We're all familiar with the smartphone rivalry between Apple and Samsung. And though the two companies also sell competing tablets, things aren't quite the same on that end. Apple's iPad is still firmly planted in the driver's seat in terms of sales, brand recognition, and critical reception. Maybe part of that can be chalked up to the fact that Samsung's Galaxy Tabs, unlike its Galaxy S smartphones, are all decidedly mid-range. Let's find out just how mid-range, as we compare the specs (and other features) of the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 and 4th-generation iPad.
The Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is only a hair longer than the iPad. It is about five percent narrower though. It's also a very thin tablet, shaving almost 15 percent off of the iPad's depth.
The new full-sized Galaxy Tab is also quite the featherweight. It's about 22 percent lighter than the iPad.
Part of the lighter weight goes back to the Tab's plastic build (though battery probably plays the biggest part). The iPad is made of anodized aluminum, a favorite material of Apple Design VP Jony Ive.
So much for the Galaxy Tab's promising start here. The iPad's display eats it for breakfast. The Tab 3's 149 pixels per inch (PPI) screen just isn't in the same league as the iPad's 264 PPI Retina Display.
But wait, isn't the Galaxy Tab's screen at least bigger? Well, technically yes, not by much. When you're dealing with different aspect ratios, those diagonal measurements listed above can be deceiving. The iPad's screen actually has 99 percent as much real estate as the Galaxy Tab's screen. In other words, not nearly enough of a difference to count as an advantage for Samsung's slate.
As we mentioned with other recent mid-range Samsung devices, it's a pretty safe bet you aren't getting the cream of the crop when they don't tell you the make of the processor.
On paper, it matches the two cores and outclocks the 1.4GHz of the iPad's A6X chip. But we wouldn't hold our breath for any cutting-edge performance from the Tab's mystery meat processor.
Each tablet packs 1 GB of RAM.
When it comes to storage, Apple gives you more models to choose from. The Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 does, however, support microSD cards for storing files and media (no apps though). Apple has never made, and probably never will make, an iOS device with a microSD slot.
Pretty standard here. Both Apple and Samsung sell their tablets in cheaper Wi-Fi only and more expensive Wi-Fi + 3G/LTE mobile data versions.
If you've ever taken pictures with an iPhone 4, that's similar to what you're getting from the iPad's rear camera. We haven't put the Tab 3's shooter through the paces, but don't expect anything amazing.
Both slates, of course, provide ample front-facing shooters for video chat and selfies.
Lots more capacity for the iPad, but it also has that much higher-res screen, which sucks up plenty of juice. Without any hands-on time with the Tab 3, we'd consider its uptimes to be an unknown.
We have to tip our hats to Samsung for making sure even its newest mid-range devices ship with the latest version of Android. The Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 also has the tablet version of Samsung's TouchWiz UI layered on top.
The iPad, of course, runs the newest version of Apple's iOS. At the time of publication, that's iOS 6.1.3.
Wrap-upThis isn't a very fair side-by-side comparison. Despite two nice advantages for the Galaxy Tab (its thin and lightweight build), the iPad either matches or demolishes it in other categories. Again, we're comparing Apple's high-end to Samsung's mid-range.
And, unfortunately, one of the most important categories for the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is still a mystery: its price. No word yet from Samsung on this front. For what it's worth, last year's Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 sold for US$400 at launch. Considering the spec sheet on this new model, you could probably do better for that price. But until we get some official confirmation, consider pricing a question mark.
The iPad starts at US$500 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi only model.
If you want to go a bit more portable with your tablet purchases, you can check out our comparison of the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 to the iPad mini.