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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 vs Apple iPad Air – Specs comparison

Top-shelf Samsung Galaxy smartphones have been dominating Apple iPhones in raw speed, software smoothness, multitasking, accessibility and usability for years now, and that’s no longer just the biased opinion of an Android fanboy (which I am).


Supported by sales numbers, as well as many nonpartisan critical reviews, Sammy’s superiority over Cupertino is on the verge of a major breakthrough and unexpected transition to the tablet décor. Yeah, Apple, you may still have the upper hand financially, but the iPad mini Retina is no match for the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 hardware-wise.

Nor is the iPad Air for the Tab S 10.5, the other high-resolution Super AMOLED slate introduced last week. And sooner or later, people will become aware of your disadvantage, laziness and self-sufficiency, migrating en masse to Android.

It’s really just a matter of time. For now, all we can do is prove to tech-savvy folks the Tab S 10.5 is the (much) better slab. Not with words, but numbers. Here we go:

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 vs iPad Air – design, build quality and dimensions

Numbers don’t lie, try not to forget that, and sink your teeth in the following figures: 10.5 inches, 467 grams, 6.6 mm. Now compare them with 9.7 inches, 469 grams and 7.5 mm. Granted, Samsung can’t really call its latest flagship tablet “lighter than Air”, as Amazon hilariously did last year.


But it’s amazing how the Koreans pulled off a gizmo with plenty of extra screen real estate, yet just as light and, most incredibly of all, thinner than the iPad Air. Look at those bezels. They’re simply flawless.

True, Apple prevails in the build quality battle with ease, thanks to extra-premium, extra-robust, extra-sleek aluminum. Meanwhile, Samsung’s plastic is chintzy, though less so than before, and the perforated rear pattern, “borrowed” from the Galaxy S5, somehow works. And I was never a fan of it on the S5.

Display face-off

Numbers don’t lie, I can’t stress that enough, and so it’s basically pointless to try to find fancy, bombastic adjectives describing the greatness of the Super AMOLED panel found on the Tab S 10.5. It’s great, and let’s leave it at that.


Far greater than iPad Air’s IPS LCD “Retina” unit, which boasts a now humble 2,048 x 1,536 pixels resolution and 264 ppi pixel density. Humble when compared to Tab S 10.5’s digits, that is – 2,560 x 1,600, 288 ppi.

Looking beyond cold, objective, inexpressive numbers for a second, the superior pixel count of the GTab S and its using of an AMOLED display shall no doubt translate into better viewing angles, brighter, more vibrant colors and improved contrast.

Processing speed, RAM and storage

Offered in alternate Exynos and Snapdragon configurations, the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 packs eight and four cores respectively, but 3 gigs of RAM either way. Ergo, multitasking is so much breezier on the Android bad boy than the iOS-running, 1 GB RAM-featuring heavyweight contender, which also has to clear software limitation hurdles to access two or more apps at the same time.


Tragedy for Apple, whose dual-core (ew) homebrewed A7 chip is a sorry excuse for a Snapdragon 800 or Exynos 5 Octa rival. Storage? The iPad Air comes in four variations, not just two, as the Tab S, technically being the wiser choice for memory hoarders.

Only if you think about it, the 32 GB Tab S can accommodate up to 160 gigs of data when adding a microSD card in the equation. iPad Airs max out at 128 GB in lack of expendable storage support, so I guess you can put another one in Samsung’s hefty win column.

Galaxy Tab S 10.5 vs iPad Air – software and battery life duel

There’s no such thing as a perfect ecosystem, operating system, smartphone or tablet, so not even the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 can win all its bouts against the iPad Air. In addition to build quality therefore, the Achilles’ heel is software, on account of Google Play still including way too few tablet-dedicated apps.


Also, many that are just too clunky to take into account. Samsung is trying its best to fix the inconveniences through Touchwiz-specific tweaks, a user interface called Magazine UX and so on and so forth, but at the end of the day, the Android skin has its upsides (improved productivity) and flaws (bugs, lag, you name it).

As far as autonomy goes, I’m afraid the iPad Air could come out victorious as well, since it boasts the more frugal processor, the lower-res screen and the slightly beefier battery (8,820 vs 7,900 mAh). But that’s where optimizations and Ultra Power Saving Modes come in, so don’t be surprised to notice similar autonomy results in real life.

Cameras, connectivity and others

Look, there’s no point sugarcoating it, if you’re one of those guys that takes pictures at concerts using a 10-inch “laptop replacement”, you’re a douche. But hey, even douches have standards, so if you fit the profile, go for the Tab S. It’s got an 8 MP rear snapper with LED Flash and autofocus, while the iPad Air comes a bit short photo-quality wise, due to an inferior 5 megapixel sensor.


What else? Naturally, 4G speeds can be accessed on both pads, though LTE Tab S versions may be a little scarcer and hard to come by than iPads the next few months. On the bright side, Samsung took the risk of incorporating fingerprint recognition tech in something larger than a phone, unlike Apple, which saves Touch ID for iPhones.

Pricing, availability and wrap up

Charging more than an iPad for an iPad killer is usually a mistake punishable by oblivion, but the Tab S is a pithy $70 or so north of the cheapest Air. And that’s after several iPad discounts. Also, need I remind you how much zippier, sleeker and vibrant the 10.5-inch Galaxy Tab is?


What remains to be seen is which of America’s big four operators will be carrying the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (AT&T is already confirmed) and how much they’ll be asking with LTE. I’m guessing more or less in iPad Air 4G’s ballpark, in which case the final takeaway is easy to guess. Move over, iPad Air, the large tablet world has a new ruler. All hail the king! 

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