Friday, February 3, 2012

iPad 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab 11.6 [Rumours]

We take a look at the rumours surrounding Apple's iPad 3 and Samsung's next 11.6-inch Galaxy Tab

We compare two of the most exciting tablet prospects of 2012 – speculatively. But which, out of the iPad 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 11.6, will be worth your cash in 2012? 
We make an educated guess base on current rumours and leaked information below: 
FormThe iPad 3's form factor has been the subject of fairly intense debate online. On the one hand, you have the camp which says it will be a highly distinctive complete revamp worthy of the new iPad 3 label.
The more probable result that is supported by a number of reports, suggests that it will very closely resemble the iPad 2's form factor. We've also heard extensive reports about it being 1mm thicker as well.
Other external changes are supposedly minimal, prompting some commentators to brand it as the iPad 2S. Based on these claims some case manufacturers in China have even begun production of slightly thicker cases for the ‘iPad 2S'.
It's a tough call to make, but we're inclined to believe reports from those who've actually been to see Apple and had a hands-on with the device, and such reports indicate it's not a huge change in terms of visual design.
Reports of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 11.6 suggest that, despite it's larger 11.6-inch touchscreen it will not, in fact, be much bigger than the existent Galaxy Tab 10.1.
That's not to say that it won't be bigger at all – surely it must be – but the implication is that the larger screen simply takes up more of the front of the device, resulting in a smaller bezel around the outside.
A few mock-ups based on first hand accounts of the device look very nice indeed, we generally approve of narrowing the space around a touchscreen as much as possible and this would appear to be the direction that Samsung has chosen to go in with the Galaxy Tab 11.6.
Apart from this the 11.6-inch tablet looks remarkably similar in shape and design format to its smaller predecessor.
Winner - Samsung Galaxy Tab 11.6
DisplayFor starters, the rumour mill has long suggested Apple's iPad 3 will bring the iPhone's acclaimed Retina display to the tablet format.
Claims from those who've had contact with the device and from analysts keeping an eye on the display supply chain seem to support this idea.
This will mean double the resolution of the iPad 2 at 2048x1536 pixels on the same 9.7-inch slab of IPS (potentially IPS+) LCD glass.
You can expect the iPad 3's display to be just about the most impressive ever seen on a tablet, pushing out crisp, bright and colourful visuals.
According to reports the massive 11.6-inch glass sheet on this latest Galaxy Tab will clock an even more impressive 2560x1600 pixel resolution at a 16:10 aspect ratio.
It's not clear whether Samsung has managed to introduce its excellent AMOLED display technology but if so that would be a considerable boost to picture quality and display performance too.
Unless Samsung has really pushed the boat out we expect Apple's Retina display to be the better offering here.
Winner - Apple iPad 3
StorageStorage isn't actually something which has been extensively discussed for either tablet but we think it's fairly likely both will have similar setups based on their predecessors.
This would mean each would have 16GB, 32GB and 64GB variants.
Frankly, we'd be shocked if the iPad 3 had micro SD card storage but it seems likely the Samsung Galaxy Tab will – up to 32GB is a fair bet.
In terms of RAM, the iPad 2 had 512MB while the Galaxy Tab 10.1 had twice this at 1GB.
We're not sure if Apple will up the stakes to 1GB, but this seems like the minimum to expect from Samsung's new device and it could feasibly push things further to 1.5GB or even 2GB if we're lucky.
Rumours suggest that next Galaxy S handset, the Galaxy S III will have this much RAM so we wouldn't be too surprised if the Tab 11.6 did as well.
We think the likelihood is that Samsung will win this as it'll keep the internal storage on a competitive level offering card storage the iPad will lack and likely more RAM than Apple's device will bring too.
Winner - Samsung Galaxy Tab 11.6
Processor Samsung’s 11.6-inch tablet will reportedly use a new dual core ARM Cortex-A15 processor clocked at 2GHz, featuring Samsung’s own next-generation Exynos 5250 chipset and ARM’s latest Mali-T604 graphics processing unit (GPU).
That all sounds pretty face-meltingly powerful to us.
The iPad 3 is also expected to use next-gen ARM hardware topped off with the new Samsung-produced A6 chipset, that'll be specially made for the device.
Supposedly the iPad 3 will boast a quad core setup but the specifics of things like clock speed and whether it’ll be using ARM’s existing Cortex-A9 or the new A15 architecture are totally up in the air at this point.
Our gut feeling is that Apple is fairly conservative when it comes to clock speeds even if it is now apparently in the swing of throwing more cores on the pile – we think it may still be around the 1GHz mark.
One other snippet of rumour suggests the iPad 3 will feature a graphics processor (GPU) with 20 times the power of the current A5 chipset found in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. Some sources suggest this will be a PowerVR G6200 or G6400 GPU but this is by no means concrete.
When it comes to the crunch you can be sure that both manufacturers will throw everything they’ve got at these flagship tablets.
But, the reason Samsung’s tablets haven’t sold quite as well as the dominant Apple devices is down to a number of other factors such as issues with the operating system and Apple’s tablet market entrenchment from its exceptional marketing strategies.
Apple is the de facto ‘go-to’ manufacturer for tablets in the public's eyes and if Samsung wants to win out it’s going to have to figure out how to undermine that level of popularity – and that’s not something that is entirely down to just the hardware.
Winner – Apple iPad 3
Operating SystemSamsung’s device is pretty much a dead cert for Google’s Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) 4.0, while the iPad 3 will obviously be running Apple’s iOS platform.
It’s expected that the iPad 3 will launch with the next version of Apple’s own operating system, version 5.1.
Details on what this new version might contain are fairly sparse but we’re hoping it’ll feature Facebook integration as comprehensive as the impressive Twitter integration found on iOS 5, alongside further improvements to Siri, particularly for those of us outside the US.
Generally speaking, however, the main thing the company needs to get right is making sure 5.1 is a less buggy and problematic build than iOS 5 was when it launched.
Users widely encountered battery issues which are still an ongoing problem for some iPad and iPhone owners.
Apple patents all kinds of new interface features on a regular basis but many of them don’t see the light of day. One particularly interesting one at the beginning of this year was a design for a 3D iOS interface.
It seems unlikely to us this will make an appearance but we’d gladly be proven wrong on this one.
Android Ice Cream Sandwich is a peculiar beast, for tablet users familiar with Android Honeycomb it’s not a huge change.
The interface design has been tweaked slightly and arguably looks more up-to-date, though we’d counter this by saying Honeycomb’s interface looked pretty funky (in a good way) as it was.
Nevertheless there are some notable changes to the functionality we particularly like the new camera interface which allows you to get a much better idea of what your picture will look like as you’re taking it, thanks to the expanded viewfinder which now takes up the majority of the screen space.
The settings menus have also been given a bit of a re-shuffle and things are now not only more clearly labelled but located in much more logical sections than before.
One small but pleasing change is that the multitasking app-switcher control now allows you to quickly swipe running apps away to close them, which we found to be a very elegant solution to app management.
It’s difficult to say which will be best here as, generally speaking, people are firmly in the camp of one platform or another due to factors surrounding interface style, intuitiveness and app compatibility - these are just areas of personal preference at the end of the day.
For now at least our main concern is bugs and stability issues on iOS, as Ice Cream Sandwich has come on leaps and bounds in this regard.
Winner - Draw
Murmurings suggest Apple’s next tablet will have the same camera setup as the iPhone 4S, which would mean an 8-megapixel primary at 3264x2448 pixels, with an improved lens and aperture setup over previous iDevices.
However, there are reports that the front-facing ‘Facetime’ camera will sport an HD resolution, which we think is an excellent move on Apple’s part if it turns out to be true.
Apart from this it should have an LED flash, face and smile detection and some pretty top-notch image stabilisation if the iPhone 4S is anything to go by. Video capture is probably going to be 1080p.
For Samsung’s device the subject of what camera setup it’ll be packing is wide-open to interpretation as it hasn’t really been discussed at this point.
We reckon an 8-megapixel primary is a distinct possibility but, much as we wish it were so, we have our doubts if the Korean manufacturer will go for a high-quality front-facer as Apple appears to have done.
We think the primary camera could well be up to the same standard as Apple’s 8-megapixel offering but if the Cupertino-based iPad maker can live up to the rumours we think it’ll win out thanks to a better quality secondary shooter for video calls which are, apparently, becoming much more popular on tablets.
Winner – Apple iPad 3
Final ThoughtsIf we’re being totally honest Apple has absolutely nothing to worry about with the iPad 3. The company has more or less total dominance of the tablet market currently and we don’t see this changing between now and when the iPad 3 launches.
Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablets might well prove to be a threat to Apple’s tablet supremacy but until then any tablet it puts out will sell like hotcakes.
That being said, of all Android tablets Samsung and Asus appear to have done better than most, and although it might not be able to knock Apple from its pedestal Samsung can certainly get its money’s worth with the Galaxy Tab range.
Assuming the rumours are true and the Galaxy Tab 11.6 isn’t much larger than the 10.1 despite the up-scaled display we think it’ll find a very welcoming audience and provide a viable alternative for those who aren’t fond of Apple products.
In the public perception, however, Apple’s iPad will still remain the default option and the iPad 3 will probably cement this.

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