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Samsung Galaxy Tab E review: Relatively cheap, but ancient and outdated

Christopher Minasians Katharine Byrne
15 Jun 2018
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
140
inc VAT

Reasonably cheap, but the ageing Samsung Galaxy Tab E simply doesn't cut it as a budget tablet in 2018

Pros 
Price
Build quality and design
Cons 
Battery life
Overall performance
Display
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When we originally reviewed the £140 Samsung Galaxy Tab E in 2015, we found it to have a somewhat sluggish performance, mediocre battery life and a sub-par display. At the time it had quite a lot of competition, fast-forward to 2018 and the now £120 tablet has even more to compete with.

For example, the Amazon Fire HD 8 costs just £80, while the £130 Vodafone Smart Tab N8 has a big screen and 4G connectivity. Both provide better value for money with comparable specs to the Galaxy Tab E. We'd suggest looking at these alternative instead.

Our original review continues below

The Galaxy Tab E shows 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 Android 7 Nougat operating systems. It hasn't received an update, and nor will it - which does put it at a disadvantage over other tablets.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab E review: 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 – 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 colourimeter 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.

Samsung Galaxy Tab E review: 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.

Samsung Galaxy Tab E review: 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.

Samsung Galaxy Tab E review: 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.

Samsung Galaxy Tab E review: Verdict

The Galaxy Tab E might be relatively cheap at around £120, but there are simply superior alternatives on the market right now. Amazon's new Fire HD 8 is much cheaper, has better battery life and offers a better experience for younger users, while the Vodafone Smart Tab N8, offers the cheapest 4G tablet on the market.

HARDWARE
ProcessorQuad-core 1.3GHz ARM 7100
RAM1.5GB
Screen size9.6in
Screen resolution1,280 x 800
Screen typeLCD
Front camera2 megapixels
Rear camera5 megapixels
FlashNo
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage8GB (GB)
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD (up to 128GB)
Wi-Fi802.11n
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
NFCNone
Wireless dataNone
Size241 x 149 x 8.5mm
Weight299g
FEATURES
Operating systemAndroid 4.4.4
Battery size5,000mAh

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