Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 vs iPad Air


During the recent Galaxy Premiere event (held in New York), Samsung lifted the veil on a new series of tablets: the Galaxy Tab S. The lineup consists in two new slates, measuring 10.5 and 8.4-inches respectively.

These devices have made the headlines on numerous occasions during the past several weeks, as one of the most intriguing features both feature is the AMOLED display. Samsung has a lot of history in the AMOLED department, but mostly on the smartphone scene. Now that the Korean tech giant has decided to put more effort in the AMOLED tablet segment, all eyes are focused on the company’s latest large-screen devices.

Nevertheless, the competition never sleeps, and one of Samsung’s biggest rivals is not going sit idly by and let the Korean tech giant win over the market. Obviously, we’re referring here to Apple and its extremely successful iPad series of tablets.

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Being the more powerful of the Tab S series, the 10.5 incher can be viewed as an alternative to Apple’s finest, but to reach a conclusion in that regard we’ll need to take a closer look at both slates.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 vs iPad Air – Display

Apple’s iPads have a pretty good reputation when it comes to screen quality, which means that Samsung faces a formidable opponent.

In essence, the iPad Air packs a 9.7-inch LED-backlit IPS Retina display with a resolution of 2048 x 1536, resulting in a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch. These on-paper characteristics are impressive, but interestingly enough, Samsung has actually managed to not only keep up, but deliver even greater numbers than Apple’s slate.

As such, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 comes with a Super AMOLED display (measuring 10.5 inches, obviously), with a resolution of 2560 x 1600. That said, despite the fact that the Tab S 10.5 comes with a larger screen diagonal, the pixel density is actually higher than the iPad’s thanks to the improved resolution. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 delivers 288 pixels per inch, but whether or not this small discrepancy will be noticeable to the naked eye is debatable.

Nevertheless, size, resolution and ppi is not everything, and thankfully, Samsung has actually managed to deliver an impressive level of brightness and contrast ratio with the Tab S 10.5,  when compared to its previous tablets. The panel offers a contrast ratio of 100,000:1, over 90 percent improved color saturation in Adobe RGB color coverage, and an automated system that optimizes saturation, color range and sharpness according to the external lighting conditions.

Internal Hardware

The latest Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 comes with a new quad-core Exynos 5 Octa processor comprised of a Cortex-A15 quad-core unit clocked at 1.9 GHz and a Cortex-A7 quad-core CPU running at 1.3 GHz. In the graphics department, the slate offers a Mali-T628 MP6 GPU, and as far as memory goes, the slate takes advantage of 3 GB of RAM and 16 / 32 GB of storage, expandable via microSD by up to an additional 128 GB.

As expected from Samsung, in certain regions, the device will also be offered with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset, clocked at 2.3 GHz.

Apple is very fond of its dual-core Ax processors, and with the iPad Air the Cupertino giant turned it up a notch by equipping the device with a 64-bit Apple A7 SoC, sporting two Cyclone cores running at 1.3 GHz each. The tablet makes use of a PowerVR G6430 graphics chip, and comes with 1 GB of RAM. As for storage, the iPad Air is being offered with 16 / 32 / 64 or 128 GB on-board, with no possibilities of expanding.

Last but not least, we should talk about the main component that makes everything tick – the battery. In this department, Apple once again has a high reputation (at least as far as the iPads go), and the iPad Air packs a generous 8,820 battery that promises up to 10 hours of usage.

Samsung has also put a lot of effort in making the Tab S 10.5 as power efficient as possible, and the manufacturer claims that the slate is capable of playing 1080p videos for up to 11 hours, all thanks to the AMOLED display and the new Ultra Power Saving Mode.

Evidently, we can’t pass any final judgment until these devices are properly tested, so we’ll have to wait a bit longer before we’ll have the opportunity to draw a conclusion in regards to battery life.

Camera Setup

In a world where smartphones have the ability to replace average point-and-shoot cameras, capturing photos and recording videos on a tablet seems a bit off. Nevertheless, it’s always good to know that the option is there, reason why the iPad Air comes with a 5 MP “iSight” camera with 1080p video recording capabilities, and a secondary 1.2 MP front-facing sensor for FaceTime.

In Samsung’s camp, the Tab S 10.5 packs an 8 MP main camera with an LED flash, as well as a 2.1 MP front-facing shooter.

On paper, the Tab S 10.5 overtakes its biggest rival, and reportedly, the Galaxy slate also puts more camera features at the user’s disposal.


Here is where things start to become more predictable. Apple is one of the leading mobile companies when it comes to design, and the iPad Air is definitely on par with the manufacturer’s standards. The well-crafted aluminum unibody shell is, without a shadow of a doubt, striking, but Samsung has reason to be proud as well.

While the iPad Air is one of the thinnest tablets around, measuring 7.5 mm, the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 actually manages to one-up Apple, featuring an extremely thin 6.5 mm profile. And despite the Tab S 10.5′s larger footprint, the tablet weighs just 465 g, slightly less than the iPad Air’s 469 grams.

Sadly, though, the Korean manufacturer has once again used plastic materials for the manufacturing of its slate, which simply isn’t enough to be considered as “premium.”

Other Features

Although hardware specifications are definitely important on a tablet, we can’t deny the fact that some of the most important aspects are the extra features and content.

For years, this is where the iPad has excelled, as the App Store contains an astonishing number of tablet-optimized applications. The slate comes with pre-loaded goodies of its own too, such as FaceTime, iMessage, AirPlay support, and free iLife and iWork applications.

Interestingly enough, the Tab S 10.5 comes with its own range of extra features, including 50 GB of Dropbox storage for two years, Netflix HD playback (where applicable), free Marvel Unlimited digital comic books for three months, and a few other extras.

The Tab S also comes with a fingerprint scanner, enhanced parental controls via Kids Mode, multi-window and multi-user mode.

Final Thoughts

We believe that there are numerous reasons for a prospective customer to pick either one of these tablets over the other. Both slates offer a very good range of features and specs, but their approach is clearly different. The App Store continues to be a big plus, and the iPad Air’s aluminum body stands out form the crowd much more than Tab S 10.5′s chassis.

On the other hand, Samsung’s alternative runs on Android (which some users might find more convenient), it packs extra features such as a fingerprint scanner, and it delivers an outstanding Super AMOLED display with higher sharpness than Air’s screen panel.

In other words, as long as you know what your tablet should be capable of, you can’t go wrong with either one of these devices. So which one would you buy? Don’t hesitate to join us in the comment section.

Vlad Andrici is editor for and writes about technology issues. Follow Vlad on Google Plus.

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