With the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite and Galaxy Tab S5e, Samsung is selling two mid-range tablets right now that both cost just under 400 Dollars. Many aspects are the same – but there are some important differences. In this comparison, you’ll learn which is the better tablet for who.
Display & S Pen
Let’s start with the displays because there are some fundamental differences here. That’s mainly because while the 10.4-inch Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has a standard LCD panel, the Galaxy Tab S5e features a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED screen. It’s the same one Samsung uses in the much pricier Galaxy Tab S6.
There’s a small size-differences – it’s 10.4-inches compared to 10.5-inches. And the AMOLED screen has a higher resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels compared to the 2000 x 1200 pixels of the Tab S6 Lite. So, the Galaxy Tab S5e has a higher pixel density, and text and icons do look sharper indeed. However, the difference is not that big.
And that’s what I can say about their screens in general. The AMOLED screen has a deeper black, a stronger contrast, a higher saturation, and better viewing angles. But the differences between all those aspects are minor. Sure, it’s the better screen, but when holding them side by side, you’d be surprised that it does not look that much better.
The differences get more pronounced when using them outside, however. In sunlight and even during a cloudy day, the viewing angles of that AMOLED screen are much better. It’s better readable outside than the S6 Lite which also reflects more light especially when you look at it from an angle.
After I published my Galaxy Tab S5e review last year, people asked me what I thought about the jello effect of the AMOLED screen. But I didn’t notice it when reviewing it even though I used it a lot. Well, sometimes you just notice issues if you know of them. So, if you’re happy with your Tab S5e, skip the next part.
When holding the tablet in portrait orientation and scrolling through websites or so, there is a small jelly effect – similar to what you would call a rolling shutter effect with modern cameras. Straight lines don’t look straight. That’s only noticeable when scrolling in portrait orientation and it’s not an issue at all in landscape view.
It seems like the reason for that is that the picture is built pixel by pixel and line by line – like on all screens. Here it’s going from the top to the bottom in landscape orientation, and apparently, all screens can have this issue – depending on how you hold it. For some reason, that effect is especially noticeable on these big AMOLED screens. I can’t see any jelly effect on the Tab S6 Lite screen.
Galaxy Tab S6 Lite With S Pen
A feature that the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has but the S5e doesn’t is S Pen support. In fact, the stylus is included at no extra charge. It’s an active pen that’s pressure-sensitive and supports 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. You don’t have to charge it ever, but you can connect it magnetically to the tablet.
The S Pen works fantastic – just as you might be familiar with from the Galaxy Tab S6, S4 or the Galaxy Note series. You can use the pens from those devices too. Samsung has lots of software features build-in – like handwriting recognition, for instance. The Samsung Notes app works great too. It’s a very nice pen and the only other competitor in this price range is the iPad 7.
Now, if you’re looking for a mid-range Android tablet with active pen support, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is your only choice right now. The Galaxy Tab S5e does not support the S Pen. You can use generic pens, of course, but they’re not great for handwriting or precise drawings. If you want a stylus, the S6 Lite is the much better choice.
Hardware & Performance
The Galaxy Tab S5e ships with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 octa-core processor with 4GB or 6GB of RAM, as well as a 64GB or 128GB internal storage. With the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, on the other hand, we get an Exynos 9611 octa-core chip with 4GB of RAM and a 64GB or 128GB internal storage. You can get both with LTE.
In almost all benchmarks, the S5e performs a bit better than the S6 Lite – no matter if we look at CPU or GPU performance. Sure, the results are not that much higher, but they certainly are higher.
When surfing the web, watching YouTube, and even with some multitasking, I didn’t notice any performance difference between the two. You might get a better multitasking performance with the Tab S5e if you get the 6GB RAM version. Mine has 4GBs. Both perform very well with standard tasks.
Now, that changes when playing games. You can play Fortnite on the Tab S5e with the lowest graphics but with 3D resolution set to 100 percent. While that does not look amazing, it looks okay. And it does run smoothly with mostly 24 to 30 FPS. That’s not great for serious gamers, but for most people that’s fine.
On the Tab S6 Lite, on the other hand, Fortnite is barely playable. It does run kind of smoothly when you set the graphics and the 3D resolution to its lowest. But even then, you get some stutters in between and the graphics look much worse than on the Tab S5e.
The S5e performs better with other games too. In Call of Duty, for instance, you can set the graphics to “very high”. But on the S6 Lite, you can just set them to „high” instead of “very high”. Sure, like with those benchmarks, the differences are not super high, but the S5e does perform better overall.
Design & Build Quality
Both tablets feature a full metal body, and both feel very high-end. They basically look the same – just like you would expect from modern Samsung devices.
The S6 Lite is a bit narrower because it has a 10.4-inch screen instead of a 10.5-inch one. It’s also a bit thicker with 7mm compared to 5.5mm. Yes, the S5e is crazy thin with just 5.5mm and that’s why it’s a bit more premium feeling. And it is lighter with 400g compared to 465g.
While both tablets feature a USB C port, the S5e supports USB 3.1 Gen 1. The S6 Lite has a USB C 2.0 port. Yes, that also means that you can connect the S5e to an external monitor which you can’t do with the S6 Lite. That one has a headphone jack too which is missing on the S5e. Both have a microSD card slot.
The S5e has a couple of additional features. For me, the fingerprint scanner is the most important one. It’s built into the power button and works fantastic. The S6 Lite does not have one. You can unlock it with facial recognition and that works okay in good light but in a bad light, you’ve got to use a password or pin.
On one of its longer sides, the S5e also has a connector for an optional keyboard dock. I’ve tried it a bit in the past and it works pretty well but I don’t have it right now. On the S6 Lite, you’ve got to use a Bluetooth one.
Cameras & Speakers
Another difference is that the S5e has four speakers while the S6 Lite has two only. Now, the sound quality is quite similar. I’m guessing that Samsung is using the same speakers in both – but since the S5e has four of them, the sound quality is a bit more pleasing especially when listing at maximum volume. The bass sounds a bit better.
If you want to take photos with your tablet, then the S5e will give you much more detailed photos. On the back, it features a 13-megapixel camera and it can shoot 8-megapixel selfies. The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite offers an 8-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera only. If you want to record videos, you can go up to 4K on the S5e but on the S6 Lite, you’re limited to full HD.
When Samsung released the S5e last year, you might have heard that it has a problem with its WiFi. That’s probably still the case because it’s a hardware issue with the antennas. If you’re holding the tablet in landscape view with the camera to the left and holding the lower left side in a specific way, the WiFi signal can drop up to 50 percent.
In real life, I’ve never had a problem with it’s WiFi. It’s more of a theoretical problem. In fact, I haven’t been able to reliably reproduce the issue this time. A reason might be because I’m in the countryside right now and the internet is terrible anyways. Well, if you ever notice something with the WiFi, just rotate it and it’ll be fine. I could not get the WiFi to drop on the S6 Lite, no matter how I held it and the antennas do look a bit different. So, it seems like Samsung changed the design a bit. Basically, I don’t think it’s an issue on both.
The Galaxy Tab S5e was released with Android 9 last year and it is still running Android 9. However, an update to Android 10 should be released soon. Usually, Samsung’s tablets get two big updates. That also means that the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite might be up-to-date one year longer because it’s been released with Android 10. As usual, I don’t speak for Samsung and I can’t promise anything regarding their updates.
Now, besides the version difference, the software is mostly the same because not that much has changed and both are running OneUI. That’s the own graphics interface from Samsung.
There are some differences though. The Tab S6 Lite has those S Pen features which are missing on the other one – except for the Samsung Notes app.
With the Tab S5e, we do get the Samsung DeX desktop mode which might be important for some. It’s missing on the S6 Lite. Samsung DeX transforms Android into a desktop operating system with a taskbar and free-floating windows. DeX can be useful if you want to use the tablet with a mouse and a keyboard. Now, if you don’t think you would use DeX a lot, you can also open apps in free-floating windows on the S6 Lite. But you don’t get a desktop and no taskbar like you do get with Samsung DeX. And remember, you can hook up the S5e to an external monitor.
Even though both tablets have a 7040mAh battery, the Galaxy Tab S5e performs better in both of my battery tests. That’s probably due to the AMOLED screen which often does not need as much energy. When watching an HD video locally at medium brightness, the S5e lasts 13.5 hours and the S6 Lite lasts 11.5 hours. The differences are even bigger in my YouTube test. When streaming HD videos at maximum brightness, the S6 Lite lasts 6.5 hours and the S5e lasts 9.5 hours.
Galaxy Tab S6 Lite vs Galaxy Tab S5e: Final Verdict
So, which is the better tablet for who? Well, if you want to have an active pen, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is the much better choice. Its S Pen is fantastic. You should also get if you don’t like AMOLED screens and if you want your software to be up to date as long as possible. I can’t promise anything, but based on the past, the S6 Lite will get one update more.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is the better choice for most people who don’t need a pen. It has a very pretty AMOLED screen that can save lots of battery life and is a bit sharper. Due to its performance, it’s also the better choice for gamers. And it has lots of other features that might be useful to you like its fingerprint scanner, its four speakers, Samsung DeX, and the optional keyboard dock. Oh, and it is super slim.
- Premium metal body
- Excellent S Pen
- Good LCD screen
- Up-to-date software
- Good speakers
- No AMOLED screen
- Performance too weak for some games
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