Mobile Technology

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs. Micr...
Comparing Samsung's new Android-running tablet with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Comparing Samsung's new Android-running tablet with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4
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Comparing Samsung's new Android-running tablet with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4
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Comparing Samsung's new Android-running tablet with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Additional expansion ports
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Additional expansion ports
Styus
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Styus
Cellular connectivity
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Cellular connectivity
Keyboard sold separately
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Keyboard sold separately
Multitasking
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Multitasking
MicroSD
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MicroSD
Software
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Software
Release date
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Release date
Camera megapixels
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Camera megapixels
Built-in storage
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Built-in storage
Processor
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Processor
Charging port
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Charging port
Biometric logins
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Biometric logins
Speakers
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Speakers
Display resolution
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Display resolution
Display size
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Display size
Color variants
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Color variants
Build materials
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Build materials
Weight
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Weight
Dimensions (tablet only)
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Dimensions (tablet only)
Battery
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Battery
RAM
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RAM
Starting price (tablet plus keyboard)
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Starting price (tablet plus keyboard)
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The Galaxy Tab S3, the latest Android-running tablet from Samsung, can be equipped as a capable laptop stand-in. How does it look next to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, one of the leading Windows-running 2-in-1s? Here's how their specs and features compare.

Size

Dimensions (tablet only)
Dimensions (tablet only)

The Tab S3 is the more compact and portable of the two. When held in landscape orientation, the Surface Pro 4 is about 18-percent wider and about 16-percent taller. It's also about 29-percent thicker.

Weight

Weight
Weight

There's a considerable difference in weight as well, even without their respective keyboard accessories. The lightest Surface Pro is 44-percent heavier than the lightest Tab.

Build materials

Build materials
Build materials

The Tab S3 has an aluminum frame and a glass back panel. The Surface Pro 4 has Microsoft's characteristic magnesium alloy build.

Colors

Color variants
Color variants

The Surface is only available in silver, but the Tab comes in a black option as well.

Display size

Display size
Display size

The 9.7-inch Tab S3 is smaller and has a boxier 4:3 aspect ratio. The 12.3-inch Surface Pro offers 27-percent more display area, with a 3:2 aspect ratio.

Display resolution

Display resolution
Display resolution

The Surface's screen packs in slightly more pixels, but since the Galaxy Tab S3 supports HDR, it could have a larger color gamut and higher fidelity in light and dark areas.

Speakers

Speakers
Speakers

The Tab S3 has four speakers, which are meant to offer a better listening experience across different viewing orientations.

Biometric login

Biometric logins
Biometric logins

The Tab S3 has a built-in fingerprint sensor. The Surface Pro 4 works with Windows Hello's facial recognition features, so you can login just by showing your face. There's also a keyboard cover option with a fingerprint sensor built in.

Cellular connectivity

Cellular connectivity
Cellular connectivity

Only the Tab S3 is available in a Wi-Fi + LTE variant (or at least it will be at some point in the future).

Keyboard accessory

Styus
Styus

Both of these tablets can be outfitted with keyboards to turn them into more capable laptop stand-ins. Both keyboards are sold separately with a US$130 price tag.

If you look closely, you'll notice a few differences. The Microsoft type cover has a glass trackpad, while the Samsung option does not. The Samsung option also is used to prop up the tablet, while the Surface Pro has a built-in kickstand that adjusts dynamically in a variety of angles.

Stylus included

Keyboard sold separately
Keyboard sold separately

Both options support active stylus input. The Tab S3's S Pen stylus is included in the box, and has the advantage of being battery-free and never needing charging. The Surface Pro includes a Surface Pen (though it is possible to buy one without it, so pay attention if you make a purchase) which takes one AAAA battery.

Charging port

Charging port
Charging port

The Tab S3 has a USB Type C charging/data port, while the Surface Pro has a dedicated Surface Connect charger.

Additional I/O ports

Additional expansion ports
Additional expansion ports

The Surface Pro 4 does have a USB 3.0 (legacy) port, as well as a mini DisplayPort.

Processor

Processor
Processor

The Tab S3 has a capable Snapdragon 820 mobile processor. The Surface Pro contains sixth-generation Intel core m3, i5 or i7 chips.

RAM

RAM
RAM

Like most mobile devices, the Tab S3 does not offer varying levels of RAM. But with the Surface Pro 4, you can opt for 4 GB, 8 GB or 16 GB.

Storage

Built-in storage
Built-in storage

Again, the Tab S3 is only available in one 32 GB option. The Surface Pro offers four storage tiers between 128 GB and 1 TB.

MicroSD

Multitasking
Multitasking

On the plus side, both support expandable storage via microSD.

Camera megapixels

Camera megapixels
Camera megapixels

We don't expect anyone to rely too heavily on their tablet to take photos, but the Samsung option does have a sharper rear camera. As far as selfies and video conferencing goes, their front cameras are evenly matched at 5 MP.

Battery

Battery
Battery

If manufacturers' estimates are to be believed, the Tab S3 should have slightly more staying power. Of course, battery life can vary dramatically according to use.

Software

Software
Software

The Tab S3 runs Android Nougat with Samsung's TouchWiz UI layered on top, while the Surface Pro 4 runs Windows 10 desktop software. That means the Surface Pro is a better choice for most professional applications, though it's possible for the Tab S3 could give it a run for its money in a few areas. (Microsoft Office, for example, has a capable and similar mobile version for Android.)

Multitasking

MicroSD
MicroSD

You can multitask on both of these, but not quite in the same way. Since the Surface Pro runs desktop software, it lets you multitask with multiple windows just like any other laptop would. The Tab S3, however, is limited to the comparatively hobbled split-screen multitasking (which doesn't work with all apps) that Android has to offer.

Release

Release date
Release date

The Surface Pro 4 has been around since October 2015 – it's ripe for an update, which we expect to see sometime this year. The newly announced Tab S3 hits shelves on March 24.

Starting price (tablet and keyboard)

Starting price (tablet plus keyboard)
Starting price (tablet plus keyboard)

These prices are for fully equipped machines – they include the tablet plus an entry-level keyboard accessory. The Tab S3 bundle will cost about $730 – $600 for the tablet plus $130 for the keyboard. The Surface Pro 4 bundle ($729 plus $130) starts at about $200 more altogether, but since it's an older release, it may be possible to find it for less.

The price difference is probably justifiable to those who need a desktop software experience, but for light use and recreational activities, the cheaper-but-still-premium Samsung could deliver.

For more info, check out our review of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and our hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. If you're willing to wait a little longer before making a purchase, you may want to wait for Samsung to confirm price and release date for the Tab S3's Windows-running cousin, the Samsung Galaxy Book, which is shaping up to be even more comparable to the Surface Pro 4.

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1 comment
1 comment
EdmundDelSol
With all due respect, I think you're comparing apples and oranges. When the lowest end Surface Pro 4 is $200 more than your already spec'd out Tab S3... dead giveaway!