Shopping Discussion

Are Samsung tablets even worth it?

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[OP]
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Apr 28, 2017
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Are Samsung tablets even worth it?

I've been in the market for a new tablet and I've had my eye on a few from Samsung. However upon looking into it, it seems that Samsung doesn't seem to offer lengthy support for them. I'd like a tablet that'll stay up to date for a while. Because of this, I've also been eyeing an iPad, but they are so much more expensive. Is it even worth it to get a Samsung tablet these days?
18 replies
Deal Fanatic
Feb 19, 2017
5276 posts
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It depends.

Samsung generally will support their tablets for 2-3 years with official update. That said there are custom updates you can install yourself. For example Tab S2 support stopped in i think 2017? (roughly i could be slightly off). That is a 2014/15 tablet with end of support in 2017. But community support for it is still active and there was android 10 release for it last year (again got to install yourself). Expectation is there will be android 11 for it later this year as well (again you got to install it yourself). The same thing for tab s4 and pretty much every other samsung tablet out there. Even the tab 4 (note even older than s2) has custom android 10. So if you are willing to install "custom os" yourself, the support isn't really a big issue (and its really easy to do).

Apple on the other hand officially supports their products for a long time. The original air 2 (same time frame as tab s2) is still officially supported. Current iPads also have far better CPU than android counterparts as well so there are some benefits there if you use CPU intensive apps. Of course one issue with iPad is there arent any expandable memory. Storage often becomes a huge issue for iPad because the OS itself takes 10GB. That doesn't leave you with a lot of room if you store media content or install a lot of apps (at least for their base model). So with iPad you often got to consider rather the base model is enough storage or pay even more for a bigger model. Remember if you are planning to use it for a while, the storage might seem enough now but 2-3 years later you might be wishing you had more storage space. With Samsung, at least you could just buy another microSD card.

As you can see both have their advantages or drawbacks. Personally i own more iPads than android tablets but i do see the value of both. For media purposes, i prefer android tablets (expandable memory is useful and samsung S series has a better screen than regular iPad and iPad air). For gaming, i prefer iPads (iPad Pro is by far the fastest tablet, nothing is comparable... of course nothing is comparable in price too). Tab A price point (when on sale) is roughly 1/2 that of IPad so if you just need a basic tablet and willing to do your own upgrade, its definitely a good tablet to get. It will also get android 11 support so at the very least you should be fine for another year without needing to worry about upgrading yourself.
Sr. Member
Jul 9, 2019
693 posts
2614 upvotes
User381785 wrote: I've been in the market for a new tablet and I've had my eye on a few from Samsung. However upon looking into it, it seems that Samsung doesn't seem to offer lengthy support for them. I'd like a tablet that'll stay up to date for a while. Because of this, I've also been eyeing an iPad, but they are so much more expensive. Is it even worth it to get a Samsung tablet these days?
Yes, if you like DeX mode, and don’t wanna spend an arm and a leg on iPad accessories. Samsung is slightly better in terms of productivity. Basic apps like Google and Microsoft are same on both. Files app on iPad is terrible, iPad still feels like a huge iPhone, same could be said for Samsung tablet and Android Phones. But you have to remember Android phones are far ahead of iPhone in terms of multitasking, so I would prefer XL size of Anroid phone.

Lengthy support is a double edged sword IMHO, I have noticed major slowdowns for updates which were offered after 2-3 years of initial launch. I remember new iPadOS updates rendered my iPad Air 2 useless, so laggy and slow. I wished I could revert back to factory version. At the same time, updates keep a product compatible with newer release of third party Apps. For eg. latest YouTube simply refused to run on my Mini 1 as it’s stuck on iOS 9. Samsung will be good for 3 years at least before App developers drop support for Android 11.

Personally I keep falling for iPad each time I see potential, I got lured by A12X in 2018 but got frustrated by iPad OS restrictiveness and sold my IPP 12.9”, now again bought a M1 iPad with Magic Keyboard and have buyers remorse, with accessories it’s more expansive than freakin MacBook. Now I am waiting for new Mini, tablets should be used as tablets, they fail terribly as anything more. In terms of functionality and experience a $400 iPad offers same as $1200.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
29059 posts
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Two problems:

1) I love Samsung's hardware but I *HATE* their OS customizations. If they had an AOSP product I'd be all over them like a dirty shirt. But that's personal preference.
2) No one else makes tablets. That's kind of a hyperbole but not really as no one really makes any *good* tablets. You can certainly get some cheap Chinese crap for $200 but no one is making a decent tablet with decent hardware that competes on any level with even a mid to high end Samsung. You can also forget about updates.
Do you not have anything else to do rather than argue with strangers on the internet
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Feb 19, 2017
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Hahahapxl wrote: Yes, if you like DeX mode, and don’t wanna spend an arm and a leg on iPad accessories. Samsung is slightly better in terms of productivity. Basic apps like Google and Microsoft are same on both. Files app on iPad is terrible, iPad still feels like a huge iPhone, same could be said for Samsung tablet and Android Phones. But you have to remember Android phones are far ahead of iPhone in terms of multitasking, so I would prefer XL size of Anroid phone.

Lengthy support is a double edged sword IMHO, I have noticed major slowdowns for updates which were offered after 2-3 years of initial launch. I remember new iPadOS updates rendered my iPad Air 2 useless, so laggy and slow. I wished I could revert back to factory version. At the same time, updates keep a product compatible with newer release of third party Apps. For eg. latest YouTube simply refused to run on my Mini 1 as it’s stuck on iOS 9. Samsung will be good for 3 years at least before App developers drop support for Android 11.

Personally I keep falling for iPad each time I see potential, I got lured by A12X in 2018 but got frustrated by iPad OS restrictiveness and sold my IPP 12.9”, now again bought a M1 iPad with Magic Keyboard and have buyers remorse, with accessories it’s more expansive than freakin MacBook. Now I am waiting for new Mini, tablets should be used as tablets, they fail terribly as anything more. In terms of functionality and experience a $400 iPad offers same as $1200.
Generally speaking, iPad will slow down due to having too many apps running, the tablet itself being too full, or the cache being full. If you notice it being sluggish, try turning it off (restarting it) then turning it back on to see if its faster. If thats the case its likely your cache was full and so its sluggish. Also if your tablet is more than 90% full, there is a chance thats why its sluggish. Also a good idea to check your battery health to see if that's the reason its slowing down (just check your battery health under settings).
Deal Fanatic
Feb 19, 2017
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death_hawk wrote: Two problems:

1) I love Samsung's hardware but I *HATE* their OS customizations. If they had an AOSP product I'd be all over them like a dirty shirt. But that's personal preference.
2) No one else makes tablets. That's kind of a hyperbole but not really as no one really makes any *good* tablets. You can certainly get some cheap Chinese crap for $200 but no one is making a decent tablet with decent hardware that competes on any level with even a mid to high end Samsung. You can also forget about updates.
Funny you say this. Xiaomi just released their first tablet in 3 years (since 2018). MiPad 5 looks pretty good on paper but of course the info on it is still fairly limited and when/if it will be released outside of China remains to be seen. I believe its expected MSRP will be $310/$350 USD for regular version and ~$400 USD for "pro" with SD860/870 CPU respectively. The on paper specs are more or less on par with Samsung S7 series. Of course its still not AOSP, its running on MIUI.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
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Paigne wrote: Funny you say this. Xiaomi just released their first tablet in 3 years (since 2018).
Having purchased a Mi Pad 4 Plus, I would *NEVER* buy a Xiaomi again.
The paper specs are (were) impressive, but the thing is like a brick. It was thick and heavy. Despite having paper specs, it just felt sluggish compared to even an older tablet.
The bootloader unlocking was another frankly ridiculous process. My tablet was effectively useless for a solid month because some $expletive genius decided to make you wait 720 hours (30 days) before you unlock it for some stupid ass reason. It's actually this reason alone where I will never buy anything that isn't Android One from them again.

I have no idea why it was so bad. Paper specs were VERY impressive at the time but size and weight were ridiculous.
Touch issues were also prevalent.

Also like you said, no AOSP but MIUI which means ew. The only reason I even considered it was because I could flash GSI onto it but I didn't know about the bootloader timer until I had it in my hands.
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Sr. Member
Jul 9, 2019
693 posts
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Samsung’s TouchWiz days are long gone, Starting S8, Samsung phone and tablet UI is very responsive and I actually preferred it over my Pixel 2 XL. Only OnePlus does stock Android good.
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Feb 19, 2017
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death_hawk wrote: Having purchased a Mi Pad 4 Plus, I would *NEVER* buy a Xiaomi again.
The paper specs are (were) impressive, but the thing is like a brick. It was thick and heavy. Despite having paper specs, it just felt sluggish compared to even an older tablet.
The bootloader unlocking was another frankly ridiculous process. My tablet was effectively useless for a solid month because some $expletive genius decided to make you wait 720 hours (30 days) before you unlock it for some stupid ass reason. It's actually this reason alone where I will never buy anything that isn't Android One from them again.

I have no idea why it was so bad. Paper specs were VERY impressive at the time but size and weight were ridiculous.
Touch issues were also prevalent.

Also like you said, no AOSP but MIUI which means ew. The only reason I even considered it was because I could flash GSI onto it but I didn't know about the bootloader timer until I had it in my hands.
Didn’t know about that timer issue, good to know. I just heard about it’s release recently so figure I’ll point it out. Didn’t know there are so many issues with the mipad 4. Unfortunately there really aren’t many options after google dropped out of the tablet game too. It’s really Samsung vs fire and fire targets the budget market. I guess you could include acer but they also target the budget market. Lenovo tablets also more or less target budget marker/entry level market. LG dropped out of the phone market so they aren’t too likely to release a tablet in the future.
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Mar 23, 2008
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I decided to give the Android world a whirl a couple years back. Bought the latest and greatest Samsung phone (S10 Note+ at the time), and got an S5 Tablet. Kept the tablet until the return period at Costco was almost up, but ended up switching back to an iPad even though I kept the phone for another year. I just found the tablet OS on Android was a kludge compared to Apple's iPadOS. Having known hardware you're running on is an advantage, and it allowed them to fully utilize the UI real estate. AFAIK at the time (don't know what it's currently like), there were very few tablet savvy apps. Dex was pretty cool, though.

The other issue was that the Android tablets that had SIM card options was very limited. The only ones I found were the ones that the Telus/Bell/Rogers conglomerates were selling, and they were very limited in specs. No top-end units with cell capability. Don't know why Samsung went that route in Canada, as they were available in other markets. So if you want a high spec laptop with true mobile capabilities, Apple was your only real choice.

Again, my information comes from my shadowy recollection from a few years ago.

C
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Jun 16, 2009
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A better question would be is it worth getting a tablet anymore? Not including iPad, that seems to be a separate market than a tablet, and I'm not a fan of Apple either.
It just seems the tablet market has really dried up. I own 2 tablets, both top of the line hardware specs when purchased, and I probably never used either enough to justify their purchase (well one was given to me actually).
I've owned or helped family members who own Samsung tablets and I'm not a fan. They get sluggish pretty quickly, were hindered by their TouchWiz garbage, and updates only lasted a year or two, tops. Best thing I did with the Samsung 10.1 I own now is install BlissPop ROM and speed it up. But if as others say they got rid of TouchWiz, that's good at least.
c'mon get happy!
[OP]
Deal Addict
Apr 28, 2017
1992 posts
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Paigne wrote: It depends.

Samsung generally will support their tablets for 2-3 years with official update. That said there are custom updates you can install yourself. For example Tab S2 support stopped in i think 2017? (roughly i could be slightly off). That is a 2014/15 tablet with end of support in 2017. But community support for it is still active and there was android 10 release for it last year (again got to install yourself). Expectation is there will be android 11 for it later this year as well (again you got to install it yourself). The same thing for tab s4 and pretty much every other samsung tablet out there. Even the tab 4 (note even older than s2) has custom android 10. So if you are willing to install "custom os" yourself, the support isn't really a big issue (and its really easy to do).

Apple on the other hand officially supports their products for a long time. The original air 2 (same time frame as tab s2) is still officially supported. Current iPads also have far better CPU than android counterparts as well so there are some benefits there if you use CPU intensive apps. Of course one issue with iPad is there arent any expandable memory. Storage often becomes a huge issue for iPad because the OS itself takes 10GB. That doesn't leave you with a lot of room if you store media content or install a lot of apps (at least for their base model). So with iPad you often got to consider rather the base model is enough storage or pay even more for a bigger model. Remember if you are planning to use it for a while, the storage might seem enough now but 2-3 years later you might be wishing you had more storage space. With Samsung, at least you could just buy another microSD card.

As you can see both have their advantages or drawbacks. Personally i own more iPads than android tablets but i do see the value of both. For media purposes, i prefer android tablets (expandable memory is useful and samsung S series has a better screen than regular iPad and iPad air). For gaming, i prefer iPads (iPad Pro is by far the fastest tablet, nothing is comparable... of course nothing is comparable in price too). Tab A price point (when on sale) is roughly 1/2 that of IPad so if you just need a basic tablet and willing to do your own upgrade, its definitely a good tablet to get. It will also get android 11 support so at the very least you should be fine for another year without needing to worry about upgrading yourself.
I'm looking because I have a Tab S from 2014. It's slow but it works, but I'm more concerned about security on it. I only download legit apps but I'm still paranoid about using a device that hasn't received updates in like six years.
I don't think I'm capable of installing a custom ROM.
I've been looking at the Tab S6 Lite for $350 and a 7th Gen iPad 128 GB refurbished for $430. But I also would prefer an 8" size. But everything in that range seems like crap.
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Dec 26, 2014
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HWDAN55 wrote: Samsung has a 4 year support policy on most of newest devices since 2019, including the S and A Tablets

https://security.samsungmobile.com/workScope.smsb
There's a huge difference between "Security Updates" (which is what that is specifically for) and actual legit OS updates though.

I mean hell it lists the 2017 Tab A as still getting Biannual security updates and that one can't upgrade passed Android 9.
Sr. Member
Jul 9, 2019
693 posts
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User381785 wrote: I've been looking at the Tab S6 Lite for $350 and a 7th Gen iPad 128 GB refurbished for $430. But I also would prefer an 8" size. But everything in that range seems like crap.
New iPad mini is coming next month, new design with compact bezels.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
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Paigne wrote: Unfortunately there really aren’t many options after google dropped out of the tablet game too. It’s really Samsung vs fire and fire targets the budget market. I guess you could include acer but they also target the budget market. Lenovo tablets also more or less target budget marker/entry level market. LG dropped out of the phone market so they aren’t too likely to release a tablet in the future.
Yeah that's basically my point.
It's either Samsung or nothing. There's a couple of random Chinese companies also producing okay (on paper) tablets, but they're not without their own set of serious issues.
So there's basically no competition.
Even the "big" names like Acer/Lenovo don't produce tablets that are any good.

CNeufeld wrote: The other issue was that the Android tablets that had SIM card options was very limited. The only ones I found were the ones that the Telus/Bell/Rogers conglomerates were selling, and they were very limited in specs. No top-end units with cell capability. Don't know why Samsung went that route in Canada, as they were available in other markets.
TBH I've never understood why a tablet needs a SIM card.
It's not like I'm not carrying my phone with me that I can tether off of.
I don't think there's ever been a time where I've had my tablet but not my phone and even today I still carry a tablet with me because screw 6" displays.

So if you want a high spec laptop with true mobile capabilities, Apple was your only real choice.
Did Apple start shoving SIMs into their notebooks? I thought everyone abandoned that.

BernardRyder wrote: A better question would be is it worth getting a tablet anymore? Not including iPad, that seems to be a separate market than a tablet, and I'm not a fan of Apple either.
It just seems the tablet market has really dried up. I own 2 tablets, both top of the line hardware specs when purchased, and I probably never used either enough to justify their purchase (well one was given to me actually).
Depends on who you talk to I guess.
I for one like the additional size. I can't stand a 5-6" phone for anything.
To be honest... I don't even like a 10" tablet because mobile operating systems suck nuts. I don't understand how anyone does anything on them. There's a reason I almost always have a notebook with me.
Even today I still keep an 8" tablet in my purse (because that's what fits) despite having a 6" phone with me.
TouchWiz garbage
I'm not sure what Samsung calls their current OS or whatever, but I still hate it.
My newest Samsung device is a SM-T307U while not nearly as bad as TouchWiz still has all their bloatware on it. I've removed most of it but since there's no way to unlock the bootloader I can't permanently remove it.

Like I said, I'd be all over Samsung if I could just AOSP it. I don't need Samsung's version of literally every app that Google has.

EDIT: Friend of mine got an A11 that I helped setup and same concept. Why does Samsung have an app for everything? Their SMS app was messed up until I installed Google's version of messages. Everything is just... ugh...

There's a reason I basically only buy Pixels and Android One devices now because even flashing something close to AOSP can be painful.
Do you not have anything else to do rather than argue with strangers on the internet
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Jan 21, 2018
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Our family has several generations of tablets, including iPad, Android, and FireOS. We buy new ones every few years, hand the old ones down, and re-purpose them for various things. Tablets are useful for certain things, e.g., reading pdf documents, displaying a home automation control panel, watching streaming video. If you don't need one, don't buy one.

New OS updates are not the real issue. What you care about is whether you can still run the apps. Both iOS and Android provide about 6 years where you can still run most common apps, whether that includes OS updates or not. After that time, the constant OS and app bloat and increasing performance and memory requirements starts to make updates infeasible. You can keep on running the old hardware with the existing OS and app versions in some cases, but if there's any connection to external services, those services will probably have dropped support for the old apps anyway. Apple is a bit more aggressive with forcing apps to update to newer OS versions, but they tend to provide new OS versions for longer than most Android hardware suppliers. The Android suppliers end OS update support as soon as possible, but on the other hand Android apps will run with older OS versions for longer.

Samsung is basically the standard for Android tablets these days. Their support is as good as any. Apple iPads are better, but they cost more, and not everything runs on both Android and iOS.
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Nov 24, 2013
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Have the Samsung Galaxy S7+. No complaints so far.

Main reason I got it was for the OLED screen, but have to confess that I don't really notice that much of a difference between the display and the iPad display.
Deal Guru
Dec 5, 2006
13074 posts
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Markham
User381785 wrote: I've been in the market for a new tablet and I've had my eye on a few from Samsung. However upon looking into it, it seems that Samsung doesn't seem to offer lengthy support for them. I'd like a tablet that'll stay up to date for a while. Because of this, I've also been eyeing an iPad, but they are so much more expensive. Is it even worth it to get a Samsung tablet these days?
That's typical android tablet issue. Your device will be up to date a few years. You still can use it afterwards, but no major android update

If you want to keep device up to date for at least 5 years, go to ipad

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