Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Review: Mid-Range or Just Right?

by Reads (527,216)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Software & Support
      • 8
      • Upgrade Capabilities
      • 8
      • Usability
      • 7
      • Design
      • 6
      • Performance
      • 6
      • Features
      • 8
      • Price/Value Rating
      • 9
      • Total Score:
      • 7.43
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Large and attractive display
    • Long battery life
    • Reasonable price
  • Cons

    • Performance just OK
    • Bulkier than is ideal

Quick Take

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 is a decent tablet at a time when good options in the $200-$400 range are harder to find.

Two-in-one tablets are great, but good ones like the Surface Pro 4 are really expensive. Shoppers on a tighter budget should look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1, a full-size Android device that’s available for less than $200.

Just be aware there are two versions of this model. The original Tab A 10.1 has 2GB of RAM, is often sold bundled with a 32GB microSD card, and is widely available for $200 or less. Samsung recently introduced a new version that comes with an S Pen and the pressure-sensitive screen to use it, has 3GB of RAM, and has a list price of $299.99.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Design & Build

The Galaxy Tab A has only moderately-sized bezels, so the casing isn’t much larger than the 10.1-inch “letterbox” display. The exact size depends on the version, though. The original is 10 x 6.1 inches, and the S Pen version is a bit smaller at 9.7 x 6.5 inches. Both are 0.32 in. thick and weigh 1.2 pounds.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 in White

This tablet is heavier than rival devices with similar screen sizes, and it’s also thicker than is really ideal, but part of this can be chalked up to the battery. More on that later.

Mid-range models don’t win design awards. That said, its white or black plastic casing with silver accents will blend in in any office or classroom, and won’t draw any admiring glances.

On the other hand, Samsung builds quality products, and this is no exception. While the exterior is mostly plastic, the device strongly resisted our efforts to flex or bend it.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Display

The Tab A 10.1 has a 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200 touchscreen, giving it a quite decent density of 224 pixels per inch. Even the much more expensive Apple iPad Pro 9.7 has only a moderately higher 264 ppi.

It has a 16:10 aspect ratio, so it’s longer and thinner than the 4:3 ratio that’s more common these days. This makes it ideal for watching video, looking at web pages, or word processing, but its aspect ratio is a bit less suited for people who prefer to use their tablets in portrait mode.

We found this display to be quite usable out of doors, through direct sunlight can wash out the screen. Those who are planning to frequently use their tablet in the sun should consider a model with an AMOLED screen, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Ports, Buttons, Speakers, & Cameras

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Review

Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Right Edge

The Galaxy Tab A 10.1 has a microSD slot, and the original version is sometimes bundled with a 32GB card. Higher-capacity cards are available, of course, allowing this tablet to be easily upgraded by those who want to carry around large amounts of video or music. The slot is protected behind a small door so the card isn’t likely to be accidentally ejected.

A micro-USB v2.0 port is located on the top edge of this computer, allowing it to be charged with the cable stretching up to the top of the desk or tablet – a very useful arrangement. This same port can be used to attach accessories like an external keyboard, though an adapter to convert to a full-size USB Type-A port will be needed for most of these. We tested our Samsung Galaxy Tab A 101.1 review unit with a USB mouse, keyboard, and flash drive and each performed as expected. We then connected all of these to a USB hub and plugged that into Samsung’s tablet, and they continued to function simultaneously, meaning this tablet could be used like a desktop PC – albeit a simple one.

Unlike most Android-powered devices, this Galaxy Tab has a physical Home button, and the Back and Overview buttons are permanently printed on the front. This means they are always available, and never take up valuable screen space, but the Back button is positioned where it’s very easy to accidentally touch, especially when held in landscape mode.

There’s an 8MP rear camera with a flash; the latter a feature one rarely sees on tablets. This does a respectable job of capturing images, but it’s quite slow, so it’s best if subjects are stationary. The flash is bright, but it’s so white it washes out light colors. A 2MP front camera is easily up to video conferencing.

The stereo speakers on this model are located on one of the short edges, and put out more than enough sound to enable watching a TV show or movie from 3 to 4 feet away, even in a moderately noisy environment.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 S Pen Stylus

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Review

Galaxy Tab A 10.1 with S Pen

Those who plan to take handwritten notes on the Tab A should invest in the more expensive version that comes with the S Pen. However, those who don’t care can save a bit of money by getting the original one. Just be aware, the difference goes beyond which model is bundled with an S Pen, as the cheaper version doesn’t come with the type of screen that supports this touch-sensitive stylus. (It also has less RAM.) So don’t expect it to work with an old Galaxy Note tablet or smartphone S Pen.

The S Pen version has a slot to store this active stylus inside the tablet.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow on a 1.6 GHz octa-core Exynos 7870 processor. This is a chip designed for light to medium demand, and its benchmarks bear this out.

On the Geekbench 4 CPU test, our Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 review unit (the original version) scored 3241. Compare that to the HTC Nexus 9, a 9-inch model which came out several years ago and scored a 2620 on the same test. On the other hand, flagship phones do much better; the Samsung Galaxy S7 scored a 5213, for example.

This doesn’t mean the Tab A 10.1 is sluggish in typical day-to-day use. It boots Android after being completely turned off in only about 20 seconds. But this computer isn’t up to running a bunch of highly demanding applications simultaneously.

The original version has 2GB of RAM, while the more-expensive one that comes with an S Pen has 3GB. No matter the version, there’s also 16GB of built-in storage, and the microSD card slot supports up to 256GB of additional capacity.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Specs

Our Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 review unit has:

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Review

Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Rear View

  • OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Processor: Exynos 7870 1.6GHz Octa-Core
  • Memory:
    • 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM
    • microSD up to 256GB
  • Display:
    • 10.1 inches
    • 1920×1200 (WUXGA)
  • Wireless:
    • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4GHz +5.0GHz, VHT80
    • Bluetooth v4.2
  •  Camera:
    • 8.0MP AF w/ flash and F1.9
    • 2.0MP and F2.2
    • Video recording: 1080P@30fps
  • Dimensions:
    • 10.0 x 6.11 x 0.32 inches
    • 1.16 lbs
  • Battery: Li-Ion 7,300mAh

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Battery

Built into this product is a 7300 mAh battery, which Samsung says is good for up to 13 hours of video playback or Internet use. We put it to our torture test, in which the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 review unit is kept streaming video over Wi-Fi with the display brightness set to max, and it lasted 7 hours and 28 minutes. This is an indication of how long the device can be expected to last in a worst-case scenario, and it will go longer on typical, day-to-day usage. Over 7 hours in our torture test is a good result, indicating that this product should last a day of moderate-to-heavy use, or a couple of days of light use.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Left Edge

Samsung’s Exynos 7870 processor was designed to extend battery life by providing four CPU cores to use in demanding situations, and four other cores to use when demand is lighter. The lesser amount of RAM also helps extend battery life.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Review Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 is a decent tablet at a time when good options in the $200-$400 range are hard to find. Many companies are setting their focus on either powerful high-end or cheap entry-level offerings, but Samsung has a device that fits neatly in the middle. It sports a easily-viewable display, decent performance, a long battery life, and a design that’s functional if prosaic.

With a price generally under $200, the original version of this product is quite a good deal. Those looking for a mid-size Android tablet to take notes on should also consider the S Pen-enabled version, which recently debuted for $299.


  • Large and attractive display
  • Long battery life
  • Reasonable price


  • Performance just OK
  • Bulkier than is ideal




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  1. BCBuch

    Not everyone is looking for a high-end tablet to game with. With that said I’ll give you my take from actually owning and using the Tab A 10.1 SM-T580 as my go to mobile device outside of my Note 5. I purchased my tablet along with a 128 GB Samsung EVO micro sd card. At this juncture in the game I have not rooted the device although I have disabled several of the apps that came stock on it.

    I activated Developer Options and enabled USB Debugging. Once that was complete I activated adoptable storage which Samsung disables by default. This was the reason behind the purchase of the 128 GB ultra fast micro sd card. Now instead of the stock 16 GB of storage, I have sound 120 GB. The unit is not as fast as a Tab E but for everyday productivity usage and occasionally watching something on VLC OR Kodi it is just fine. As far as it being bulky you don’t buy a 10 inch tablet expecting it to have the same profile as a cell phone. It my case the reasoning behind the tablet is I wanted something with a larger screen than my Note 5 and smaller than my 17.3 inch laptop. Somethingthat was easier to see and use than the Note 5 while offering a smaller package to transport in mobile situations. For this it fills the bill. One plus in the purchase was it came preinstalled with Microsoft Office along with 100gb of OneDrive space for 2 years included.

    To eliminate the need for switching devices in a wifi area to make calls, message, or make a video call to my wife or children I did a few things. First I installed Google Hangouts dialer and in settings under my account I changed the outgoing caller ID number to match my Note 5. Now when placing a call using Hangout dialer it shows the call coming form my cell and not a random relay number. Second I downloaded the current apk for Allo and installed it using my cell number. Allo can only be used on one device per phone number, so I uninstalled it from my Note 5. The caviate here is I can send SMS and MMS over wifi to any cell. The catch though is the same as there is on a cellular equipted device, if the recipient is an Allo user they will know it is you. If they are not they will see the message coming from a randomly generated relay number. Thirdly I downloaded the DUO apk and like I did with Allo used my cell number to set it up giving me the ability to make video calls to other DUO users.

    The tablet does net come with a metal body, but us instead plastic. It is not flimsy though. If extra protection is a concern then there are folios out there that can be used. I personally use a folio because I prefer using my tablet in the landscape mode and at times use a keyboard with touchpad converted to it using a OTG cable.

    I would recommend this tablet to the budget minded who are looking for a good product with a little larger than single hand held display.

  2. Sssssssssaaaaaaaa

    Very poor design. The narrowness of the frace means that you will be constantly triggering the hot control spots with meaning to. The “Pros” listed are fine if all you want is a room light sitting on your shelf that won’the break when it falls to the floor. If you actually want to get some work done, pass this by.