Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 vs iPad Air 2 comparison preview

Samsung has updated is best ever tablets and they're more like Apple's iPads than previously. Find out the difference in our Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 vs iPad Air 2 comparison review. Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2016.

Before we begin, it's worth pointing out that there are two versions of the Galaxy Tab S2. As before there is a choice of size and the main reason the new model is more like the iPad is because of the new options. There is a 9.7in model matching the iPad Air 2 so that's what we're looking at here but there's also an 8.0in size which is almost the same as the iPad mini 3.

See also: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 release date, price and specs.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 vs iPad Air 2: Price

Samsung still doesn't have UK specific official pricing for the new Galaxy Tab S2 models but we do have pricing via Clove. As you can see from the table below, the iPad Air 2 is actually the cheaper model, although we have spotted slightly less expensive prices at Amazon and Expansys. It seems like the cost might change by the time Samsung puts the device on sale next month.

However, that's for the Wi-Fi only model with Apple's premium of £100 for adding cellular connectivity. And these are not like for like as the base model of the iPad Air 2 is 16GB while the Tab S2 offers 32GB – we'll talk more about storage below.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 vs iPad Air 2: Design and build

Although the iPad Air 2 is one of the thinnest tablets around at 6.1mm, Samsung claims to have beaten it with the Tab S2 which is just 5.6mm. We've had the Tab S2 in our hands and while it doesn't need to be thinner than the iPad it's still impressive and also helps with weight. Also see: 100 funny things to ask S Voice

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

The Tab S2 9.7 is just 389g which is quite a lot less than the equivalent iPad which weighs 437g – that's quite a big difference whereas the thickness is more bragging rights.

It's worth noting that the iPad Air 2 is available in three colours – Silver, Space Grey and Gold – while the Galaxy Tab S2 is available in Black and Gold on the official site but also White at some retailers.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 vs iPad Air 2: Hardware and specs

Last year's Galaxy Tab S 10.5 model was 10.5in but Samsung has dropped the screen size down to 9.7in and even the aspect ratio is now 4:3 – sound familiar? That's identical to the iPad Air 2 and the resolution is also matching at 2048 x 1536. The main difference here then is that Samsung uses its preferred SuperAMOLED technology.

iPad Air 2

In the engine room it appears that the Galaxy Tab S2 is the more powerful tablet here with 3GB of RAM and an Octa-core processor (quad 1.9GHz and quad 1.3GHz) while the iPad Air 2's triple 1.5GHz A8X processor is accompanied by 2GB of RAM. We haven't been able to benchmark the new Samsung slate yet with only hands-on time but let's remember that they run on different operating systems and either way you're going to get smooth performance.

On the storage front the iPad Air is available in three choices and although it starts at a pretty small 16GB, you can also buy 64- and 128GB capacities. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Tab S2 comes with 32GB as standard and although it looks like few retails will stock the 64GB model so it will be hard to find, the device comes with that sought after Micro-SD card slot so you can easily add up to 128GB more.

The main camera on both tablets is 8Mp and even though we're not big fans of tablet photography, it's worth taking note of the fact that the Galaxy Tab S2 can record video at up to 1440p whereas the iPad Air 2 is limited to 1080p but the iPad has a 1.12µm pixel size. The Samsung tablet also has a higher resolution front camera at 2.1Mp compared to 1.2Mp which is arguably more useful on a tablet than the rear camera.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 camera

In terms of other specs, both tablets have a fingerprint scanner in the home button and you'll get dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 on the Galaxy Tab S2 (4.0 on the iPad) and GPS although you'll have to buy the LTE iPad to get this.

On the battery life front, Apple touts up to 10 hours of video playback while Samsung thinks the Galaxy Tab S2 can beat that with 12 hours.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 vs iPad Air 2: Software

As usual when comparing Samsung and Apple products, a big difference is that the Galaxy Tab S2 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with its own TouchWiz user interface while the iPad Air 2 uses iOS 8, of course.

There's too many things to go into here but both operating systems offer smooth performance – they are the most popular around by a long way. Apple's iOS is easier to get your head round with a simple system and has a great app selection. Android is more complicated but also more customisable and also has a lavish app store.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8: Specs

  • Processor Exynos 5433 (quad-core 1.9GHz Cortex A57, quad-core 1.3GHz Cortex A53), Mali T760MP6 Memory 3GB RAM LPDDR3 Storage 32/64GB internal storage, Micro-SD (up to 128GB) Screen 8in Super AMOLED Cameras 8Mp rear, 2.1Mp front Connectivity 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, GNSS, microUSB, optional LTE Dimensions 135 x 199 x 5.6mm, 265g OS Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Processor Exynos 5433 (quad-core 1.9GHz Cortex A57, quad-core 1.3GHz Cortex A53), Mali T760MP6 Memory 3GB RAM LPDDR3 Storage 32/64GB internal storage, Micro-SD (up to 128GB) Screen 8in Super AMOLED Cameras 8Mp rear, 2.1Mp front Connectivity 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, GNSS, microUSB, optional LTE Dimensions 135 x 199 x 5.6mm, 265g OS Android 5.0 Lollipop

OUR VERDICT

Although we've only had hands-on time with the Galaxy Tab S2 it's clear to see that it's a great tablet – even if it has suddenly matched the iPad on screen size, aspect ratio and resolution. The S2 wins on dimensions but it's so close that this is really just bragging rights and both tablets have top-notch specs. Aside from the choice between iOS and Android storage and price are the big differences here with that potentially deal breaking Micro-SD card slot found on Samsung's tablet only.

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