Samsung, once again, is trying to start a trend with the new Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019) despite a steadily declining demand for tablets. With small external changes, fresh hardware and a new feature with potential, the new Galaxy Tab A can't save the entire tablet market, but it can find a place in many households.
The price is pleasantly affordable
With the new Galaxy Tab A and the Galaxy Tab S5e, also presented today, Samsung is cautiously changing its Android tablet portfolio. The Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019) tested here is the new entry-level tablet in the world of Samsung. With a price of 210 euros ($240) for the WiFi-only and 270 euros ($305) for the LTE version, this is a bargain for a Samsung product.
A Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite is in this price range for Android tablets, while Apple's iPad 9.7 starts at around 349 euros ($329). Samsung has scheduled the launch and availability of the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019) for April 5th in Europe. We're still waiting on confirmation of US and UK prices and release dates.
Quality build and chic design
Even though the trend in the tablet market is constantly pointing downwards, it does not mean that Samsung has lost its love for design or flair when it comes to craftsmanship of its tablets. Rather, in the case of the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019), Samsung's claim to be a premium brand is also reflected in the starter tablet.
You can already see this in action. A large part of the new Tab A is made of aluminum rather than plastic. Well, Samsung couldn't completely do away with plastic. So that the antennas for wireless communication can send and receive without problems, an approximately two-finger-wide strip on the back is made of plastic. This solution ensures that you don't have to have any antenna bands in the frame.
A TFT display with an 'outdoor mode'
If you are looking for a tablet that can shine with an AMOLED panel and, therefore, has very good contrast and black levels, you should not go for the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019). For this entry-level device, or family tablet, Samsung has gone with a TFT display with a resolution of 1,900 x 1,200 pixels. The positive thing about this display is that it is equipped with an outdoor mode.
This 15-minute mode allows the display to remain legible with increased brightness even in direct sunlight. We have to find out how bright the display shines in this mode after receiving a production model, but the product manager promised us it would hit around 400 nits at the hands-on event.
OneUI comes to Samsung's tablets
As far as software is concerned, Samsung has released the new OneUI for its Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019). Instead of just the same smartphone variant from the Galaxy Note9 or the S-series, this is a slightly adapted version for tablets. During the hands-on event, the final version wasn't available yet, but even in its not-final status, the software proved that OneUI uses the larger screen effectively. For example, in the multitasking switcher, the open apps are not displayed next to each other in a carousel, but rather in a grid, making better use of the entire screen.
In the case of the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019), the software highlight of the new OneUI for tablets is not the new interface, but a feature with which the tablet offers additional added value. It is called Smart Things and turns a pure multimedia tablet into a smart home control center.
This software can be used to control smart home products from a wide range of manufacturers via a single interface. This saves you the hassle of switching back and forth between the different manufacturer apps. According to Samsung, it already supports about 400 products worldwide and not only those from their own line, but also from third-party vendors such as Philips Hue, Netgear Arlo, Ring and many more.
Better performance from an in-house SoC
Inside the new Galaxy Tab A this year Samsung has once again reached into its own store cabinet. An in-house Exynos 7904 with eight computing cores will once again serve as the processor. The fresh Exynos 7904 promises better performance compared to the Snapdragon 450 that could be found in its predecessor. Instead of eight ARM Cortex 53 cores, as with the Qualcomm's 450, Exynos now has two Cortex A73 cores for performance-hungry applications and six Cortex A53 cores for everyday use.
This is supported by 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage in Europe. If more storage space is required, it is possible to expand up to 400GB with the help of a microSD card.
Surround sound on paper...
Two loudspeakers are built into the lower part of the frame, providing good sound. However, this year they can output surround sound with Dolby Atoms. We will have to find out in our final review whether surround sound can really make a difference on this tablet. The Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019) has already been given the all-clear in terms of a headphone jack, as Samsung continues to include it on its entry-level tablets.
Who uses cameras on a tablet?
Whether you really need good cameras for tablets is a matter of taste. But when it comes to tablets, you need at least half-usable cameras for video chats. The Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019) comes with a 5-megapixel camera on the front and an 8-megapixel camera on the back. We'll put them through their paces in our full review.
Enough endurance for gaming and video
To ensure that the tablet also has enough endurance for longer gaming sessions and TV show marathons, Samsung has included a 6,150 mAh battery in the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019), which is charged via USB-C. The battery can be recharged via a USB cable. Due to the aluminum housing of the tablet, it does not support wireless charging. How good the real-life battery life turns out to be on the new Tab A, we'll have to decide once we get our review device.
A good family tablet and smart home control HQ
Samsung is rearranging its own tablet portfolio and is now placing the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019) as its entry-level device. The target group will be consumers who want a family-friendly tablet. Even children can use this tablet in a secure children's mode - parents can relax a little by pre-setting the usage time.
The use of the tablet as a smart home control center via Smart Things is also exciting. Smart Things will certainly enable more and more Samsung products to be controlled in the future but, above all, the fact that Samsung could also integrate third-party manufacturers into the Smart Things world will give the tablet a new raison d'être in the future.