Apple iPad vs Samsung Galaxy Tab

When the highly anticipated iPad was first unveiled to much fanfare, mostly from a certain Mr Jobs, there was a collective shrugging of the shoulders by many in the tech world. They wondered why on Earth anyone would need such a device, which appeared to be a cross between a netbook and smartphone but not really as good as either. Apple's smugometer went through the roof, when the public voted with their wallets and snapped the gadget up by the shedload. It seemed that although no one really needed an iPad, they still wanted one.

With such a successful gadget cropping up out of nowhere it was only a matter of time before rival manufacturers began to announce plans for their tablets. Samsung has just unveiled the Galaxy Tab at the IFA tech show in Berlin. This isn't just a tablet, but also offers full phone capabilities as well. Previously known as the P1000 and the Galaxy Tape, the device has been through more name changes than Prince, but can it contend with the reigning heavyweight champ? We put the two tablets together in the ring for a no-holds-barred scuffle to see who will emerge the victor. It's the iPad vs the Sam Tab.

Dimensions

Winner: Sam TAb
190.09 x 120.45 x 11.98mm, 380g

loser: ipad
242.8 x 189.7 x 13.4mm, 680g (Wi-Fi model), 730g (Wi-Fi + 3G model)

Tipping the scales at 380g, the Tab is much lighter than the iPad, and far better suited to one-handed operation and would easily fit into a handbag or manbag. You could say it's pocket-sized in the same way that the Pocket Oxford Dictionary is (i.e it wouldn't fit comfortably in any pocket we've ever seen). Also, if you've got dainty lady hands, then you might find it a bit of a struggle to support the Tab with one palm for any extended length of time. In comparison, and despite its svelte appearance, the iPad is surprisingly dense and a fair bit heavier than the Tab, and also weighs in at more than the Kindle or Sony reader ebooks. For that reason, we're giving Samsung the advantage in this round.

Display

winner: ipad
9.7 in, 1024 × 768, LED-backlit IPS LCD

loser: Sam Tab
7in, 1024 x 600, Super TFT-LCD

What the iPad lacks in the featherweight division, it certainly makes up for with its impressive 9.7-inch screen. However, the backlit LCD panel is near-enough impossible to read if you're out in bright sunshine and viewing anything with a background that isn't predominantly white. While the Tab was rumoured to be getting an AMOLED screen, it actually has a 7-inch TFT-LCD panel which could also potentially suffer in bright light. It's also rumoured that there will be 5 and 10-inch versions available at a later date. We think that the iPad wins in terms of display, as the Tab's isn't that much bigger than a smartphone so you wouldn't really want to spend that long surfing around the web on it. Although the Tab's screen is relatively resilient, we'd recommend investing in a case straight away. We'd also advise the same for the iPad unless you want to make a teary-eyed trip to the Genius Bar to see if accidental scratches are covered under the warranty (they're not).

Engine Room

winner: sam tab
Cortex A8 1.0GHz Application Processor with PowerVR SGX540

loser: ipad
Cortex A8 1.0GHz Application Processor with PowerVR SGX535

The iPad is powered by the brand's own 1GHz Apple A4 chip, which is also found in the iPhone 4, while Samsung's Galaxy Tab is set to use a Cortex A8 1.0GHz Application Processor with PowerVR SGX540. As the Apple A4 consists of a Cortex A8 at 1GHz and a PowerVR SGX535, it would seem that the two are fairly evenly matched. But, we have to pick a winner and we think that the Tab just steals a victory thanks to its slightly higher spec GPU.

 

Storage

winner: ipad
16GB, 32GB, or 64GB Flash memory

loser: sam tab
16GB, 32GB + 32GB more with memory card


Whereas Flash drives used to be an instant indicator that you'd be lucky to have more than 4GB of memory, they have come on in bounds over recent years. The iPad offers a choice of flash-based memory sizes - starting at a reasonable 16GB, through to a substantial 32GB and going up to an impressive 64GB. Meanwhile, the diminutive Tab only comes in 16 and 32GB variants, but it does also offer you the option of topping that up with a memory card. Based on the current upper limit on microSD cards, we'd have to say that the iPad has the edge in this particular tussle.

Battery

winner: ipad
10 hours video, 140 hours audio playback, one month standby

loser: sam Tab
7 hours video


When it comes to mobile devices, it's often the battery life that really separates the men from the boys. The iPad's battery life certainly seems impressive - we were able to get 2 days' worth of playtime with it before it looked like giving up, and it offers a claimed 10 hours of video. The iPad beats the Tab in this category, as the latter can only muster up 7 hours of video playback which, while impressive, doesn't quite match up to its arch rival.

Software

winner: ipad
iPhone OS v3.2 (iOS 4 expected soon)

Loser: sam tab
Android 2.2 (Froyo)

Using the same OS as the iPhone, it stands to reason that the experience of using the iPad is very similar to Apple's iconic device. You'll see the familiar layout of standard apps on the homepage, although you won't be able to multi-task until the iPad gets iOS 4, due in autumn 2010. Meanwhile, Android has offered multi-tasking a long time, although be warned - having several apps running in the background can play havoc with your battery life and can even lead to apps crashing and having to be restarted. The Tab also includes the Android Market for apps to compete with Apple's App Store.

The Galaxy Tab is equipped with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface which looks just as zippy as that of the iPad, if not more so. As with the iPad, probably the most important feature of the SamTab is the internet functionality which is brisk and simple and it also allows you to browse the web with Flash, which the iPad doesn't. On balance, although Android adds flexibility, features and customisation to the Tab, the iPad's iOS is smooth and simple and less likely to crash on a regular basis.

 

Connectivity

winner: Sam tab
Wi/3G/Bluetooth 3.0

loser: ipad
Wi/BT, (Wi-Fi model) or Wi/BT/3G (Wi-Fi + 3G model)

There are currently six different versions of the iPad available - three with Wi-Fi capability and and three that can be used with both Wi-Fi and 3G. The inclusion of 3G connectivity makes these models a fair bit more expensive, and that's before you've coughed up for the data. The iPad doesn't have any hard ports, such as Ethernet, only the usual Apple dock for syncing with iTunes.

Meanwhile, Samsung's Galaxy Tab also offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3 connectivity for an easier handshake, and gets one up on Apple by also functioning as a mobile phone. Samsung has confirmed that the Tab will be launching on Vodafone in the UK, although no news yet on whether this is an exclusive deal. The Tab takes this round, thanks to its mobile phone capabilities.

 

Features and usability

winner: Sam tab
Touchscreen, Video calling, HD video playback, Flash web browsing, mobile phone function etc

loser: ipad
Touchscreen, iTunes App Store, web browsing (no Flash)

The two devices appear to be fairly evenly matched when it comes to features. All of the usual suspects such as maps, calendar and contacts are also present on the iPad. Unless you want to go for the optional Bluetooth keyboard that seems to negate the purpose of the gadget's svelte design, the standard touchscreen QWERTY is a short-term fix for a few short emails, but you wouldn't want to be using it to draft any long reports.The keyboard can be used in either portrait or landscape mode, although it's not really possible to use the portrait mode one-handed as you would with an iPhone.

The Tab boasts Swype functionality, an ereader, HD video playback and video calling via a front-mounted 1.3-megapixel camera. There's also a 3-megapixel camera on the back for image and video capture. Supporting Flash Player 10.1, the Tab also enables full web browsing, unlike the pesky iPad. The Tab takes this round thanks to its mobile phone capability, voice calling and cameras.

 

Price

ipad
Wi-Fi: £429/£499/£599, Wi-Fi + 3G: £529/£599/£69

sam tab
£TBC

"How much?!" was the incredulous response to Apple's initial announcement about pricing. Even the cheapest model, at £429, seems a little steep, while the all-singing and dancing Wi-Fi +3G 64GB model will set you back a staggering £699, and that's not even counting the extra costs for data. While it remains prohibitively expensive for a great deal of population, there are more than enough Apple fanboys that can't wait to get their mitts on Apple's latest offering.

Although it's due for launch in mid-September, no pricing details have been released for the Tab. To a certain extent, the cost will depend on the mobile phone operators.

 

Conclusions

Despite a lot of similarities between the two products, there are some obvious differences that stick out like a sore thumb. The Apple iPad towers over its opponent in terms of screen size, memory capacity and battery life. However, the Samsung Galaxy Tab gets a few crafty jabs in by way of its compact and lightweight design, its ability to function as a mobile phone and its camera and video calling capability.

Although not a definitive knockout, we have to declare the iPad the winner on points, as it trumps the Tab on so many scores. We're also not sure how much of a selling point the phone capabilities on the Tab are as, with a 7-inch screen, it's flipping massive in mobile phone terms. However, as with many things in life, the success or failure of the Tab will largely come down to pricing. We'll let you know as soon as we hear anything...

What do you think about the SamTab? Can it give the iPad a run for its money? Let us know in the comments box below.