Apple iPad Air vs Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition
Interface and Functionality
Equipped with iOS 7.0.3, the iPad Air comes with a fresh and cheerful UI complementing its super-intuitive user experience. The UI is way more simplistic than the TouchWiz interface of the Note, as it only presents you with a grid of app icons and that's pretty much it as far as the homescreen is concerned. Well, there are also the notification and control centers, as well as the new multitasking view, but to a large extent, this is what you'll be limited to.
On the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, which is currently running Android 4.3 under the Touch Wiz Nature UX, things are considerably more complex, as you're bombarded with all kinds of widgets, menus and alternative screens that start sliding in from all directions as soon as you power the tablet up. You can do a lot more with the homescreen of this Android-powered tablet, but it'll definitely take a while before you can really feel at home as you unlock your device. Besides its complexity, the fact that there are dozens of settings within almost every app doesn't help either. TouchWiz has become a versatile, yet cluttered interface that could use some serious simplification.
Processor and Memory
With its A7 64-bit SoC, the Apple iPad Air is running buttery-smooth, which makes for an overall great user experience. The A7 comes packing the dual-core Cyclone CPU that's clocked at 1.4 GHz. It's complemented by the PowerVR G6430 GPU. In comparison, the Note 10.1 2014 sports the Snapdragon 800 with quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330 GPU. On paper, the Note 10.1 seems much beefier, however, in reality its TouchWiz UI suffers from some very visible lag and slow-down.
RAM amount stands at 1 GB for the iPad Air and 3GB for the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. Once again, it seems as if the Note 10.1 should fly with this kind of internals, but it's actually very easy to make it stutter under the load of just a few apps.
Storage space can be 16, 32 or 64 GB with the iPad Air. The same goes for the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, but as we said earlier, it also features support for microSD cards, so it does give you a bit more flexibility in this area.
Messaging and Organizer
The on-screen QWERTY keyboard of the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition is more versatile – it has an extra row with numbers, and it also tries to display a bit too many things at the same time, resulting in keys of smaller size compared to those on the iPad Air's on-screen keyboard. So, yeah, you may have to do a few additional presses in order to type the same thing using the iPad's keyboard, but most of the time users will feel more comfortable doing so with it, rather than with the Note.
The Note 10.1 is packed to the brim with all kinds of apps from the get go, and its organizer apps are full of settings and features as well. Actually, they can prove to be a bit too complex to use or set right. Meanwhile, the iPad Air has just the bare necessities in the form of very simple, yet efficient apps for notes, reminders, clock and calendar. There isn't so much to tweak within those apps – in many cases, Apple has made some decisions for the customer, and in most cases those decision prove to be the right ones.
Internet and Connectivity
Samsung has loaded the Note 10.1 with its own Internet browser, which is pretty fast indeed, although Safari on the iPad Air is even faster and more responsive. Nevertheless, it is a pleasure to browse the internet on either of these two tablets, especially since their large, high-resolution screens can make entire web pages readable without us having to zoom in on them. Both web browser apps allow for pages to be organized in tabs, which facilitates switching between them, and they both can play back embedded YouTube videos without any problems.
In terms of features, the iPad's Safari internet browser has a bit of an advantage over the Note 10.1's Internet app. It allows tabs and bookmarks to be synchronized across Apple devices, so you can continue your work where you left off. This kind of functionality can be had on the Note 10.1 as well, should you choose to use the Chrome internet browser instead of the default one. If you happen to be a Chrome lover, you can also get that browser on the iPad Air as well.
Connectivity-wise, both the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition and the iPad Air come in multiple variants – an option for those who need only Wi-Fi to go online, and a 3G/4G model for people who need to be constantly connected to the internet. We must note that while all Note 10.1 models have a built-in GPS radio, the Wi-Fi-only iPad Air doesn't have one, relying solely on Wi-Fi network data to provide positioning information.
The area, which allows the iPad to keep being the undisputed leader in the tablet space is the software catalog. With over 475,000 tablet-optimized apps available in the App Store, there's much more to choose from compared to the tablet offerings in the Google Play Store. In fact, many iPad apps are designed to really take advantage of the large display, while many tablet-optimized apps for the Note 10.1 and other Android tablets are just that – they are optimized for a large display, but don't necessarily add anything valuable to make their experience better than that with their phone counterparts.
There's still a sizable gap between iOS and Android when it comes to quality apps (in favor of iOS), but that gap is even bigger when it comes to tablets.