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(Pocket-lint) - Samsung and Apple don't just go head-to-head in the smartphone ring, they do it in the tablet ring too.

The new Samsung Tab S3 is gunning for Apple's iPad Pro more so than ever, offering a premium build, S Pen and a hefty price tag.

Here is how the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 compares to the 9.7-inch Apple iPad Pro

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs Apple iPad Pro 9.7: Design

  • Tab S3 is lighter and smaller
  • Both have fingerprint sensor, 3.5mm jack and stereo speakers
  • Tab S3 comes with S Pen, while Apple sells Pencil separately  

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 and Apple iPad Pro are all about solid, super slim, lovely designs. The Tab S3 measures 237.3 x 169 x 6mm, while the iPad Pro is ever so slightly larger at 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm.

The Tab S3 is also a little lighter at 429g for the Wi-Fi only model and 434g for the 4G model, compared to the iPad Pro's 437g and 444g but ultimately, there isn't much in it at all in terms of size or weight.

Both tablets offer rounded corners and a front-mounted fingerprint sensor within their home buttons but the iPad Pro is all metal, while the Tab S3 has a glass back. They both feature quad stereo speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Tab S3 opts for USB Type-C, has an S Pen in the box and it has a keyboard dock port on one side for attaching Pogo keyboards. The iPad Pro on the other hand, has Apple's Lightning port and Smart Connector, the latter of which will also allow for attaching a keyboard. It is also compatible with Apple Pencil, but this is sold separately.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs Apple iPad Pro 9.7: Display

  • Both 9.7-inch with 2048 x 1536 resolutions
  • Tab S3 has HDR support
  • Both offer support for 4K video playback 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 and Apple iPad Pro both have a 9.7-inch display, though Apple does also offer a larger 12.9-inch model of the Pro.

The two tablets also offer the same resolution, at 2048 x 1536 pixels, putting there pixel densities at 263ppi and both have 4K video playback support.

The Tab S3 has a Super AMOLED display with HDR, while the iPad Pro has an LED-back-lit display with Apple's True Tone technology and a wide colour gamut but no HDR support.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs Apple iPad Pro 9.7: Hardware

  • Tab S3 has longer battery life and more RAM
  • Tab S3 has microSD expansion 
  • Both offer good front and rear camera capabilities

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It offers microSD support for storage expansion and Samsung claims the battery will deliver 12 hours of video playback.

The Apple iPad Pro has the A9X chip under its hood, supported by 2GB of RAM and storage options of 32GB, 128GB and 256GB, none of which have microSD. Apple says the battery offers up to 10-hours video playback.

In terms of cameras, the Tab S3 comes with a 13-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and a flash, as well as a 5-megapixel front camera. The iPad Pro has a 12-megapixel rear camera, also with autofocus and Apple's True Tone flash, while the front camera is also 5-megapixels but it has a Retina Flash on board.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs Apple iPad Pro 9.7: S Pen or Apple Pencil

  • S Pen doesn't need recharging, Apple Pencil does
  • Apple Pencil allows drawing down to single pixel
  • More app compatibility with Apple Pencil

The Samsung Tab S3 comes with the S Pen in the box, as we mentioned previously. The new S Pen doesn't need charging and it is said to feel and write like your favourite ballpen, offering a 0.7mm tip, 4096 pressure sensitivity and a 9.4mm diameter. It is also senstive to tilt.

There are a few apps that work with the S Pen, including Samsung Notes, which allows you to jot down notes without unlocking the screen, as well as annotate and translate text. There's also an app called Soundcamp that allows for drawing and it will work with Photoshop too.

The Apple Pencil on the other hand, does require charging but it is sensitive to pressure and tilt and it will allow you to draw down to a single pixel. It measures 8.9mm in diameter and it comes with an extra tip.

Like the S Pen, there are numerous apps that work with Apple Pencil, including Apple Notes, Mail, Paper by FiftyThree, Adobe Comp CC and Pixelmator. Charging is done via the built-in hidden Lighting connector at the top of the device and you'll get 30 minutes of use for 15 seconds of charging.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs Apple iPad Pro 9.7: Software

  • Tab S3 is Android
  • iPad Pro is iOS
  • Both have similar functions

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 runs on Android with Samsung's TouchWiz over the top, while the Apple iPad Pro runs on iOS 10. You'll get many of the same features and functionality across both devices, even though they are packaged differently.

The Tab S3 offers features including Samsung Flow, that allows you to move between phone and tablet, as well as send content from your phone to your tablet, while Apple has Continuity, which essentially offers similar for iOS devices.

There are also cloud services available on both devices, with the Tab S3 offering Samsung Cloud and the iPad Pro offering iCloud.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs Apple iPad Pro 9.7: Price

  • iPad Pro is cheaper, without Apple Pencil
  • iPad Pro comes in more colours

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 comes in black or silver colour options and starts at £599 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model.

The Apple iPad Pro comes in silver, gold, space grey or rose gold and it starts at £549 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model. The Apple Pencil is sold separately and costs £99.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs Apple iPad Pro 9.7: Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 and Apple iPad Pro 9.7 are remarkably similar in terms of specs. They both have premium designs, the same size and resolution displays, compatibility with a stylus, powerful hardware and decent cameras.

The Tab S3 offers more RAM, a larger battery capacity, HDR support and microSD support for storage expansion. It also comes with the S Pen in the box.

The iPad Pro 9.7 on the other hand has more app support for the Apple Pencil, is available in more colours and it has a flash on its front camera for those all about the tablet selfie. Ultimately, the decision between these two will be largely based on the operating system you prefer.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle. Originally published on 17 March 2017.