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Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (9.7) vs iPad Air 2: What’s the difference?

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 just launched in two sizes and the 9.7-inch model packs some serious iPad Air 2-baiting specs. But what looks like the better tablet, the Galaxy Tab S2 (9.7) or Apple’s iPad Air 2?

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 vs Apple iPad Air 2: At a glance

Tablet Apple iPad Air 2 Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7
Size 240x170x6.1mm 169x237x5.6mm
Screen 9.7-inch (2048×1536) 9.7-inch (2048×1536)
Weight 437g 389g
Processor Apple A8X triple-core (1.5GHz) Exynos octa-core (1.9, 1.3GHz)
Battery 7340mAh 5870mAh
Storage 16/64/128GB (not expandable) 32/64GB + microSD
Cameras 8MP, 1.2MP 8MP, 2.1MP

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 vs Apple iPad Air 2: Design

Last year’s Galaxy Tab S was already a skinny little bugger, but the new Tab S2 takes slim design to a whole new level. At just 5.6mm it’s thinner than the iPad Air 2 and even Sony’s Xperia Z4 Tablet, although in real life the difference is minimal. Likewise, the difference in weight is negligible, with both tablets light enough to handle for hours on end.

There’s even less between them in terms of looks, with Samsung appearing to take some serious inspiration from Apple for the Galaxy Tab S2. Both tablets sport a shiny metallic finish and will stir some serious trouser tents when you yank them out on the train.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 vs Apple iPad Air 2: Screen and media

When it comes to display tech, the iPad Air 2 and Galaxy Tab S2 appear to be evenly matched. Both tablets rock a 9.7-inch screen with the exact same resolution, 2048×1536, giving a reasonably sharp 264 pixels-per-inch.

However, while Apple opted for an IPS LCD screen, which produces natural colours and whiter-than-white whites, the Galaxy Tab S2 sports a supremely vibrant Super AMOLED screen which throws rich colours at your eyeballs and produces properly black blacks.

As always, it may be a complete cop-out, but which display you enjoy most will come down to personal preference.

However, the Galaxy Tab S2 has one clear advantage over the Air 2 for media use: namely, storage. The Air 2 packs 16GB, 64GB or 128GB of space for your music, movies and so on, but that can’t be expanded and the 128GB model is pretty pricey. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Tab S2 can be boosted with a microSD memory card, up to a further 128GB, at very little cost.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 vs Apple iPad Air 2: Productivity

Apple’s iPad Air 2 remains a solid choice for productivity, thanks to the vast array of apps available on the App Store. Creative types are especially well catered-for and there are plenty of office applications available, including Microsoft’s Office. As of September-time, when iOS 9 rolls out, you’ll also be able to run your apps side-by-side for true multi-tasking.

Add in Touch ID for fingerprint identification and Apple’s usual well-thought-out security features, and the Air 2 is a great business device.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 looks to be a seriously strong rival, however. You get Microsoft Office Solutions and 100GB of free OneDrive cloud storage (for two years), so you can bash out documents on the go. And the Tab S2 has a built-in split-screen mode for running a couple of apps simultaneously.

Like Apple, Samsung has also plugged in its own fingerprint scanner to keep your data secure, with plenty of extra security features such as a built-in malware detector to prevent intrusion.

Both tablets come with mobile data as an optional feature, so you can slip in your SIM card and browse with 4G support when you’re nowhere near a decent Wi-Fi network.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 vs Apple iPad Air 2: Performance and battery life

Both the Air 2 and the Galaxy Tab S2 will run the latest apps and games effortlessly thanks to their powerful processors, but the iPad Air 2 is likely to retain its longevity king thanks to its mighty 7340mAh battery. The Galaxy Tab S2’s 5870mAh cell will probably still give you a full day of use, but we doubt it’ll stream video for a full ten hours like the Air 2.

We’ll be sure to fully test out the Galaxy Tab S2’s battery life for our full review.

Read next: Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a super-sized slab of sexy tech

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