Samsung has quite a big selection of Android tablets right now. The newest one is the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite which is a mid-range tablet that costs around 350 Dollars. A much cheaper option is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 that you can get at around 200 Dollars. Well, which tablet is better suited for who and when does it make sense to spend more money? That’s what you’ll learn in this comparison.
Design & Build Quality
The tablets look quite similar. You can see that they’re made by Samsung. I like that we get a metal body with both – so, the cheaper one doesn’t look cheap. It’s well made too. But if you look closely, there are some differences.
An obvious difference is that the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 has a plastic part at the top for the antennas. Its frame also sticks out a bit above the screen – I’d say about 1mm. With the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, the transition from screen to frame is smooth which feels better. Here, the antennas are built into the body and it does not have any plastic.
With 7mm, the S6 Lite is 0.5mm thinner than the Tab A 10.1. If we want to be super exact, it’s also 4g lighter with 465g – but sure, you would never notice that. I like on the S6 Lite that the black screen bezels have the same width all around. On the 10.1 they’re bigger on the shorter sides.
Both feature a USB C 2.0 port, a microSD card slot, and a headphone jack.
Cameras & Speakers
At first sight, the cameras are the same. We get a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and an 8-megapixel camera on the back on both. And the photo and video quality of their main cameras are almost the same. There’s a bit more post-processing done on the S6 Lite but the amount of detail is the same.
That’s not the case on the front though. Selfies from the S6 Lite look a bit sharper even though they offer the same resolution on paper.
The sound quality of their speakers is very similar but there is one major difference. While both have stereo speakers, they’re placed on just one of the shorter sides on the Galaxy Tab A 10.1. That means you won’t hear any real stereo separation when watching movies. On the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, on the other hand, the speakers are placed on two sides which is much better.
Display & S Pen
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has a 10.4-inch screen with a resolution of 2000 x 1200 pixels and the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 has a 10.1-inch screen with 1920 x 1200 pixels. So, while their screens are not the same, they are very similar and have the same sharpness.
Other aspects are similar too. Samsung is using LCD TFT screens and not AMOLED panels as they do on their more expensive offerings. But still, I think the screens are good and they’re laminated in both cases. That means that unlike with the iPad 7 you won’t see any air gap underneath the touchscreen here.
Viewing angles are stable and the color reproduction is good too. I noticed that the Tab S6 Lite has a deeper black, the contrast is higher. It’s also a bit brighter. The Tab A 10.1 does have an outdoor mode, though, which brings it to the same brightness.
A major highlight of the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is its S Pen which is included at no extra costs. It’s an active stylus that you can use for handwritten notes and drawings. The pen supports 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity and you can attach it magnetically to the side of the tablet. I like the S Pen a lot, it’s a well-executed stylus with lots of software features.
Samsung is not offering any kind of pen for the Galaxy Tab A 10.1. And no, the S Pens of other tablets don’t work. If you want, you can get a generic stylus made for capacitive touchscreens. There are several kinds that cost between 5 and 20 Dollars. Most have a thick tip but there are some with a very slim tip that gets charged electrically because that’s supposed to make them more precise. It doesn’t but that’s what their ads say.
Well, the S Pen is a lot better than those pens. The pens for capacitive touchscreens are okay if you just want to draw a bit for fun. But they’re not precise enough for handwritten notes – even if you write super carefully. And you don’t get any palm rejection with those pens.
So, if you want to use a pen, the Tab S6 Lite is much better suited for you.
Hardware & Performance
Inside the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 runs an Exynos 7904 octa-core processor which cores run with up to 1.8GHz. Depending on the version, we also get 2GB or 3GB of RAM and a 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB internal storage.
Samsung is using an Exynos 9611 octa-core chip inside the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite which clocks with up to 2.7GHz. It’s supported by 4GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. You can get LTE versions in both cases.
You can see in my benchmark comparison that the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is faster in all benchmarks. That goes for both the CPU and the graphics performance.
In real life, you can notice that too. When switching between apps fast, the S6 Lite performs better. That’s the case with multitasking in general. Another reason for that is those 4GB of RAM because my Tab A 10.1 has 2GB only. The operating systems itself and simpler apps like Chrome run very similarly.
You can see the differences when playing games. While Call of Duty runs on both tablets quite well, you can set the graphics to medium only on the Tab A 10.1. On the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, you can play it with high graphics.
Fortnite does not run at all on the Tab A. But you can play it on the Tab S6 Lite – however it performs very poorly, and I wouldn’t recommend it.
I also noticed that loading times in games like Call of Duty and Asphalt 9 are always between 5 and 10 seconds longer on the Tab A 10.1.
So, the performance of the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is better – not just based on benchmarks but you can feel it in real life too.
Software: Android 9 vs. Android 10
Let’s get to their software. While Android 9 is running on the cheaper one out of the box, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is shipped with Android 10. Usually, Samsung is releasing two big software updates for all of its tablets. Since the Tab 10.1 is a year old already, it should only get Android 11 after it’ll receive Android 10 this summer. The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite could go up to Android 12 – but I can’t promise anything.
On top of Android runs Samsung’s own OneUI. The features are basically the same on both. You can open two apps side by side or in free-floating windows on each. Both don’t support the Samsung DeX desktop mode. The Tab S6 Lite has those additional S Pen features but both come pre-loaded with the Samsung Notes app.
Read: The Best Android Tablets
The results in my battery tests are very similar. When looping an HD video locally with medium brightness the Tab A 10.1 lasts 10.5 hours and the Tab S6 Lite 11.5 hours.
When streaming an HD video on YouTube at maximum brightness, the Tab A 10.1 lasts 7 hours and the Tab S6 Lite lasts 6.5 hours.
Galaxy Tab A 10.1 vs. S6 Lite Comparison: Final Verdict
My final verdict is very clear. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is the better tablet overall. It offers a higher-end design, better speakers, a better performance, and the S Pen. Nobody should be surprised by that since it’s pricier.
But my comparison also shows that while the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 is weaker, it’s not that much weaker. Many features are very similar and that’s why I think it continues to be a great value in 2020. If you just want a simple tablet for YouTube, Netflix, and surfing the web, you don’t get that much more with the Tab S6 Lite.
But of course, if you want the S Pen, you should get the S6 Lite. It is a better overall tablet.
- 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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