We recently took a look at Samsung's latest tablet, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, and found it to be a slow, but reliable tablet for Android fans. But at $349, it costs slightly more than Apple's 7th generation iPad, which starts at $329.
But there's more to comparing devices than looking at price points or processors. Let's take a closer look at what the main differences are between these two tablets.
7th-generation iPad and Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has a 10.4-inch screen, with an overall size of 9.56 x 6.27 x 0.28 inches and weighs 16.2 ounces or just over one pound. It has a slightly smaller overall footprint when compared to the iPad, which measures 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29 inches and has a 10.2-inch display.
The Tab S6 Lite has the option to add more storage via microSD card support. The iPad, however, is stuck with whatever storage amount you purchase (more on that in a few).
The iPad's display has a higher resolution of 2160 x 1620, compared to the Tab S6 Lite's 2000 x 1200. Ultimately it may come down to personal preference, but on paper, at least, the difference in resolution and the display technology, the iPad's screen is going to look better.
Charging the S6 Lite is done via a USB-C cable. It's the same kind of cable most electronics and gadgets use now, while Apple's iPad is still using its proprietary Lightning connection.
You'll find two cameras on the Tab S6 Lite. The front camera is 5-megapixels and the rear-facing camera is 8-megapixels. The iPad has the same number of cameras, with a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera on the front and an 8-megapixel camera on the back.
Where you're going to see the biggest difference between the Tab S6 Lite and the iPad is in speed and performance. The Tab S6 Lite is using a low-end Exynos 9611 processor, while the iPad is using Apple's A10 Fusion processor.
That translates into a fairly significant performance disparity. To put it into context, we use the benchmarking app Geekbench 5 to help measure a device's overall performance. The higher the numbers, the better the device performs. The Geekbench 5 scores for the Tab S6 Lite are 332 for single-core performance and 1,222 for multi-core. The 7th generation iPad scored a 646 on single-core and a 851 on multi-core.
Even though the Tab S6 Lite has a higher multi-core score, you'll notice that the iPad simply feels faster and responds quicker to opening apps, multitasking, or even gaming. We found the Tab S6 Lite's performance to be slow, yet steady. It wasn't impressive, by any measure, but it wasn't slow enough that it was frustrating.
As for storage, the Tab S5 Lite comes standard with 64GB while the iPad still starts at a sparse 32GB. As previously mentioned, you can't add any more storage to the iPad. However, you can purchase a 128GB model. That's the same storage amount that the Tab S6 Lite tops out at, but, again, you can add up to 512GB of extra storage via microSD card support.
Battery life is an important part of owning a tablet. And in that regard, the Tab S6 Lite's 13 hours and 14 minutes of continuous video playback is more than enough to impress us. Apple estimates the iPad's battery life at 10 hours.
Android versus iPadOS
This question and subsequent debate will likely never be settled, but it's worth at least doing a quick comparison. Namely, the difference between Android running on a tablet version Apple's tablet-specific iPadOS is fairly stark.
You get all the normal Android-like features like custom homescreen layouts, widgets, access to the Play Store, Google Assistant, and deep customization features on the Tab S6 Lite. But where the Tab S6 Lite may frustrate some is in its lack of apps that are optimized for tablets. Most Android apps will work across a number of screen sizes, but that's simply because the app's interface gets bigger or smaller based on the size of the screen. In fact, a lot of the apps, like Samsung Notes or Samsung Internet, on the Tab S6 Lite are the same apps you'll find on Samsung's smartphones. That means you'll be able to sync your photos, notes, or favorite websites between Samsung devices with nothing more than a Samsung account.
With iPadOS, developers can specifically target and build apps that take advantage of the full screen and the entire feature set.
Take Facebook Messenger as an example. Using it on the Tab S6 Lite, in either portrait or landscape orientation, shows the same view no matter what. There are two tabs along the bottom, one for your open conversations and the other for your friends. The app looks exactly like it does on Galaxy S20 or any other Android phone.
Facebook Messenger on the iPad, however, has a completely different look. On the left side of the screen is a section where you can view open conversations. On the right side of the screen is the active conversation's messages. This arrangement makes it much easier to move between multiple conversations.
Again, we understand this is a debate that will never truly come to a conclusion. But, we have to give the advantage to Apple and iPadOS.
7th-generation iPad with Smart Keyboard
Included in the box with the Tab S6 Lite is Samsung's S Pen stylus. It magnetically attaches to the side of the S6 Lite, but it's not a place we feel comfortable saying you could place the S Pen there and expect to find it still in place after a long trip. Even carrying the S6 Lite around your home and the S Pen staying put is questionable. Arguably, it's easier to find a lost S Pen in your own home, though. Samsung offers 50% off its Book Cover case when you purchase the Tab S6 Lite, making it $34.99. We recommend getting one, it gives you a way to prop up your Tab S6 Lite and it has a more secure place to hold the S Pen
Apple's iPad doesn't come with any accessories outside of the wall adapter and charging cable. Instead, you'll need to buy the first-generation Apple Pencil or any sort of keyboard accessory you want to pair with it. The Apple Pencil is $99.
Samsung doesn't offer an official keyboard accessory for the S6 Lite, whereas Apple sales a Smart Keyboard accessory for $159.
You can use any Bluetooth or USB-C compatible keyboard with the Tab S6 Lite. That's good and bad. Good because you can find and use whatever keyboard you want, but bad because it could come with some trial and error.
Apple's iPad will work with its Smart Keyboard or with any Bluetooth enabled keyboard.
It really comes down to how much you want an Android tablet over an iPad. The 7th generation iPad is faster, has better app and software support, and you can make an argument that it has better keyboard and accessory support.
However, the Tab S6 Lite comes with an S Pen, works seamlessly with the Samsung apps and services that are found on its smartphone and Windows PC lineup.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed prices at the time of publication.