The world of Android tablets has needed the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite — an iPad competitor for the Android side. The Tab S6 Lite’s screen and sound are strong enough to stand side by side Apple's $329 iPad, and we're not even bothered that the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite costs $20 more, at $349. That's because Samsung's packed in an S-Pen stylus for free, which no other tablet maker does.
If the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite's performance were a little snappier, and its facial recognition more reliable, I would be far more in love with this slate. Neither flaw is a dealbreaker, though, as this Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite review will explain why this isn't just one of the best Android tablets, but one of the best cheap tablets on the market.
Display: 10.4-inch, 2000 x 1200 pixels
OS: Android 10 with Samsung One UI 2
Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.1 x 0.3 inches
Weight: 1 pound
Cameras: 5.0 MP (front), 8 MP (rear)
Memory: 4GB of RAM
Processor: Samsung Exynos 9611
Ports: USB-C, headphone jack
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: Price, availability and accessories
The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite costs $349, and is on sale now at Samsung.com and other retailers.
While I love that Samsung includes the S-Pen Stylus, I felt myself missing a keyboard cover accessory. I tested the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite with a Samsung Book Cover case ($69.99 extra) that has space where keys could be, where I kept typing without thinking. Samsung’s tablet supports Bluetooth and USB-C keyboards.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: Design
With incredibly slim bezels — measuring 0.3 to 0.4 inches — the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is closer to a floating panel than any other tablet in this price range, as the Microsoft Surface Go 2 bezels measures between 0.5 and 0.4 inches and the iPad (2019)'s bezels are 0.8 and 0.3 inches. The Tab S6 Lite’s metallic back (Samsung declined to name which metal that is) feels plenty sturdy.
We tested an Oxford Gray Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, which looks very dark, almost black. You can also buy the tablet in Angora Blue and Chiffon Rose.
Measuring 0.3 inches thick and weighing 1 pound, the Tab S6 Lite is lighter than the Surface Go 2 (0.3 inches thick, 1.25 pounds) and even a hair lighter than the 10.2-inch iPad (0.3 inches, 1.1 pounds). The original Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 (0.2 inches, 1 pound) is a bit thinner.
The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite's headphone jack is on its top edge, its USB-C port is on the bottom and its microSD reader is on the right (as are the power and volume buttons).
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: Display
Watching the trailer for Netflix's Space Force on the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, I noted decent color reproduction and detail. I saw strong reds in a glowing hallway that Steve Carrell was running down, a range of blues in the skies behind the shuttle, as well as the texture of the sandy fields Carrell fell down in while training in his suit.
Our colorimeter rated the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite for 98.4% of the sRGB spectrum. That's a little less colorful than the ratings from the iPad (105%), the Surface Go 2 (107%) and the original Galaxy Tab S6 (122%)
According to our light gun, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite produces up to 435 nits of brightness, which isn't enough for colors to not darken when viewed at 30 degrees to the left or right. Still, it's brighter than the 408-nit Surface Go 2 and slightly dimmer than the 450-nit iPad. The regular Galaxy Tab S6 produced a max of 290 nits in a dimly lit room, though its display shoots up as high as 473 nits when its sensors detect a ton of ambient light.
The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite's 10.4-inch 2000 x 1200-pixel touchscreen panel provides accurate responses to touch. It speedily recognized taps and swipes as I navigated Android and offered smooth scrolling in Chrome.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: S-Pen
I've got to give Samsung credit. While I wish the Tab S6 Lite had the iPad's $329 price, throwing in the S-Pen stylus for free makes the $349 price tag more than acceptable (especially as the Apple Pencil costs $99 extra). This S-Pen also feels better to hold and write with, thanks to a flattened side for improved grip and how its tip gives ever so slightly when pressed hard against the screen.
Also, the S-Pen provides a fantastic note-taking experience. As I doodled in the Samsung Notes app, I saw incredibly fast input recognition, with nearly no lag at all — on par with the Apple Pencil.
Even better, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite's S-Pen docks by snapping onto the tablet's side (like the iPad Pro) and not plugging into its ports (like the iPad).
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: Audio
A pair of AKG-branded speakers pump strong and sweet sound out of the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. As I listened to the tablet fill my home office with the bass of Keys N Krates' "Keep it 100" and the delicate vocals of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Fake Mona Lisa" I was impressed by the tablet's Dolby Atmos-supporting speakers.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: Performance
The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is armed with the Samsung Exynos 9611 CPU and 4GB of RAM, enough for a slight amount of productivity. After splitting my screen between 6 Chrome tabs (including Giphy) and a 1080p YouTube video, I noticed some pauses when I moved between tabs. The iPad performed similarly, while the Surface Go 2 stayed snappy with a dozen tabs.
The bigger annoyance I saw was a bit of slowdown when resizing the split view screen when dragging the divider left or right — and that happened no matter how many tabs I had open. The iPad also pauses while you resize the split-screen, but the process looks less awkward, because of how both sides grey out while you're moving and then clear up when you release. That doesn’t happen with the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, where the divider moves and everything stays the same, only re-drawing the pixels once you release.
On the Geekbench 5 general performance benchmark, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite hit a not-bad multicore score 1,291. We saw higher scores of 1,429 from the iPad (A10 Fusion SoC) and 1,563 Surface Go 2 (Intel 8th Gen Core m3 with 8GB of RAM).
Playing the Asphalt 9 racing game, which runs on most devices, my expectations were lowered at the start, as the animated diamond in the corner of the loading screen skipped around a bit. This continued as I played the game, which had stuttery motion during car crashes.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: Battery Life
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite will last all day. Our battery test (web surfing on Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness) took 12 hours and 40 minutes to drain the Tab S6 Lite of a full charge. That beats the times from the Surface Go 2 (11:39) and the 7th Gen iPad (11:58). The Galaxy Tab S6 (8:58) didn't make it nearly as long as this Lite model.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: Cameras and face unlock
The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite's 5-megapixel front camera and 8-megapixel rear cameras proved capable as I snapped shots around the house. The selfie I snapped showed plenty of detail in my increasingly shaggy quarantine hair, and my skin was rendered in accurate hues. A bowl of apples I shot also came out clearly, with plenty of different greens and slight browns, showing which were ripe and which I should have eaten earlier.
My only real issue with the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite's cameras is that I found the front sensor to be inconsistent when I used it to unlock the tablet via face identification. This mostly happened in rooms that were low on ambient light, and left me (multiple times) to enter my password manually.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: Software
The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite runs Android 10, something we don't see from the Amazon Fire tablets (which run a proprietary fork of Android that's restrictive). And while that’s great, some popular Android apps still have a ways to go on tablets.
While Slack and Netflix are on par with their iOS counterparts, the Twitter app is still just one giant column, stretching all of your content across the screen — with no sidebar on the right. Similarly, Spotify on iOS makes better use of a tablet’s screen space with a Now Playing section on the left and the content you're navigating on the right. On the Tab S6 Lite, there is no split to the screen, and there's a lot of unused space.
Password manager app 1Password doesn't work with Samsung's biometric face identification, making me type my absurdly long (but still memorable) unlock code out.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite makes a strong argument as to how good an Android tablet can be. Its sharp and colorful display mixes with strong audio to make a great device for streaming shows and songs around the house, and its thin bezels make it feel more modern than many other tablets. If only its performance were snappier and Android developers paid more attention to how their apps look on tablets, this Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite review would be a lot more positive.
For more speed and a stronger ecosystem, the Surface Go 2 and iPad give you a more unified tablet experience — though the $399 Surface Go 2 costs $50 more and adding on the iPad's stylus bumps its price to $429 ($80 more than the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite). But thanks to fantastic battery life, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is the best tablet running Android.