If you’re looking for a midsize tablet, you probably know that the iPad mini with Retina display reigns supreme. But Samsung wants to replace Apple’s tablet in your heart with its new Galaxy Tab S 8.4.
And with an incredibly colorful display, luxe design, and a boatload of special features, the Tab S 8.4 has a lot going for it. And, by total coincidence — yeah, right — the Tab S sells for $399, just like the iPad mini.
That said, there’s a reason Apple’s more diminutive slate is one of the most popular tablets you can buy. From its sleek, industrial design to the massive number of iPad-specific apps available, the iPad mini is an impressive piece of technology.
So which of these two tablets should you call your own? Let’s find out.
Round 1: Design and size
After years of building mediocre tablets, Samsung has finally created a genuinely attractive one. It’s exceedingly thin and light but still has a solid, premium feel. My Tab S came with a “Dazzling White” paint job and featured a bronze trim around its edges, which gave it a surprisingly luxurious look.
However, the Tab S, like all of Samsung’s devices, is made of plastic, which detracts from its otherwise haute styling. Still, it does keep the tablet relatively lightweight.
In fact, at 10.4 ounces, the Galaxy Tab S is lighter than the 11.6-ounce iPad mini, despite the fact that the Samsung has a larger display, 8.4 inches compared with the iPad’s 7.9 inches.
The iPad mini with Retina display may have the same look and feel as the original iPad mini, but it’s as beautiful as ever. The slate’s metal-and-glass industrial design is sleek and sexy, and it has the same polished chamfered edges and less-is-more styling that make the iPhone so gorgeous.
The iPad mini uses the same 4:3 screen aspect ratio as all of Apple’s tablets, which means its display is more square than the Galaxy Tab S’s, which sports a 16:10 aspect ratio. The 8.4 × 4.9 × 0.26-inch Tab S is taller, though more slender, than the 7.9 × 5.3 × 0.29-inch iPad mini.
WINNER: iPad Mini with Retina display
Round 2: Display quality
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S’s most noteworthy feature is its display. Not only is the tablet’s 8.9-inch screen larger than the iPad mini with Retina’s 7.9-inch display, but it also offers a higher pixel resolution of 2560 × 1600, versus the iPad’s 2048 × 1536. Photos, videos, and websites will look a bit sharper on the Tab S than on the iPad.