Galaxy Tab s6 Review - An Artist's Take

Price: $649.99 + See it on Amazon

This is the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S6. It is Samsung’s latest flagship android tablet and it comes with the S-pen included. Today we’re taking a look.

The Hardware

The Screen looks fantastic. Super Amoled display. Just beautiful. The resolution is 2560x 1600 which is larger than full HD but less than 4k and is comparable to the iPad Air or 11” iPad pro. It’s technically more pixels because it has a different shape so it’s a bit longer than an iPad. The screen is 10.5” corner to corner. It’s a good size for drawing, big enough to fit the tools from most apps while leaving you lots of room to draw.

The tablet itself is pretty light, it weighs a little under a pound and It feels solid and really well built. Visually it reminds me a lot of the latest iPad Pro. They rounded off the corners of the screen ever so slightly so it’s more boxy along screen side. There is also the addition of antenna lines along the back also reminiscence of the iPad. I would have loved to see Samsung bring some of the innovative elements things they are doing on the Galaxy phones to the tabs instead of just following in Apple’s wake design wise but what can you do.

The camera on the front makes its return and can be used to unlock the device with Samsung’s facial recognition. Works pretty well.

The Pen

The Tab s6 comes with a pen in the box doesn’t cost a dime more and that’s is a really nice touch especially since Microsoft and Apple both charge $100 plus for their pens. The Surface pen usually drops in price after release but a study done by the Colbow Research and Metrics Polling Society (CRAMPS). found people have a heavy preference for not paying out the nose for stuff.

The tab S6 has added in some of the bells and whistles to the pen we saw on the Note 10 a few weeks back. You can now use it to control your camera like a remote or use motion gestures to control the picture gallery. For the most part these features are gimmicky right now, I can see if you want to remote control the camera or do a slideshow from acros a table or something it can be handy so I can see some use cases. Samsung is releasing an SDK to developers who want to take advantage of the S-pen features. If I had to bet I would say the market is to small to see a lot of developers spending time creating killer apps for the S-pen’s motion controls, we’ll see... maybe Samsung themselves will unveil some cool things down the road.

Activating the pen on the screen makes brings up some shortcuts to some of Samsung’s S-pen designed apps like notes and screen sketch, even the fancy AR doodle feature makes an appearance here.

All these blue tooth features mean that pen needs a break now and then to recharge its battery. The recharging is built into the back of the tablet. The pen magnetically fits into this divit and sucks the life out of the S6. Not a lot of life, just a little bit. Can you put the pen there and carry it around? Well lets see how well it stays on.

Yeah, it’s fine, I would hold it from the pen side so it doesn’t brush off when you're walking or something. I don’t feel comfortable setting my tablet face down on a table… I just feel like that’s asking for a scratch, I’m probably worrying to much, the glass is, or should be resistant to that.

So we’re going to put that in the box marks Brad’s irrational concerns

The pen itself is smaller than previous years, it’s not as thick and isn’t quite as comfortable to hold. It’s lightyears more comfortable than the skinny one that fits into the phones. The god news here is any S-Pen will work on this tablet for drawing. Even the older battery free pens like this 4 year old discontinued Wacom pen I use works on this with accuracy and pen pressure. The battery on the new S-pen is really just so you can use the new camera control features. The battery effects drawing in no way, Once the battery dies you can keep drawing with the pen.

Drawing

Overall drawing on this feels pretty good. Samsung Uses Wacom tech and so the pen has a good pedigree.

Wacom is known for doing this right. One downside of Wacom’s tech is that palm rejection works MOST of the time but not all the time so occasionally you will find some palm marks on your canvas or you will accidentally select the wrong layer. On Android I don’t find this as annoying as I do on the desktop because in many of the apps your layers and tools are hidden so far less damage is done with the errant palm rejection here than on Windows.

The line quality is good, I get straight line, it holds pressure well, there are no flair ups at the end of quick lines or any shoestringing. There is some pen wobble but it’s not the fault of the pen… it’s the fault of the screen? and I think it’s fixable. Let me explain

This is the part where I talk about materials. Rubber, plastic and glass. Plastic on glass is slick it doesn’t feel good to draw on. Your pen slides around and I don’t feel like I have enough control. There isn’t enough resistance. This is one of the downsides to the apple pencil on the iPad screen. And also the reason I’m such a big fan of matte screen protectors. Samsung anticipated this with the S-Pen, the pen nib is rubbery, or a really soft plastic. That slows it down on the slick glass. That’s a big improvement, but it doesn’t feel… natural, but gives enough control to make it usable and it’s something you can get used to. It’s better than plastic on glass, but not nearly as good as a textured feel.

I’m going to do something stupid, I’m going to cut up thi screen protector and try it out.

There are 2 replacement nibs in the box. The white one is harder. If I was going to use this as my full time tablet I would probably get a screen protector and go with that nib, I would imagine the soft nib would wear pretty quick on a textured surface.

Apps

I mentioned Software on my Galaxy Note 10+ review. There are the same exact apps here. Now sometimes when you take a phone app and stretch it to a larger screen it looks horrible. In the case of drawing apps that’s not really the case. You just have a lot more space to draw.

In case you didn’t see my Note 10+ review here is a recap of my favorite Android drawing apps as of September 2019

  • Artflow: currently on the top of my list - you can download for free and it has in app purchases, not that much money and well worth it.
  • AInfinite Painter is probably second, it used to be #1 but Artfolw has over taken it in recent months, but Infinite painter has the 2 finger to undo gesture so I might move back.
  • AAutodesk Sketchbook: old faithful, a great app, not my personal favorite but rock solid.
  • AMediBang- It can do everything and you can download it and use it anywhere
  • AIbis Paint X - A fan favorite worthy of being on this list… some nice inking tools here.

There is this little quirk that is kinda funny, kinda annoying. There is no button on this tablet. To bring up the little control bar you swipe up from the bottom of the screen. In most apps this is no problem but in a drawing app… it leaves a line. Every time. So have your eraser handy. Software is the one area where I feel the iPad ecosystem has a leg up, a big leg up. You have full blown desktop apps like CLip Studio, really heavy app like Affinity Photo and Draw and also Apple’s new Sidecar.

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