The iPad Air vs Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro

iPad Air 2 and iPhone 6

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3 may share the name of the popular Galaxy S smartphones, but as a tablet, it's a bit underpowered. The Galaxy Tab Pro is a different beast, with a much more powerful processor and sharper graphics. But how does it compare to the iPad Air?

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro

The Galaxy Tab Pro comes in three sizes: 8.4-inch, 10.1-inch, and 12.2-inch. It features a much faster processor than the Galaxy Tab 3, utilizing the same 1.9 GHz Exynos 5 Octa chipset as the Galaxy Note 3, and the Tab Pro also received a bump in graphics, with all three models sporting a 2560x1600 resolution display. The 8.4-inch version has 2 GB of RAM available for applications while the larger two models have 3 GB of RAM.

In terms of performance, the Galaxy Tab Pro is on par with the iPad Air on paper. We'll have to wait until its release to see how it performs in practice, but the 1.9 GHz Exynos 5 Octa chipset scores roughly the same as the iPad Air in multi-core benchmarks, though the iPad Air is considerably faster in single-core benchmarks. The Galaxy Tab Pro's display is also in a dead heat against the iPad Air, with the increase to 2560x1600 resolution taking it up to Retina Display levels.

One bonus the Galaxy Tab Pro has over the iPad Air is the inclusion of an IR blaster, which means it can control your media devices like your TV and your cable box. It also includes near-field communications (NFC).

The Galaxy Tab Pro will run Android 4.4 KitKat and includes Samsung's TouchWiz UI. Android has made good strides catching up to the iPad, but it still includes a disjointed user experience, and many feel that Samsung's proprietary apps — which duplicate some of the functions of Android's default apps — leave the OS feeling bloated.

The iPad Air

It is clear Apple set a new standard with the iPad Air. Not only did the tablet make the jump to a 64-bit architecture — a move that has competitors racing to release their own 64-bit devices — it also proved that a 64-bit processor was useful for much more than accessing RAM, with benchmarks placing the A7 among the fastest mobile processors.

This fast processor is paired with the most advanced operating system. iOS 7 has its share of problems, which includes random crashes, but it is still clearly ahead of Android in terms of both usability and features. And Apple tablets also have a high adoption rate among developers, with apps quickly adapting their layout to better fit the larger tablet screens. This gives the iPad a tablet experience unequaled among the competition.

Apple's newest full-sized tablet also takes on a Mini feel to it, with the device borrowing aesthetics from the iPad Mini. The Galaxy Tab Pro is similar in size, weighing the same as the iPad Air and even coming in slightly thinner, but the Tab Pro's plastic construction — though not bad — won't compare to the feel of the iPad.

And the Winner Is

From a technical perspective, Samsung has caught up with the iPad. The Galaxy Tab Pro has a fast processor, a great display, good dual-facing cameras and a thin, light build. Added features like the IR blaster and near-field communications help add to the experience.

But for first-time tablet buyers, it might be best to go with the tablet the competition is racing towards, and the iPad Air is still the clear leader among tablets. Android's open architecture makes it a hit with the tech-savvy who love to customize their experience, but the iPad's ease of use and a huge ecosystem of apps and accessories make it a fierce opponent that still remains entrenched on top of the mountain.

One deciding factor that hasn't been disclosed yet is how much the Galaxy Tab Pro costs, and for the price-conscious, a Tab Pro that comes in substantially cheaper than the iPad Air or iPad Mini 2 might be a good deal.