When it comes to high-end tablets, the iPad Pro has long reigned supreme. But Samsung has also been making top-notch tablets for years now. With its new high-powered Galaxy Tab S6, Samsung offers an Android alternative for folks who don't want an iPad, but demand top-level performance from their tablet.
The Tab S6 isn't exactly a bargain, as the base model (with 6GB RAM and 126GB storage) costs $649.99, but it's still a bit cheaper than the iPad Pro 11, which starts at $799. For an extra $80, you can upgrade to 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. Your color options are Mountain Gray, Cloud Blue, and Rose Blush.
No matter where you order your Tab S6, you can get a free four months of YouTube premium (provided you haven't subscribed to the service before).
If you order from Samsung, you can also get the $179.99 keyboard cover for 50% off, which brings the price down to $90. Samsung is also running a trade-in offer where you can get up to $450 when you trade in select phones or tablets.
If you order from Best Buy, you'll also receive a $50 Best Buy gift card and a free six-month subscription to Trend Micro Internet Security for up to three devices. You can also save $10 on Malwarebytes, $30 or $50 on a printer, and $20 on Adobe Acrobat.
Samsung's tablet has a big sharp OLED screen.
What makes this device a compelling iPad-Pro alternative? For one, the display. The Tab S6 has a bright 10.5-inch AMOLED screen with a 2,560 x 1,600-pixel resolution, which should deliver a vivid picture for video and gaming. The iPad Pro 11's 2,388 x 1,668 "Liquid Retina" screen isn't an OLED panel and isn't likely to generate the same vibrant colors.
There's a fingerprint sensor built into the Tab S6's screen for added security, so you can log in without having to enter a password every time. This is a feature the iPad Pro lacks and may please customers who are creeped out by Apple's Face ID. That said, Face ID is harder to trick than a fingerprint sensor, so you might prefer the iPad if you're especially concerned with security.
Elsewhere, you've got an 8-megapixel front camera, and two rear cameras at 5 megapixels and 18 megapixels respectively. The 5-megapixel camera offers a 123-degree field of view, which is quite wide for a tablet's camera. All in all, it's a roughly comparable array to that of the iPad Pro, which sports a 12-megapixel rear camera and 7-megapixel front camera. That said, it's 2019. Are you really taking photos with your tablet? Probably not, but it could come in handy for video calls.
The Tab S6 is a high-end tablet for power users.
Performance-wise, the Tab S6 has the most powerful processor of any Samsung tablet to date in Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855. The S6's predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S4, ran the older Snapdragon 835, and still delivered decent, snappy performance. We expect the Tab S6 to offer an even smoother experience, both during general browsing and more intense tasks such as video playback and gaming.
You won't find as smooth of an experience with audio and video editing or other high-power creative pursuits as you will on the iPad Pro, which is powered by Apple's exceptional A12X Bionic Chip, but folks who aren't artistic professionals will likely be just fine with the Tab S6.
The slate also packs in a 7,040mAh battery, which Samsung claims will last 15 hours on a full charge. We'll have to test this claim for ourselves, but it's likely a bit ambitious. The Galaxy Tab S4 had a slightly larger 7,300mAh battery and lasted around 10 hours on most battery tests. If the company's claim is is correct, however, then its new device should last a bit longer than the iPad Pro 11, which tends to clock in at around 12 hours.
It comes with the S Pen stylus, but the keyboard costs more.
Like Samsung's Galaxy Note 10, the Tab S6 comes with the company's signature stylus, the S Pen. Samsung isn't the only company shipping out a stylus: Apple and Microsoft both sell pens of their own, but they're quite pricey at $129 and $99.99 respectively.
Not only does the S Pen ship with the Galaxy Tab S6 at no extra cost, but it also has a few unique tricks up its sleeve. The stylus sports a button that you can map to various shortcuts. For example, you could press it to open your tablet's camera app from across the room. Some apps also support gesture controls. If the camera app is open, for instance, you can flick the stylus back and forth to switch between your tablet's front and rear cameras or zoom in by drawing an arc through the air. It feels a bit like using a magic wand.
Samsung also makes a keyboard case, the Book Cover Keyboard. The case includes a trackpad and wrist rests, which will likely make typing more comfortable than it is on Apple's Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro. The case is pricey, however, at $179.99. If that's outside your budget, you'll find several cheaper third-party keyboard cases on Amazon.
Until we've spent some time with the Galaxy Tab S6 ourselves, we can't say for sure whether this device is a better purchase than the iPad Pro. But if you know you're on the market for a high-end Android tablet, the Tab S6's powerful specs and features put it solidly ahead of its cheaper competitors.