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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 vs. Surface Pro 3

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June 17, 2014

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and the Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and the Microsoft Surface Pro 3

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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.

Size

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.

Weight

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.

Build

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.

Keyboard

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.

Colors

Samsung is offering two color options for Tab S buyers, while the Surface is limited to one silver-ish hue.

Display (size)

The Surface's 12-in screen is 34 percent bigger than the Tab S' 10.5-in display.

Display (type)

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.

Display (resolution)

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.

Stylus

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.

Fingerprint scanner

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.

Side-by-side multitasking

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

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.

LTE

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.

Storage

The Surface also has laptop-like storage options, while the Tab S' storage tiers are more typical for mobile-first tablets.

MicroSD card

Both tablets have microSD card slots, supporting up to 128 GB of expanded storage.

USB 3.0

The Surface gives you one USB 3.0 port.

Processor

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.

RAM

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.

Battery

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.

Cameras

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.

Software

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.

Release

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.

Starting price

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.

For more on the Galaxy Tab S 10.5, you can check out our hands-on from Samsung's NYC launch event, as well as our comparison of it to the iPad Air.

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Buy this on Amazon About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin
1 Comment

"But it does still let you quickly and easily unlock your passcode-protected tablet."

SP3 as a Windows device supports fingerprint login using a third party reader. Not only that, but most readers allow fingerprints to be used to do more advanced things than just unlock the device.

"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."

1) Multi-Window only works on supported apps, of which there are almost none. 2) Windows lets you have as many "windows" as your memory can hold, and up to four WinRT apps active. 100% of windows software supports the functionality and everything but WinRT games support multiple WinRT apps side by side

"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." 1) The Snapdragon/Exynos5 are both fairly old CELLPHONE processors, limited to RISC instructions with NEON (none of the new instructions in the A57/53 line) 2) The SP3 has Intel U and Y series Core i Haswell chips, which are laptop ("mobile") processors, not desktop processors. 3) Anyone looking to do more than just browse the web and look at youtube will see the SP3's processor as a clear winner, being almost 10x faster in most circumstances.

"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."

1) Apple's "dedicated" app selection is quite small, the bulk of ipad apps are "optimized" versions. Total number is thought to be about 400k including both optimized and dedicated apps. 2) Windows Store has at least 150k apps dedicated for use in WinRT mode (apps, as opposed to standard windows api programs)

"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"

You are incorrect in stating the SP3 doesn't support SideSync, ANY Windows or OSX x86 device supports it. SP3 DOES support SideSync.

"If that refers to web use, then that's the same figure Microsoft is throwing around for the Surface Pro 3." 1) 7900mAh is pointless to state, since stored energy is Wh, not mAh. The values are 30Wh for Samsung (which uses a 3.8V battery) and 42Wh for SP3 2) SP3 specifically states "Up to 9 hours of battery life for video playback. Battery life for other uses will vary." Video playback tends to be a great comparison, Samsung claims 12)

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