Three years after its launch, the Tab S4 was a great option for those looking for a flagship-level tablet experience at a low price. However, Samsung has launched a line of new tablet options that could spell the end of the Tab S4. Despite the budget hardware, the Tab S6 Lite is a very solid tablet that features an updated S Pen and a slimmer design.
Break it down now...
When the Galaxy Tab S4 launched, it was praised by many and positioned as an answer to Apple's iPad for Android users. Samsung included the S Pen in the box, which was expected after Samsung opted to do the same for the previous Galaxy Tab S3. With the optional Keyboard Cover along with the early days of Samsung DeX, the Tab S4 could be transformed into a laptop powered by Samsung's version of Android.
It's been a few years since the Tab S4 launched, but you can still find this tablet on store shelves, and that speaks to the reliability of it. However, in 2020, the Tab S4 is starting to show its age in a few different ways that make it difficult to continue recommending.
The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, on the other hand, is the little brother of the recently-released Galaxy Tab S6, which supplanted the Tab S4 as the premier flagship tablet for Android users. It's clear that Samsung cut a few corners with the Tab S6 Lite, starting with the LCD display sporting a resolution of just 2000x1200. Releasing any device with an LCD panel in 2020 comes as a surprise, even if Samsung's displays are touted as some of the best in the industry.
The Tab S4 features the same size and resolution display that's found on the Tab S6, with a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED panel, and 2560x1600 resolution. This means that everything you view will generally look better when viewing the S4 and S6 Lite side-by-side.
|Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite||Samsung Galaxy Tab S4|
|Display||10.4-inch LCD||10.5-inch Super AMOLED|
|Resolution||2000 x 1200||2560 x 1600|
|Processor||Exynos 9610||Snapdragon 835|
|Memory||4GB / 6GB||4GB|
|Storage||64GB / 128GB||64GB / 256GB|
|MicroSD Card Support||Expandable up to 512GB||Expandable up to 400GB|
|Speakers||Two AKG Tuned||Four AKG-Tuned|
|Reported Battery Life||12 Hours||16 Hours|
|Dimensions||244.5 x 154.3 x 7.0 mm||249.3 x 164.3 x 7.1 mm|
|S Pen Support||Yes||Yes|
Diving deeper into the spec sheet, the Tab S4 was powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835, which powered smartphones like the Galaxy S8, Galaxy Note 8, Google Pixel 2, and more. With the Tab S4, this was coupled with only 4GB of RAM, which was great at the time, but can cause some bottlenecks with the 835.
The Tab S6 Lite sports Samsung's own Exynos 9610 chipset, which is an octa-core chipset. This makes for a much better multi-tasking experience due to the updated architecture. Plus, Samsung doesn't limit you to only having 4GB of RAM, as there's an option available with 6GB of RAM as well.
On the storage front, both of these tablets sport either 64GB or 128GB of onboard storage, which can be expanded with a microSD card. The difference here is that while the Tab S4 is limited to using a 400GB card, the Tab S6 Lite can take advantage of a 512GB card for some wiggle room.
A few other differences to highlight are the four AKG-tuned speakers, which are great for those times where you want to chill out with some Netflix. The Tab S6 Lite comes with only two speakers, which could be frustrating and won't fill the room with whatever you are watching or listening to.
As for the size and weight, the Tab S6 Lite wins here. The S6 Lite is more than 5mm slimmer while coming in 15g lighter than the Tab S4. This is not all that surprising given the advances in technology over the past three years, but it's still something to keep in mind since a lighter tablet will be more comfortable to hold.
The final deciding factor for some could come down to battery life. The Tab S4 has a massive 7,300mah cell, compared to the 7,040mAh battery in the Tab S6 Lite. Samsung's reported battery life comes in around 16 hours for the S4, and 12 hours for the newer S6 Lite. Four hours is nothing to snub your nose at and could help get you through the final push for getting work done.
Is the Tab S6 Lite really better than the Tab S4?
If both of these were released back in 2017, the easy answer would be to go for the Tab S4 and it wouldn't be close. The problem that we have with recommending it over the S6 Lite, however, is due to its age. While Samsung has gotten better with software updates over the last few years, the end of the line for the Tab S4 is approaching.
Yes, the tablet was updated to Android 10 back at the end of 2019, but we aren't expecting many more updates. This is even more true now that both the Tab S6 Lite and its bigger brother, the Tab S6, are available.
With the Tab S6 Lite, you'll get more RAM, can expand the storage with a larger microSD card, and it's both slimmer and lighter. Plus, you'll get the new S Pen, which just launched and has plenty of new features.
On the other side of the coin, you'll be stuck with just two AKG-tuned speakers, a smaller battery, and an LCD panel instead of Super AMOLED. For some reason, Samsung also opted to not include any additional biometric unlocking options, leaving with you to just use a password or pin code. Finally, you'll miss out on Samsung DeX, so you won't be able to turn your new tablet into a productivity machine.
Despite those sacrifices, the Tab S6 Lite is still a better buy overall than the Tab S4. Missing out on future software updates, even those only focused on security is something that just can't be overstated.
The newer tablet wins out in a close comparison
Despite a lesser-quality display and smaller battery, the Tab S6 Lite is a capable tablet for just about everyone. The benefits of a newer device outweigh the negatives and make it easy to pick.
Still a great tablet, but the end of its life is near
Samsung's Galaxy Tab S4 was the cream of the crop for years with the S Pen, optional keyboard, and Samsung DeX. Three years later, it's a bit long in the tooth and the end of support is not far away.
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