iPad Air’s Pro Ambitions vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8’s Accessory Game

CRN examines the highs and lows of Apple and Samsung’s midrange tablets, weighing the benefits of included accessories versus hardware upgrades.

Apple and Samsung’s entries into the 2022 lightweight tablet category bring top-level specs to the arena, with faster chips, better displays and just downright spec overachievement. Unveiled within a month of each other, the competitors built on previous releases.

Released during Apple’s springtime Peek Performance event, the iPad Air release stood up to some hefty releases from the company. While the most exciting news about the release may have been the inclusion of Apple’s excellent M1 chip under the hood, the company also touted the 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display (not quite as nice as the iPad Pro’s new Mini LED tech), True Tone, P3 wide color and an antireflective coating.

Samsung, on the other hand, banked on the popularity of its S-Pen, which is included with the Tab S8, and the speed of the Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset. Samsung also is billing its tablets as more of a PC experience with its new DeX interface, mirroring the display and navigation of a laptop to allow users to work in multiple windows.

CRN gets in the ring with the two top players in the tablet world to find out who wins this round.

Tablet Appearance And Dimensions

Apple likes to keep things simple in the design department, so of course there’s not a whole lot different on its aluminum frame compared with its counterparts in the iPad lineup. Apple’s embrace of monotony is part of its charm. It banks on familiarity and intuitive function.

Samsung kept things on the simple side as well, with a slim aluminum frame but spices things up by including space for the included S Pen on the backside.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 measures 9.99 x 6.51 x 0.25 inches and has an 11-inch display. The Apple iPad Air 2022 measures 9.75 x 7.03 x 0.24 inches with a display area of 10.9 inches. Samsung wins out only slightly on viewing area here. The iPad Air weighs 1.02 pounds, while the Galaxy Tab S8 tips the scale a bit heavier at 1.10 pounds. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 comes in Graphite, Silver and Pink Gold, while the iPad Air is offered in five colors.

Processing, RAM And Storage

On the Galaxy Tab S8, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip is running the show with 8 GB of RAM—plenty of speed and responsiveness for most users. Apple’s M1 chip housed by the iPad Air 2022 is in another league, though, with blistering speeds and unmatched performance and also starting out at 8 GB of RAM on the lowest-end configuration. The base iPad Air comes with only 64 GB of storage while the Samsung entry gives users 128 GB on the low end. Check out more about the specs on high-end models on this slide.

Network Support And Connectivity

Of course, both companies have kept up with the latest greatest internet connection speeds and Bluetooth capabilities. Users have 5G options on both, Wi-Fi 6 on the Samsung only (Wi-Fi 802.11 on iPad), and Bluetooth v5.0. Users will need a separate router to try out those new Wi-Fi 6 speeds.

Camera Firepower

On the Galaxy Tab S8, users get a 12-megapixel ultrawide selfie cam on the front, and a 13-megapixel auto-focus lens plus a 6-megapixel ultrawide lens—excellent options for a tablet in this range. All cameras can record video up to 4K resolution and at 60 frames per second. The front-facing camera has auto-framing to keep a moving subject in the shot.

The Apple iPad Air gives users two cameras, one 12-megapixel unit on the rear and the front camera is now upgraded to a 12-megapixel ultrawide that features Apple’s version of self-centering software, Center Stage.

Samsung has made a huge push for more camera performance on its mobile devices, and it shows here.

Battery Life

The Galaxy Tab S8 gives users nearly 13 hours of battery life and includes a fast 45W charger to handle the large 8,000 mAh battery stored inside. Apple says it’s iPad Air should get about 10 hours of battery life, but real-world reports are saying it actually gets better performance because of the efficiency of the M1 chip. Apple typically doesn’t provide a ton of information on its batteries so we don’t know the size, but it is most likely comparable to the Samsung in terms of size and materials.

Special Features

The iPad Air is upgradable up to 256 GB of storage and 16 GB of RAM. It has support for the Apple Pencil, but that accessory is not included. The Samsung features the S Pen support and includes the accessory at all levels. Storage on the Tab S8 is configurable up to 256 GB.

Availability And Pricing

iPad Air: Available now from $599

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8: Available now from $499