Apple iPad mini with Retina display full review
Samsung today unveiled its Galaxy Tab S 8.4, a compact Android 4.4 KitKat tablet with an 8.4in screen. Here we compare the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and key rival the Apple iPad mini 2 (aka Apple iPad mini with Retina display) to find out whether Apple or Samsung makes the best compact tablet. See Samsung launch its Galaxy Tab S family in our Samsung Galaxy Premiere live video stream.
Note that in this article we are merely comparing the specs of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and iPad mini 2. For more in-depth analysis please visit our Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 hands-on review and Apple iPad mini with Retina display review.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini 2: Price and UK availability
Apple's iPad mini 2 is already on sale in the UK, priced from £319 for the base model with 16GB of storage to £659 for the 128GB model with 4G connectivity. Also see our Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 vs Apple iPad Air comparison review.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 8.4 will go on sale in the UK on 4 July, matching the iPad mini at £319 with 16GB of storage, or £419 with 4G LTE connectivity. A 32GB model will also be available. Full details are available in our Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 release date, UK price and specs article. Also check out its bigger brother in our Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 hands-on review.
When the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 was first announced we were surprised to learn it was to be more expensive than the iPad mini. Yes, more expensive versions of the iPad mini 2 are available, but at their comparable points - 16GB with and without 4G connectivity - the iPad was to come in £30 cheaper. But as we said at the time: "Whereas the iPad mini will retain its price until the next version is unveiled by Apple, Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 8.4 will quickly fall in price - even by its 4 July launch it could well be available at a lower price than the iPad mini." Indeed, a week before its 4 July launch Samsung has matched Apple's pricing. Also see: 25 best tablets 2014.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini 2: Design and build
Apple's iPad mini 2 is available in Space Grey and Silver, while the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.4 will come in Titanium Bronze and Dazzling White.
Despite featuring a larger 8.4in screen, Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is the more compact tablet, both thinner and lighter than the 7.9in-screen iPad mini 2. It's just 6.6mm thick and 294g (298g with 4G) to the iPad's 7.5mm and 331g. The iPad mini 2 is also wider, at 134.7mm versus the Tab's 125.6mm, but the Galaxy tablet is taller, at 212.8mm versus the iPad's 200mm.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini 2: Display
Apple is well known for the quality of its amazing Retina displays, the idea behind which is that they are sufficiently high-res that the human eye is unable to distinguish between individual pixels and there is no need to go any higher. Actually, LG proved at its recent LG G3 launch that we can tell the difference, and its Quad HD screen is more true to life than anything we've seen from Apple.
But back to Apple and Samsung. Apple has fitted its iPad mini 2 with a 7.9in IPS multitouch panel with 2048x1536 pixels, which equates to a pixel density of 326ppi. Samsung instead plumps for a Super AMOLED panel in its Galaxy Tab S 8.4, but it's both larger and higher in resolution: 8.4in, 2560x1600, 359ppi.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini 2: Processor and memory
It's difficult to compare the performance of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Apple iPad mini with Retina display without getting them into our lab and running some benchmarks, particularly given the fact the two are running different operating systems.
Whereas the iPad mini 2 is fitted with the 1.3GHz Apple A7 chip, the same 64-bit chip with motion co-processor featured in the iPhone 5s and Apple iPad Air, Samsung has fitted its own Eynos Octa-core chip, which pairs four 1.9GHz cores with four 1.3GHz cores. Samsung also supplies 3GB of memory to the iPad mini's 1GB. Note that this does not necessarily mean the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 will be faster - software plays a huge part in performance. See also: Best Android tablets 2014: here's where we bring to you the 22 best Android tablets in the UK right now.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini 2: Storage
Apple might win on the storage front in terms of how much usable storage is available out of the box, but Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 8.4 features a microSDXC slot that lets you add cards up to 128GB in capacity. And we're pretty sure it won't cost you £240 to buy a 128GB memory card, which is the price difference between Apple's 16- and 128GB iPad minis. Indeed, you'll find one as cheap as £50 over at Amazon.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini 2: Connectivity
Both iPad mini 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 feature Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi with MIMO and GPS, and are available in versions with 4G LTE connectivity. The Samsung also supports IR and Wi-Fi Direct but, more importantly, uses the industry-standard micro-USB port for charging or connecting to a PC; Apple uses its proprietary Lightning port. Plus, the Galaxy Tab S has a fingerprint scanner.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini 2: Cameras
The Samsung Galaxy Tab's cameras offer more megapixels both front and back, although we're unlikely to make use of either tablet's 5- (Apple) and 8Mp (Samsung) rear cameras. Even if they do both support full-HD video recording at 30fps, and the Galaxy Tab benefits from an LED flash. Let's face it, we'd look pretty stupid.
More likely is we might want to use the front-facing camera for video chat - probably Skype on the Tab, and both that and FaceTime on the iPad. Here the Samsung's camera is slightly better on paper, at 2.1Mp versus the iPad's 1.2Mp iSight camera. Of course, neither will take mind-blowing photos, and both will do the job.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini 2: Software
Right now the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 runs Android 4.4 KitKat and the iPad mini 2 runs iOS 7. Both will be upgraded when the next versions of each platform are released - Android possibly later this month at Google I/O (see Google I/O: what new products to expect), and iOS 8 is expected in September.
The software each tablet runs is likely to be the most important factor in which device you choose to buy, so it makes no sense to brush over it here. Read more about Android KitKat, and what you can expect from Android Lollipop (or whatever it ends up being called), iOS 7 and the forthcoming iOS 8.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini 2: Battery life
We can't properly measure battery life until we have the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 in our lab. All we know is that it's fitted with a 4,900mAh battery. Meanwhile, Apple claims that its iPad mini 2 will last 10 hours of web browsing.
Fancy a larger tablet? Check out Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 release date, UK price and specs.
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