While Samsung and Apple seem locked in head-to-head combat over the high-end tablet range, with the former's Galaxy Tab S6 and the latter's iPad Pro 2020 close competitors, Samsung's Galaxy Tab A devices haven't really challenged the base-line iPads much.
Likely looking to fix that, Samsung put out the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, a more affordable version of the non-Lite device with specs, and a low price tag, that make it a direct competitor to the iPad 10.2 from 2019.
The iPad 10.2 is a member of Apple's (relatively) low-end line of tablets below the iPad Air, Mini or Pro, aimed for people who want a new tablet for general tasks without breaking the bank. That's also what the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is trying to do.
So which of these cheap tablets is best for you? We'll run you through the various specs and features of both so you can make up your mind.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite vs iPad 10.2 price and availability
If you want to spend the least amount possible on one of these tablets, the iPad 10.2 costs $329 / £349 / AU$529 for its 32GB option. That's not much storage though, and you can get 128GB for $429 / £449 / AU$689.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite costs a touch more for most at $349 / £349 (roughly AU$690) but that's actually for 64GB, so you get a bit more storage for your money. There's also an LTE version in some regions, available for £399 (roughly $410, AU$790).
One important thing to mention is that while the Samsung tablet comes with an S Pen stylus for note-taking, doodling and drawing, the iPad 10.2 requires you to buy the Apple Pencil separately for $99 / £89 / AU$145.
So it seems you might be paying a little more for the iPad 10.2, especially if you want to make the most of all its features, but given high prices are a characteristic trait of Apple devices, it's almost surprising that the cost difference isn't bigger.
Design and display
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has dimensions of 244.5 x 154.3 x 7mm, whereas the iPad 10.2 is 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm, so they're not hugely different. Similarly, their weights, at 467g and 483g respectively, aren't noticeably different either (not many people would be able to feel a 16g difference).
You won't feel many differences in build material, as both have glass fronts and aluminium sides and back. That doesn't mean the devices necessarily look alike though, as the iPad 10.2 has thicker bezels and a physical home button, unlike the Galaxy Tab. In addition, the iPad's back feels a little more rounded in the hand.
On the back both tablets have their single rear camera to the top left (if you're holding it portrait), and unlike many smartphones nowadays both tablets have a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite comes with a USB-C port for charging and data transfer, but the iPad 10.2 uses Apple's proprietary Lighting cable.
In terms of screens, you're getting a 10.2-inch panel in the iPad 10.2 (hence the name) but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has a 10.4-inch screen, so it's a touch bigger. The panel of the latter is slightly longer too, with a 5:3 aspect ratio instead of the 4:3 of the iPad.
The iPad's screen is a touch more high-resolution at 1620 x 2160, better than the Samsung tablet's 1200 x 2000. It's rare for Samsung to lose in a screen head-to-head, but this could be a sacrifice that had to be made to keep the price low.
Camera and battery life
Cameras often aren't very impressive in tablets, because you're not going to be using your device for portable photography due to its size, but there are various uses you might find for a slate snapper.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite and iPad 10.2 both have 8MP rear cameras, and due to an also-identical micron size we're inclined to say they'll offer a similar experience. We've yet to use Samsung's device, so we can't know that for certain.
On the front of the Samsung slate is a 5MP sensor, while there's only a 1.2MP one on the iPad, so videos you shoot of yourself on the Galaxy Tab will be higher resolution.
In terms of battery size, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has a 7,040mAh power back while the iPad 10.2 has a 8,827mAh equivalent. Due to the latter's smaller screen size and bigger battery capacity we'd expect it lasts a little bit longer before needing a charge.
We don't actually know the iPad 10.2's charging speed; it comes with a 12W charger but found other chargers with higher wattage powered it up quicker. In comparison the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has 15W fast charging. The Samsung slate will be quicker for most people, but if you've got tech from a recent iPhone you might be able to get better speeds from the iPad.
Features and specs
A feature that's important to some people is unlocking, and while the iPad 10.2 has Touch ID letting you use your fingerprint to unlock the device, you have to rely on password or pin protection for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. That's far less convenient for people who want to quickly access their device.
The iPad 10.2 has Apple's A10 Fusion chipset which isn't the most up-to-date from the company but it's still a powerful processor, comparable to top-end smartphones from a few years ago. That's paired with 3GB RAM.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite on the other hand comes with the Exynos 9611 processor which, as with Apple's A10, is a decent processor. We've typically found Apple's chipsets provide quicker processing speeds than Samsung's Exynos ones. However, the 4GB RAM is a touch better than the iPad's.
Looking at software, the iPad 10.2 has iPadOS, a fork of iOS 13 with a few tweaks to make it better optimized for tablets. Some of these tweaks, however, seem designed to make the tablet function as a psuedo-laptop, which some users may not find useful.
On the other hand the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has Android 10 with Samsung's One UI laid over the top - Android has yet to prove itself as a decent operating system for tablets, and One UI can be quite divisive due to its looks, but people who use Samsung phones will be used to it.
Some tech users love Android devices, others iOS and its ecosystem, and this alone might be enough to sway some people who are loyal fans.
Choosing between the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite or iPad 10.2 may just be as easy as looking at the phone you're using. If it's an iPhone or Android device, you've already probably made up your mind to stick to the same ecosystem. There are probably only a select few people on the fence still.
The iPad 10.2 has a more high-res screen and a better processor, so if these are important factors for you then it's worth looking to the iPad.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has a higher resolution front-facing camera, a price that's cheaper when you factor in the S Pen, and more RAM.
So depending on the reason you're looking for a new cheap tablet, check out which of the slates fits that function better, as it's likely that's the best device for you. Or, maybe wait until we've fully reviewed the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite for our full verdict.
You might also want to check out the ReMarkable 2 tablet review.
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Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.
He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.