Probably feeling Galaxy Tab Pros lacked the pizazz to really give Apple iPads a run for their money and show the world Android has a bright future on tablets regardless of bleak predictions, Samsung basically retired the four-month-old slates, replacing them with punchier, brighter, skinnier versions.
Not by much, mind you, but just enough to make a difference and keep retail costs contained. Of course, Sammy could have done this in the first place instead of going to the nuisance of marketing the short-lived Tab Pros, but hey, if it would make sense, it wouldn’t be Samsung.
It’d be Apple. There, I said it. Cupertino’s strategies are almost always cohesive and consistent (except for the iPhone 5c, which was the result of a temporary loss of sanity), this being one of the reasons iPads continue to outsell Galaxy Tabs and Notes by possibly a 50 or so to one degree.
Granted, just because one product is a looot more popular than another, it doesn’t mean it’s superior in quality. Which is where we come in. Here’s the ultimate Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 vs Apple iPad mini Retina face-off, with everything you need to know to make an informed, thought through buying decision:
Design and build quality comparison
Thin vs thinner, light vs lighter, aluminum vs plastic. Damn it, Sammy, you were this close to dominate perhaps the toughest battle of them all.
Apple is renowned for somehow always finding the right balance between premium build materials, compact form factors and uber-slim profiles, so even if the polycarbonate construction of the Tab S has nothing on the iPad mini 2’s exquisite metal physique, it’s still amazing the 8.4 incher can be both thinner and lighter than the 7.9 incher.
Particularly as it offers the half-inch of extra screen real estate. Don’t get me wrong, the iPad mini Retina remains a featherweight, at 331 grams and 7.5 mm, but compared to the Tab S (298 grams heavy, 6.6 mm thick), it actually looks kind of bulky.
As for the perforated pattern on the rear of the Tab S, mimicked from the Galaxy S5, it’s clearly schlockier than iPad mini’s clean, smooth, distinguished back. But hey, we’ve seen worse, haven’t we?
Galaxy Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini Retina – display duel
After years and years of trumpeting their “Retina” panels as the best in the business, the time has come to finally laugh in Apple’s face. Retina? You mean 2,048 x 1,536 pixels on a 7.9-inch piece of LCD glass? Ha, GTab’s “non-Retina” screen delivers 2,560 x 1,600 resolution and 359 ppi.
On a Super AMOLED matrix that, in theory, conveys the brightest, colorful colors, widest viewing angles and greatest contrast. Sure, we’ve seen Samsung botching theoretically amazing displays before, but this time the gap is too large. Apple doesn’t stand a chance, end of story.
Processing speed, RAM and storage
Cut the act, fanboys, and quit your superior jibber jabber about software optimizations and whatnot. Yes, iOS needs a lot less power than Android to function fluently and glitch-free. But anyone who believes a dual-core/1 GB RAM system can hold a candle to an octa-core/3 GB RAM hardware configuration should check with a head doctor ASAP.
Multitasking in general, gaming, web browsing, multimedia playing, you name it, the Galaxy Tab S can do it better, faster, smoother. How could it not when it packs a cutting-edge Exynos 5 Octa 5420 chip with four cores clocked at 1.9 GHz and four at 1.3? And the best thing is you needn’t worry about battery life either, as the eight cores are assembled in two separate clusters, which trigger depending on the task. Check and mate, Apple.
Oh, right, before I forget, the iPad mini Retina comes in 16, 32, 64 and 128 GB storage configs. The Tab S 8.4 just in 16 and 32 variations. But the latter can always welcome external memory, via a microSD card slot supporting up to an extra 128 gigs. Check and mate times two.
Software and battery life face-off
This may sound weird coming from an Android aficionado, nay an Android junkie, but if someone could merge Samsung’s hardware with Apple’s software, I’d buy the resulting Frankensteinian creature in a second. Let’s face it, fellow Google idolizers, there’s still no comparing the Android ecosystem with iOS on large gadgets. Maybe someday.
And maybe someday, Samsung will quit trying so damn hard to make Android look like… anything but Android, wasting precious system resources in the process. Yeah, TouchWiz has the occasional neat or useful add-on (multi-view comes to mind), but Magazine UX is an atrocity.
Autonomy-wise, it’s a little early for verdicts, but my intuition tells me we’re headed for a tie. The Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is virtually tied with the iPad mini 2, at around 10 hours of juice with a 4,800 mAh cell, so the 4,900 mAh battery inside the Tab S should do just fine.
Cameras, connectivity and others
While I can’t even remember the last time I’ve used my slate’s rear snapper, some folks might try to save a few bucks on a smartphone and thus rely on their tab’s photographic competency. In which case you can’t go wrong with the Tab S. Its 8 MP main snapper is light years ahead of the 5 megapixel unit on the iPad mini Retina, and so is the 2.1 MP front shooter when compared to the rival’s 1.2.
What else could sway you one direction or the other? Well, it’s a gimmick in my book, and there’s no point denying it, but if you’re one of those guys, the fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy Tab S might tip the balance.
Connectivity-wise, both slates offer optional 4G LTE support, standard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0 and so on and so forth.
Pricing and availability
Right, so I reckon the comparison pieces so far speak for themselves in settling the name of the overall winner. Just one thing could spoil Samsung’s victory: retail costs. But that’s nowhere near the case, since the Tab S 8.4 will start at $400 in July, so exactly as much as the 16 GB Wi-Fi-only iPad mini 2.
LTE models are yet to be priced, and AT&T is the sole operator that’s confirmed release plans, however I bet Verizon at the very least will follow suit, charging $550 give or take, so once again, just as much as Apple charges. If only people weren’t so easy to fool by shrewd, expensive marketing and “tradition”.