Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite Review

By Tom Bedford Review Source

It’s become something of a cliche to call every new Android slate an iPad competitor, but it's incredibly hard to avoid that in this Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite review, because more so than most it seems like an attempt to break Apple’s stranglehold on the tablet market.

From the price to the screen size and various features, the device feels very much like it’s been designed to tempt potential buyers from the iOS ecosystem to the Android tablet one.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is ostensibly an affordable version of the premium Tab S6, but it doesn’t actually have much in common with that tablet; instead, it seems more like a particularly accomplished member of the Galaxy Tab A line of cheap tablets.

With Prime Day 2021 scheduled for June 21, we could see the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite price reduced, especially with the Tab S7 FE new on the scene - if you're looking to buy the popular S6 Lite, it might be worth waiting until then and checking out the deals.

The key feature of the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is that it comes with an S Pen stylus (it’s actually the most affordable Samsung tablet to come with a stylus) which is great for doodling, note taking and annotating. You don’t have to pay extra for it, as you do for the Apple Pencil for use with iPads, but Samsung’s stylus misses a few tricks by comparison with Apple’s stylus.

The tablet feels and looks pretty durable, with smaller bezels than the Galaxy Tab A and a solid rear that feels sturdy enough to survive hard knocks. The presence of a 3.5mm headphone jack, which isn’t a guaranteed feature in tablets, will be appreciated by many too.

Stylus problems aren’t the only issue the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has – it can also be a little slow to respond, with slight delays when you’re tapping the screen or swiping, and its chipset isn’t great for playing high-end games, or other demanding tasks.

Another problem is that Android, or at least Samsung’s One UI take on Android, just isn’t as good a tablet operating system as iPadOS, although there are features and perks that might make up for this, especially in the stylus department.

None of this affects the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite’s usefulness as a portable entertainment machine though – its display is pretty good for a budget tablet, and it’s also got an aspect ratio that’s better for viewing content than that of many iPads. So if you’re just looking for a portable device for watching movies or TV shows, you could do a lot worse.

So the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite isn’t the perfect mid-range slate, but there’s still a lot here to like - enough that we rank it among the best Android tablets.

And if the features on offer here, like the S Pen, good screen and low price, appeal to you, then it’s certainly worth considering as an alternative to the entry-level iPad. If, though, you like a snappy user experience, and a stylus experience that isn’t affected by one or two annoying issues, perhaps an iPad is better for you.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: availability

SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB S6 LITE SPECS Weight: 467g Dimensions: 244.5 x 154.3 x 7mm Display size: 10.4-inch Resolution: 1200 x 2000 Chipset: Exynos 9611 RAM: 4GB Storage: 64/128GB Rear camera: 8MP Front camera: 5MP Pre-installed software: Android 10 Battery: 7,040mAh Charging: 15W wired

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite availability is a little confusing, and it depends quite a bit on where you are. In the US the tablet isn’t available at the time of writing, but we know it’ll be released for its Wi-Fi only version, and it’s likely an LTE version will be released too. According to Samsung the device will be released ‘Q2’ of this year, which means it should be available by the end of June.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: design

  • Robust design

  • USB-C and 3.5mm headphone jack

  • No compartment for S Pen stylus

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has a glass front with a metal frame and rear, and these materials make it feel hardy, as though it could survive being dropped a few times.

The choice of materials does mean the device is a little heavy though, at 467g – for reference that’s at least twice as heavy as most smartphones. With dimensions of 244.5 x 154.3 x 7mm it’s a fairly average size given its screen diameter, and it’s certainly not laptop-sized – in fact we actually managed to fit the tablet into large pockets on certain items of clothing.

A design feature that may please some is that the bezel which surrounds the screen is pretty slim, compared to those on iPads and Galaxy Tab A slates. The low screen-to-body ratio means the device has a good-size screen without feeling overly large in the hand.

The back of the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite houses the rear camera in the top-left corner (if you’re holding the device in portrait orientation). There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top of the device, a power button and volume rocker on the right edge, and a USB-C port on the bottom edge.

Not all affordable tablets have USB-C ports, as some have micro USB, which is slower for data transfer and charging, so we’re happy to see the inclusion of it here. The audio jack will also please many users of wired headphones.

The Tab S6 Lite comes in Oxford Gray, Angora Blue or Chiffon Rose colors, although not all different colors are available in every region. Our review model was Oxford Gray, as pictured.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite comes with the S Pen stylus in the box, which is a useful addition for drawing, sketching and taking notes. Unlike the full-fat Galaxy Tab S6 there’s no there’s no slot in the body for stowing the stylus, so you have to perch it on the right edge magnetically, although if you get the Book Cover (which we tested the tablet alongside, as you can see in the images), this has a compartment for it.

While the addition of an included stylus may impress some prospective buyers, and certainly changes the way you use your tablet, it’s not perfect – there are some issues, which we’ll get to later in this review.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: display

  • 10.4-inch LCD screen

  • 2000 x 1200 resolution, 5:3 aspect ratio

  • Good for watching movies and TV shows

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has a 10.4-inch LCD screen with a 2000 x 1200 resolution. That’s only 0.1 inches smaller than the non-Lite tablet, but the lack of that slate’s higher-resolution AMOLED panel is one of the sacrifices of this budget tablet.

The screen quality is pretty good for LCD – it’s nice and bright, and easy to view even when you’re outdoors, but the colors sometimes look a bit washed-out compared to displays on other devices, and when we were playing games or watching films the low resolution was sometimes noticeable.

Saying that, depending on the streaming services you watch content on, or your subscription package, this resolution may be all you need, and only those with access to 4K content may find the tablet misses the mark.

In addition, the 5:3 aspect ratio is just a step off 16:9 (it’s 15:9 to be precise), which is the aspect ratio lots of TV shows and streaming movies are broadcast in. This means that when you’re watching content you don’t have prominent black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, as you’ll find on iPads, which tend to have 4:3 displays.

Because of the LCD display tech, the screen shows black as quite bright, which is because LCD creates the shade by displaying all the colors at once, unlike LED panels which simply turn off the LED to get black. The result is that when you’re looking at something dark, for example if you’re using Android 10’s dark mode, the display still appears bright, which isn’t as relaxing for your eyes, and doesn’t seem to save battery much either. This is a problem the Tab S6 Lite has in common with all LCD devices though.

When swiping the screen with the S Pen or a finger we noticed that the screen was a little less responsive than other tablets; it felt like there was more friction or resistance. It’s not exactly clear why this is the case, but it’s likely down to the materials used for the screen or any films applied over the top – either way, it was a bit of a nuisance when swiping to navigate or drawing with the S Pen.

We eventually got used to this, but when using the device alongside an iPad with an Apple Pencil the issue is rather noticeable. Our main S Pen issue, though, was with palm detection. On iPads, when the Apple Pencil is in use the device can detect whether the Apple Pencil, your finger or the palm of your hand is touching the screen, and ignores inputs from the latter – this means you can rest your palm on the screen when you’re sketching or writing.

If you rest your palm on the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite’s display when using the S Pen, however, the device thinks it’s a separate input, and responds accordingly – so you can accidentally draw a line, or change the cropping of a screenshot, or even start navigating the phone by swiping and opening apps. If Samsung wants to offer the best stylus experience on its tablets, it really needs to develop some palm detection technology.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: specs, performance and camera

  • Mid-range Exynos 9611 chipset with 4GB RAM

  • A touch sluggish to use

  • 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite runs on the Exynos 9611 chipset, made by Samsung itself, which we’ve previously seen in a number of mid-range and affordable phones like the Galaxy A51 and Galaxy A50s. This is paired with 4GB RAM.