Until recently there were very few good affordable non-iPad tablets. Now there’s a bunch. So there’s a good chance you’re reading this wondering if you should buy a Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, or the company’s Tab S5e, or the Tab A 10.1. Or, y’know, go the other way entirely and get an Apple iPad.
There’s a good chance a Samsung Galaxy S6 Lite is the right choice. It can do almost everything the full-fat Tab S6 can, because it comes with a clever S-Pen stylus for sketching. This makes the Lite the most versatile tablet you can get at this kind of price point. Great as the Tab S5e is, it does not have a stylus included. And to get an iPad with a stylus you have to spend more, plus you’ll get a tablet with only half the storage of the Samsung (unless, again, you pay more).
What’s the catch? The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has an LCD screen rather than a more contrasty OLED. And the iPad has more games, and more power to play them. But, all in all, much of that won’t matter. Let us explain all…
- Dimensions: 244.5 x 154.3 x 7mm
- Aluminium back, glass front
- Weighs: 467g
The “Lite” part of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite’s name undersells this tablet. It looks and feels just about as good as any out there.
Its back and sides are smooth aluminium, without the chunk of plastic seen in the cheaper Galaxy Tab A 10.1. The Lite’s display surrounds are much smaller than those of a 10.2-inch iPad. And, at 7mm thick, the Lite is thin (and, funnily enough, quite light too). Sure, the Galaxy Tab S6 is thinner still (at 5.7mm), but why would you be shopping for a Lite if you have already been spoilt by its older brother?
Like virtually every higher-quality tablet, the Galaxy S6 Lite is still largely a boring-looking slab-ette of glass and aluminium. There are a few nice touches, though. The corners of the display border are curved. It gives the front a soft, friendly look. And the border thickness is near-identical on all four sides.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has good speakers too. These are stamped with the Samsung-owned AKG brand, and there are two drivers. They sit on the top and bottom – well, they do with tablet held portrait – designed to give you a stereo sound field when you sit down to watch a movie.
These speakers may not be quite as good as the quad array of an iPad Pro, but they are better than those of the standard iPad. They are beefy enough to give the engine roars of Asphalt 9 enough power, and make watching a movie when in the bath a real pleasure (buy a bath plank if you want to do that, though, as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is not water resistant).
There’s no fingerprint scanner either, but the Lite does support face recognition for password-free secure unlocking.
- Non-powered S-Pen stylus included
- 4,096 pressure sensitivity levels
- Magnetised securing mechanism
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite seems a lot like the older Tab S5e until you look at the included S-Pen. For starters, Samsung’s last mid-range tablet did not include one.
This is a classic-style graphics tablet stylus, one that can only interact with the tablet when the tip is a centimetre or so from the screen. At this range you can press the button on the barrel to take notes, doodle on the screen or capture parts of the display as an image.
You can use the Tab S6 Lite’s S-Pen to navigate the interface, to handwrite instead of type, but the main draw is, well, drawing. The tablet does not come with any pre-installed art apps, but it doesn’t need them when excellent apps like Infinite Painter and ArtFlow are there on Google Play Store.
The drawing experience in these is excellent. Samsung’s new S-Pen stylus feels natural – press harder and the line drawn by your virtual pencil or brush becomes thicker or darker – there’s palm rejection support so you can rest your palm on the screen, as you might on the sketchpad, and pressure sensitivity is just as advanced as the pricier Tab S6’s stylus.
Writing and drawing are also better than with the original Tab S6’s S-Pen. Samsung claims latency has been reduced (this is also affected by processor power) but the shape is also superior. You can see the nib more easily as you draw, and the shape and texture of the barrel are great.
There’s no slot in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite to store the pen, though, but it does cling onto the side of the tablet with the help of a magnet. Samsung also sells a Book Cover case, which has a slot in its spine for the S-Pen. This case can also prop up the screen, in classic folio style.
How does the new S-Pen compare with the best of the Apple Pencil? Move the S-Pen back and forth quickly over the screen and you’ll see a slight lag as the drawn line catches up. But even Apple has only eliminated this in the iPad Pro, and it is slight enough not to impact the feel of drawing in almost all cases.