When you go to war, when you plan an assault, when you enter a battle zone – the first thing you do is invade into home territory. Samsung has left subtlety and niceties in the dust and to make that point clear – they took over New York City’s iconic Madison Square Garden with a vengeance. This was a coup of epic proportions with nothing left to chance. Samsung was here to make a point, to make as much noise, create as much hype and make headline news worldwide. And that headline was simple, lucid and very clear. Apple’s reign as tablet king was over, it was time for Samsung to take over.
Once upon a time: At one time, Apple had the lion’s share of the tablet market, with literally no other brand in sight. If you wanted to buy a tablet, you only had to decide which iPad to buy! That has changed dramatically. Today, Apple’s market share is down to about 30 per cent, it has lost 10 percent market share last year and that exact percentage is what Samsung has gained. Google, with its Nexus Tabs, and Amazon, with its Kindle range, are the other giants in the game. But the battle has taken a new turn now, a dramatic assault where the war bugle was sounded right in Apple’s own turf – New York City.
Samsung launched two new tablets (8.4-inch and 10.5-inch) here and called them Samsung Galaxy Tab S. The S moniker has always been reserved for Samsung’s flagship offering and no tab has been allowed that name till now. Samsung has either played in the totally el cheapo category (mostly 7-inch run-of-the-mill stuff) or the very high-end niche section (Note and Pro). Samsung users of high-end phones like the Galaxy S5 who wanted to buy a tablet, didn’t really have a choice. Thus the coming of these two tablets was no big surprise. In fact, for the last month or so, (planted?) leaks about the product were common in the techosphere. What did take most by surprise were the products. This was not just an assault on the iPad range, it was a carefully crafted walloping thwack deep into Apple’s territory. Every single thing on these tabs have been carefully crafted to outdo the iPad range and Samsung made sure everyone got that point. They even had iPads demonstrated right next to the new Tab S range for everyone to compare. This is how the dual Samsung Galaxy Tablets S story unfolds.
Nope that’s not a term that Samsung came up with, for their own displays. This is the biggest USP of the devices as they come with Super AMOLED screens. This is holy grail territory as this display technology gives a 100X contrast ratio over LCD screens, colours truly pop out and are very vivid, blacks are genuine and deep, and even in outdoor sunlight, these screens don’t fade out. It also throws in a RGB sensor to detect light conditions and adjust white balance.
The resolution on these tablets is an eye-popping 2560x1600. That’s a pixel-per-inch density of 359 on the 8.4-inch tablet compared to about 326 on the iPad Mini Retina. On a tablet, when you throw in better colours, deeper blacks, more contrast and a fantastic number of pixels – it shows! And the competition looks washed out.
Thin to the bone:
The Galaxy Tab S 8.4-inch weighs 294gm and is just 6.6mm thick while the iPad Mini Retina is 7.5mm thick and 331gms. The Tab S 10.5-inch clocks in at the same 6.6mm and 465gm while the iPad Air is 7.5mm thick and 469gms. Samsung’s made the very term iPad ‘Air’ sound heavy and chunky.
Your fingers are your control:
The tablets come with a hardware home button that also plays dual duty as a fingerprint scanner, but Samsung ups the ante. This can be used to enable Private Mode as well as scanning in up to eight users. Thus each can set up their own home screen and apps and ways of working and that very custom interface will open when you scan your finger in.
Samsung’s hardware prowess can never be doubted. The WiFi-only version will have a Exynos Octa core processor while the LTE version will have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. Add to that 3GB RAM, 16 or 32GB storage, microSD slot, 8MP rear camera and 2MP front camera, plus about 11 hours battery life when watching a video.
Build and Form Factor:
Samsung’s Achilles heel is turned into a bit of an advantage. This looks like a Samsung Galaxy S5 that has been stretched both ways. But somehow that speckled back and plastic makes this look and feel more robust. People won’t buy it for its looks but fortunately no one will reject it for the same reason either.
Upping the game:
SideSync pairs the tablet with a Galaxy S5 phone (more phones may be added). Immediately, the tablet mirrors the phone’s screen in a smaller window thus enabling voice calls, running apps as well as transferring files with a flick. Almost any app can be opened in a multi-window environment, thus enabling true multitasking. There’s Cisco’s WebEx for video conferencing, Galaxy Gifts for exclusive freebies, Remote PC to control a PC, Samsung’s very own magazine format called Papergarden with custom content from Condé Nast, Marvel and National Geographic and new covers, including one that has a built-in keyboard.
All in all, Samsung has hit hard and fast with its dual punch out Tab S offerings by pricing them exactly like the iPads but upping everything else. With a 10 per cent gap in market share and Samsung growing at about 10 per cent annually – these two tabs may soon bridge that gap and dethrone Apple this year itself. Until you throw in the equation of the next generation iPads. When you are king and have some slick new arrows in your quiver, then the dethroning process isn’t as easy as Apple pie!
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3
From HT Brunch, June 22
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