Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet vs iPad Air 2: intro
But Sony has a history of delivering impressive slates too and its latest, the Xperia Z4 Tablet, could certainly give the iPad Air 2 a run for its money. Both of these tablets are premium devices, but they're also very different beasts.
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet vs iPad Air 2: Design
Unlike Sony's flagship phones the Xperia Z4 Tablet isn't clad in metal and glass, instead it has a plastic back and sides, but Sony's iconic metal power button is present and correct.
It's also sumptuously slim and light at just 6.1mm thick and 396g. Plus it's dust and water resistant, so you needn't fear getting it wet.
The Apple iPad Air 2 isn't water or dust resistant and it's heavier at 437g, but it's every bit as slim, matching the Xperia Z4 Tablet's 6.1mm thick build. It also has an all-round more premium design, because where the Xperia Z4 Tablet has a plastic case the iPad Air 2 is clad in aluminium.
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet vs iPad Air 2: Display
Sony has given the Xperia Z4 Tablet a 10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 screen, for big, sharp images.
The iPad Air 2 has a pretty tasty screen as well, with a 9.7-inch 1536 x 2048 display, for a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch and both slates sport vibrant colours. The iPad Air 2's screen is a little smaller, but not enough that you'll really notice.
A bigger difference is the aspect ratio, as the Xperia Z4 Tablet is a movie friendly 16:9, while the iPad Air 2 is a squarer 4:3, which perhaps isn't as good for films, but it's a more versatile shape for other tablet tasks like browsing the internet.
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet vs iPad Air 2: Power
With a 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor clocked at up to 2GHz humming away under its slender shell the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet should be a real beast, especially given that it's backed up by a generous 3GB of RAM.
On paper the Apple iPad Air 2 should be substantially worse off, but what does paper know? Its 1.5GHz triple-core A8X processor and 2GB of RAM deliver superbly slick performance, with rarely a moment of slowdown in sight, thanks in part to the unity between hardware and software that's just not possible on Android.
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet vs iPad Air 2: Camera
We struggle to get excited about cameras on tablets, but if you have a thing for making photography as impractical as possible you'll be pleased to know that the Xperia Z4 Tablet should be up to the job, with an 8MP snapper on the back and a 5MP one on the front.
The iPad Air 2 matches the Xperia Z4 Tablet with an 8MP rear sensor of its own, along with the ability to shoot 1080p video at 30fps and even slow motion video.
Where it loses out is on the front-facing camera, which is only 1.2MP. It'll get the job done, but it's not terribly impressive.
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet vs iPad Air 2: Battery
Sony claims that the Xperia Z4 Tablet has industry-leading battery performance with the ability to keep on going for up to 17 hours of video, which is a bold claim, but with the efficient Snapdragon 810 under the hood it's just about believable.
The Apple iPad Air 2 is no slouch in that department either though, with a battery which can last for a full 10 hours of web browsing or video.
That's somewhat worse, but still pretty great in itself and either of these slates should easily see you through the longest of long haul flights.
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet vs iPad Air 2: Features
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet can both play hi-res audio files and also upscale low-res music to something approaching hi-res.
Plus it's able to transform into a handy laptop when connecting the attachable Bluetooth keyboard. Yes, the iPad can do this with a variety of accessories, but Sony's developed a specific tablet keyboard interface for the task.
It also supports PS4 Remote Play, allowing you to stream games from a PlayStation 4 to your tablet.
Touch ID and Apple Pay are undoubtedly the key features of the iPad Air 2. If you want to keep your tablet locked then the Touch ID fingerprint scanner is probably the most convenient solution.
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet vs iPad Air 2: OS
Perhaps the most fundamental difference between the iPad Air 2 and the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is the operating systems they run. The Z4 Tablet is Android through and through, with Lollipop ensuring it's running the latest and greatest version of Google's mobile OS.
The iPad Air 2 on the other hand runs iOS 8.1, which is slick, intuitive and arguably a better fit for tablets, it certainly includes a greater selection of tablet-optimised apps. On the other hand it's far less customisable than the Android experience, so it really is subjective as to which is better.
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet vs iPad Air 2: Storage
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet comes with up to 32GB of built in storage, which isn't a huge amount for a slate, but you can add to that with a microSD card of up to 128GB.
The Apple iPad Air 2 takes the opposite approach, with potentially a lot more storage built in (there's a choice of 16, 64 or 128GB), but no microSD card slot. That's fine as long as you have an idea of how much storage you'll want before buying it. Just take our advice and skip the 16GB model, as that's a really low amount in this day and age.
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet vs iPad Air 2: Verdict
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet and the iPad Air 2 stack up well, but there are some key differences. The iPad Air 2 has a more premium design for example, while the Xperia Z4 Tablet promises longer battery life.
They have different headline features too. The Xperia Z4 Tablet is all about audio, gaming and productivity, while the iPad Air 2 is perhaps more secure and certainly slicker about its security, with its Touch ID scanner.
And then there's the big one: Their operating systems, with iOS arguably still sporting the more robust tablet ecosystem, but Android proving more customisable. So they're different enough that they can both stand out.
- We've also put the iPad Air 2 head-to-head with the Nexus 9.