Tablet Comparison: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs iPad 2017

iPad 9.7” (2017) and Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 at a glance

In recent years, tablet sales have dropped. The dip can be put down to mobile phones becoming larger and faster, while laptops become lighter and more portable.

However, tablets are affordable devices that still trump mobiles for watching films and browsing the web. This year, Apple and Samsung have tried to give the devices a new lease of life by making updates to their tablets.

This comparison will focus on the Apple iPad (2017 model) and Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. Two tablets that are great for entertainment but sold at different price levels. The iPad is coming in at a more reasonable £339 in comparison to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3’s £599.99.

iPad 9.7” (2017) vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S3: an overview

  • Apple’s iPad is slightly faster and has a longer lasting battery.
  • The iPad is more durable when carried around.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3’s AMOLED display makes for a better viewing experience.
  • The Samsung Galaxy’s speakers produce richer quality sound.

Tablet design

The design of iPads has changed little over the years. The glass front with a metal back makes for a durable device that doesn’t scratch. The device is also light and easy to hold, so you won’t find your arm aching after using the tablet.

As with other Apple devices, 2017’s 9.7” tablet is available in a few colours (silver, space grey and gold). Unfortunately, there’s still not an all-black tablet to pair with the matte black iPhone 7. Although if you have an iPad cover, this won’t annoy you too much.

iPad 2017 9.7

iPad 2017 colours available in the UK

By contrast, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is only available in black. So, if you like variety, you’ll find this tablet limited. The Galaxy Tab is encased wholly in glass, which initially gives the tablet a classy, premium look. However, after using it a few times, you’ll notice that glass back attracts fingerprint smudges like moths to a flame.

The glass makes the Tab S3 more prone to wear and tear as well. Whereas the iPad’s metal back has to be bashed around a fair bit before you see marks, the Tab S3 easily picks up scratches. To avoid any damage, stick a case on this tablet straight after you unpack it. Also, think twice before letting small children play with it as chances are you won’t be getting your tablet back in the same state you left it.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 horizontal

Using the tablets for entertainment

Both devices come into their own when you use them for personal entertainment. The iPad’s A9 CPU processor is more than capable of running multiple games at once. Meanwhile, the 2048 x 1536 res display produces clear pictures for viewing games and videos. By switching on auto-brightness, you’ll find the tablet responds well to changes in your surrounding light, leaving your viewing experience uninterrupted.

iPad 2017

The Samsung Tab S3 matches the iPad as an excellent entertainment device. The AMOLED display gives images a depth of colour not quite reached by the iPad. It also shows up well in dark surroundings, so you’ll never find yourself relying on a film’s audio to know what the hell’s going on. It’s worth noting that although Samsung’s tablet supports HD display, Netflix and Amazon’s mobile apps don’t support HD yet. So, you’ll have to wait a little longer to make the most of this feature.

One important area for entertainment where the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 excels is its speakers. By partnering with the audio experts at AKG, Samsung has managed to raise sound quality across their latest releases. For the S3 Tab, this takes the shape of four speakers that angle sound based on how you’re holding the device. As a result, the tablet produces a volume and quality of sound not reached by the iPad and is even good at playing music from.

Two areas where you’ll find the Galaxy Tab S3 more disappointing are battery life and screen reflectiveness. To accommodate their thin and light design, Samsung has settled with a small battery that struggles to last 24 hours when used regularly. What’s more, the screen reflects light back at you if it catches at the wrong angle, which is frustrating when viewing the device in a car or train.

What’s in the box?

The iPad 9.7” comes with the bare basics: a charger and power adapter. This model doesn’t support the Apple pencil or smart keyboard, so you won’t be able to buy and use these either.

Meanwhile, the Samsung Tab S3 comes with an S pen (Samsung’s stylus). The stylus not only makes it easier to navigate the device but lets you try out some cool tricks, such as cutting out and writing over screenshots.

Tablet comparison: Galaxy Tab S3

Galaxy Tab S3 with stylus

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3: it holds its own but is it value for money?

For the most part, you won’t be disappointed with either of these tablets. Their designs work well, they both have clear displays and are easy to set up and use.

Does the Samsung Tab S3 match up to its more popular opponent? In most areas, yes. In some areas, it improves on the iPad. If you’re deliberating which to buy, you’ll need to consider how much wear and tear your tablet will be subject to. If you love a scratch-free, fingerprint-free device, the Samsung Galaxy S3 isn’t the gadget for you. However, if you look beyond aesthetics to how the device performs when used for entertainment, you’ll find the Samsung Tab S3 a worthwhile buy.

All in all, Samsung hasn’t done enough to justify the costliness of its tablet. The sound is better, and the display is superb, but when side-by-side with Apple’s cheaper option, Samsung’s tablet experience isn’t staggeringly different.

Product specs

  Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (9.7)iPad 2017 (9.7)
Pricecirca £599.00£339 - £599
Weight429 g (Wi-Fi)/ 434 g (LTE)469 g (Wi-Fi) / 478 g (LTE)
Dimensions237.3 x 169 x 6 mm (9.34 x 6.65 x 0.24 in)240 x 169.5 x 7.5 mm (9.45 x 6.67 x 0.30 in)
Size 9.7 inches (~72.7% screen-to-body ratio)9.7 inches (~71.6% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution1536 x 2048 pixels (~264 ppi pixel density)1536 x 2048 pixels (~264 ppi pixel density)
OSAndroid 7.0 (Nougat)OS 10.3, upgradable to iOS 10.3.3
ChipsetQualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820Apple A9
CPUQuad-core (2x2.15 GHz Kryo & 2x1.6 GHz Kryo)Dual-core 1.84 GHz (Twister)
GPUAdreno 530PowerVR GT7600 (six-core graphics)
Card slotmicroSD, up to 256 GB (dedicated slot)No
Internal32 GB, 4 GB RAM32/128 GB, 2 GB RAM
Image capture13 MP, f/1.9, 27mm, autofocus, LED flash8 MP, f/2.4, 31mm, autofocus
Video2160p@30fps1080p@30fps, 720p@120fps, HDR, stereo sound rec
AudioYes, with stereo speakers (4 speakers)Yes, with stereo speakers