For sure the sleekest Android tablet right now is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, a device that manages to upstage the iPad 2 in some areas and be on par with Apple’s tablet from many other points of view.
In the following post we will compare what many call the best 10-inch tablets right now, the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1, trying to figure out which one could fit your needs better. We will take a look at these gadgets’ designs, hardware, software, ports, battery life and each and every other feature we might feel could make a difference for a possible customer.
Towards the end of the post we will also present to you an exclusive video comparison between the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1, trying to offer you the most complete possible view of these two excellent electronic devices.
- While there are important differences in terms of body and design, these tablets are both very sleek, light, compact and portable. Not only that, but they are also excellent built and feel very good in your hands, although the unicase aluminum case of the iPad is stronger and sturdier than the aluminum/plastic body of the Tab.
- Number of ports. One of the most important weak points of both the Galaxy Tab and the iPad 2 is right now the number of ports offered by both these tablets, especially if we are to compare these two slates with other similar products on the market, like the Asus Slider or the Toshiba Thrive. There is no HDMI or USB ports on neither of the two slates and they both come with only microphone and headphone jacks, as well as proprietary dock ports (that can also support some extensions).
- Display. While there are some very subtle differences in terms of color saturation, the screens featured on the two tablets are pretty much on-par when it comes to image quality. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 features a 16:10 10.1 widescreen with 1280×800 pixels resolution, whereas the iPad 2 comes with a 4:3 9.7-inch LED-backlit glossy Multi-Touch display with IPS technology, 1024×768 pixel resolution. Therefore, you get a higher resolution on Samsung’s tablet, but this almost can’t be noticed in reality, because the viewing angles, brightness and overall image quality is top notch on both slates.
- Connectivity options. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the iPad 2 feature Wireless, Bluetooth 2.1, but also optional 3G (with 4G available as well in the near future for the Tab).
- Video and audio content. Multimedia options are very important when talking about tablets nowadays and these two bad boys are decent both in terms of audio and video quality. The good part is that you can get content fairly easy on both of them, through iTunes, Google Movies/Music or Samsung’s own multimedia app preloaded on the TAB, which is actually available in many countries (while Google’s services are restricted to only a few). However, while the iPad is only limited at 720p HD content and can run flawlessly only .mov and .mp4 files (others won’t be even recognized by iTunes), the Galaxy Tab can in theory run 1080p content, but in practice ic actually struggles with 720p movies and won’t be able to play them decently unless you go for paid third party apps. The speakers are also pretty good and should satisfy you when listening to music. However, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is in fact a little better when talking about audio content, featuring stereo speakers (the iPad 2 only comes with mono speakers).
- Body and design. As we already stated, both these tablets are very elegant, slim and light. However, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a bit sleeker, while the iPad 2 is overall more elegant and solid. The exact dimensions of the two tablets are 9.5 x 7.31 x 0.35 inches (for the iPad 2) and 10.1 x 6.9 x 0.34 inches (the Galaxy Tab 10.1). As far as the weight is concerned, the iPad 2 weighs 1.33 pounds, while Samsung’s tablet only weighs 1.25 pounds. In terms of materials and build quality, the iPad 2 has a very sturdy and elegant aluminum body, whereas the Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes with metallic edges, but with a plastic rubbery back side.
- Cameras. The iPad 2 has a big problem when it comes to taking photos and recording videos, featuring pretty poor 0.3 MPx and 0.7 MPx cameras. The Galaxy Tab, on the other hand, comes with a 2 megapixel front-facing camera and 3 MPx rear-facing shooter with LED flash. These are not great themselves, but are clearly better than the ones featured by the iPad.
- Hardware platform. The two tablets are powered by different platforms (based on the same seed though, as they are both iterations of the same ARM processor). The iPad 2 comes with a 1 GHz dual-core Apple A5 chipset, while the Galaxy Tab 10.1 features a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. However, Samsung’s tablet comes with 1 GB of RAM, whereas the iPad 2 only features 512 MB of memory, so I guess you could say that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 should be a bit snappier. IN practice though, it’s not, as test prove that the A5 on Apple’s tablet is snappier in pretty much all apps or synthetic tests than a Tegra 2 platform. In terms of internal storage space, both tablets come in 16 and 32 GB versions, but only the iPad 2 offers a 64 GB model as well.
- Software and apps. Probably the one thing that sets these two slates very much apart is their operating systems. The iPad 2 runs Apple’s own iOS v4.3 (soon to be upgraded to v5), while the Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs Android Honeycomb 3.1 with TouchWiz UX. Even though iOS is currently the most popular and most used software on the tablet market, we personally feel that Android is actually a fair match for it. iOS comes with more preloaded apps, more and better games and overall it is easier to use and understand, especiallyfor first-time tablet users. The Honeycomb running on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is not half bad, though, offering more customization options, as well as a bunch of very nice Google apps. The browsers are also pretty great on both tablets (superior on Honeycomb though, as it supports Tabs and Flash/JS).
Both these operating system give access to hordes of third party apps, the problem with Android being that it’s quite difficult for a user to find those specifically designed from tablets, as they are hidden in Android Market between those made for phones. In Apple’s App store though, that’s a lot easier, you get iPad content in one part and iPhone apps in another. Plus, most apps that are available on both platforms actually look and feel better on the iPad, especially when dealing with games and complex pieces of software.
- Battery life. While both tablets are champions in terms of autonomy and feature batteries that are capable of running for well over eight hours between charges, the iPad 2’s battery is actually slightly better. This should go for about ten hours based on regular use, while Galaxy Tab’s battery only runs for about nine hours in similar conditions.
If you want to take a better and more detailed look at the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the iPad 2, as well as the similarities and differences between the two, check out our exclusive video comparison below:
Being probably the best overall options on the 10-inch tablet market right now, it’s pretty obvious that you couldn’t hope to get these two for very affordable prices. That being said, the iPad 2 starts at $489 (the 16 GB Wi-Fi only version) and can go up to 820 dollars (the 64 GB 3G version).
The Galaxy Tab 10.1, on the other hand, is available in three versions right now, the cheapest going for $484.95 (the 16 GB Wi-Fi only), while the most expensive costs 665 bucks (the 32 GB 3G model).
Even though we wanted to be able to state beyond the shadow of a doubt which one of the two tablets is better at the end of this post, it is almost impossible to say something like that right now.
On one hand, the iPad 2 seems like the more reliable tablet with the easier to understand software, the better overall interface and the better battery life. On the other hand, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is by far the sleekest Android tablet right now, coming with a very good-looking and slim design, high performance level and nice customizable software. Let’s not forget about Apple’s brand and popularity, which is probably something very important for some of you.
Still, while matching the iPad in terms of looks, the Tab looses some of the benfits other Android tablets have to offer: extra ports that many tablet users get to miss sooner or later. And while Apple offers some extensions for their tablet (they re costly though), you don’t get them for the Tab (at least not now). So better think about what you need: sleek and light body, or functionality?
All in all, we think that both tablets would be proper choices for any technology enthusiast out there that holds value for looks and hates carrying around chubby devices. The iPad is well, the iPad, while the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is Android’s replica to Apple’s slate. On both cases, you win some and you lose some, so it’s up to you to pick the better slate of the two. The better for your needs and taste, of course.