Apple iPad 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: Tablet showdown

Which is the better tablet: Apple's iPad 2 or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Apple's iPad 2 is clearly the market leader, but Samsung has ruffled a few feathers with its upcoming Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet — so much so that Apple has blocked it from going on sale in Australia, and forced Samsung to postpone the launch event. So, what's all the fuss about the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and how does it compare to the iPad 2?

Read our comprehensive iPad 2 review and our Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review, and check out our guide to the best upcoming tablets in 2011.

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For starters, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is thinner and lighter than the iPad 2, despite featuring a larger display. It's also the first Android tablet we've seen that places a huge emphasis on design, both in hardware and software.

With this in mind, how does the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 stack up against the Apple iPad 2 when it comes to specifications?

Apple iPad 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: Specifications

Feature Apple iPad 2 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Verdict?
Operating system (OS) Apple iOS 4 (upgradeable to iOS 5) Google Android 3.1 'Honeycomb' iPad 2
Display size 9.7in 10.1in Galaxy Tab 10.1
Display technology Capacitive LED-backlit IPS Capacitive PLS TFT Draw
Display resolution 1024x768 pixels 1280x800 pixels Galaxy Tab 10.1
Multitouch Yes Yes Draw
Front camera VGA 2 megapixels Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Rear camera 0.7 megapixels, no flash 3 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging Galaxy Tab 10.1
Video recording Yes, 720p HD Yes, 720p HD Draw
GPS Yes Yes Draw
Internal memory 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB 16GB or 32GB iPad 2
Expandable memory None None Draw
Dimensions 241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8mm 256.7.4 x 175.3 x 8.6mm Galaxy Tab 10.1
Weight 607g 565g Galaxy Tab 10.1
Application store Apple App Store Google Android Market iPad 2
Processor Apple A5 dual-core (1GHz) ARM Cortex A9 dual-core (1GHz) Draw
RAM 512MB 1GB Galaxy Tab 10.1
3G Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G models Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G models Draw
Wi-Fi Yes Yes Draw
Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP 3.0 with A2DP Galaxy Tab 10.1
HDMI-out No (Yes, with optional digital AV adapter) No (Yes, with optional HDTV adapter) Draw
USB port No No Draw
Quoted battery life Up to 10 hours Up to 9 hours iPad 2
Adobe Flash support No Yes Galaxy Tab 10.1

Design

The iPad 2 is faster, lighter and 33 per cent thinner than the original iPad. It weighs 613g, and comes in both black and white models. The curved design of the back of the iPad 2 makes it comfortable to hold, and it is relatively thin given the size of its screen. The iPad 2 is ideal for use in either portrait or landscape layouts, and its built in accelerometer rotates quickly and without delay.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is just 8.6mm, thin enough to be described by Samsung as "the world's thinnest mobile tablet". That is ever so slightly thinner than the 8.8mm thick iPad 2. Although a mere 0.2mm doesn't seem like a deal breaker if you're comparing it directly to the iPad 2, the Galaxy Tab 10.1's weight of just 565g is a big deal. The lightweight design makes it easy to use single-handed, and very comfortable to hold for long periods.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet is constructed largely from plastic, but still manages to feel extremely well built. The materials used are of a high quality, right from the glossy black bezel surrounding the display, to the soft-feeling, rubber-style plastic that adorns the rear, and the stylish curved edges.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is just 8.6mm thick, and weighs a mere 565g, making it both thinner and lighter than the iPad 2

Display

The 9.7in display of the iPad 2 is bright, crisp and clear and really brings content to life, particularly photos and videos. Though the iPad 2 has the same oleophobic screen coating as the iPhone 4, its larger size means a few taps on the display quickly results in a grubby mess that is hard to clean. The iPad 2 also has another serious flaw — its display is virtually impossible to see in direct sunlight, which is a huge issue on a device that's designed for portability and travel.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a slightly larger display at 10.1in, and its resolution of 1280x800 pixels is an improvement over the iPad 2's 1024x768 display. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1's screen uses PLS TFT touchscreen technology. Samsung says that the inclusion of PLS (Plane-line-switching) technology gives the Galaxy Tab 10.1 better viewing angles and increased brightness compared with regular IPS screens. For most part that's true, as the Galaxy Tab 10.1's screen is bright and crisp, and can be clearly seen from even the most obscure angles. Sadly, the screen can't escape a common issue with most tablets, including the iPad 2: it quickly becomes a grubby mess after use, and has poor sunlight legibility. The glare also affects use in an office environment under fluorescent lighting.

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