Samsung just announced its Galaxy Tab S series within the last three days, and, as usual, customers are contemplating whether or not to buy the Galaxy Tab S or any other formidable tablet on the market – such as Apple’s iPad Air. Since it’s always important to know what you’re getting before you start buying, we wanted to do a specs comparison so that you can see what both devices have to offer.
Apple and Samsung have been longstanding enemies in the smartphone and tablet space, with some years of heated history between them. No matter where you stand (whether on either side or neither), you can’t buy any better tablets than the Galaxy Tab S and the iPad Air on the worldwide market right now.
The Galaxy Tab S comes in both 8.4-inch and 10.5-inch Super AMOLED displays, providing a little something for everyone to enjoy. In contrast, the iPad Air comes in only a 9.7-inch, liquid crystal display (LCD). Some may prefer the 9.7-inch display for watching movies and TV shows, but Samsung’s decision to provide two screen sizes shows that there’s a little something for everyone with Samsung. Apple does provide a 7.9-inch iPad Mini as well, so it, too, is committed to choice with customers. It isn’t necessarily the case that bigger is better, but again, this is an area of preference with customers.
As for the displays themselves, we’ve an interesting matchup. Samsung made a point at its recent Galaxy Tab S presentation to point out that LCD screens drain battery life faster than AMOLED displays. And, with Apple’s own spec sheet regarding its iPad Air, the company bears witness to Samsung’s statements at the Tab S announcement. Apple’s display isn’t only a liquid crystal (LCD), but also utilizes a backlight to power the display – which is why the company describes its display as an “LED-backlit Multi-Touch Display with IPS technology.” The LED backlit display isn’t something that can be overlooked; it means, in essence, that Apple’s iPad Air does drain battery life beyond simply powering the screen because it must rely on a “backlight” to do so – an additional source that drains the battery separately from the display itself. Think about it: the screen must be powered by the battery, but to add an additional source (a backlight) provides further battery drain.
Contrast this with Samsung’s AMOLED screens, which don’t need a backlight to power the display alongside of the display itself. Rather, Samsung’s displays are “light-emitting” (AMOLED), so the battery drain only occurs with one source in the Galaxy Tab S versus two sources of battery drain with the iPad Air. The difference between the two displays means that one will drain battery life faster, whereas the other won’t.
What would a great display be without having a certain screen resolution? Apple’s iPad Air comes with a Retina, 2048 x 1536 screen resolution – the same one placed in the iPad 3 when Apple decided to “go Retina” for the first time. In contrast, though, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S provides a stunning, Quad HD resolution of 2,560 x 1600 pixels.
Since less battery drain is more battery for the consumer, we’ve to award the display category to the Galaxy Tab S for not only its display build quality, but also its size choices and incredible screen resolution. The Galaxy Tab S provides an 8.4-inch model that gives you a half-inch wider screen size than the iPad Mini (8.4 vs. 7.9 inches, respectively) and 0.8 inches more screen on its largest model, the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (10.5-inch display as opposed to the iPad Air’s 9.7-inch display). To have a tablet that provides more screen in a thinner body than the iPad Air is a feat indeed.
See Also: Samsung Galaxy S5 Review
Dimensions are used to figure out how thin and light devices are. Most consumers tend to sit in the middle position: they want a table that’s not too light, but not too heavy, and both the Galaxy Tab S and Apple iPad Air provide the great hand ergonomics that many consumers seek. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S (Wi-Fi) weighs 465 grams and the Tab S LTE 475 grams, with the Apple iPad Air weighing 469 grams and 478 grams for its respective Wi-Fi and cellular data models. Apple’s iPad Air also comes in with a thickness of 7.5mm, as compared to the Galaxy Tab S’s thickness of 6.6mm thin. Apple’s iPad Air is also 169.5mm wide and 240mm tall, as compared to the Galaxy Tab S that is 177.3mm wide and 247.3mm tall. Not only is the Galaxy Tab S lighter (6.6mm vs. 7.5mm), it is also taller and wider than its rival. In other words, you get more screen within a thinner body than Apple’s iPad Air. LG did something similar in the G3 when it packed 0.4 more inches of screen real estate into a body size similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S5 – and Samsung has done it here.
The winner of the dimension category belongs to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S. Android users have always found larger displays appealing, and the Tab S’s svelte form factor will be another added appeal for customers who may have never seen the beauty and elegance of a Samsung tablet before.
See Also: Android 4.4.3 KitKat arriving on Samsung Galaxy S5
Apple’s iPad Air is powered by the company’s own A7 processor chip that features a motion coprocessor for its gyroscope that becomes a huge asset in gameplay. The A7 chip is said to also feature 64-bit technology that increases game graphics and on-screen viewing. In the other corner stands Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S that features the company’s own Exynos 5 Octa processor that is said to be able to run all 8 processor cores simultaneously. For American and British customers, however, the Galaxy Tab S will be powered with a 2.3Ghz, Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. While the Exynos 5 Octa processor will prove to be a delight for international customers, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (though below the current 801 and, by the end of the year, 805) will prove a delight for American and British customers. It’s interesting that Samsung chose to place a processor in the Galaxy Tab S that is inferior to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 placed into the Galaxy S5. At the same time, however, keep in mind that most tablets don’t operate as quickly as your smartphone. Tablets require larger batteries than smartphones, and will run slower. Any benchmark testing scores you perform at your own leisure will bear this out.
Both Apple’s and Samsung’s processor should serve you well, but Apple’s A7 is still a dual-core processor while Samsung’s own Exynos processor is an octa-core processor. A dual-core processor only utilizes two processor cores, while an octa processor utilizes eight cores. Some may think that processor power is a matter of opinion, but multitasking mandates the use of additional processor cores. The Moto X, for example, has two main cores (a dual-core processor) but also features anywhere between 4-6 additional processors for language, contextual processing, and so on. It’s true that Apple’s dual-core processor has been found to be faster than Samsung’s processors (and Android’s as a whole), but it is also true that battery life isn’t as excellent with Apple devices as they are within Samsung and other Android manufacturers. With these processors come trade-offs, but we’re giving the Galaxy Tab S the win with an octa-core processor that makes multitasking more of a breeze than dual-core processors.
Apple’s iPad Air comes with 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S, on the other hand, features 16GB memory versions with a microSD card slot that expands your storage an additional 128GB. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S provides more memory storage that can be expanded – even if you buy a 16GB version, or that’s the only storage version that’s offered. On the other hand, should you buy a 16GB iPad Air, you’re forced to rely on cloud storage to save your documents, videos, and photos without having any additional storage for apps.
The winner of the memory storage category goes to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S.
See Also: iPhone 6 specs, price and release date
Apple’s iPad Air features a 1.2MP front-facing FaceTime HD camera and a 5MP rear-facing iSight camera. In contrast, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S features a 2.1MP Full HD front-facing camera and an 8MP back camera. If you’re looking for improved selfies and a tablet that can take excellent pictures when you need it, look no further than Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S. We award the camera category to the Galaxy Tab S.
Apple’s iPad Air features a 32.4-watt-hour battery (8,820mAh, provides up to 10 hours of music, video, and Wi-Fi browsing), a decrease from the 42.5-watt-hour (11,560mAh) battery Apple placed into the iPad 3 (its first Retina display tablet) and iPad 4. Apple’s “thinner and lighter” design philosophy means that, for heavy consumption users, the iPad Air packs less of a beastly punch than its predecessors.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 10.5 features a 7,900mAh battery, the larger of its two Tab S models. The iPad Air packs a larger battery in this case, but Apple’s battery promises “up to 10 hours” in the Internet experience. According to Samsung, however, the Galaxy Tab S will provide 11+ hours of 1080p video playback. This makes sense, seeing that the Galaxy Tab S doesn’t need a backlight to power the display and thus, doesn’t drain the battery for any reason other than the display itself.
We give the slight edge here to Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S because its battery, slightly smaller than Apple’s iPad Air, won’t drain the battery as much as the Apple iPad. With more video and web browsing time, you’ll see the difference.
iPad 3 users who choose to purchase a newer iPad model do well to decide if they want the iPad 4 or the iPad Air (or even an iPad Air 2). If Apple continues the thin and light trend, battery recharges will occur on a faster but more frequent scale in years to come.
See Also: Apple to unveil iWatch with iPhone 6 in September
Price and Availability
Apple’s iPad Air has 4 different memory storage versions, each with its own unique price. The 16GB iPad Air (Wi-Fi) starts at Apple’s traditional $499 USD price tag, with the 32GB at $599, the 64GB at $699, and the 128GB at $799. These are Wi-Fi models; the cellular data tablets will cost between $629 (16GB cellular) to $929 (128GB cellular). The iPad Air is available in 42 countries around the world and provides numerous language accommodations.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S LTE models will be released after its Wi-Fi models, but we’ve received no word on how much those models will cost. As for the company’s Wi-Fi models, however, Samsung looks to keep a competitive pricing strategy in the US – with the 16GB Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (16GB) to cost $399 and the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (16GB) to cost $499. The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and 10.5 models will go on sale in the United States next month (July), with availability in other countries to follow soon thereafter.
When it comes to price, the Galaxy Tab S rules with its 16GB $499 pricing. The secret to the Tab S’s success in the price match comes when you consider that you can attach additional GBs of memory storage. In other words, for a potential 144GB of memory storage (16GB internal + 128GB microSD), you only pay $499. Granted, this doesn’t factor in the microSD card (which currently costs somewhere around $100), but you’re only paying $599 for a Galaxy Tab S as opposed to paying $799 for a Wi-Fi iPad Air – and, even then, you still get 16GB less memory storage than a Galaxy Tab S provides.
Samsung has always offered competitive pricing, and it’s obvious here. If you’re looking to have more memory storage for more of what you love to do (along with a competitive price tag), Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S is the winner by a landslide in the price category.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S is sleek, sexy, and the most gorgeous Android tablet on the market. And it is clearly, better than the current iPad Air; however, we should wait for Apple’s October announcement.
||Samsung Galaxy Tab S
||Apple iPad Air
||10.5” (267.2mm)/8.4” (212.8mm) 2560×1600(WQXGA) Super AMOLED
||9.7” 2048×1536 LED-backlit Multi‑Touch display with IPS technology
||Quad-core 1.9GHz Exynos 5 Octa / Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.3GHz
||A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor
||Android 4.4 (Kitkat)
||16/32GB Memory, MicroSD (up to 128GB)
||16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
|Micro SD support
||Wi-Fi Model:247.3 x 177.3 x 6.6mm, 465g
LTE Model:247.3 x 177.3 x 6.6mm, 467g
|Wi‑Fi: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5, 469g
Wi‑Fi + Cellular: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5, 478g
||8M w/ Flash LED + 2.1M Full HD
||5MP Full HD + 1.2 MP HD
||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, MIMO
WiFi Direct, BT4.0
|Wi‑Fi 802.11a/b/g/n); MIMO, Bluetooth 4.0
UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900 MHz)
LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26)
||7,900mAh / 4,900mAh
||Built-in 32.4-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
8.4” 16GB – $399
10.5” 16GB – $499
Wi-Fi + Cellular:
16GB – $629
32GB – $729
64GB – $829
128GB – $929