Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs iPad Pro: Samsung is taking the fight to Apple with a workhorse Android tablet, but can it compete with the hugely impressive flagship iPad? Here’s what you need to know.
Landing two years after its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S3 is Samsung’s crowning glory when it comes to Android tablets. This attractive and powerful machine is sure to be one of the most popular tablets available in 2017, and we’re excited to review it shortly.
But it’s going up against a real titan: Apple’s iPad Pro. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is well designed and crammed with high-end features; it’s definitely capable of giving Samsung’s tablet a run for its money.
So which tablet is the right one for you?
In this article, I’ll answer the following questions:
- How are the designs different?
- How do the Tab S3 and iPad Pro specs compare?
- Which tablet has better software?
- Which tablet is better value for money?
- Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 or iPad Pro?
Alternatively, scroll down to the bottom of the page for a summary.
Related: Best Android Tablets
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs iPad Pro Design – What’s the difference?
It’s hard to fault either tablet when it comes to design.
Galaxy Tab S3
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 design hasn’t changed significantly from its predecessor, but this isn’t a bad thing. It’s retained the same near-10-inch form factor and a very similar frontage, with a Home button and capacitive navigation buttons loaded onto the bezel. The Tab S3 has a quad-speaker arrangement, plus a glass rear and metal framing around the edges.
There’s also a S Pen stylus included this time around, which is a first for the Galaxy Tab S-series.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is also 10-inches(-ish) and boasts a slim 6.1mm chassis. It also reeks of Apple’s minimalist design language; it’s about as inoffensive a device that you can lay your hands on. You’ll almost certainly find it attractive, especially if you’re a long-time iPhone user. That said, Apple devices are becoming same-y of late, so maybe you’ll enjoy mixing things up with a less conventional Galaxy Tab S3 instead.
Here’s our Reviews Editor Alastair Stevenson’s take on the tablet designs:
“The Galaxy Tab S3 is the best-looking Android tablet I’ve seen in some time, and its S Pen stylus is good enough to take on the iPad Pro’s Apple Pencil. The big question is whether its 820 CPU will be able to match the iPad’s stellar performance”
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs iPad Pro – Which tablet is the most powerful?
We won’t be able to offer a proper comparison until we’ve fully reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, but we can weigh up its specs against the iPad Pro.
Both tablets have similar size screens at the same resolution, so there shouldn’t be too much difference when it comes to sharpness. That said, the Tab S3 uses an AMOLED screen, whereas the iPad Pro has an LCD screen.
While the the iPad Pro’s panel is one of the best we’ve seen in a tablet, the Tab S3 will benefit from superior contrast and black levels since it doesn’t have a traditional backlight. It will be interesting to see how they compare side-by-side for colour accuracy.
Galaxy Tab S3
When it comes to performance, while we don’t have benchmarks to compare just yet, we suspect the iPad Pro will have a performance edge. Why? Because Apple’s A9X chip in the iPad Pro is known to be very powerful, while the Snapdragon 820 chip in the Samsung is by no means the latest chip on the market.
We’re still waiting on final details regarding Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3 camera, but we do know that the iPad Pro has a relatively decent snapper. In our review, Evan Kypreos compared it to the camera on the iPhone 5. If Samsung can top that, then Apple could have cause for concern.
The bigger problem for the Tab S3 is the battery, however. While the two tablets share similar specs in most areas, the iPad Pro has a much larger battery. At 7,306mAh, compared to just 6,000mAh on the Tab S3, the iPad Pro’s battery is some 20% larger than that of the Samsung. That’s a significant difference.
For a full spec comparison, check out the table below:
|Samsung Galaxy Tab S3||Apple iPad Pro (9.7-inch)|
|Screen||9.6 inches||9.7 inches|
|Display Resolution||1,536 x 2,048 (266ppi)||1,536 x 2,048 (264ppi)|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 820||Apple A9X|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB-C||Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB Lightning|
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Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs iPad Pro OS – Which tablet has better software?
You could endlessly debate the benefits of iOS versus Android, but we think iOS retains an edge on tablets due to its superior collection of tablet-specific apps.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat – that’s Google’s latest mobile OS. Android has come a long way in terms of productivity, and now offers quick replies for notifications and app multi-tasking.
The software looks decent aesthetically, too, thanks to the “Material Design” changes first introduced with Android 5.0. The big advantage of Android is that it offers greater customisability, and therefore a much more “free” experience.
Galaxy Tab S3
By comparison, iOS 10 – as featured on the iPad Pro – is a little more locked down than Android, but the trade-off is simplicity: for first-timers, or those used to an iPhone, Apple’s software is arguably easier to get to grips with. And like Google, Apple has made plenty of changes to promote productivity on the iPad, including a side-by-side mode for apps, a picture-in-picture option for videos, and the addition of an Apple Pencil stylus.
Ironically, many of those features were first pioneered by Samsung with its TouchWiz Android skin, but what used to be a strength for Samsung on tablets is now more even.
However, it’s important to remember that if you use an Android phone, you’ll find using the Android tablet easier, while the same is true for iPhone users who’ll benefit when upgrading to an iPad Pro.
In addition, if you’re already investing in Google services and have paid-for apps on the Play Store (or similarly in iOS and the App Store) then it’s easier and more financially sensible to stick with the platform you’re already using.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs iPad Pro Price – Which tablet is better value for money?
We don’t have final pricing for the Galaxy Tab S3 yet, so we’ll be updating this section when that information becomes available. What we do know is that it’s going up against the iPad Pro, whose price starts at £549 – and rises well above that, depending on the specification of the device you opt for.
Given that the Galaxy Tab S2 was around the £300 mark, it will be interesting to see what Samsung charges for its latest device. If Samsung sticks with a similar price then the Tab S3 could be a serious bargain.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs iPad Pro Summary – What’s the difference?
Here’s a quick overview of the key differences between the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 and the Apple iPad Pro.
Design: Apple and Samsung showcase their impressive design pedigrees with their respective tablets. Both are slim, light, and come with a bundled stylus. Pick either and you’ll probably be chuffed to show it off.
Specs: It’s tough to make a like-for-like comparison with the two tablets, thanks to the varying nature of Apple vs Android components. What we do know is that they should be similarly powerful, both offering relatively new chips, high-resolution displays, and capable cameras.
Price: We’re still waiting on Galaxy Tab S3 pricing, but the Apple iPad Pro starts from £549.
Value: Until we have pricing information, we can’t favour one tablet over the other in terms of value.
Related: MWC 2017
Watch: 9.7-inch iPad Pro vs 12-inch iPad Pro
What’s your favourite tablet? Let us know in the comments.