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Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 vs. iPad Pro: Which should you buy?

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 S Pen Holder
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 S Pen Holder (Image credit: Android Central)

Galaxy Tab S6

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The Galaxy Tab S6 is the best Android tablet ever. It's thin, light, and has performance that's through the roof. Its biggest problem is an Android problem — application support.

Galaxy Tab S6

Best of Android

Reasons to buy

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Fast Qualcomm processor built-in
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S Pen support
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Up to 8GB of RAM
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DeX mode support

Reasons to avoid

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Android tablet apps can be lacking
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Less accessory options compared to iPad

iPad Pro 11-inch

Apple iPad Pro 11 2020 Cropped Render

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The iPad Pro 11-inch is a great tablet with software support geared towards people who want it to replace a laptop. It's biggest drawbacks are hardware-based; it has no SD card support or a 128GB storage option.

iPad Pro 11-inch

The Pro option

Reasons to buy

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A12Z Bionic processor
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Apple Pencil support
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iMessage support
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Great app support

Reasons to avoid

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No 128GB storage option
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No removable storage

All about that ecosystem

Pictured: Galaxy Tab S6.

Pictured: Galaxy Tab S6.

Choosing between the Tab S6 and iPad Pro 11-inch really comes down to one thing — do you value hardware or software the most?

Apple's ecosystem for the iPad is much better than what Google offers for tablets. Samsung does an excellent job of trying to fill in where needed, but the gap is quite noticeable, which is too bad because the Galaxy Tab S6 has a lot going for it when it comes to hardware-based features. I'm not talking about specs, which you'll find below, but things like DeX support or a removable storage option by way of SD card.

Galaxy Tab S6iPad Pro 11-inch
Display10.5-inch Super AMOLED11-inch Liquid Retina
ProcessorSnapdragon 855A12Z Bionic
RAM6GB/8GB4GB
Storage128GB/256GB64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
SD cardYesNo
Rear Camera(s)13MP + 5MP12MP
Front Camera8MP7MP
SpeakersQuadQuad
Battery7,040mAh7,812mAh
Weight420g468g
Dimensions244.5 x 159.5 x 5.7mm247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm
Fingerprint ScannerIn-displayNo
Face unlockingYes, but not secureFace ID
Pen SupportYesYes

When you're thinking how any tablet might best fit your lifestyle you need to consider both hardware and software, and that makes things a little complicated here. In some places, Apple's hardware is better — the A12Z processor versus the Snapdragon 855, for example. In others, Samsung bests it with a better display and more memory.

The hardware features that we think are important in a tablet means favor goes towards the Tab S6. The128GB storage option is the best value, especially when paired with support for removable storage through an SD card. We love Samsung's quad speaker-based audio and prefer it over Apple's. Samsung's keyboard cover offers a trackpad along with a good set of keys. Other things you might not have even considered, like support for Samsung's desktop-like DeX, are pretty great, too.

iPad Pro

We also have to mention that the Tab S6 comes with Samsung's great S Pen and the software that powers it. You can draw or write with precision or even use the S Pen with air gestures to take photos or swipe through screens. The Apple Pencil (opens in new tab) is great, too, but it's also an extra purchase while the S Pen is in the box along with your Tab S6.

However, great hardware is best when paired with great software, and that's where Android tablets have always fallen behind since a lot of apps aren't designed with tablets in mind. The Tab S6 is a lot better here than any previous Android tablet, but Apple is still far ahead. Samsung has taken a lot of time and effort to fill the holes Google has left when running Android on a tablet and its own applications look beautiful when running on the Tab S6's awesome screen. You'll still probably want to use more than the apps Samsung offers and a trip to the App Store will show you that apps designed for the iPad are everywhere. The same can't be said for Google Play.

Both hardware and software are important parts of any tablet purchase. While both the Tab S6 and iPad Pro 11-inch are a good mix of hardware and software, there is no denying they aren't equal on both fronts. If you value hardware features over tablet-optimized apps, the Tab S6 is going to be the better buy. If you want highly polished apps on your tablet and aren't worried about things like removable storage or desktop support through DeX, then you would probably like the iPad better.

It's OK to prefer one over the other, and you should buy the tablet that you'll enjoy using!

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.