Analysts were saying for the past couple of years that tablets are outdated and no longer popular, as the tablet market started dwindling. It seems they were wrong, or people decided to reconsider their options and saw versatility in large touchscreen devices, as the Apple iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 are two of the most popular devices that the community is discussing. The iPad Pro and Galaxy Tab S2 are the newest tablets from their makers and both aim to be the dominating forces of the tablet market – or the trend-setters of the future. Will they succeed in bringing people back to tablets and hybrids? If so, which of these two flagship models is the better option for the average consumer? To get an idea, we’ve compiled a short comparison of features, design, specs and performance. Read on!
One of the important things that we should remember is that the iPad Pro is shiny new and it’s not yet available globally. Pre-orders are live and all, but until the tablet starts shipping, we’ve limited possibilities of testing and reviewing the device. The Galaxy Tab S2 is more widespread, as it was launched this Summer ahead of the September 9 Apple event where we saw the two new iPhone 6S units, the iPad Mini 4 and of course, the iPad Pro and its Pencil and keyboard accessories.
Nonetheless, we can get a good idea of how these tablets compare to each other by analyzing tests and specs, as well as performance reviews, design elements, benchmark results and real life usage reports. Based on these, we should end up with a pretty comprehensive idea as to what each tablet has to offer and which offers the better value for money aka bang for buck. Let’s get right into and see which of these two new slates will take the trophy this year.
Design-wise, you might have already guessed which is the more stylish and premium out of the two tablets. Apple has always been concerned with making their devices appealing, durable and stylish at the same time by using high-end materials and engineering processes. The iPad Pro reflects the same design language that the newly launched iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus do, and most people who have actually held the slate said that it was comfortable and easy to use, even if the iPad Pro seemed like a large, cumbersome device at first.
The iPad Pro measures only 6.9 mm in thickness, making it one of the thinnest (if not the) tablet of this size. Also, it’s very light at 1.6 pounds, which is yet another plus for the slate and user experience. Although the 12.9-inch display is massive, the thin bezels surrounding it combined with the aluminum casing and lightweight body make the iPad Pro easy to hold and use. Although your arms will definitely get tired after an hour or so, the user experience with the tablet remains top-notch and admirable.
The Galaxy Tab S2 on the other hand, is not as premium as the iPad Pro. Samsung used their usual polycarbonate materials with this one, but its footprint is still considerably smaller than that of the new iPad. Although the Galaxy Tab S2 has a considerably smaller display that measures 9.7 inches, it can still compete against the iPad Pro because it’s still in a large size that’s fit for various different tasks. Like the iPad Pro, the Galaxy Tab S2 prides itself with a lightweight, thin body that measures 5.6 mm in thickness and weighs only 390 grams, less than a pound.
Although thinner and a bit different than the iPad Pro, the Galaxy Tab S2 is a bit easier to use because of its 4:3 aspect ratio that fans applauded and because of its lightweight body that’s a lot smaller than that of the iPad Pro. As for the user experience, my opinion is that the Galaxy Tab S2 is big enough for comfortable usage for any type of activity, while the iPad Pro seemed a bit too large for me. If you consider using the Apple Pencil or the Smart Keyboard alongside the iPad Pro, then it’s an excellent experience, but if you want to use it as a tablet, it won’t be as comfortable as the Galaxy Tab S2.
The display part of this comparison doesn’t really need comparing. We all know that if Apple is good at something, it’s making Retina displays with 3D Touch incorporated, as demonstrated by the iPad Pro. The massive 12.9-inch Retina LED-backlit display of the iPad Pro is stunning, featuring a 2732-by-2048 resolution. Outdoor viewing is a breeze, and viewing angles are surprisingly good. 3D Touch has its benefits and iOS 9 uses them wisely, but the screen is the highlight of the tablet even without 3D Touch.
The Galaxy Tab S2 isn’t as flashy as the iPad Pro, as its display is not as bright and not as immersive, but it certainly is capable of offering a very good viewing experience, especially with the 4:3 aspect ratio. The display measures 9.7 inches and comes with a 1536 * 2048 resolution, which is decent enough for the display. The Super AMOLED panel is sharp as hell, sharper than the IPS LED-backlit display of the iPad Pro, but the lack of 3D Touch compensates for that. I would pretty much call it even with these two in matter of display, but it depends on use case.
Apple wanted to make the iPad Pro a veritable competitor against the Surface Pro 3 and the upcoming Surface Pro 4, which is why the company tried turning it into a hybrid sort of device. Since the iPad Pro can be used as a tablet and as a notebook with the keyboard, powerful hardware was necessary to make its performance smooth. Although not as smooth as the Surface and iOS 9 is not exactly suitable for what Apple wants the iPad Pro to do, it’s a good user experience in the end. Mac OS would have been a much better deal, and we can’t understand why Apple didn’t go with that option and make a true hybrid. Alas, iOS 9 has many new modes that take advantage of the large screen estate like split screen, multitasking and many others.
Under the hood, the iPad Pro comes with the brand new Apple A9X SoC backed by the M9 motion coprocessor, 4 GB RAM and 32 or 128 GB internal storage. As you can imagine, performance on iOS 9 is impeccable on this tablet and everyone who has tested its mettle has come to the conclusion that while there’s enormous potential there, iOS 9 can’t do what a hybrid is supposed to do. Mac OS is what’s missing from the iPad Pro, which is a huge minus for Apple this time.
The Galaxy Tab S2 doesn’t come too close in specs, although it does have its own high-end hardware to boast with. Performance is pretty darn good, and the tablet moves pretty fast, even with TouchWiz on board of Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. Performance could have been better if it was stock Android, though. Nonetheless, the Galaxy Tab S2 holds its own pretty well for a tablet this size and this pricing. It comes with an octa-core Exynos processor, 3 GB RAM and 32 or 64 GB internal storage.
That configuration helps the Galaxy Tab S2 compete against the iPad Pro, but it doesn’t get it to the point where one could say that it’s better. Although performance and user experience are seamless, the Tab S2 could have been a lot better. Now that’s not to say it’s not fast as it is! The Tab S2 can do anything you want it to and it won’t stutter a bit, but TouchWiz does occasionally hang and bug out, so to speak, so there’s definitely room for improvement.
Battery life is an integral part of any tablet, which is why the market for tablets has become thinner in the past few years. Tablets find it hard to keep up with usage, as their large displays consume a lot of power. Power, on the other hand, is scarce in these devices as manufacturers tend to put design ahead of battery life and make their devices thin and light instead of making them battery life champions. It’s a trade-off that many have come to have a love-hate relationship with. Regardless, both Apple and Samsung have made strides in this department and battery life for both these devices is pretty good.
The battery life on the iPad Pro is supplied by a 38.5-watt-hour battery that Apple said would offer 10 hours of usage with Wi-Fi and 9 with a cellular connection, which sounds pretty darn good. Now in real life, the iPad Pro battery life is closer to 8 hours on Wi-Fi than it is to 10 hours and to 7 hours than to 9. That still leaves us thinking that the battery life of this device is pretty acceptable for current state of affairs. While these tests were performed recently, we can’t say for sure whether the models that will be shipped out to customers will have the same autonomy. If we’re lucky, Apple’s advertised autonomy will be real and then the company can truly pride themselves with the slate. Let’s hope for that.
The Galaxy Tab S2 on the other hand features a rather large 5870 mAh battery, which should provide users with the same 10-hour battery life on Wi-Fi. Real life tests suggest that the real number for autonomy is about an hour or so below that estimation, which is still pretty decent for a 9.7-inch device. Since the cellular model is still a bit of a controversy, we can’t say for sure if that battery will handle 4G use with the same rhythm. Since both these tablets are still totally new and mostly untested, don’t take these battery life estimates for granted. The end result could be better or worse.
Apple has always been good with cameras, which is why many people create high-quality content by using just their iPhones or iPads. The iPad Pro continues down on that trail and while Apple could have made the camera much better on the device, they didn’t see a need for it, and they’re probably right. There’s an 8 MP iSight camera on the rear, complete with autofocus and LED flash and a FaceTime camera on the front. The camera performance of the iPad Pro is comparable to that of the iPhone 6 (not the 6 Plus, mind you that has OIS), which is pretty darn impressive in my opinion.
The Galaxy Tab S2 is not as fancy, although Samsung knows its camera business well, too. The tablet sports an 8 MP camera with autofocus on the rear and a 2.1 MP camera on the front. No flash! How can you not put a flash on a tablet in 2015? That’s a huge minus for the slate. Samsung’s camera app is better, with a bit of manual control here and there, but overall, the camera is worse than on the iPad Pro, so Apple’s hybrid is a clear winner in this department.
It’s also a clear winner in the speaker department, as the iPad Pro features dual stereo speakers on the bottom and the quality of audio that they produce is impressive. The Galaxy Tab S2 doesn’t have dual stereo speakers, which is not that big of a problem but it still stands as a minus for the slate in the face of the iPad Pro. Speakers are important on tablets, as people tend to use them for movies and entertainment more than for other tasks, which is why Apple’s slate could be the better choice for those.
The iPad Pro is one of the most expensive tablets on the market, topping even the Surface Pro 3 (its base model at least). The iPad Pro with Wi-Fi and 32 GB storage costs $800, the 128 GB Wi-Fi model costs $950 and the cellular version with 128 GB storage costs $1080, which is quite a lot to pay for a tablet, even if it’s a large Apple one. Pricing doesn’t work for Apple’s advantage and it never has. Pricing is a soft-spot for every person, but it’s especially noticeable with Apple products, as people don’t get why they’re so expensive if they don’t offer that much more than the devices that they can buy for less than half the price.
Anyhow, the Galaxy Tab S2 price is much more friendly, as the Wi-Fi 32 GB model costs only $400. Still a bit expensive for a tablet, it’s a decent price that is hard to beat, especially in this performance range (high-end devices). The Galaxy Tab S2 price is $380 right now for the 8-inch 32 GB Wi-Fi model, the 9.7-inch model with the same specs costs about $500 from Amazon. That’s half the price Apple is asking for the iPad Pro, but is the Galaxy Tab S2 truly the bang for buck champion? No, it’s not.
The Galaxy Tab S2 has very little to offer, aside from a thin, lightweight design. The iPad Pro wins with its great camera, speakers, 3D Touch, display and with performance. It does need a premium and it’s definitely one investment that you need to think through, but if it comes down to these two and you’re not restricted by a budget, definitely go for the iPad and add the keyboard if you want a great hybrid experience. The Galaxy Tab S2 is a good tablet, with a nice display and smooth performance, but shelling out $400 for it is only worth it if you’re on a budget. Cold, right? Which would you say is best in terms of value for money?