Samsung and Apple both have 9.7-in tablets launching this week. However, the two makers are taking very different approaches to their respective devices: Samsung's Tab S3 has higher-end specs and features, while Apple's new iPad is relatively entry-level. Let's compare the two.


The iPad has a slightly bigger form factor, but it's not more than a millimeter or two larger in any dimension.


The lightest version of this iPad is nearly 9-percent heavier than its Tab S3 counterpart. That's a difference of 40 g (only about 0.09 lbs) but it could make a difference if you regularly hold your tablet in one hand.


The Samsung device's glass back panel and aluminum frame seem a little more sophisticated than the iPad's familiar aluminum unibody, but then again, glass could be an impractical choice for a handheld device.


Both makers opt for unsurprising metallic and neutral color variants.

Display size

These two tablets have the same display size and 4:3 aspect ratio.

Display resolution

They also have identical resolution and pixel densities. The Tab S3 also supports HDR, which might mean a visible increase in color gamut and contrast ratio. But since that HDR designation is according to Samsung's self-determined standard, it's difficult to quantify how much that might improve the viewing experience.

Fingerprint sensor

Both offer biometric logins through a home button-integrated fingerprint sensor.

Cellular connectivity

Both offer Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi + LTE variants (though the Tab's LTE version will be coming at an unknown later date), so you can opt for a device that lets you surf the web using your cellular data plan.

Keyboard support

This iPad can only connect to third-party Bluetooth keyboard accessories. The Tab S3 has the advantage of a snap-in Pogo keyboard connection, so its companion keyboard (available from Samsung for US$130) draws power from the tablet and does not need to be charged separately.


This budget iPad does not support the Apple Pencil, but the Tab S3 is compatible with the 0.7-mm pressure-sensitive S Pen and even includes it in the box.


The iPad contains Apple's A9 chip, which is not the latest and greatest but is still capable for most web surfing and mobile apps. The Tab S3 has more processing power in the form of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 chip.

Note that the clock speed for the A9 in the new iPad is unconfirmed; this guess comes from the A9 in the iPhone 6s series.


Apple doesn't usually publish RAM amounts for its mobile devices, but it's very likely that this tablet contains the same 2 GB of memory that the other 9.7-inch iPads have. (We'll know for sure once product teardowns become available.) The Tab S3 has twice as much, but to be fair, their respective operating systems use RAM differently.

Charging/data port

The iPad has Apple's Lightning port, while the Galaxy Tab S3 rocks the more-universal USB Type C standard.


Apple finally got rid of its too-small 16 GB mobile devices. This iPad is available in both 32 and 128 GB sizes, while the Tab S3 only has the 32 GB option.


However, Samsung has helpfully included a microSD slot for expandable storage up to 256 GB. Good luck trying to find that feature on a recent Apple product.

Camera megapixels

The Samsung tablet's camera handily beats the iPad's in terms of resolution. We don't use the rear-facing camera on our tablets all too often, but the Tab S3's front-facing camera should make for appreciably sharper selfies and video calls.


The two manufacturers offer similar battery life estimates, but those are to be taken with a grain of salt. A full charge will probably offer a full day of use on either device, but battery life varies depending on what you're doing.


Samsung adds an additional pair of speakers to its tablet, and the sound even rotates along with the tablet orientation.


The iPad, of course, runs Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 10. The Tab S3 runs Android Nougat with Samsung's TouchWiz UI on top.


Both mobile operating systems offer some degree of split-screen multitasking, so you can view and use more than one app at the same time.


These tablets hit the market at practically the same time. The Tab S3 was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress last month. It's up for pre-order now, to start shipping and hitting US shelves on March 24. The iPad goes up for sale on March 24 and starts shipping the following week.

Starting price

The two makers take a very different approach to their latest tablets, and this is most apparent in their price points. The $600 Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is angled to be a premium Android competitor to a higher-end tablet like the iPad Pro. Meanwhile, Apple's $329 iPad is the company's least expensive tablet ever. Clearly it's meant to be an entry-level device (at least as far as Apple products go) that still delivers all the iPad essentials without major compromises.

Wi-FI + LTE variants are more expensive, but on the plus side, you may be able to get one from your carrier on a favorable payment plan.

We'll post full-length reviews in due course. In the meantime, check out our hands-on impressions of the Tab S3 from the Mobile World Congress.

View gallery - 22 images