Samsung has always been interested in taking some of the iPad's tablet market share, but last week the company got really serious. The Galaxy Tab S is a spec monster squeezed into an impossibly light and thin frame. How do the features and specs of the the 8.4-in Tab S compare to those of the iPad mini 2? Read on, for Gizmag's look.
The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is 7 percent taller, 7 percent narrower and an insane 12 percent thinner than the svelte iPad mini. You can make plenty of arguments for the iPad mini in this comparison, but the Galaxy Tab S' incredibly thin build is one of the biggest reasons to put your chips in that pot.
The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is also 11 percent lighter than the Retina iPad mini (its name before Apple changed it retroactively to the iPad mini 2). I handled it at Samsung's launch event, and was impressed with how feathery it felt in hand.
The Tab S looks a lot like the Galaxy S5, with the same dimpled pleather build on its backside. But it also feels much firmer than the GS5's backing does.
It's two color options each for the Tab S and iPad mini.
The Galaxy Tab S gives you about 6 percent more screen real estate than the iPad mini does. It's a more elongated screen, which doesn't work quite as well in portrait mode as the iPad's 4:3 aspect ratio does, but Samsung's button placement suggests that the company thinks the Tab S works just fine in portrait mode.
The Galaxy Tab S is the first high-resolution tablet with a Super AMOLED display. It brings richer colors, greater contrast and a wider color range than other tablet displays. In person, though, the only place where I noticed a significant difference was when watching video (and, to a lesser degree, still images). Everywhere else, the difference was negligible.
The Tab S 8.4 packs in a sharp 359 pixels per inch. That's 10 percent more than the Retina iPad mini, but I don't think your eyes will necessarily notice that much of a difference with pixel density. Both displays are extremely crisp.
The Galaxy S5's swipe-based fingerprint scanner is also making an appearance in the Tab S. We'll likely see Apple's Touch ID make its way to the 2014 Retina iPad mini, but this 2013 version has a standard home button, with no sensors in sight.
If you own a Galaxy S5, then Samsung has a very cool feature lined up for you in the Tab S. Sync the two devices over Wi-Fi, and you'll be able to view and control your GS5 right on your tablet's home screen. It also lets you send and receive text messages and phone calls on the Tab S.
The Galaxy Tab S lacks the 64 GB and 128 GB storage options that Apple offers for the iPad mini, but the Tab S does help to ease any worries with a microSD card slot (supporting cards as big as 128 GB).
Both tablets are sold in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi with cellular data models.
The octa-core Exynos processor listed above is for the Wi-Fi only version of the Tab S. The LTE edition gets a Snapdragon 800 in its place.
The Tab triples the 1 GB of RAM found in the iPad.
One of the best uses of that extra RAM is to let you run two apps in side-by-side windows on the Tab S. We've seen lots of mobile features make their way to the desktop (in both OS X and Windows), but this is one case where a desktop-like feature is making the leap to mobile.
We can't yet say much about the Tab S' cameras, but they should at least be solid, with 8 MP resolution on the backside and 2.1 MP on the front.
It's also too early to say much about the Tab's uptimes, though Samsung is estimating 11 hours of continuous video playback.
Ultra Power Saving Mode
If you've used the Galaxy S5, you might already be familiar with this feature. Ultra Power Saving Mode desaturates the display and severely limits available apps, to squeeze hours of extra battery life out of just a few percentage points of remaining battery. This makes a lot of sense in a phone, and not quite as much in a tablet. But hey, why not?
It's Android 4.4 KitKat, with Samsung's TouchWiz on top, for the Tab S vs. iOS 7 for the iPad mini. The iPad's tablet app selection is still a big advantage for it, despite Google Play's improvements on that front.
If the specs look a little lopsided in the Tab S' favor, then part of that is because it's a brand-spankin' new device. The Retina iPad mini has been around since last November.
Samsung is no dummy. It's pricing both versions of the Tab S (there's also a full-sized 10.5-in model) at the same price points as the Retina iPad mini and iPad Air, respectively.
For more on the Tab S, you can check out our hands-on from Samsung's launch event, as well as our comparison of the 10.5-in version to the iPad Air. You can also hit up our full Retina iPad mini review from back in November.