The battle for supremacy between Apple and Samsung continues, but what will make 2014 even more interesting is Samsung’s piqued interest in the tablet market. It’s not like the Korean giant hasn’t released Android tablets in the past, but there have been numerous reports suggesting that this year, Samsung will put more effort into its slates.
Evidently, standing out from the crowd might prove to be a difficult task, given the fact that Apple continues to dominate the tablet market. Nevertheless, Samsung has a few aces up its sleeves, and earlier this month during CES in Las Vegas, the company lifted the veil on a brand new tablet that caught the eye of the public. Samsung made the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 official (among other tablets), and based on what we’ve learned so far, this slate is a very strong iPad Air competitor. Let’s take a closer look at both devices and see what they have to offer.
Samsung’s new slate comes in two main variants, one with LTE capabilities and one without. Aside from this discrepancy in terms of connectivity, the two models differ in a couple more aspects. The non-LTE variant is powered by an Exynos 5 Octa 5420 CPU, comprised of a quad-core Cortex-A15 unit clocked at 1.9 GHz and a quad-core Cortex-A7 chip running at 1.3 GHz. As usual, the Exynos SoC takes advantage of big.LITTLE architecture, meaning that the two quad-core processors don’t run at the same time. Instead, each unit works separately depending on how demanding an application is. In theory, this results in a more powerful, yet energy-efficient device.
With the LTE variant, the situation is a bit different. The slate is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor with a frequency of 2.3 GHz. More so, while the Exynos SoC comes with a Mali-T628 MP6 graphics chip, the Snapdragon 800 silicon incorporates an Adreno 330 GPU.
Aside from that, both devices offer the same hardware specifications, including 2 GB of RAM and 16 or 32 GB of storage expandable by up to 64 GB via microSD. In the media department, the Tab Pro 10.1 offers an 8 MP main camera with LED flash, and a 2 MP secondary sensor. Both models are being powered by a 8220 mAh battery, and they both come with Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box.
Last but not least, the Tab Pro 10.1 delivers a stunning display. Measuring 10.1 inches, the “Super clear” LCD panel has a resolution of 2560 x 1600, resulting in a pixel density of 299 pixels per inch.
As for the iPad Air, the tablet features an Apple A7 ARM v8-based Cyclone dual-core processor running at a frequency of 1.3 GHz. As most of you already know, the A7 chip runs on a 64-bit architecture. Aside from that, the CPU is mated with a PowerVR G6530 quad-core graphics chip and 1 GB of RAM.
The iPad Air is available with four storage options, those being 16 / 32 / 64 / 128 GB, but unlike the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1, the Air does not offer possibilities for expanding the storage via microSD.
Apple’s tablet is being powered by a slightly larger 8820 mAh battery, and comes with a 9.7-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD panel featuring a resolution of 1536 x 2048, resulting in a pixel density of 264 ppi.
Last but not least, the iPad Air delivers a 5 MP main camera this is complemented by a 1.2 MP front-facing sensor. Clearly, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 has the upper hand in this department, but it might not count for much, given the fact that most tablet owners don’t use their slates to capture photos.
At first glance, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 seems to have the upper hand in most hardware aspects, as it delivers a higher frequency CPU, more RAM and a higher resolution display. Nevertheless, the Tab Pro 10.1 has not yet been released, and it’s difficult to judge the tablet’s real-world performance without testing it.
Software and Final Thoughts
For many tablet users, the hardware specifications matter, but they’re not necessarily the deciding factor when purchasing a slate. There’s also the question of software and productivity, and Apple has a very rich ecosystem that offers great app support for tablets. This is one of the main reasons why the iPad is such a popular device, and furthermore, why iOS 7 has been highly acclaimed for its accessibility and user friendliness.
Nevertheless, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is no dud, and thanks to the new “Magazine” user interface that runs on top of Android 4.4, the slate offers a ton of interesting software features. Reportedly, the device runs very smoothly, and the new UI offers the possibility to split the screen into four separate parts. This greatly increases productivity, and makes the Tab Pro 10.1 a very interesting choice.
In the end, it all comes down to the user’s preferences. It’s difficult to pick one tablet over the other, but nevertheless, the Tab 10.1 can be viewed as a real threat to the iPad Air, assuming that the price is right. Samsung’s slate is expected to hit the market by the end of this quarter, and until then, we invite you to share your thoughts on how these two devices compare.