Samsung has four new high-end tablets set to launch in the next few months. The smallest of the bunch, the Galaxy TabPRO 8.4, looks like Samsung's best answer yet to the iPad mini. Let's plop it down next to the iPad mini 2 (formerly "iPad mini with Retina Display"), and see how their features and specs compare.
The Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is ten percent taller and four percent narrower than the iPad mini 2. It's also razor-thin, measuring four percent thinner than Apple's already-svelte slate. We handled the Tab Pro 8.4 at CES 2014, and we think it's going to be a terrific size and shape for one-handed use.
Two of Samsung's new slates are the exact same weight as Apple's newest iPads. The Tab Pro 10.1 is the same 469 g as the iPad Air, and this 8.4-in. version is the exact same weight as the iPad mini 2. Whether it was intentional or not, both tablets are going to feel very light in hand.
Samsung's going all in with the pleather build it jumpstarted with 2013's Galaxy Note 3. We prefer it over the glossy and flimsy plastic that dominated Galaxy devices for the last few years, though it isn't going to feel as high-end as the iPad's aluminum finish.
The Tab Pro's screen wins on paper, and it really pops in person too. The Retina iPad mini's screen is no slouch either, though it is somewhat limited by a narrow range of colors. It also gives you 95 percent as much screen area as the Tab Pro 8.4 does.
The iPad mini offers two extra storage options, though the Tab Pro might help to temper that a bit by supporting microSD cards.
Performance-wise, there shouldn't be much to worry about with either tablet. The iPad's 64-bit A7 chip is a beast that far outperforms its cores and clock speed, and the Snapdragon 800, found in most versions of the Tab Pro, is one of the zippiest mobile CPUs around.
Who knows if it will play much of a part in overall performance, but the Tab Pro does double the iPad mini's 1 GB of RAM.
Both slates are sold in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi with cellular (LTE in markets that support it) editions.
We don't yet know anything about the Tab Pro's actual battery life, but we do know that it packs 4,800 mAh worth of juice. The iPad mini will be tough to beat, as it lasted nearly 11 hours in our standard video streaming test.
We don't usually dwell too much on cameras in tablets, but, at least on paper, the Tab Pro is looking pretty good in this department.
If you fancy changing channels on your TV with your tablet, then Samsung has you covered. The Tab Pro's IR blaster couples with some baked-in software to let you do just that.
The Tab Pro 8.4 is launching with the newest version of Android, 4.4 KitKat. Just don't expect to see much of Google's OS on the surface, as Samsung's TouchWiz skin is thicker than ever. It now includes a new "Magazine UX," which is Samsung's new take on the home screen launcher. Think Windows 8-like permanent widgets for various apps and other topics you might be interested in.
The Retina iPad mini runs the redesigned iOS 7. We enjoy the UI tweaks and new features of Apple's latest mobile OS, but we also can't seem to go a day without multiple crashes from Safari and third-party Webkit browsers. For a company that prides itself on its products "just working," we think it's a bit of a head-scratcher that Apple hasn't fixed this major flaw four months into iOS 7's lifecycle.
The iPad mini does still have an advantage in the apps department. Google Play has made some nice strides of late with its tablet app selection, but – especially in gaming – the App Store is still King of the tablet realm.
We still don't know exactly when Samsung's new tablets will launch, but they should start rolling out globally sometime within the next couple of months.
Samsung ended up pitting the Tab Pro 8.4 toe-to-toe with the iPad mini, with a $400 starting price.
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