Pro 11-inch will run circles around the Snap Dragon 855 processor. As true as this might be in a laboratory experiment, in the real-world, using it for my particular use case, I could not notice a single tiny little difference in speed between these 2 powerhouses.
I have read others talking about Dex being a mixed bag of pros and cons. I can concur this to an extent, as one of my apps, namely my password manager Keepass2Android, simply refuses to open in Dex mode. If I happen to be in Dex mode when needing to use Keepass2Android, I have to annoyingly switch to tablet mode to fire the app up. This could be a bummer and sometimes gets me out of the zone when focused on my flow. However, outside of this, Dex is very capable and brings my productivity to a whole new level.
With Dex you literally have a Mac / Windows type desktop environment that allows you to open as many windows arranged how you want on your desktop. To me this is really important. iPadOS’ feeble gesture based attempt to address multi-tasking does not compare with running a desktop environment such as Dex. As I told you before, I use my tablet for over 95% of my tasks, I would say on average, I use my computer about 2-5 hours every single month now. With my iPad I used my Macbook at least 50% of the time, and the reason I was able to de-tether from my computer is Dex. For all its flaws it really is Good at getting your multi-tasking freak on.
Regarding my problem in Dex Mode where Keepass2Android won’t open and I have to switch to tablet mode, this is only a problem when I am not at home.
When I am at home and not being lazy with the tablet in hand on the couch lounging around reading or surfing the web, then I always hook my tablet up to my 36 inch monitor, and here is where the real magic begins. Once I connect to the external monitor Dex mode fires up instantly and effortlessly on the external screen. Yet on the tablet’s 10.5 inch screen, I still have the normal tablet interface. This allows me to have two separate interfaces running at the same time; the external screen running Dex where I am multi-tasking and firing away with keyboard and mouse, and then on the tablet’s 10.5 inch screen I still have tablet mode where I can still use the normal Samsung touch interface. Now if you have a problem similar to mine with any of your apps not wanting to open in Dex mode, it can easily be addressed by being in tablet and Dex mode at the same time. And having 2 independent screens is really helpful for productivity.
With this kind of setup at home, I run certain apps in tablet mode on the 10.5 inch screen and on the 36 inch monitor I am running full OS style desktop with 10 or even 15 open windows. A month can go by like this before I even touch my Macbook.
Keyboard Book Cover
If you are anything like me and opting for a real workhorse, you simply have to include the Samsung Keyboard Book Cover. It will set you back an additional $180.00, but it is the only way you are going to get any real work done on this mini power house.
The keyboard cover blows away the Smart Keyboard cover that I got used to on my 11 inch iPad Pro. In fact it is not even the same sport when you set them side by side. Typing is super comfy, the experience is very similar to typing on a normal keyboard, albeit a bit cramped when compared to a full sized keyboard, but you get used to it really quick.
And let us not forget the track pad. The Samsung Keyboard Book Cover includes a fully functioning track pad complete with gesture support.
Is it the best track pad?
Simply put – No! However, it will get you by in a pinch. The reason the track pad should be important to you is not because it is great on its own, but instead because it shows that mouse and cursor support is not an after thought being half baked into the OS after it comes out of the oven much like its iPadOS counterpart has done.
I use a tiny little Bluetooth mouse almost all the time when using my Tab S6 for productivity, but the fact that Samsung provides real cursor and mouse support means that unlike using a mouse with my old iPad Pro, this is the real deal in terms of mouse support.
Samsung nailed it with the sPen. I am not an artist, I don’t draw, create or otherwise use it for anything except to jot down a few words when on the go. My attention span of a fruit fly isn’t conducive for remembering things longer than say 5 seconds, so having the ability to write something down in digital form when running around is super duper handy for me.
I have compared the Apple Pencil and the sPen side by side and when using them like this you definitely notice the latency on the sPen when compared to the Apple Pencil.
I believe the difference in latency has more to do with the iPad Pro display’s 120 Hz refresh rate than it does with the hardware of the sPen vs the Apple Pencil.
Overall the sPen is a joy to write with, and it has a flat carpenter pencil style form factor, which to me is more comfortable to hold than the traditional form factor of the Apple Pencil and the fact that the sPen is included free in the box of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, makes it a no brainer!
Like I told you above most of my work is done in Google chrome, Gmail, Google Docs and Samsung notes and that is pretty much it. Playtime is done on NetFlix, YouTube, and rare game play such as fortnite (when I am forced by my kids wink wink). So whether I am on the iPad or Tab S6, those are the apps that use, and I can say, on both devices these apps perform equally good.
However, I can assure you I am not your average use case, and most people will complain about the Tablet App ecosystem in the Google Play store vs the hundreds of thousands of apps that cater to the iPad in the Apple App store. I have read countless reviews about this problem and if you rely heavily on iPad apps in the Apple ecosystem, I will tell you that you are probably better suited to sticking with the iPad.
Even being as in love with the Tab S6 as I am, there is one app that I really miss from the Apple ecosystem, and that is LiquidText. LiquidText is a super cool document markup app that most likely will never make it way to the Google Play store, and I can honestly say I miss my digital homie.
So if you installed some cool apps that you consider homies on the iPad and they are part of your every day flow, you might want to check if they are available on the Google play store for the Tablet before you rush out run and grab a new Tab S6.
To me, the Samsung galaxy tab s6 is probably the greatest tablet I have ever owned. It’s a gorgeous piece of rectangular art when laying on the coffee table and a dependable road warrior when you need it on the go. In fact it is so good at getting the job done, that it did not just replace my iPad Pro, it basically replaced my 13 inch Macbook pro as well. Another super big plus is Samsung includes the sPen for free as opposed to having to rush out to buy an Apple pencil for an additional $180.00!
The optional Samsung keyboard costs about the same exact amount as the Apple Smart Keyboard cover ($123.99 on BestBuy.com), but Samsung’s version has an included track pad and feels more like a traditional keyboard when typing than its Apple brethren.
And last but not least, the Tab S6 fits in a tiny bag that when I throw it over my shoulder, is so light, I sometimes forget I am even carrying anything. I would highly recommend the Tab S6 to anyone who has a similar set of needs to mine and can live with the limited selections of tablet specific apps in the Google Play store. However if you are someone who is tied to the Apple ecosystem, you might wanna just stick to what’s working for you.
The Tab S6 comes in 4 different flavors; a Wifi only version with 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM (priced $549.99 on BestBuy.com), a WiFi only version with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM (priced $629.99 on BestBuy.com), an LTE version with 128 GB of storage and 6GB of RAM (priced $799.00 on Amazon.com) and finally an LTE version with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM (priced $1,199.99 on Amazon.com).