Tablets Guide

Shootout: Apple iPad Air vs. Microsoft Surface 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1

Overview

Showdown of the 10-inch Tablets

Apple has dominated the 10-inch tablet market since the launch of its first iPad in 2010, thanks to a strong ecosystem of apps, services and third-party accessories. Its latest tablet, the iPad Air, is available since November 2013.

Microsoft decided to venture into building its own own PC computing hardware in 2012 with its two tablets: Surface for Windows 8 Pro and Surface for Windows RT. The latter tablet option is an attempt to compete with the other ARM-based tablets. Now in its second generation, the Surface 2 is available since March 14, 2014. Further to that Microsoft just launched a new Pro edition with the Surface Pro 3, but it's more of a notebook replacement device and doesn't compete with the this article's scope.

Samsung, after three years of tablet-making experience, appeared to have finally cracked it with its latest Pro series of tablets which focus more on productivity and enhancing content consumption. The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is one of the most refined Android tablets yet from Samsung, and is poised to give the iPad Air a run for its money. While Samsung too has an even newer Galaxy Tab S series that will soon be made available, it's geared more as a premium content consumption tablet than than the Galaxy Tab Pro series that inclines a little towards towards productivity aspects and thus its namesake.

If you are shopping for a 10-inch tablet, it can be tough choosing any one of these three fairly recent premium tablets. There are several affordable Android tablets in retail, but for the purpose of this article, we're focusing on the two recent additions from Microsoft and Samsung which go up against the industry benchmark that is the Apple iPad Air for both general use and productivity needs. Instead of the usual rundown in our review, In this shootout we will assess each tablet in various usage scenarios to highlight their strengths and weaknesses. Before we dive into the shootout, here's a look at the specifications of the three tablets:

Apple iPad Air vs. Microsoft Surface 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1
  Apple iPad Air Microsoft Surface 2 Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 LTE
Launch SRP
  • From S$688
  • From S$618
  • From S$798
Processor
  • A7 dual-core 1.4GHz processor with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor
  • NVIDIA Tegra 4 quad-core processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core 2.3GHz
Operating system
  • Apple iOS 7
  • Windows RT 8.1
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
Memory
  • 1GB RAM
  • 2GB RAM
  • 2GB RAM
Display
  • 9.7‑inch / 2048 x 1536 resolution at 264ppi / Retina display / LED-backlit Multi‑Touch display with IPS technology / Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
  • 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD / 1920 x 1080 (208 ppi)
  • 10.1-inch / 2,560 x 1,600 pixels / TFT LCD
Camera
  • 5-megapixel iSight Camera / Autofocus / Five-element lens / Hybrid IR filter / f/2.4 aperture / 1080p HD video recording
  • 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD Camera (720p HD video)
  • 5MP rear-facing camera / 1020p FHD
  • 3.5MP front-facing camera /1020p FHD
  • Rear: 8-megapixel with autofocus and LED flash
  • Front: 2-megapixel
Connectivity
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi‑Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth v4.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, MHL 2.0, Screen Mirroring, AGPS, GLONASS, IrLED
Storage
  • 16/32/64/128GB
  • 32 or 64GB
  • MicroSD card (up to 64GB)
  • 16GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 64GB
Battery
  • 8,827mAh
  • 31.5Wh
  • 8,220mAh
Dimensions
  • 240 x 169.5 x 7.5 mm
  • 275 x 173 x 8.9 m
  • 243.1 x 171.4 x 7.3mm
Weight
  • 469g (Wi-Fi) 478g (4G LTE)
  • 676g
  • 477g
I/O Ports
  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • MicroSD card reader
  • Headphone jack
  • HD video out
  • Cover port (for use with Surface accessories)
  • Micro-USB 2.0