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iPad Air 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: Which tablet to buy?

Michael Sawh


iPad Air 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5

iPad Air 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: Do you go Apple or Android?

The new big iPad is the sixth generation of the Apple tablet since the first one launched back in 2010. Since then there’s been a stream of tablets trying to knock the our pick of the best tablet off its lofty perch.

Some have fared better than others and in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, Apple’s fiercest rivals has finally come up with a tablet worthy of being named in the same sentence as Apple’s 9.7-inch tablet.

Does the iPad Air 2 have enough in its locker to stave off the competition once again? We compare specs to see how it matches up to its closest competitor.

iPad Air 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: DesignBlue Line

iPad Air 2: Aluminum rear, 6.1mm thick, 331g (Wi-Fi model), Space Grey, Silver or Gold

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: Dimpled, soft touch plastic, 6.6mm thick, 465g, Bronze or White models

If you thought the Samsung tablet was slim, well Apple has just gone and trumped it. The 6.1mm thick aluminum frame makes the new iPad Air the slimmest tablet out there. The Samsung might not be as svelte or have the aluminium metal body but it does have a more aesthetically pleasing dimpled soft touch rear to go with its featherweight frame. The bronze-gold colour scheme won’t be for everyone but as 10-inch Android tablets go, the build is way out in front.

We'd say the Apple tablet just edges it though.

iPad Air 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: ScreenBlue Line

iPad Air 2: 9.7-inch Retina Display, 2,048 x 1,536

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: 10.5-inch 2,560 x 1,600 Super AMOLED display

Apple hasn't budged on the resolution for the new iPad Air sticking to the same 2,048 x 1,536 resolution as the last Air. That's not a bad thing really. It means you can expect similarly impressive contrast, colour reproduction and sharpness. Where things do change is that the Apple is adding a new anti-reflective coating it claims gives it the lowest reflectivity making it better to use in the bright outdoors.

That's not to say the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 doesn't impress in this department. It definitely won't let you down for watching videos or reading and is the tablet's standout feature. The Super AMOLED screen is brighten vivid, sharp and clear delivering exceptional contrast and black level helping photos and films looking rich in colour.

Both tablets should be great performers here and it will be difficult to separate them.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

iPad Air 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: CPU and RAMBlue Line

iPad Air 2: A8X processor and M8 motion processor

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: Exynos 5 Octa 5420, 3GB RAM

As rumoured, Apple is using a new A8X processor and its a 64-bit one just like the A7 found inside the iPad Air. Apparently it will be 12 times faster than the first iPad and graphics are going to be 180% faster than the first ever Apple tablet. Along with the new Metal development framework announced in iOS 8, the new iPad Air should be a gaming powerhouse.

It's packing the new M8 motion co-processor as well to track motion and introduce new sensors like a barometer, third party app developers will no doubt want to take advantage of.

The Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is no slouch though. There's a Exynos 5 Octa (5420), which is in eight core chip with four ARM Cortex A15 CPUs clocked at 1.9GHz, and four lower-power ARM A7 cores at 1.3GHz. It’s one of the most powerful processors on any Android tablet or smartphone and while it’s less impressive in the graphics department, it will still run the most demanding games smoothly.

We think these two will be evenly matched in this department.

iPad Air 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: StorageBlue Line

iPad Air 2: 16GB, 64GB and 128GB

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: 16GB with micro SD support up to 128GB

Just as Apple did with the iPhone 6, it's ditching the 32GB version of the Air so there's going to be a big jump in price depending on what model you go for. There is as always a lack of micro SD card support and the company is unlikely to change its stance on this but you can always turn to Apple's iCloud storage if you want some more room.

If you value expandable storage then there’s only one pick here. The Tab S packs an micro SD card expanding the space to store files up to 128GB. You always have the option of cloud support as well if you pick the right services like Dropbox for instance where he Samsung Tab S will often.

MORE: Google Drive vs iCloud Drive vs Dropbox vs OneDrive

iPad Air 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: SoftwareBlue Line

iPad Air 2: iOS 8.1

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: Android 4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz UI

Like the iPhone 6, the new iPad runs on iOS 8.1 and while iOS 8 had some 'issues' it makes plenty of improvements and is still one of the easiest operating systems to use. You might not be able to customize in the way that you can with Samsung’s Android and TouchWiz UI mash-up but new features like interactive notifications, third party keyboard support help address some of its limitations

The Tab S runs on the latest available version of Android with its TouchWiz UI on top and it’s the nicest looking the operating system has looked for some time adding some useful and not so useful features. There's Samsung's Knox security software to appeal to business users but the Multi-Window is pick of the bunch letting you run apps side-by-side. It’s definitely more useful on larger tablets as well.

For customization its Samsung, if you want simplicity and ease of use, then Apple's tablet is the one.

MORE: iOS 8 review

iPad Air 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: Anything else?Blue Line

iPad Air 2: iSight camera, new FaceTime HD camera, Touch ID, dual audio microphones

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: 8-megapixel main camera with flash, 2.1-megapixel camera, fingerprint scanner

Apple says the feature iPad users like the most is the camera so it's getting some major improvements. There's an 8-megapixel resolution sensor with new modes like Burst mode, TimeLapse mode and the ability to take panoramic pictures. The new AX8 processor will also help to ramp up the image quality.

Up front is a new FaceTime camera with a f/2.2 aperture to take in more light and should lead to more impressive selfies. Additional new modes including single-shot HDR photos and burst selfies.

When you are shooting video, there's a new HDR mode and the ability to record slow motion videos at 120fps.

Leaked prior to the announcement, the iPad Mini 3 will get the Touch ID treatment, which means you’ll be able to use your fingerprint to secure the tablet, use it for Apple Pay and enjoy the added third party app support for apps like 1Password and Evernote.

Taking out the Samsung tablet to take pictures is not quite as bad as snapping with a 10-inch slate but it’s still an unspectacular performer. It’s decent but you probably won’t swap your phone camera for it. The same can be similarly said about the front-facing camera.

Like the iPad Air 2, it also has a fingerprint scanner baked into the home button and will work with select third party applications like Paypal to authorize payments or if you simply want to secure tablet.

Early verdict

Blue Line

Until we've had a play with the iPad Air 2, it's impossible to tell how it matches the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 but on paper it has all the things to make it the best again. It's thinner, has the new processor, plenty of optimized apps and still has gorgeous design.

When you compare the prices, the 16GB Wi-Fi only Galaxy Tab S costs £399 while the same 16GB iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi model costs exactly the same. There's only one Samsung model to choose from as well with Apple offering 64GB (£479) and 128GB (£559) models. Both Apple and Samsung offer 4G models too, but they obviously require a lot more investment.

We'll wait and see as to what our final verdict will be when we get the iPad Air 2 in to review.

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October 16, 2014, 10:54 pm

It's pretty clear the Galaxy Tab S is the better of the two.

The ONLY reason you would pick the iPad is if you are firmly ensconced in the iOS appstore.

Other than that, Samsung's display, camera, memory, storage, versatility, and comfort are all superior.

"If you want something to use at home the Samsung is still a good option
but for something that's more flexible there's only one winner here."

What does this even mean? Everyone knows that Samsung is more about flexibility, whereas Apple is about restrictions.

This statement, and as another example among many, the reviewer's focus on the benefits of the iPad's camera while simultaneously dismissing camera usage on the Tab S, reveal some undertones of bias here.


October 17, 2014, 8:35 am

What you mean Apple is also offering 4G models, again something the samsung tablet lacks? Im sitting here on my 10.5 inch 4G Lte version so this is either a mistake? or your typing complete nonsense?


October 17, 2014, 10:17 am

I would even take up a Tesco Hudl 2 than the overpriced Ipad. Think about what most tablet users do, browse internet and play games/watch movies. The budget tablets are good enough for this at a fraction of the price and most having memory card slots/hdmi connector.

Steven Marshall

October 17, 2014, 1:38 pm

"There's only one Samsung model to choose from as well with Apple offering 64GB (£479) and 128GB"

That is because anyone with half a brain would buy the 16GB Tab S and add a 128GB Micro SD card.

kumar am

October 20, 2014, 1:15 pm

Samsung is clearly winning. Anyone with half brain can tell that this review is biased. I am sick of such fake reviews. Also this guy lacks information and do not research before posting any article. Samsung do have 4G. In UK they are not offering via any partners. You can buy directly from Samsung online.
Samsung galaxy tab S 10.5 is the best.


November 19, 2014, 3:46 pm

Im using tab s now, display is definitely better, but thats the only thing ì liked about it so far. Ipad is much easier to use, more refined software, and no lag. My tab s 10 despite being 8 core, still stutters, touch wiz has too much clutters, and buttons location are awkward for potrait use. I frequently pressed the back button accidentally while browsing on potrait mode. Touch wiz lags sometimes, and i frequently thinking about tapping twice coz not sure if it registered the first time. Overall, ipad still has more consistent experience, better than having tonnes of features that i never use.


November 21, 2014, 5:01 pm

I have to agree with bryan, my tab s is being returned. Yes on paper both these devices are comparable and yes the amoled is spectacular , but i cant live with the lag, stuttering, huge amount of bloat and yes i to am constantly pressing the back button in portrait mode. Experience wise the apple is just better. i am by no means a fan boy of either, in fact i use a htc one(m8) phone, nexus 7 as my car computer and a Imac as my home computer. Now totally speaking out of my butt, I don't believe at this time, android on any hardware is able to match the ipad experience.

Anthony Mcdonald

December 11, 2014, 9:26 am

ALL IN ALL.... people who love samsung usually only dislike apple because of the over hype of the company, but theres a reason why people love apple products and the main reasons are easy use, THE most accurate touch screen, and of course how beautiful yet simple the product is. Sure the samsung may have a better camera, a little extra space, and little better display. BUT at the end of the day you can not deny that apple brings the most fluent devices around and thats the main reason they kill in the market... i mean its a god damn tablet!! if your worried about a tiny bit better camera than maybe you should be buying a photo camera and not an tablet... If you ask me i would MUCH rather a device i can almost say it for sure won't lag or shutter on me. and if the screen cracks I know some random guy at my local mall can fix my screen and not have to wait or buy a new tablet as to any samsung device i've ever owned has been so laggy!!! and WHY IS THIS? because they try to add so many extra features to try to top apple. which to me clearly doesn't work great and just creates cluster in the end product. if you want to KEEP the device and have it last and not lag balls after a couple years APPLE will ALWAYS be the way to go... Steve jobs changed the world and everyone else followed.. PERIOD. ALL YOU STUPID SAMSUNG LOVERS ARE FORGETTING ALL THE LIFE CHANGING THINGS APPLE DID... name one samsung product or in this case any other company besides Microsoft that comes close.. you can't..

and oh don't reply back saying " i've had my samsung tablet for years now" well shit i hope so... plastic is suppose to last long lol


March 23, 2015, 7:57 pm

The Samsung Tab S does offer 32gb version in a 10.5", I own one. And with the option to add 128gb memory card, WOW!! That's ALOT of storage!! I own both Samsung Tab S's and iPad generations 3 & 4 w/ retina display, and I must say The Tab S blows them out of the water! The Samsung Tab S 8.4" that I own goes head to head with the iPad mini 3 w/ retina, both in speed and graphics, no complaints on either. I will soon be purchasing a iPad air 2 64gb, But overall, I am satisfied w/ both Apple and Samsung products. It's all a matter of which bandwagon you choose to be on, I chose both, therefore I win every time, and nobody can tell me one is superior than the other, for I use both, often, without any major complaints. Both Apple and Samsung each have their pros and cons, and I like them both.

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