Given the massive amounts of lawsuits that Apple has been filing against Samsung for intellectual property infringement, many of which successfully ensured the banning of the tab in several countries, my first thought as I unboxed the Samsung Galaxy tab was “Where the hell are the similarities?”.
As much as I love Apple products (my iPad is my FAVORITE THING IN THE WORLD), Apple can be bastards. In the case of Samsung, it’s hilarious, as it they are a particularly important supplier for Apple’s gadgets. The company provides some of the phone’s most important components: the flash memory that holds the phone’s apps, music and operating software; the working memory, or DRAM; and the applications processor that makes the whole thing work. Together these account for 26% of the component cost of an iPhone.
Here’s a fantastic timeline of the lawsuit war between Samsung and Apple, and an even more fantastic infograph about that as well.
HARDWARE AND DESIGN –
With these lawsuits in mind, I spent the first 10 minutes with the Galaxy Tab trying to go over the physical similarities to the iPad. As many of you know, my iPad is my most prized possession. I love it so much it’s insane. My phone, on the other hand, is the Samsung Galaxy SII. I love it with all my heart and soul as well, although it falls third in my list of favorite gadgets, with the second slot going to my MacBook Pro.
At first site, they do look similar. The Galaxy tab is, of course, a touchscreen with a back. But what the hell else is it going to be? Apple’s innovation has defined what a tablet looks like, and the risk of genericness is the cost of innovation.
The tab looks good. It is slick, shiny, and looks more sophisticated than the iPad. The 10.1-inch shape is weird though, and unlike the iPad, is more comfortable to hold horizontally. The plastic back makes it look slightly cheap and feel vulnerable.
In terms of quality, I’m a big fan of Samsung hardware. The Samsung Galaxy tab is exceptionally light, and the screen technology is brilliant.
SOFTWARE AND USER EXPERIENCE –
Since I’m a daily user of both iOS and Android, I feel very comfortable saying the following statement: Google’s Android platform does not compare to that of Apple’s iOS on any level.
iOS is sheer genius in terms of design, usability, ease-of-use, comfort, updatability, and almost every single other facet except expandability (but that’s where Cydia comes in).
The Samsung Galaxy tab’s RAM is definitely the worst thing about the gadget. I had only two applications installed (Firefox and Twitter) and the tablet was annoyingly slow and jammy. Even with all active applications closed, my RAM was dying. Definitely not cool, I’m afraid. It’s really unfortunate, because my Samsung Galaxy SII phone is so freakin’ fast it’ll break your heart from joy.
The user interface itself is clunky. The bar at the bottom confused the hell out of me, and it took me a while to figure out where everything was and what everything did. As a user who spends a considerable amount of time testing new gadgets, I really do not like feeling confused.
Design-wise, the interface is sometimes gorgeous and sometimes hideous.
For example, as I was about to retweet something on Twitter, I was horrified to be greeted by this really ugly modal window. You can dwell on its ugliness when you click on the screenshots. Check out the chrome background in screenshot 2. Ew. Windows ’95, anyone?
On the other hand, the settings page is gorgeously architected and laid out:
Given the horrendous quality of the iPad’s cameras (and the nonexistence of them in the iPad 1), I was impressed by the Samsung’s picture-snapping abilities, although the backfacing camera is 3MP and the front one is only VGA.
For your comparision-
Samsung Galaxy’s front-facing camera:
iPad 2’s front-facing camera:
GOOGLE APPS SYNCHRONIZATION –
Imagine my horror when I discovered that synchronization with Google products wasn’t tip-top on the Galaxy. As a heavy user of everything Google, I just can’t handle that, especially with a Google-produced OS.
GTalk did not work at all.
Gmail synchronization was crap.
The Google Docs app was frustrating.
Synchronization with Google Calendar was HORRIBLE.
It’s weird, because aside from occasional nuisances with GTalk, I don’t face any issues with synchronization on my Samsung Galaxy SII mobile.
Specs wise, the Galaxy is really, really solid. Here’s a chart, because sometimes charts are better than paragraphs:
Given the $500 price tag, I’d recommend you buy yourself an iPad 2 instead. I say it was sadness, because I’m pissed off over Apple’s bitchiness with the lawsuits, and not because the gadget is great.