iPad Air 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5: in-depth specs comparison


Today is a day of jubilation at camp Apple. As expected, the company presented a whole bunch of new products at its official event, among them being a brand new iPad model, the iPad Air 2. And, boy, is it a tablet worth being excited about! Compared to the previous model, it is thinner, lighter, faster, and better in dozens of ways. Is it better than what Apple's rival, Samsung, has to offer? Well, there's a broad spectrum of tablets in the latter's portfolio, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is shaping up as a worthy competitor to the new iPad model. Let's stack the two against each other and see how they compare. 

Design


Making the iPad Air 2 as thin and light as possible has surely been among Apple's priorities. With a thickness of just 6.1 millimeters, it is not only slimmer than the previous model, but slimmer than any other tablet in existence. And with a weight of 437 grams, the new iPad ranks among the lightest tablets of this caliber. But the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is not chubby either. In fact, it is just 6.6 millimeters thin and weighs 467 grams, making it only slightly thicker and heavier than the Air 2. 

One of the key design differences between the iPad Air 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is the choice of materials used in their construction. In typical Apple fashion, the new iPad model is a metal-made slate with a beautiful, anodized finish. It is available in silver, grey, and gold, the last color option being available for the first time on an iPad. In contrast, the Tab S 10.5 is built of plastic, with a metal-like trim around the edges, so it can't be expected to have the same premium feel as Apple's tablet. At least Samsung's slate gets the Galaxy S5's dimpled finish with soft, grippy feel.


As usual, the iPad Air has a circular "Home" key placed below its screen. What's new, however, is that it has a fingerprint scanner embedded in it – Apple's Touch ID. It works as the one on the iPhone, pretty much, used to unlock the phone, to authorize purchases, and to make Apple Pay payments. On the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 you also find a fingerprint scanner, although it is of the swipe variety and can be a bit trickier to use than the iPad's. The tablet's "Home" button is accompanied by two capacitive buttons, one for the "Back" function and another for bringing up the recent apps. 

A perk the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 has to brag with is its infra-red blaster, found in its top edge. With its help, one can switch through their TV channels or control other home appliances that use an old-school IR remote. 

Display


Like it or not, the iPad Air 2 packs an IPS LCD screen very similar to the one on its predecessor. It has a resolution of 1536 by 2048 pixels across a diagonal size of 9.7 inches for a pixel density figure of 264 PPI. But despite being technically similar to the one on last year's iPad model, the display is not a bad one at all. Plus, it has been upgraded in a number of ways – the panel is thinner, bringing graphics closer to your fingertips, and a an anti-reflective coating improves its visibility. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 stands its ground with, you guessed it, a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED screen. It has a resolution of 2560 by 1600 pixels for a pixel density of 287 PPI. Therefore, both tablets should provide identical levels of details. 

Now, in general, Super AMOLED screens are known for their pumped up colors, while IPS LCDs, especially the ones on products by Apple, tend to deliver better results in this category. The Super AMOLED screen on the Tab S 10.5, however, is a bit different. Having had the chance to measure its color reproduction, we can confirm that it hits the sweet spot with its accurate color hues (in Basic display mode, at least). Our intuition is telling us that the iPad's screen would be no less disappointing in this respect.

One more thing we have to point out is that the iPad's screen has an aspect ratio of 4:3. Proportions like these are highly suitable for watching photos and surfing the web, among other activities. The 16:9 display on the Galaxy Tab S 10.5, on the other hand, should ideal for watching movies. 

Interface



Among the many factors setting the iPad Air 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 apart is the software that runs on them. Apple will launch the new iPad with iOS 8.1 out of the box, while Samsung's slate is an Android device, currently running Android 4.4.2 with a custom layer of TouchWiz on top. What does all that mean? Well, long story short, Apple's mobile platform is simple to use, but still rich in features. By "simple" we mean that you won't see anything that's superfluous or redundant. Turning your iPad on takes you to a straightforward home screen populated with icons for all apps. A streamlined pull-down panel hold your notifications and widgets, while the pull-up Control Center lets you quickly adjust some of the tablet's settings. The Tab S 10.5, on the other hand, is a bit more complex, giving you the option to place widgets and app shortcuts on your home screens. Sharing the slate with others is no hassle thanks to its Multi User mode, and Multi Window allows you to use apps simultaneously, side by side. As far as apps go, Apple's App Store is by far the best place to find great iPad apps – over 675 thousand of them are available for download. Android, on the other hand, has a broader selection of free software, even though app quality can't quite match that if software made for iOS. Ultimately, picking a favorite depends on your preferences and what you'll be using your slate for. 

Processor and memory


A8X – this is the name of Apple's newest custom-designed 64-bit SoC solution, and it ticks inside the iPad Air 2, alongside an unknown amount (presumably a gig) of RAM. Although technical details about it are scarce at the time, we're told that CPU performance has increased by 40%, while the GPU is up to 2.5 times faster compared to the Apple A7 chip. Meanwhile, on the Tab S 10.5's specs sheet we find listed an octa-core Exynos 5420 SoC. The chip features a quad-core 1.9GHz Cortex-A15 CPU for those serious task alongside a power-efficient, quad-core 1.3GHz Cortex-A7 CPU that kicks in when not as much processing power is needed. 3GB of RAM are on board. 

The data we're presented with is insufficient for us to say which tablet is truly faster, but if we had to make a bet, our money would be on the iPad. Apple's recent slates have excelled in terms of performance, and we doubt that the newest model would be an exception. The Galaxy Tab S 10.5, on the other hand, did experience occasional slowdowns as we were testing it. It is not a slow tablet by any means, and its hardware is potent enough to handle any Android app or game, but simply put, one should not expect its performance to be flawless. 

Storage options for the iPad Air 2 start with a 16GB model, which many may find rather insufficient. You may pick a more spacious model, but these come at a hefty price – a $100 or $200 extra is what you have to pay for a 64- or 128-gigabyte model. Upgrading the storage on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is done by installing a microSD card. That's the cheaper solution as a brand-name 64-gig card costs under 40 bucks.

Camera



The good news is that both tablets will get the job done when you need to take a photo and no better camera is around. They feature 8MP cameras with auto-focus, HDR support, burst mode, and 1080p video recording. On the iPad we find a few more extra goodies, including high-res panoramas of up to 43 megapixels and 120fps slow-motion videos. The Tab S 10.5, on the other hand, stands out with an LED flash, while the iPad lacks one. Of course, both slates come with front-facing cameras as well, which makes them suitable for video chats. 

Battery life


Apple's tablets are known for their great, all-day battery life. The iPad Air 2 follows the pack with its promised 10 hours of use – a figure provided by Apple. Your mileage may vary, however, depending on what you're using your tablet for, whether you're connected to a data network, and how bright its screen is glowing. Similar results should be expected from the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, which promises 9 hours of usage. When we ran it through our custom battery benchmark, which simulates real-world use, we got 8 hours and 38 minutes of battery life on a single charge, which wasn't bad at all. 

Expectations


An iPad is an iPad – it is a name that people know, trust, and buy with little hesitation. That's the status Apple's tablet has achieved, which is pretty much a guarantee that the Apple iPad Air 2 would be a hit, like the previous models. And yes, even at $500 for a base model, the new iPad is still worth its money, from the looks of it. In exchange you get a tablet with outstanding design, powerful hardware, and access to a rich selection of tablet-optimized applications. 

Knowing what it has to offer, we can confidently say that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is not to be underestimated. Like the iPad Air 2, it is slim, lightweight, and equipped with a beautiful, spacious display. However, at $500 apiece it does not have any pricing advantage over the newest iPad. This could make it a tougher sell as most folks willing to spend half a grand on a tablet would probably consider an iPad as their primary option.  

Nevertheless, we don't think that any of these tablets would leave you disappointed should you choose to buy either of them. Which one would you pick? Let us know in the comments!

Related phones

iPad Air 2
  • Display 9.7" 1536 x 2048 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A8X, Triple-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 7340 mAh
Galaxy Tab S 10.5
  • Display 10.5" 2560 x 1600 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 2.1 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 5 Octa, Octa-core, 1900 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 7900 mAh

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30 Comments

1. gigaraga

Posts: 1454; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 rakes the marginally-upgraded iPad Air 2.

12. TyrionLannister unregistered

Because hating Apple is cool

23. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Why is it hate? The display on the Samsung is better. They both have a 2k display, but the Tab has more pixels, high PPI and is bigger. While being nearly as light, nearly as thin and is older. A fac is just a fact bro, why you mad? Or maybe you are just shallow.

2. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

"bringing graphics closer to your fingertips" The stupidest compliment they have ever given apple

17. The-Sailor-Man

Posts: 1095; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

And they compare the weight of iPad Wi-Fi only , with Tab S LTE version. With many dirty iTricks like this, iManipulate the naïve ppl.

3. Furbal unregistered

2560x1600 is 16:10 aspect not 16:9

4. jeff327

Posts: 87; Member since: Feb 28, 2012

The tab s is lighter. PA check you facts.

6. maherk

Posts: 6965; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

No it's not.

7. jeff327

Posts: 87; Member since: Feb 28, 2012

I stand corrected. PA listed the new IPad weight wrong in an earlier article.

19. The-Sailor-Man

Posts: 1095; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Even now they compare Wi-Fi only iPad with LTE Tab S. To make it look huge difference.

5. maherk

Posts: 6965; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I ve had the Tab S for almost 3 months, and i swear i never EVER had any of those "occasional" slowdowns Samsung products face when being compared in an article to an Apple product. I have Fifa 15, Modern Combat 5, and bunch of other games and never i faced those again "occasional" slowdowns that not just Samsung but almost any Android running product suffer when being compared to an Apple product strictly on this site.

8. Barracuda

Posts: 22; Member since: Feb 21, 2014

could not agree more, I am so happy with the 10.5S and the screen is simply amazing!

15. PANIC

Posts: 138; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

COULD NOT AGREE MORE......PERFECT!!! SURFING AND MOVIES HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE ENJOYABLE

18. The-Sailor-Man

Posts: 1095; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

The bad news is that NOT ONLY this site bows to Apple. No one (popular) tech media can afford to employ non-ifan writers,

9. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Every iPad I have ever used suffers frequently from "occasional slowdowns". It happens with page reloading in Safari. It happens with email reloading in the mail client. It happens when switching between apps when you have Safari open. In real use, an iPad is no speed demon unless you have one app active that doesn't use a lot of memory. There's no magic Apple sauce that makes 1GB RAM into 3GB RAM. It's time Apple stops getting their free pass when it comes to the anemic amount of memory they include.

10. Sovat_fc

Posts: 224; Member since: Aug 30, 2014

If I have money enough for these, I'd rather go for Surface Pro 3 instead

14. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

If you feel like wasting a lot of money, that would be a good choice.

24. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Depends on what he wants. A Surface would replace the need for a laptop and a tablet as it is both in one. Most of the same apps are avail on the Surface plus Windows has apps no mobile will ever have.

11. Cyrus.I

Posts: 11; Member since: Jul 21, 2014

Nexus 9 > NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet > iPad Air 2 > Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5

13. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

The Shield uses the 32-bit K1 which is going to be phased out soon, now that "Denver" is shipping. The Nexus 9 seems okay on paper, but could be a dud for all we know. I have faith Nvidia's graphics will be great, but how buggy will Android L be on their brand new processor? The iPad Air 2 will have a nice screen, but could suffer from downgraded audio quality, like the iPhone 6. And who knows if the "thin" design is robust. All three of the above tablets have the graphics horsepower for great gaming experiences. The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 has a great screen, especially for light text on a dark background. I haven't seen a Tab S 10.5, but text will be somewhat less sharp and clear than the 8.4 which has a higher ppi. But Galaxy Tab S is still 32-bit, although it does have 3GB RAM. IMO, there really isn't any winner, just different tablets for different people/needs.

16. PANIC

Posts: 138; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

Ok PhoneArena, don't worry.....u will get your commission :)

20. synot

Posts: 277; Member since: Sep 14, 2012

Corerection Nick T. the Ipad Air 2 is 444g and not 437 as you stated because the Nexus 9 is 436g and was refered to being lighter than the Air 2. ..The Air is thinner but the Nexus is lighter.

21. synot

Posts: 277; Member since: Sep 14, 2012

How thick is 1 mm Apple ? Can one feels the difference in .6 of a mm ? Thats about the thickness of a finger nail.Get real Apple and Phonearena,this thinness thing is a load of crap

22. stein

Posts: 22; Member since: Oct 17, 2014

How to compare a powerfull tablet like Ipad Air 2 with a toy like Samsung?

25. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Seriously? 1536x2048 vs 1600x2560? Better color accuracy with the Tab S? Stereo speakers on the Tab S? up to 128 of storage you can add which would be cheaper vs an Ipad and I will still have more space? Larger display? 16:10 vs 4:3? Ultra Save mode vs None? Dual app mode vs None? Able to set defaults apps vs canb't? USB Mass Storage vs None? Camera with flash vs without? Need I go on? Which one is the toy?

26. LopezRaffo2

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 17, 2014

It´s thinner, lThe apps on the iPad Air 2 are better than a laggy interface with less than 15 apps optimized. The Tab S has stupid and useless apps. Apple has it's own apps you can download if you want. The iPad will be upgrading up to 5 years, that´s a lot better than the laggy interface you will have FOREVER.

28. stein

Posts: 22; Member since: Oct 17, 2014

Can i run professional AV apps on Samsung? No. Can i take it to the Stage, Connect a keyboard and play some music? No. Can i play console level games(9.6fps Manhattan on screen)? No. Samsung = toy The end

27. saeedscorpion

Posts: 3; Member since: Oct 18, 2014

OFF TOPIC/ Cant wait for android 5 on my tab s 8.4 i think it will come 2 month later

29. emosystem

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 04, 2015

I cant imagine being more sattisfied with samsung tab s 10.5.

30. KimGriff

Posts: 6; Member since: Jan 21, 2015

I honestly think that sometimes we loose sight of how lucky we are to own one of these fabulous devices, I have the Tab S 10.5 cellular and a Note 4, but I certianly wouldn't dismiss any other device out of hand.....Apple or Samsung...Who gives a s**t, they are both make great tech! Why do these "comments" nearly always end up in mud slinging matches? It's all a bit pathetic really. Take a good look at the device you have in your hand and think yourself bloody fortunate instead of sounding like a bunch of spoiled 15 year olds!

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