Ever since the iPad Air launched, all we’ve heard is rave reviews. Yes, it’s lighter, faster, looks better and has the wonderful A7 chip under the hood, but as we know, things move very quickly in the world of tech these days. It’s only a matter of time before another tablet comes out of the woodwork to beat the iPad air to a pulp right? Well maybe not, but there are certainly some interesting products coming to the market now and in the near future, that are likely to give the iPad more than a run for its money.
Here, we take a look at the merits of the iPad against what is likely to be a bitter and fierce rival, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. Bear in mind exactly what has happened in the last twelve months in terms of the popularity of both the iPhone and the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S series’ and there’s no doubt that Apple are looking over their shoulder. Is it time for them to get really worried?
On this front we have to say that the iPad wins, but only by a slim margin. Now that the Air has taken some styling guidance from other tablets, it doesn’t look all that much different from a distance. The slimmer bezel is a big plus in terms of functionality and design though, which does give it an edge here. The overall quality feel of the aluminium iPad doesn’t hurt here either, with the Samsung predictably feeling a little plasticky.
For many years, these two companies have been battling head to head over displays with Samsung often opting for a more color rich display, with Apple focusing on pure quality and pixel density. This time around, the Samsung takes the top award, with an overall pixel density of 299ppi against the iPad’s 264 ppi. Having said this, we’re reaching saturation point here, and without a magnifying glass, you’ll be hard pressed to find much pixelation going on with either device. Viewing angles are similar in both devices, but the color reproduction on the Apple seems slightly more true to life. Aspect ratio wise, the Apple is better for web use, but the Samsung works brilliantly for movie playback, with a 16:9 aspect ratio. So on all fronts it’s very tight, but the Samsung just about edges it.
Here we reach a stumbling block. The winner or loser here can only really be decided by individuals, and it is normally going to come down to a preference for the Apple of Android operating systems. To be honest though, Android is at its best when it is stripped back, and the Samsung Touch wiz overlay doesn’t do it any favors. It can be a great interface, but it truly takes time to adjust to, and it is a little overcomplicated. Apple wins here for functionality and ease of use.
Both devices have improved upon previous offerings, but it has to be said straight away that the Samsung is the winner in this battle. With an 8MP snapper with useful flash, it beats the Apple 5mp camera without flash hands down. It’s easier to use, and just produces better results, more of the time.
Both devices are obviously designed with internet use in mind, and they both offer great solutions to online browsing. The Samsung comes with a brand new internet browser which truly zips you about the web, but the iPad probably has the slightly better browser with the excellent Safari. There’s also the option for Apple users to synchronize tabs across Apple devices, and although this is possible on the Samsung if you use Chrome, it can’t be done on Samsung’s standalone browser. It’s a marginal win for the iPad Air.
Both devices are fantastic in this realm, but again, we’re leaning towards the Apple device. Photos for instance are automatically organised in folders, placing each individual photo in groups of data relating to when and where the shot was taken. This function is available on the Samsung but it is somewhat more user reliant. The Samsung music player is excellent with lots of options such as sound enhancements and clever things like Adapt sound, which can optimize the music depending on the earphones that are attached to the device, but again, the Apple offering is a little better. It has a better design interface, it sounds better, and you also get free iTunes Radio which is a new free music streaming service – fantastic!
Both devices do have apps that can help you to protect the product if it’s been stolen, but we still think not enough is being done in this arena. You still need to look for something like Protect Your Bubble iPad insurance if you want to make sure you don’t lose out if you get your Air stolen, and the same applies to the Samsung. It’s a shame because there are things that can be done now in terms of apps that stop people being able to use the product once stolen, but it’s not something that many companies are backing, so it’s always wise to protect your device yourself.
There’s no doubt that Apple is still sitting pretty at the top of the tree, but there’s not much in it now. The Samsung will undoubtedly be better for some users, which will be a worry for Apple, because four or five years ago there was virtually no competition in this arena at all.