Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 vs iPad Air


Like processor speed, Apple doesn't try to play the numbers game when it comes to how much juice the iPad Air holds, instead focusing on that magic "up to 10 hours" figure for surfing the web, watching video or listening to music over a Wi-Fi connection.

Samsung has worked hard to beat Apple's personal best with a hearty 7900mAh slab of battery the consumer electronics company claims will keep the Galaxy Tab S playing 1080p HD videos playing for up to 11 hours, thanks to what they claim is a new "ultra-power saving mode."

Some of that power saving certainly comes from the Super AMOLED technology powering the Tab S display, which require no backlight while making content look great, indoors or outdoors. Until we spend some more time with it, however, we're going to call a tie on this category, since few tablet vendors have managed to match Apple on this front.

Tab S vs. iPad Air: Cameras


Like it or not, more and more consumers are using tablets to shoot photos and videos, and manufacturers are rising to the challenge with increasingly better hardware as a result.

iPad Air comes with an impressive 5MP iSight backside-illuminated rear camera capable of 1080p HD video recording, along with a 1.2MP front-facing FaceTime HD camera limited to 720p HD video recording. But forget the specs, because the resulting images and video look pretty great.

Samsung attempts to up the Galaxy Tab S ante by packing an 8MP camera onto the rear of the tablet, along with a LED flash, which is about as rare as a Sasquatch sighting when it comes to tablets; a front-facing 2.1MP camera is likewise capable of what Sammy calls "full HD" video (but we'll be the judge of that soon enough).

Judging from our hands-on time with both devices, the Galaxy Tab S camera feels pretty much on par with iPad Air, although it does have the advantage of a wider range of features for tablet shutterbugs.

Galaxy Tab S: Features


We already know what the iPad Air is capable of: FaceTime, iMessage, free iWork and iLife apps, a pair of speakers, the diminutive Lightning port and AirPlay support for beaming content out to an Apple TV. (Not to mention the insane number of apps available from the App Store.) Awesome, right?

The dizzying list of "Galaxy Gifts" included with the Galaxy Tab S numbers nearly 30, ranging from previous partnerships like Dropbox (50GB free for two years) to new offerings such as three months of free Marvel Unlimited digital comic books, Netflix HD playback in select markets (a Galaxy first) and Samsung's own magazine service, Paper Garden; exclusive "My Library" content is also available from Google Play.

But as it turns out, that's only the tip of the iceberg: The Galaxy Tab S includes a built-in fingerprint scanner, multiuser mode for sharing the device with up to eight others, enhanced parental controls in Kids Mode, Quick Connect for rapid-fire discovery of nearby devices, multitasking multi-window mode and the ability to forward phone calls on either Wi-Fi or cellular connections via SideSync.

Last but certainly not least, the Galaxy Tab S is being offered in both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi and LTE models, but internal storage options max out at either 16GB or 32GB; thankfully, up to 128GB is available via micro-SD card, or you could just plunk down for an iPad Air, which maxes out at 128GB but skips the expandable storage.

Whew! For sheer quantity, we'd say Samsung scored a knockout on this round, but how many of these features actually wind up being usable we'll defer to a full review.

Tab S vs. iPad Air: Verdict

Early verdict

It's too early to hand over the heavyweight belt to the 10.5-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S, which will land in selected markets in July in Titanium Bronze or Dazzling White flavors - seriously, those are the official color names, compared to Apple's Space Grey or White hues for the iPad Air.

The decision is likely to come down to your personal platform preference: Samsung will ship the Galaxy Tab S with Android 4.4 KitKat, while the iPad Air is starting to look a bit creaky running iOS 7.1.1, a situation that should be remedied come this fall when iOS 8 hits the streets.