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The Samsung Galaxy Active Tab 5 is a small rugged tablet with a unique selling point and a lot going for it. With a bright screen, good performance, and decent battery life, it is a competent tablet, and its robust design means it can be taken nearly anywhere without issue.


  • Rugged design
  • Enough performance for most situations
  • Bright, fast screen


  • Only a single speaker
  • No kickstand
  • Duplicate apps preinstalled

Key Features

  • Rugged, durable designThe rugged IP68, MIL-STD-810H-compliant design of the Galaxy Tab Active 5 means it can survive a drop or a dunk in water, making it particlarly handy for construction workers and the likes.
  • Bundled S-PenYou’ll find the equally rugged IP68-rated S Pen in the box, allowing you to write notes, doodle and more.
  • Bright, fast displayWith an everyday peak brightness of 600nits and a 120Hz refresh rate, the Galaxy Tab Active 5’s 8-inch screen ticks plenty of boxes.


Our modern tablets are many things – sleek, powerful, portable, and premium – but there’s one thing they’re not: rugged.

There’s nary an iPad or Android tablet around that could take even a moderate fall onto a rough surface, let alone brave the rain or a hike, and certainly not without a case. 

Enter the Galaxy Tab Active 5, a new option from Samsung that runs counter to all of the above and then some. It is built to take knocks and survive a building site, but also sports mod-cons from a forgotten era of tablet design. Physical buttons, easily graspable bezels and even a removable battery all make an appearance, further burnishing the tablet’s rugged credentials.

It is primarily designed to meet the needs of a certain class of business customer, but it has a lot of features which might attract the attention of a certain kind of power user. Is it too niche to have broad appeal? Let’s find out.


  • Flat display
  • 10.1mm thin
  • Weighs 433g

Generally speaking, there’s a tried-and-tested formula for a successful tablet design. Users expect minimal bezels, a slimline construction, a low weight, a premium feel and an attractive look. Based on those merits, the Tab 5 is not successful, but then it isn’t your everyday tablet.

Samsung Galaxy Active Tab 5
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

To start, at 433g, it is a porker despite having only an 8-inch display, and with a thick bezel on every side, it looks positively old-fashioned. Indeed, with the physical buttons in tow, it’s reminiscent of the antediluvian Asus Padfone. This is an Android tablet with a design from the dinosaur years of the operating system, but for good reason.

Thick bezels? More like extra space to hold onto to stop it falling or slipping. Significant heft? That’s due to reinforcement against drops and anything else that might come its way. Physical buttons? If you are wearing gloves or have dirty hands, they’re a godsend.

The intended user of the Tab 5 isn’t your standard person who might watch a few hours of TV in the evening or scroll the news in the morning on their tablet. It is instead a construction worker, a ranger, those in professions that value robustness over almost everything else. With them in mind, it hits the mark completely, though there is some value to be had for the average user.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 5 on a table
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Unlike many, the Tab 5 doesn’t dive for the floor at the slightest provocation from any available surface, instead staying put with a grippy, textured design. And if it does fall, like the reliable Nokia 3310, it is more likely that the tablet will break the floor than the other way around. To back all of the above up, it has IP68 water and dust resistance, as well as sporting 1.8m drop resistance (MIL-STD-810H) with the included case.

As might be expected, there aren’t many colour options available; you can have anything you like as long as it is green.

Looking around the device, on the left side, there are pogo pins for connecting accessories and a fingernail SIM slot; on the top, there’s a microphone, and on the bottom, there’s a (welcome) 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB-C charging slot. The right side houses the volume buttons, a power button and an ‘Action’ button, which can be configured to different roles, but which opens the camera by default.

Rear of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 5
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

As mentioned before, the rear of the device pops off easily, revealing the swappable 5050mAh battery inside. This is particularly handy for long trips, allowing you to easily swap in another battery whenever the first runs out.

In all, the Tab 5 isn’t a normal tablet, but that’s not the point. It is rugged and durable, qualities that give it value beyond the home and the sofa, and that’s not something that most tablets can boast.


  • 1920x 1200 TFT LCD display
  • HDR10 compliant
  • 120Hz refresh rate

With the design of the Tab 5, it’s clear to see some sacrifices were made in order to ensure durability. Thankfully, the same hasn’t been necessary for the screen. An 8-inch 1080p panel with a 120Hz refresh rate, it boasts many qualities which help it keep its place among the competition.

Its first major win is brightness, which can be a thorny issue when working outdoors. In strong spring sunlight, the Tab 5 came out well, fully legible even when working head-on. Though it doesn’t quite boast the easy legibility of the Galaxy S24 Ultra, it’s still more than many competing tablets achieve.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 5 on a radiator
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

At 120Hz, the screen is smooth in everyday use and contributes greatly to the device’s speedy feel. A slight quibble is that there aren’t more options to preserve battery life, with only 60Hz available as a power-saving option. It would have been nice to see gradations between the two as some kind of compromise, such as 90Hz.

Colour reproduction is strong for the most part, with the proviso that this isn’t an OLED panel. There’s a pleasant degree of saturation and contrast throughout, especially for an LCD panel, though we found the ‘Eye Comfort’ mode a little distracting. When done well, these modes are subtle and help to remove eye strain when using your device before bed, but in this case, the orange hue is too strong and overdone.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 5 screen and pen
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Lastly, at 1920 x 1200, the screen is sharp enough for any content you can throw at it, with the smaller display working particularly well for reading (though subtitles can be tiny). The screen is HDR10 compliant, meaning the colours and brightness really pop with supported content.

The speakers are interesting, though not necessarily in a wholly positive way. Mimicking a phone, the Tab 5 has an earpiece speaker and a loudspeaker on the bottom. However, only the latter plays music or when watching videos. As such, the audio always feels imbalanced, which is unfortunate given that most of the competition has at least dual speakers, with many sporting quad speakers.


  • 13MP selfie camera
  • 5MP main camera 
  • LED flash on rear

I’ve so far covered a lot of reasons why the Tab 5 can be cut a little slack in certain areas, as it isn’t a normal tablet. It’s intended for a different kind of person, a different kind of use case. Conversely, where it gets a bit more scrutiny is in the camera department. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 5 rear camera
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

If a typical tablet might only be used to scan documents or to make a quick video call, if the Tab 5 is out in the field, it might be used to snapshot important moments. So, how does it stack up?

Sporting a single 13MP sensor on the rear, complemented by a 5MP snapper on the front, the Active Tab 5 isn’t necessarily bristling with cameras. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s better to have one good sensor than three middling to poor efforts. Neither sensor has stabilisation, and the rear has a flash.

Coming to image quality, the picture (no pun intended) is positive. Though the Tab 5 can’t compete with a mid-range smartphone, it puts in a solid fight against budget smartphones, which is more than most tablets can say, never mind those in the same price bracket.

Detail is plentiful in most images, and colour is well represented, lacking Samsung’s tendency to go overboard on saturation. There isn’t too much sharpening going on, and noise is well-controlled for the most part.

As might be expected, given that there is no stabilisation, night mode shots need a steady hand to avoid becoming blurry, but when produced come out reasonably well, though lacking some saturation. 

Images from the front-facing camera are more perfunctory, exhibiting less detail and less saturation, but are by no means bad. Video produced from both sensors has reasonable quality, showcasing detail enough for video calls on the front and enough for recording the odd brief moment on the rear.


  • Samsung Exynos 1380 processor
  • 6GB of RAM
  • 128GB of storage

Regardless of how rugged a tablet might be, it’s only truly useful if it can keep up with your requirements. So, how does the Tab 5 fare?

Surprisingly, it works pretty well, with the proviso that it isn’t a powerhouse. Housed within its bricklike frame is Samsung’s own Exynos 1380 processor, a 5nm octa-core effort paired with 6GB of RAM and a minimum of 128GB of storage. It’s a relatively modern offering produced via a fairly new 5nm fabrication process, so the promises are of both performance and power efficiency.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 5 on a table
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

And in benchmarking, that mostly bears out. Achieving a single-core score of 982 and a multi-core score of 2834 in Geekbench 6, the Tab 5 manages to keep up, just about, with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S21 from a few years ago. While that phone may be old, what it means in practice is smooth and stutter-free performance, at least when navigating through the interface and doing light tablet stuff (watching videos, messaging and sending the occasional email).

If you want to go further, then you run into some issues. Launching Fortnite and pushing everything to the max, you’ll occasionally hit single-digit frame rates.

Turning settings back to medium, it is possible to hover above 30fps, however the Exynos becomes quite toasty in the process. With the smaller size of the tablet, there’s less room to dissipate the heat, so you’ll definitely notice. All of this is a shame, as the size of the Tab 5 makes it surprisingly compelling as an option for gaming.


  • Runs OneUI 6.0
  • Based on Android 14
  • Suite of pre-installed Samsung apps

As with every Samsung device, the Tab 5 comes running OneUI, and as always, it’s a love-it-or-leave-it affair. Some will love the extra features that Samsung bakes in, the add-ons and tidbits that give flavour to the experience. Others will see it all as a crutch that dilutes the core experience. At this point, it is a known quantity, and you’ll likely know in which camp you sit.

Regardless, the UI is generally smooth and lag-free, with only a slight hiccup sometimes when navigating to the Google news feed with a swipe to the right. Everything makes sense and is where expected for the most part, very few options are buried where they shouldn’t be. 

Samsung being Samsung, there is a lot extra here, starting with the S Pen. Sporting a special rugged hat, the S Pen here is purely haptic; it has no battery or powered features within. Tracking the pen point was very accurate and smooth, a testament to Samsung’s decade and more of championing the humble stylus. If you have to sign PDFs in any capacity, you’ll find it a lifesaver.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 5 S Pen
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Then there’s DeX, or Desktop Experience, Samsung’s take on allowing tablets and smartphones to run a full desktop interface when paired with a monitor and peripherals. Unfortunately, it didn’t detect my monitor in testing, so I wasn’t able to give it a more thorough test. In practice, DEx is quite useful for a number of situations and can fit into a number of workflows with the right peripherals. It’s feasible to do a lot of word processing and spreadsheet work in this form.

As mentioned above, although the extras included have value, that value can often be a little questionable. Whether we need two app stores, two default browsers, and an extended family of weird Samsung apps is anyone’s guess, and it does dilute the user experience somewhat. 

One positive point is the stated number of software updates for this tablet, offering a competitive four OS upgrades and five years of security patches. That’s not quite up to the eight years of the Galaxy S24 range, but it’s not that far behind either.

Whether it will last that long is redundant, as that is a very long time for any tablet. Whether the promise is honoured remains to be seen down the line. None of these extended claims have actually been put to the test, except Apple’s, but it is an important step to reduce the amount of e-waste produced.

Rear of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 5 with pen on back
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Battery life

  • 5,050mAh battery
  • Battery is removable

An important benefit usually comes with a big, thick design: a large battery. When there’s more space in the trunk, the general assumption is that it’ll be filled with a portly power pack. Not so for the Tab 5, which makes do with a 5,050mAh cell. That’s smaller than what is found in many smartphones in early 2024, and with a large, fast and bright screen, it doesn’t bode well for the Tab 5’s battery longevity.

However, due to what must be a relatively power-efficient chip inside, I was pleasantly surprised with the overall battery life. It’s important to caveat that statement somewhat, as it doesn’t mean the battery life on the Tab 5 is good, but rather that it isn’t bad.

Removing the rear cover of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 5
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Playing a 90-minute HDR video at full brightness saw the battery level drop from 100% to 85%, which roughly gives you around six hours and 30 minutes of screen time before you need to recharge. There are others that manage better results across the board, including the similarly priced OnePlus Pad, which typically improves by at least an hour.

The Tab 5 has a feature they don’t, however: a replaceable battery. That means, as with early smartphones, if you keep a second battery charged and with you when out, you can swap the dead battery for a full one.

When it comes to charging, the smaller battery pack has an unintentional benefit; it fills up faster than is possible with bigger cells. With the included 15W charger, the tablet made it from 0 to 45% in 30 minutes, which while not quite as rapid as some smartphones can achieve, remains respectable for a tablet.

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Should you buy it?

You want a rugged tablet

If you need a tough tablet to survive your day shift or to take on a hike, there are few options as good as the Tab 5.

You want a premium tablet

The Tab 5 feels good in the hand and to use, but it isn’t exactly packed with the premium tech in similarly priced alternatives. Its durable nature comes at a cost.

Final Thoughts

As might be expected, the market for rugged gadgets is quite niche. Not many people need their tablet to take a ridiculous drop in its stride or to be able to hot-swap batteries on the fly. Given that it is laser-targeted towards them, the Tab 5 is, therefore, something of a niche device for construction workers and hikers who need it.

Therefore, its success as a general-purpose tablet is a testament to its overall quality. It has a fast, bright display, decent battery life, and enough processing power to handle most everyday tasks. Paired with a pair of decent cameras and a body that can take anything the house can throw at it (plus potentially an actual house), it’s a tablet with a lot to offer. 

This is with the caveat that it has a single speaker, doesn’t have a kickstand and, to some at least, a rather dated design. If none of this bothers you, there are few better mini tablets in the price bracket, and certainly none that are also rugged. 

Options exist from other players like Panasonic, but all are explicitly aimed at a business audience and suffer from higher price points, lacking the broad appeal of the Tab 5. As such, it earns our recommendation.

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Used for a week before review

Thorough camera testing

Benchmarked with industry-standard tools


Is the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 5 water-resistant?

Yes, it’s both dust and water-resistant with an IP68 rating, as well as a MIL-STD-810H rating that essentially means it’ll survive a drop of up to 1.8 meters.

How many OS upgrades will the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 5 get?

It’ll get a healthy four OS upgrades and five years of security patches that’ll take it through to Android 18.

Trusted Reviews test data

Geekbench 6 single core
Geekbench 6 multi core
Max brightness
1 hour video playback (Netflix, HDR)
30 minute gaming (light)
Time from 0-100% charge
Time from 0-50% charge
30-min recharge (included charger)
15-min recharge (included charger)
3D Mark – Wild Life
GFXBench – Aztec Ruins
GFXBench – Car Chase

Full specs

Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Rear Camera
Front Camera
Video Recording
IP rating
Size (Dimensions)
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Refresh Rate

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