The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e review: Dex is ambitious, but held back by Android

  • The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is priced at 35,999 for the WiFi only variant and 39,999 for the WiFi+LTE version
  • A book cover keyboard accessory is also available separately at 7,999. It allows you to use Samsung DeX better

At a time when there are only a handful of tablets to choose from, Samsung launched a new tablet in India—the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e. The tablet was globally announced in February this year, alongside the company's flagship smartphone series, the Galaxy S10.

The tablet, nearly half as expensive as the iPad Pro, looks and feels extremely premium. The 10.5-inch super AMOLED display is nothing short of stunning, with a resolution of 2,560x1,600. It doesn't reproduce the most accurate colours, but the saturation, vibration and contrast are spot on.

Despite having minimal display bezels and a slippery metal body, the tablet is surprisingly easy to hold with one hand. It is also marginally lighter and slimmer than the iPad Pro.

Samsung has included an AKG-tuned, quad speaker setup in this tablet. This along with the lack of physical or capacitive touch buttons lets you hold the tablet in any orientation. The speakers are crisp and loud and with that fantastic display make the Tab S5e one of the best media consumption devices in the market right now.

With the Tab S5e, Samsung is pushing its DeX platform that allows you to have a desktop experience. You can start using it by selecting DeX in the quick action menu within the notification bar. You can also start DeX if you pop your tablet in the magnetic pins of POGO keyboard accessory that is sold separately.

The interface doesn't take a lot of time getting used and can boost your productivity to an extent. You can drag and drop text between windows, keep multiple windows open simultaneously and the interface itself looks great in terms of design. They have also done a good job of pushing the stuff you'd find within the notification bar right at the bottom of the display, the place that's feels the most natural while using the tablet with a keyboard in a landscape orientation. It is also pretty intuitive even though its a completely new interface.

The problem is since it runs Android, it isn't optimised for stuff you'd normally do on a laptop. Let's say you're writing a college assignment. You would have at least seven tabs open on Chrome, either Microsoft Word or Google Docs running in another window and if you enjoy listening to songs (or even TV shows) while working, you would have YouTube or Netflix open in another Chrome tab.

The issue is Android has individual apps for all of these and they end up consuming more from your already tiny memory reserve, all at the same time. Smartphones don't have to display multiple windows, so you don't have to worry about stutters and visual artefacts anymore. But you face all of those with DeX. You can't play Amazon Prime in the background, because you just can't, on Android.

It gets worse because the keyboard snaps magnetically to the five or so pins to interact with the tablet. So if you are in your bed and using the tab-top with your knees up, you will find the POGO keyboard keeps disconnecting even if you move ever so slightly. The keyboard is also extremely small and cramped. It's a shame, as the key travel and feedback of the keyboard is pretty good.

The tablet in India ships only with 4GB of RAM, although globally there's another 6GB variant available. Those extra couple of gigabytes might have also have made the experience better.

When you aren't using DeX, the chipset is good enough to carry all the tasks you'd expect from a tablet or a mid-range smartphone. Playing popular titles like PUBG on tablets has never lured me because I always end up making a massive stretch to reach the on-screen buttons or just drop the tablet on my nose if I'm playing in bed.

To conclude, the Galaxy Tab S5e is a brilliant tablet for consuming media and getting work done. DeX isn't an epic fail, in my opinion. It's just an elbow-poke to Google, hollering "hey, you need to optimise Android for devices other than smartphones."

And this is just a slab of rigid glass and metal, a fixed form factor with just a keyboard attached. When foldable smartphones start flooding in, consumers would like to use them as tablets, or even foldable laptops. They'd like to have a seamless experience for the top buck we pay then, not a buggy, childish toy that can be folded. Android needs to catch up quick with the changing times.

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