Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 vs. Surface Pro 3
June 17, 2014
Samsung's Galaxy Tab S rivals the iPad more than anything else, but the tablet is also launching with a Bluetooth keyboard that can transform it into a faux laptop. And who knows faux laptops better than Microsoft? Let's pit the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 against the Surface Pro 3, and see how their features and specs compare.
Well this isn't even close. The Surface Pro 3 is 14 percent taller, 18 percent wider and 38 percent thicker than the Galaxy Tab S 10.5. The Surface's size is going to work well for laptop mode, but it's also going to make for one enormous tablet.
The Galaxy Tab S' razor-thin build is one of its killer features. At just 6.6 mm (0.26-in) thick, it's an incredibly slim tablet.
The Tab S is also absurdly light, weighing in at 42 percent lighter than the Surface. Though it's worth noting that the Surface is also pretty feathery for a full-blown PC that runs a desktop OS.
The Surface would likely be a bit lighter if Microsoft had opted for a plastic build. Instead it has a magnesium construction that lends itself to a more premium allure. The Galaxy Tab S' dimpled faux leather finish looks a lot like the Galaxy S5's, but has a firmer feel to it than Samsung's latest flagship phone does.
There's little point in buying any Surface without also throwing in one of Microsoft's detachable keyboards. Though it isn't as integral a part of the Galaxy Tab S, Samsung is trying to play the faux laptop game as well, releasing its own Bluetooth keyboard cover for its new tablet.
Samsung is offering two color options for Tab S buyers, while the Surface is limited to one silver-ish hue.
The Surface's 12-in screen is 34 percent bigger than the Tab S' 10.5-in display.
Samsung spent a good portion of its launch event telling us about the Tab S' Super AMOLED display. During my hands-on time, I found its higher contrast and blacker blacks to look stunning when watching video, but elsewhere it wasn't a huge departure from what we're used to on other high-res tablets.
The Tab S packs 33 percent more pixels into each inch, making it a significantly sharper tablet. There are, however, a couple of caveats here. First, you might hold the larger Surface farther from your eyes (especially in laptop mode), which can make its lower pixel density less noticeable. The Surface's display also uses sub-pixel rendering ("ClearType") technology, that makes text on its screen appear a bit sharper than it otherwise would.
Along with the keyboard cover, the Surface Pro 3's stylus ("Surface Pen") is another integral part of Microsoft's vision for the Surface line. The updated pen in the Surface Pro 3 has a button on its back that lets you open Microsoft's OneNote app with a quick click.
The Galaxy S5's fingerprint scanner is showing its face again on the Tab S. It isn't quite as convenient as Apple's Touch ID, requiring you to swipe your finger across the home button (rather than just touching it). But it does still let you quickly and easily unlock your passcode-protected tablet.
Samsung's Multi Window feature makes its Galaxy tablets some of the few mobile-first tablets with side-by-side multitasking. But of course a desktop OS like Windows has no problem with that either.
SideSync 3.0 lets you pair a Galaxy S5 with the Galaxy Tab S to view and control the phone on your tablet's screen – including making and taking calls and text messages. If you don't have a GS5, though, you're out of luck.
As the Surface Pro 3 is basically a full-blown laptop in a tablet's body, we won't likely see a cellular-capable model anytime soon. The Tab S will be sold in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi with LTE flavors.
The Surface also has laptop-like storage options, while the Tab S' storage tiers are more typical for mobile-first tablets.
Both tablets have microSD card slots, supporting up to 128 GB of expanded storage.
The Surface gives you one USB 3.0 port.
We're also looking at mobile processors in the Tab S (Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa in the Wi-Fi only version and a Snapdragon 800 in the LTE model) and desktop processors in the Surface.
The Surface's RAM is going to vary depending on which storage (and price) tier you go with: 4 GB of RAM for the 64 GB and 128 GB versions, and 8 GB of RAM for the two highest storage options.
Samsung estimated 11 hours of video playback in its Tab S presentation, and its promotional materials brag of a nondescript "9 hours." If that refers to web use, then that's the same figure Microsoft is throwing around for the Surface Pro 3.
Megapixels only tell you so much about a camera, so we'll have to wait before we jump to conclusions about either of these devices' camera quality.
Neither Android 4.4 nor Windows 8.1 has the iPad's unrivaled selection of dedicated tablet apps, but the Surface has the advantage of running desktop apps. If you're looking at using one of these tablets with a keyboard cover, then that alone could have the Surface coming out ahead.
The Intel Core i5 version of the Surface launches June 20. If you want the entry-level Core i3 or the high-end Core i7 Surface, though, then you'll have to wait until late August. The Tab S starts rolling out in July.
The Tab S is the much cheaper device, again reflecting its mobile-first innards. The base US$800 Surface is one of the models that won't launch for another couple of months. If you want a Surface Pro 3 before then, you'll be ponying up at least $1,000 for the tablet – plus another $130 for a keyboard cover.