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Samsung Galaxy Tab A and Tab E first impressions: hands-on with the brand's new mid-range slates

|June 18 2015 |Samsung, Tablets, First impressions

"A first look at Samsung's new mid-range Galaxy Tab duo, the Tab A and Tab E"

At an event in Bangalore today, Samsung launched two new mid-range tablets for the Indian market, the Galaxy Tab A and Galaxy Tab E. Both devices come with SIM card slots for data connectivity, and support voice calling too. At the event, we got our hands on the tablets, and here are our first impressions.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A_4

The Galaxy Tab A is the more premium of the two slates. It's very slim, measuring 7.5mm around the waist, and weighs just 320 grams, which makes handling easier. Internationally, the Tab A is available in both 8-inch and 9.7-inch sizes, but in India, Samsung has launched only the former. The display features a resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels, resulting in a very average pixel density of 160ppi. During our brief usage, the display seemed sharp enough with adequate brightness levels and viewing angles. The aspect ratio of the display is 4:3, which Samsung says is ideal for reading or browsing.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A_3 Samsung Galaxy Tab A_8

Above the screen, you'll find Samsung branding, the earpiece, and 2MP front camera. Below the screen sits Samsung's signature home button, flanked by the return and recent apps capacitive keys. There's a chrome trim around the front panel, and the tablet features a metal-finish that lends it a premium appeal. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab A_2 Samsung Galaxy Tab A_5 Samsung Galaxy Tab A_1

On the right spine, you'll see the power button and volume rocker on top, and two flaps for the micro-SIM and microSD card at the bottom. The bottom edge features the primary microphone, micro-USB port, 3.5mm audio jack and speaker grille.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A_9

The soft-touch back panel features the primary 5MP autofocus camera on top and Samsung branding in the centre. There are two circles on the top right and bottom right corners, just like the ones we saw on the Galaxy Tab S (review), which are meant to attach the optional Book cover.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A_13 Samsung Galaxy Tab A_12

Handing software operations is Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, overlaid with Samsung's TouchWiz UI. Powering the slate is the 64-bit quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 chip clocked at 1.2GHz, paired with 2GB of RAM. There's 16GB of internal storage, out of which around 10.74GB was available on our demo unit. The storage can be expanded up to 128GB via microSD. Powering the slate is a 4,200mAh battery. The Galaxy Tab A supports both 4G bands in India, and Samsung has also tied up with Airtel to offer users 2GB of free 4G data for two months. The tablet is priced at Rs 20,500, and will go on sale via retail outlets across the country by the end of the week in Smoky Titanium and White colours.

Samsung Galaxy Tab E_15

The Samsung Galaxy Tab E is the more affordable of the two slates. It features a large 9.6-inch display with a resolution of 1,024 x 800 pixels, resulting in a pixel density of 157ppi. While the large 16:10 display might be ideal for those who like to watch videos or play games, sharpness was on the lower side compared to the Tab A. The size also makes it difficult to use one handed, so you might want to invest in a folding case for it. The Tab E is quite slim at 8.5mm, but weighs a meaty 495g. The back panel is made of a textured 'fabric style' material, that doesn't look as sleek as the Tab A's rear, but improves grip.

Samsung Galaxy Tab E_11 Samsung Galaxy Tab E_12 Samsung Galaxy Tab E_5 Samsung Galaxy Tab E_7 Samsung Galaxy Tab E_6 Samsung Galaxy Tab E_13

Above the display, you'll find the Samsung logo and 2MP front camera, while below you'll find the same setup as the Tab A. The volume rocker and power button are on the left spine, while the flaps for the micro-SIM and microSD card are on the right. The bottom edge holds the micro-USB port and 3.5mm audio jack. On the back panel you'll see the 5MP autofocus camera flanked by the loudspeaker on the right, and Samsung branding at the bottom. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab E_9 Samsung Galaxy Tab E_8

Unlike the Tab A which runs Lollipop, the Tab E runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz. Samsung hasn't specified when the update to Android 5.0 will be available. Among the TouchWiz features you'll find Multi-Window, which lets you run two apps side-by-side. Powering the slate is a 1.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor paired with 1.5GB of RAM. There's only 8GB of internal memory, of which 4.97GB was free on our unit. The microSD card slot supports expansion up to 128GB. The Tab E is fuelled by a 5,000mAh battery. Unlike the Galaxy Tab A, the Tab E only supports 3G. Samsung has tied up with Vodafone for Tab E buyers, giving postpaid users 2GB of free 3G data per month for two months. Pre-paid users on the other hand, will get 1GB of free 3G data when they purchase the equivalent amount. The Tab E is priced at Rs 16,900, and will go on sale exclusively on Flipkart in Metallic Black and Pearl White colours. 

Samsung says that the mid-range segment – covering the Rs 10,000 - Rs 20,000 price band – is seeing the most traction among tablet users. However, when we look at the specs of the two slates, the pricing appears to be on the higher side, especially given that the formidable Xiaomi Mi Pad (review) retails for just Rs 12,999. That said, the Tab A has the rare distinction of being one of the few (if not the only) slate in India to offer voice calling and compatibility with both 4G bands, which could appeal to some users.



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