The iPad is easily the most popular tablet series on the market. I have an iPad mini with Retina display, and there’s a good chance you probably have an iPad too. It’s not hard to imagine why; just like the iPhone, the iPad is elegant, beautifully designed, and dead simple to use. The app ecosystem is best in class, and there’s a ton of third party accessories, from cases to keyboards to docks and so much more.
A lot of this is thanks to Apple’s huge status in the industry. Of course there are accessories, of course there are apps. Who wouldn’t want to get in on the best-selling tablet out there? But there’s just one thing we’ve been noticing lately, and it’s getting harder to ignore every year: Samsung is catching up to Apple. Samsung is big enough to offer all the aftermarket accessories you could ask for, and even has its own hub of apps and services, not unlike Apple — hell, there’s even a Samsung Store inside nearly every Best Buy. And even though it arguably missed the mark last year with the Galaxy S5, this year we saw something we weren’t expecting: we saw Samsung really wow us. The Galaxy S6 replaced yesteryear’s flimsy plastic with an elegant pairing of aluminum and glass. It swapped the tired design for something beautiful. It cleaned up the heavily criticized and messy TouchWiz UI to offer a simpler experience. Noticing a trend here?
Unlike certain building brick-themed films of recent years though, not everything has been awesome for Samsung. The key ingredient here is their tablets. Sure, their latest effort in the Tab S series features a stunning display and an incredibly light build … but it’s one of the flimsiest premium tablets I’ve ever used. The specs are great, the app landscape has increased dramatically for Android tablets, and there are plenty of great software tweaks thrown in like Multi Window to really take full advantage of the large screen. But despite all that, I’m not going to spend $500 on something that bends and creaks when I hold it.
You can call me superficial for choosing materials and build quality over sheer features, and you might be right, but I think most people, average consumers especially, can level with me here. We’ve hit a point in mobile technology where just about every device in a given category (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) can do roughly the same things, just in different ways, and it’s becoming less about the features and more about design philosophy. Every time I pick up my iPad mini, I marvel at how well it’s built. At how nice it feels to hold. And the few times I’ve dropped it, I marveled at its sturdiness. That to me makes it worth the money. And that’s what I want to be able to say about a Samsung tablet.
Samsung won’t hesitate to tell you that the Galaxy S6 is their best-designed smartphone to date. Regardless of how you feel about the sealed in battery or the non-expandable storage, it’s hard to argue that the phone isn’t a stunning device, even if just from a purely aesthetic point of view. Now if there’s one thing that selling smartphones for two years has taught me, it’s that looks and hardware sell a hell of a lot faster than software, and that’s exactly why I want to see Samsung take what they’ve done with the Galaxy S6 and turn it into a tablet. Whether that means two giant slabs of glass separated by a thin sheet of aluminum in the middle, or something a little less fragile like an all-aluminum back, I don’t know. I have no idea what a Galaxy Tab S6 (Galaxy S6 Tab? Galaxy Tab 6?) would look like … but I hope Samsung does.
So what do you think? Does Samsung need to take the tablet game (more) seriously? Should it bring the looks and build of the S6 to its tablets? Is that something you’d like to see, and buy?