Samsung officially announced its latest tablet today, the Galaxy Tab S5e. And I'm not sure what it's trying to do - or who it's competing with, other than Samsung's own products. In the tablet market, you have one player that essentially matters: Apple. Apple makes full-size iPads starting at $330 for the classically proportioned 9.7" iPad, all the way up to a staggering $1000 for the entry-level version of the 12.9" iPad Pro. Storage options and LTE can send them up into the stratosphere from there.

The Galaxy Tab S5e is priced at $400, and that makes it a bit of an odd duck when you're pitting against Apple's lineup. Some might argue that it's meant to be a budget-conscious 10.5" iPad Pro, which came out in 2017 and is priced at $650, but more and more often can be found for less. Even Samsung's own Tab S4 now regularly goes on sale for $500 (it launched at $650), making Samsung's own product, arguably, the new Tab S5e's biggest competitor. So, that begs the question: what does the Tab S5e lose compared to the Tab S4? Frankly, not much.

The Tab S5e isn't even really an appropriate name, as this is essentially a slimmed-down and de-tuned Tab S4 in any other sense. It has a new chassis, sure (it's a staggering 5.5mm thick), but it ditches the Snapdragon 835 of Tab S4 for a more economical Snapdragon 670, chips that are essentially a generation removed - making a direct comparison a little tricky. What I can tell you is this: the 670 should offer fairly comparable single-core CPU performance to the 835 (surprisingly, though multi-core fares worse), but it does take a real hit on the graphics side (the GPU has half the number of cores), making the S5e less of a graphics powerhouse. So, if you want something for a lot of 3D gaming, the Tab S4 is a better bet, otherwise, the performance of the new S5e is probably enough for most people.

What else is trimmed? There's no S Pen support on S5e - even Apple's basic iPad now works with the Apple Pencil - but that's really about it as far as I can tell. The S5e even ships with Android 9.0 out of the box!

It still has that outstanding 10.5" OLED display (2560x1600) with even further reduced bezels, and it's much thinner than the Tab S4 while also coming in significantly lighter, at just 399 grams. The battery is slightly smaller (7040mAh versus the S4's 7300mAh), but not so much as to make a real difference in battery life. It'll be available in 4GB/64GB and 6GB/128GB trims (unclear if the latter is coming to the US). That OLED display really is much of the reason to consider it - it's absolutely stunning and makes this the best mobile movie and TV binge-watching platform you can probably buy (the Tab S4 was Netflix HDR certified, and my guess is so is the Tab S5e).

I still don't think it does much to get Samsung further in the door against the iPad, but at least it acknowledges that a big-screen Android tablet doesn't have to cost as much as one. Retailers and exact availability dates aren't official, but it will be coming some time in the second quarter of this year. Full specs follow below.


DISPLAY 10.5” WQXGA (2560x1600) OLED
CHIPSET Snapdragon 670 64bit Octa-core processor (2x2.0 GHz & 6x1.7 GHz)
MEMORY / STORAGE 4GB + 64GB or 6GB + 128GB, microSD up to 512GB
CAMERA Rear 13MP, front 8MP
PORTS USB3.1 (Type C), POGO (Type-C headset connector provided)
SENSORS Accelerometer, Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, RGB Light Sensor
DIMENSIONS 245.0 x 160.0 x 5.5mm / 400g
BATTERY 7,040mAh, Fast Charging
OS/UPGRADE Android Pie 9.0
ACCESSORIES Book cover Keyboard, POGO Charging Dock, Slim cover, Book cover (not included)
VIDEO Recording: UHD 4K (3840x2160) @ 30fps / Playback: UHD 4K (3840x2160) @ 60fps
AUDIO 4 speakers sound by AKG, Dolby Atmos®