Samsung Galaxy Tab E review: Cheap, but ancient


Originally released in June 2015, the Samsung Galaxy Tab E is getting on a bit now, but this cut-price, big-screened Android tablet is still around and the price is pretty reasonable at around £140. At first glance, it looks like like it’s worth considering. Measuring 8.5mm thick, its lightly textured plastic chassis is comfortable to hold, and its thin, physical home button gives it a very similar layout to Samsung’s top-end smartphones.

However, the Galaxy Tab E starts to show its age as soon as you turn it on. The first sign is in the software: this tablet is still running Android 4.4 KitKat, which is now positively ancient compared to the more modern Android 6 Marshmallow and incoming Android 7 Nougat. It’s unlikely to receive an update, either, as no amount of checking for updates yielded an upgrade to Android 5 Lollipop.

Display

As a result, the Tab E looks old-fashioned from the off, and it certainly isn’t helped by its low resolution of 1,280 x 800. Stretched across its 9.6in 16:9 display, text is visibly grainy and curved icons are jagged, making the Tab E pretty hard on the eyes over long periods of time. Of course, we’ve seen other budget tablets recently with the same resolution – most notably the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2016) – but in the case of the Fire, those pixels are spread across a much smaller display, resulting in a higher pixel density, and fractionally more sharpness.

The quality of the Tab E’s screen isn’t great, either. Our colorimeter showed it’s only capable of displaying 60.8% of the sRGB colour gamut, which is below average, even for a budget tablet, and this means colours don’t look as vibrant as they could do. At least it’s bright, hitting a peak white level of 409cd/m2, which is more than enough for outdoor use (although maybe not in direct, bright sunlight), and its contrast ratio of 1,085:1 is also respectable.

Performance

This isn’t the newest tablet, so it’s perhaps unsurprising to find that its quad-core 1.3GHz Spreadtrum SC8830 processor and 1.5GB of RAM isn’t the fastest or most modern processor around. It’s sluggish in everyday use, web browsing was quite stop-start, and to make matters worse it wasn’t even compatible with the Geekbench 4 benchmarks, making it difficult to compare it with other recent budget tablets.

It also wasn’t able to run GFXBench GL’s Manhattan 3 test, which doesn’t exactly bode well for its overall longevity. If it feels slow now, it will feel even worse a year or so down the line. Still, I was able to play a reasonably smooth game of Threes, which proves it’s able to cope with simple games.

It also coped fine with Netflix and BBC iPlayer streaming. Just bear in mind that the Galaxy Tab E only comes with 8GB of internal storage (of which 5GB is available to the user), so you may want to invest in a microSD card to make more room for your various downloads.

Battery Life

Battery life was fairly decent, but again, other tablets have managed better in the past. With the screen set to our standard measurement of 170cd/m2, the Samsung Galaxy Tab E lasted 8hrs 52mins in our continuous video-playback test, so it should have enough stamina to last the better part of a day. However, it still pales in comparison to the Fire HD 8, which lasted an impressive 13hrs 4mins under the same conditions.

Camera

As for camera quality, well, it’s as I’d expect from a budget Android tablet, which is to say it’s not particularly impressive. While the 2-megapixel front-facing camera is just about serviceable for Skype calls and the like, the 5-megapixel sensor on the back is poorly equipped to deal with either indoor or outdoor photography, producing blurry, noisy shots devoid of detail and vibrant colours.

Verdict

The Galaxy Tab E might be relatively cheap, but there are simply superior alternatives on the market right now. Amazon’s new Fire HD 8 (£89.99 From ) is much cheaper, has better battery life and offers a better experience for younger users, while the Nvidia Shield Tablet K1, which costs a little more at £185 (£152.58 From ), is far quicker likely to perform well far longer into the future.

READ NEXT: Best tablets 2016 and buying guide

HARDWARE
Processor Quad-core 1.3GHz ARM 7100
RAM 1.5GB
Screen size 9.6in
Screen resolution 1,280 x 800
Screen type LCD
Front camera 2 megapixels
Rear camera 5 megapixels
Flash No
GPS Yes
Compass Yes
Storage 8GB (GB)
Memory card slot (supplied) microSD (up to 128GB)
Wi-Fi 802.11n
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
NFC None
Wireless data None
Size 241 x 149 x 8.5mm
Weight 299g
FEATURES
Operating system Android 4.4.4
Battery size 5,000mAh

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