Gadget Enthusiast

Samsung’s New Tab A Isn’t The Top Student In Class, But Is That Kid Teachers Still Like

  • Samsung recently released the Galaxy Tab A 10.5 to the market, retailing at a price of RM1,699, the Tab A features a Snapdragon 450 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage with the option to expand to 512GB of storage.

It appears as if the tablet has somehow managed to creep back into vogue, and as of late, the space has seen a resurgence of sorts. Not anywhere near the buzz surrounding the iPad-led craze circa the early 2010s, but still the demand for the mobile tablet appears to be in healthy territory, with Android users especially now having a decent range of devices to pick from.

Veterans of tablet-making in their own right, Samsung have released two tablets into the market for the last stretch of 2018, introducing the Tab S4—a higher-end device complete with stylus functionality—and the RM1,699 Tab A 10.5 (or simply the Tab A).

The Tab A (and subject of this review) is positioned as a more entry-level big-screen device for those who need more real estate than even the biggest smartphone in the market can provide.

Our review unit of the Galaxy Tab A came barebones without its usual box or accompanying accessories, but for this review I figured that the base unit was probably enough for what we needed to do.

Hardware Specs

Display 10.5 inch IPS LCD display, 1200 x 1920 pixels, 16:10 ratio
Dimensions & Weight 260 x 161.1 x 8 mm (10.24 x 6.34 x 0.31 in), 534 grams
Camera Rear: 8MP

Front: 5MP selfie camera

Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 450
Memory 3GB RAM
Storage 32GB, expandable storage up to 400GB
Battery 7,300 mAh

The first observation I made about The Tab A was that it was built well but in an unassuming fashion—a front glass display fitted in a 10.5 inch IPS LCD touchscreen surrounded by some fairly sizeable bezels, while the back was clad in a soft-touch rubbery plastic that was mostly bare save for the single 8MP camera and its accompanying flash.

The front and back are pretty minimal.
The left of the Tab A has an expansion port for a keyboard accessory, while the power button, volume rocker, and SIM tray are on the right.
The quad speaker set-up on the top and bottom of the Tab A come with Dolby Atmos certification and can play surround sound.

Around the sides were the standard power button, volume rocker, a USB-C port, a welcome 3.5mm headphone jack and an expansion port for the keyboard accessory which you could purchase separately. For those requiring constant connectivity, there is also the option to put in a data SIM with LTE speeds on hand should you require it.

Basically Just Fine

In terms of everyday use, the Tab A accurately represented what you’d expect from a tablet of this price point, with Samsung’s Android skin over Android 8.1 providing the essentials (including a Kid’s Mode that is great for parents who want a free app for their kids to learn and play in).

Impressively, the Tab A was able to last over 2 days (sometimes 3) thanks to its whopping 7,300 mAh battery, making it ideal for watching movies during long flights or road-tripping.

The IPS LCD screen, while not amazing in any sense of the word, performed satisfactorily. Colours were accurate and vivid enough despite it not being an AMOLED, screen brightness was sufficient, and overall I found there to be very little in the way of complaints as far as media consumption went.

Also, the quad speaker set-up on the Tab A was accompanied by Dolby Atmos certification, lending it surround-sound capabilities, which was nice when watching videos or games that had surround-sound properties, but it was all a temporary novelty as I usually prefer to wear earbuds when consuming media on my devices anyway.

For the less demanding tasks such as web-browsing, typing out emails, or even watching YouTube or movies on Netflix, performance was steady and uninterrupted, although there was a bit of negligible sluggishness when it came to navigating menus and switching around apps.

This slight slowness was something I expected thanks to the device’s Snapdragon 450 processor, and it was when I put the Tab A through its paces in more rigorous tasks—namely playing demanding games such as PUBG—that its limitations in the performance department began to become more apparent. Running games at the highest settings wasn’t a great experience, but I don’t expect that many considering this device would rank gaming as one of their top priorities.

As for the camera, the Tab A’s main and front cameras were just alright, able to capture subjects in a quality that can be deemed functional but not at the Insta-worthy level you’d expect a from high-end flagship phone in the market.

You’ll need to do some editing to make shots look vivid.
Colours don’t pop as much.

Verdict

As with devices in this range, the Tab A isn’t perfect, but as with all such devices, it’s important to view this one in the context of the type of user it’s meant for—the Tab A really is a gadget that isn’t for the heavy multi-tasker, nor is it meant for the dedicated gamer.

The Tab A has plenty of limitations and this is illustrated more than anywhere else in its choice of internals and to a certain extent, display.

But I can honestly see a place for it amongst casual users—even for myself, I enjoyed having a bigger screen to watch YouTube videos with (even if I do prefer the vividness of an AMOLED). Its lightweight properties meant that I could easily move it around and use it as a productivity device, responding to emails or writing articles without needing to suffer the heaviness of my laptop or deal with the annoyance of a smaller smartphone screen.

At the end of the day, I feel that those in the market for a tablet will do well just to consider the Tab A. Though the price tag of RM1,699 may appear on the more pricey side, I still feel that there’s value in simply having a device with a larger screen that will do the basics well.

Pros

Cons

Good build quality Demanding tasks are a challenge
Giant battery provides multi-day usage Camera set-up isn’t amazing
Weight makes it comfortable to carry around No AMOLED display
Option for an extra keyboard Slightly expensive for it’s feature set
Good for children
  • You can find out more about the Tab A 10.5 and all its other extra features here.

VP Verdict is a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion into our Facebook page.

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