Mobile Technology

iPad Air vs. Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition

iPad Air vs. Galaxy Note 10.1 ...
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the iPad Air and the 2014 edition of the Galaxy Note 10.1
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the iPad Air and the 2014 edition of the Galaxy Note 10.1
View 16 Images
The iPad Air may have the battery life advantage, but it's too early to say for sure
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The iPad Air may have the battery life advantage, but it's too early to say for sure
The iPad has the more solid and premium build, but we don't mind the faux leather notebook feel of the Note 10.1
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The iPad has the more solid and premium build, but we don't mind the faux leather notebook feel of the Note 10.1
The Note 10.1 wins on megapixels, for whatever that's worth
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The Note 10.1 wins on megapixels, for whatever that's worth
Both tablets are sold in their variations of black and white
4/16
Both tablets are sold in their variations of black and white
If you're into smartwatches, then the Galaxy Note 10.1 pairs with the most advanced one on the market ... though we think it makes much more sense paired with a smartphone
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If you're into smartwatches, then the Galaxy Note 10.1 pairs with the most advanced one on the market ... though we think it makes much more sense paired with a smartphone
The iPad Air should have the performance advantage, but both tablets are speed demons
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The iPad Air should have the performance advantage, but both tablets are speed demons
Sizes are very similar, though the iPad is a bit smaller in every dimension
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Sizes are very similar, though the iPad is a bit smaller in every dimension
The iPad Air gives you 99 percent as much screen real estate as the Note 10.1 does
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The iPad Air gives you 99 percent as much screen real estate as the Note 10.1 does
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the iPad Air and the 2014 edition of the Galaxy Note 10.1
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Gizmag compares the features and specs of the iPad Air and the 2014 edition of the Galaxy Note 10.1
The iPad Air actually starts at $50 cheaper
10/16
The iPad Air actually starts at $50 cheaper
The iOS App Store has by far the most extensive and mature selection of dedicated tablet apps
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The iOS App Store has by far the most extensive and mature selection of dedicated tablet apps
Both tablets give you plenty of storage options
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Both tablets give you plenty of storage options
Only the Note 10.1 includes a stylus
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Only the Note 10.1 includes a stylus
The iPad Air is 13 percent lighter
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The iPad Air is 13 percent lighter
Both tablets are sold in Wi-Fi only and cellular options
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Both tablets are sold in Wi-Fi only and cellular options
Though the Note triples the iPad Air's RAM, we don't think this is a reason to balk at the iPad
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Though the Note triples the iPad Air's RAM, we don't think this is a reason to balk at the iPad

With the iPad Air now on store shelves, perhaps you're wondering how it sizes up next to (quite possibly) the best tablet Samsung has to offer. Is the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition worth a look? Join Gizmag, as we put the features and specs of the two side-by-side.

Size

Sizes are very similar, though the iPad is a bit smaller in every dimension
Sizes are very similar, though the iPad is a bit smaller in every dimension

Sizes are pretty similar, though the iPad Air is slightly smaller in every dimension. It's five percent thinner and one percent shorter than the Note 10.1.

Weight

The iPad Air is 13 percent lighter
The iPad Air is 13 percent lighter

The iPad Air lives up to its name, as its ridiculously light build is its killer feature. Despite the minor difference in size, the iPad is 13 percent lighter.

Build

The iPad has the more solid and premium build, but we don't mind the faux leather notebook feel of the Note 10.1
The iPad has the more solid and premium build, but we don't mind the faux leather notebook feel of the Note 10.1

The new iPad takes on the build and design aesthetic of its little brother, the iPad mini. That includes narrow side bezels, which have its screen taking up a higher proportion of its front than the Note 10.1's does.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 has the same faux leather (plastic) build as the Galaxy Note 3 phablet. It also has capacitive menu and back buttons, sitting alongside a physical home button, below its screen. The iPad Air, like all iOS devices, has a lone home button below its screen.

Colors

Both tablets are sold in their variations of black and white
Both tablets are sold in their variations of black and white

Both tablets are sold in black-ish and white color options, fancy names included.

Display

The iPad Air gives you 99 percent as much screen real estate as the Note 10.1 does
The iPad Air gives you 99 percent as much screen real estate as the Note 10.1 does

Both tablets give you top-of-the-line screens. The Note's is sharper, but you won't likely have any complaints with the Retina Display in the latest iPad (it has the same 2,048 x 1,536 resolution as the last two full-sized iPads).

You'd think a 10.1-in screen would be somewhat bigger than a 9.7-in screen. And it technically is, but the iPad Air gives you 99 percent as much screen real estate, owing to its less oblong 4:3 aspect ratio.

That aspect ratio also makes the iPad more versatile in terms of orientation. The Note 10.1's 16:10 screen is probably going to make more sense in landscape than portrait. Samsung agrees, as evidenced by its button placement.

Stylus

Only the Note 10.1 includes a stylus
Only the Note 10.1 includes a stylus

You can buy third-party iPad styluses that simulate touch from fingers, but the Galaxy Note series is centered around its bundled S Pen stylus. Samsung threw in a ton of software goodies to take advantage of that pen, including quick note-jotting, screen grabbing and annotating, and handwriting recognition.

Storage

Both tablets give you plenty of storage options
Both tablets give you plenty of storage options

The only differences here are the lack of a 128 GB option for the Note 10.1, and the Note's microSD card support.

Processor

The iPad Air should have the performance advantage, but both tablets are speed demons
The iPad Air should have the performance advantage, but both tablets are speed demons

Forget how the iPad Air's dual core A7 (clocked at 1.4 GHz) looks on paper, because it wins the performance showdown. The Note 10.1, however, should be plenty zippy for just about anyone, whether you snag the octa core Exynos processor in the Wi-Fi only and 3G versions, or the Snapdragon 800 in the LTE model.

RAM

Though the Note triples the iPad Air's RAM, we don't think this is a reason to balk at the iPad
Though the Note triples the iPad Air's RAM, we don't think this is a reason to balk at the iPad

The iPad Air has 1 GB of RAM, while the Note has 3 GB. On paper, this looks like cause for concern for the iPad. In experience, you have nothing to worry about here (more on that soon in our review).

Battery

The iPad Air may have the battery life advantage, but it's too early to say for sure
The iPad Air may have the battery life advantage, but it's too early to say for sure

Apple is advertising an extra hour of battery life over the Note 10.1, but we'll have to wait for some hands-on time to have anything solid on this front.

Cameras

The Note 10.1 wins on megapixels, for whatever that's worth
The Note 10.1 wins on megapixels, for whatever that's worth

The Note's camera wins on megapixels, but we'd take that with many grains of salt, as its rear camera isn't really anything to write home about. Consider this another "incomplete" until we snap some test shots with the iPad Air.

Wireless

Both tablets are sold in Wi-Fi only and cellular options
Both tablets are sold in Wi-Fi only and cellular options

Both tablets are sold in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi with LTE options. As we mentioned, there's also a Wi-Fi + 3G model of the Note 10.1, limited mostly to regions that don't have LTE anyway.

Companion smartwatch

If you're into smartwatches, then the Galaxy Note 10.1 pairs with the most advanced one on the market ... though we think it makes much more sense paired with a smartphone
If you're into smartwatches, then the Galaxy Note 10.1 pairs with the most advanced one on the market ... though we think it makes much more sense paired with a smartphone

If you're interested in throwing down an extra US$300 for a smartwatch, then the Samsung Galaxy Gear is compatible with the Note 10.1.

As much as we enjoyed using the Gear with the Note 3, though, we don't think it makes much sense with a tablet. The point is that it puts some basic smartphone functionality on your wrist, courtesy of a constant Bluetooth connection. Less pocketable tablets just don't fit that bill nearly as well.

Software

The iOS App Store has by far the most extensive and mature selection of dedicated tablet apps
The iOS App Store has by far the most extensive and mature selection of dedicated tablet apps

Both iOS and Android have their share of loyal fans, but the iPad's App Store has a larger and far superior selection of tablet apps. Google Play's tablet selection has improved in the last year or two, but it still features too many stretched-out smartphone apps to put it in the same echelon as the iPad App Store.

Unless you're deeply invested in the Android or Galaxy ecosystems, the biggest software advantage that the Note offers is the stylus integration we mentioned earlier. That's pointing at a much more niche target audience, though, so we'd give the software advantage to the iPad Air for most customers.

Starting prices

The iPad Air actually starts at $50 cheaper
The iPad Air actually starts at $50 cheaper

Samsung's tablets don't sell like the iPad (no other tablets do), but that doesn't mean Samsung is trying to undercut it on price. On the contrary, the Note 10.1 starts at US$50 more than the cheapest iPad Air. Both of those entry-level models give you 16 GB of storage, with Wi-Fi only connectivity.

Wrap-up

Rather than picking "winners" in these showdowns, we prefer to try to target who will prefer one device, and who will prefer the other. For most people, though, we see the iPad Air coming out ahead. It has a lighter, more premium build, it has a performance edge, as well as terrific battery life. Most importantly, though, is the iPad's stacked App Store. There's a lot to love about Google Play, but again, its tablet selection still has a lot of catching up to do.The big exception is if you're looking for a tablet with stylus input. If your job or personal life requires a lot of note-taking – or if you just prefer the greater precision that a stylus offers – then the Note 10.1 is one of your best options. Likewise, if you prefer Android, its greater flexibility, and the integrated Google services that go along with it, then the Note 10.1 looks like one of your best options for this holiday season.

For more on the iPad Air, you can hit up our review, as well as our comparison of it to its iPad forefathers. Or you can cast your net a little wider and check out our 2013 Tablet Comparison Guide.

20 comments
Willer
Good review. I LOVE my Note 10.1. To me it is superior to the Ipad. But can't argue your conclusions.
Booleanboy
Hmmm... "The only differences here are the lack of a 128 GB option for the Note 10.1, **and the Note's microSD card support**." Actually, for many people SD support is a significant advantage that most Samsung phone/tablet products share over many other Android and ALL Apple devices. Cloud storage is all very well - where cheap, fast access is available - but I travel a lot and outside major cities around the world the reality is that such access just isn't available. So if you want to watch movies or listen to music, being able to store it on a memory card or three is a VERY big plus. Of course some manufacturers would rather lock their systems down so that they can charge £80 for 16GB of memory.... but nobody would be dumb enough to fall for that....... Would they?
BigGoofyGuy
I think this is a good review. Being a Samsung owner, I would lean toward the Note more than the iPad. I think there is enough of a market that both would have customers for their product. I doubt any one product would fill everyones need. I wonder why the iPad does not have a micro SD card slot.
pmshah
Comparing the 2 for anything other than the hardware is kind of stupid. Android OS is controlled by Google. There is only so much that Samsung or any other company can do with it. Apple has always been good with software on their captive hardware. Now if Samsung were to budget a sizable amount to develop a completely new OD based on some open source RTOS or Open / FreeBSD or the like and hire really smart and visionary software developers, resulting hardware and software combo might offer a better platform for comparison.
Rodney Haas
While Android is indeed "controlled by google" that is not a bad thing. I can create an app and host it on my site and you can load it. No such animal for an Ipad. Apple demands that all software be controlled by them. There are many android apps not on the google store but rather on web sites around the world. I will stick to a truly open platform thanks very much! Also the note will allow truly unlimited memory since I can simply switch out memory as needed. Both have clouds, however lots of the time I am not online or near a cloud. :-)
Lewis M. Dickens III
You can compliment the Koreans on their mode of rapid theft or copying. Thanks to the University of Cincinnatti. Now that Apple makes the finest Computers and the devices all integrate and communicate, this makes the Apple devices much superior. No frozen snot at all. Only Problem is that Apple has not figured out how to do a proper calendar. b
Son-of Man
Frankly, to me there is no comparison. The iPad is just better. I play with both at work and my phone is an Android phablet, but the iPad win in both UI, build quality and design. The iPad is also 4x3, which is way, way better IMO for browsing or reading on a tablet. I always feel I am looking at web pages or magazines through a slit on the Samsungs.
Charles Remarque
Difficult to beat Apple; however, for me, $400 is way too much for either one. I am now typing this comment using my NookHD7 and a wonderfully tactile Targus keyboard - purchased for a very reasonable price of less than $30.00. With the Nook HD now using Android and not its original proprietary software, it now has available to it more than 7,000 apps. You keep the expensive iPad and I will continue using this amazing device. My only question. How can they make such a versatile tablet and sell it for this very low price of less than $130. Charles Remarque
Rann Xeroxx
I prefer Android over iOS as an OS but I am not sure I prefer Samsung over Apple. Samsung's iteration of Android is a bit clunky IMHO. With that said, I would buy neither of these devices for the money they are charging and would go with either a full Windows 8.1 tablet or at least a Surface 2 since browsing is 95% of what I do on a tablet.
Mark Landsbaum
Is there anywhere in the U.S. where you can actually find a 64GB 4G LTE samsung 10.1 2014 edition? I can't. I'd buy it in a blink if I could. Best Buy in Canada said they'd sell me one, if I drove up from Texas to buy it.