Samsung Galaxy Tab S6: A cheat sheet

Samsung's latest tablet is built to compete with high-end devices like the iPad Pro. Here's what business professionals need to know about the Galaxy Tab S6.

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Image: Samsung

Heads up, Samsung fans: The Korean hardware giant has announced its latest tablet, the Galaxy Tab S6, which looks designed to be an iPad Pro competitor.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is sure to excite professionals looking for a non-Apple tablet that's powerful enough for business. With an included Samsung S Pen, 10.5" AMOLED screen, optional keyboard cover, and Samsung's desktop-like DeX mode, this latest Samsung tablet might be just the thing you need to fill the gap between smartphone and business laptop. 

As TechRepublic sister site CNET points out, the tablet market in general is in decline, and the innovative new features included in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 might turn things around.

This Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 cheat sheet features the most important details and resources that business professionals need to know. We will update this guide as new, relevant information is available.

SEE: All of TechRepublic's cheat sheets and smart person's guides

What is the Galaxy Tab S6?

The Galaxy Tab S6 is Korean tech giant Samsung's latest tablet. It's a high-end device designed to compete with other flagship tablets like Apple's iPad Pro, which is evident by its size, specs, and accessories. 

If you're familiar with the Galaxy Tab S4 released in 2018, this model is likely to look and feel similar. You can essentially consider the Galaxy Tab S6 an updated version of the Galaxy Tab S4 that performs up to 1.6x faster (according to Samsung), and packs a few new features.

First off, the new S Pen is included with the Galaxy Tab S6. The latest edition of the S Pen builds on the capabilities of its predecessor and is now able to pause media, skip items, act as a camera remote, and can reportedly charge enough for a full day of use in just 10 minutes. The S Pen magnetically attaches to the back of the Galaxy Tab S6 for charging and storage. 

SEE: More Samsung Galaxy coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

The new keyboard cover (sold separately) has a trackpad, which might sound surprising for a tablet—most don't have mouse support. The Galaxy Tab S6 keyboard is designed to be used with Samsung's DeX mode, which makes the tablet act like a full-fledged computer, including the mouse support you'd expect. 

DeX isn't new to the Galaxy Tab S6, but it does take center stage with this model. While in DeX mode, the Galaxy Tab S6 has a desktop with quick-launch icons, access to function keys, support for multiple app windows, and other features you'd expect from a Chromebook, which is what DeX looks a lot like. 

Other features sure to excite potential buyers include the Galaxy Tab S6's reported 15-hour battery life, an on-screen fingerprint reader, tap to wake, and SD card support for expanded storage. 

You can read the full tech specs for the Galaxy Tab S6 below.

Additional resources

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6: Tech specs

Display: 10.5" WQXGA (2560x1600) sAMOLED
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Octa Core (1x2.84GHz + 3x2.41GHz + 4x1.78GHz)
Dimensions: 9.63" x 6.28" x 0.22", 0.92 lb (without keyboard cover)
LTE Support: LTE Cat.16 DLCA, 4X4 MIMO
Memory/Storage: 6GB RAM + 128GB storage or 8GB RAM + 256GB storage, microSD up to 512GB
Camera: 13MP/5MP dual rear cameras,  8.0MP front
Port: USB3.1 (Type C), POGO
Sensors: Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope, RGB, Proximity, Iris Scanner, Hall Sensor
Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual band, MIMO, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth® 5.0
GPS: GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU, GALILEO, Wi-Fi positioning
Battery: 7,040mAh, Fast Charging
OS/Upgrade: Android 9 Pie
Accessories: S Pen (included)
Video: Recording: UHD 4K (3840x2160) @ 30fps; Playback: UHD 4K (3840x2160) @ 60fps
Audio: 4 speakers tuned by AKG, Dolby Atmos

Why should professionals care about the Galaxy Tab S6?

Business professionals who want a work tablet or a 2-in-1 and don't want an iPad Pro should pay attention to the Galaxy Tab S6's launch because it's one of the few enterprise-capable tablets from a major manufacturer that has largely given up on Android as a tablet OS. 

The Galaxy Tab S6's features make it fairly apparent what market Samsung is trying to capture: On-the-go professionals who need to be able to work on both a tablet and a full laptop-style machine. 

With its DeX mode, S Pen, long lasting battery, and high-end tech specs the Galaxy Tab S6 is clearly trying to be both a tablet and a laptop. Business users may want to take note of its capabilities: Unlike similar machines that are tablet first, the Galaxy Tab S6 has the potential to feel more like a full-fledged PC while still being as portable and high-performance as a tablet. 

SEE: More must-read coverage about mobile devices (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

The Galaxy Tab S6 is relatively cheap for its class and specs: It starts at just $649 USD, and people who preorder it have the option to purchase the keyboard cover for half off. 

In short, the Galaxy Tab S6 has a lot of potential as a business machine. DeX alone makes it more capable than competing products by giving it a mode that feels like a desktop OS; also, it's priced very competitively, and it seems to be designed for power users.

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What are the Galaxy Tab S6's competitors?

There isn't much to say in the way of Galaxy Tab S6 competitors outside of the obvious: The iPad Pro. The argument could be made that the Microsoft Surface line is a competing product, but I'm excluding it from discussion because it's not a tablet in the traditional sense—it runs on Windows and is first and foremost a laptop.

As for competing with the iPad Pro, it remains to be seen if Samsung can pull out a win. With tablet sales down across the board, and Apple still commanding a lead, it might be tough for the Galaxy Tab S6 to outcompete the iPad Pro.

That doesn't mean the Galaxy Tab S6 isn't capable of competing with the iPad Pro: It's cheaper, has similar (and in some cases better) hardware, comes with the S Pen (the Apple Pencil costs extra), and has desktop-mimicking features that iOS can't duplicate. 

SEE: Galaxy Tab S6 challenges iPad Pro, Jaybird Vista, Pixel 4 features, new Chromebooks (MobileTechRoundup show #476) (ZDNet)

So while it's safe to say that the Galaxy Tab S6 and iPad Pro are competitors, the question remains whether the Android tablet market is sustainable, and by extension whether the Galaxy Tab S6 will be a worthwhile device. 

As TechRepublic's James Sanders points out, Google's abandoning of its own tablets signals that Android has ceded ground to Apple, which has dominated the tablet market. Sanders writes, "The user experience [on Android tablets] is essentially guaranteed to remain static, with major version upgrades (if even made available) unlikely to bring user-facing changes." 

Even DeX isn't an Android feature—it's a Samsung-designed app that runs on Galaxy tablets. If Sanders is correct that the Android tablet market is drying up, then the Galaxy Tab S6 may never achieve actual competitor status, leaving it a blip on the radar of an Apple-dominated market. 

It's up to you where to invest your computing budget.

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When will the Galaxy Tab S6 be available?

If the Galaxy Tab S6 looks like your kind of machine, you won't have to wait too long to get your hands on one: Preorders open up on Samsung's website starting August 23, 2019, with units expected to arrive and be available in stores on September 6, 2019.

If the Galaxy Tab S6's laptop-like features are your reason for buying, preordering isn't a bad idea: The keyboard cover, which will be available for $180 at launch, is 50% off for those who preorder from Samsung's website. 

Additional resources

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By Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.