Samsung’s latest high end tablet might not be here yet, the Galaxy Tab S3 is still a little way off. Thankfully, they’ve been hard at work refreshing the mid range with the A series. The 7″ Tab A may have been a little too cheap and cheerful for some, but the 10″ model hits just the right notes.
The Galaxy Tab A 2016 10.1 (Or Tab A6 10.1 as it’s also known) isn’t out to win any design awards. The smooth back plastic back has none of the tactile feel that metal or even rubber backed tablets provide, the 525 grams weight and 8.2mm depth could be considered ‘chunky’ by today’s standards and the screen is ‘only’ a 1920 x 1200 TFT, none of your 4K here, mate. That doesn’t sound like I’m selling it to you, now, does it? Well, prepare to think again because the Tab A 10.1 is a solid device that adds up to more than the sum of its parts.
The one thing the smooth black back does provide is a serious look, great for business and it’s pretty sturdy, too, with very little bending. It’s also magnetic, working alongside Samsung’s and other third party’s covers.
Despite 2GB RAM and only 16GB RAM (10.5GB useable), this tablet never seems to slow down in general use or even when you throw a game at it. That’s thanks to the Exynos 7870 Octa 1.6 GHz , Octa-core CPU and an ARM 1600Hz GPU. The display resolution obviously helps here, but that’s the other thing, for a 10″ tablet that only has a Full HD screen it looks lovely when watching a film or reading an e-book on the Kindle app. The screen is bright, too, much brighter than an iPad Air screen.
The other ace up the sleeve of the A 10.1 is that it’s running Android 6.01, the latest version of Marshmallow and we’re expecting it to get 7.0 (Nougat) some time next year as Samsung work their own Touchwiz front end around it before releasing the firmware. Android 6.01 comes with one major enhancement that help the Tab A 10.1 as well, Adaptable Storage. Using an SD card (The Tab A supports MicroSD Up to 200GB) you can opt to have it act like an extension of the tablet’s own memory, boosting that 16GB and enabling the extended memory to store apps as well as the usual photos and music.
The top of the device sports the Micro-USB which supports USB-OTG for easy access to external drives and other USB devices. A micro-USB to USB 2.0 hub or dongle is easy and cheap to find and opens a whole lot of options, including extending the storage further and ensuring that files are even easier to share. Alongside this sits the standard headphone socket and microphone. On the right there are sim and micro-sd slots, easy to get to via a pull out plastic flap. Finally, you’ll find stereo speakers at the bottom of the device. It’s a shame they couldn’t have found the space for one each side, but the sound output isn’t overly great, anyway, so expect to be using a bluetooth speaker or headphones anyway.
The LTE model (the only one we’ve seen on sale in the UK) supports Bluetooth 4.2 and WLAN 802.11 (both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz) plus 4G. It also has built in GPS but no NFC reader, unfortunately.
There’s an 8MP camera on the back (jutting out just like the Galaxy S phones) which is backed up with Autofocus and an LED flash that seems too bright for it’s own good (ask my dogs!) and can record Full-HD video at up to 30 fps. The front facing camera is 2MP as standard and is pretty much just there for video calling and selfies. Although the main camera isn’t the best, I was surprised by the results from the wealth of options in the camera app. it’s worth fiddling around with different settings, especially in low light, to get better results.
The retail price of the Tab A6 10.1 is £249 but as it’s an LTE model, you can find many very good pay monthly deals, with O2 offering a £15 monthly deal where £10 of that cost is the tablet and can be repaid in full at any time.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, this is an all round great tablet for the price. It’s faults are few and once you start using it you’ll realise that it performs very well for a mid-range tablet.