Apple iPad 4 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

by: Mike AndriciNovember 15, 2012

ipad 4 vs galaxy note 10.1

If the comments section is any indication, many of our readers seem to believe that Apple vs Samsung topics are a bit cliche nowadays. However, the fact remains that these two companies make some excellent mobile devices, not to mention that they are the only manufacturers to turn a meaningful profit recently.

Another way to look at it is that in the context of Android vs iOS discussions, a comparison between devices manufactured by Samsung and Apple can legitimately be used to characterize the relationships, similarities and differences between the two biggest mobile ecosystems.

You can jump directly to the Pros and Cons, or even to the Conclusion, or continue reading for a more detailed analysis of the specs and features on the Apple iPad 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.


When Samsung officially announced the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, plenty have been disappointed by the manufacturer’s choice to equip it with a 10.1 PLS display running at a 1280 by 800 pixel resolution. Guesses are that Samsung was unable to use a higher resolution and maintain the Wacom digitizer. And you can’t leave that out since the digitizer (alongside the S-Pen of course) is the one thing that makes the 10.1 part of the Note series.

We’ll discuss more about the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1’s usage as a scribe later, but for the sake of the display segment, what you should know is that at a 149 PPI ratio, text, images and video are not as sharp on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 as you might expect them to be from a high-end tablet of 2012.


The Apple iPad 4 uses the same 9.7 inch IPS panel as the iPad 3: 1536 x 2048 pixels at a 264 PPI (Pixel Per Inch) density and a 4:3 aspect ratio.

Apple calls it a Retina display although when the Cupertino manufacturer introduced the term, it appeared that it was relating to pixel densities of 300PPI or higher, with the display placed at 12 inches in front of your eyes. According to some analysts, the PPI ratio at which your eyes cannot distinguish the individual pixels should be just under 500 PPI (also at 12 inches).

Nitpicking left aside, the display of the Apple iPad 4 is still considered the best tablet display around (tie with the display on the Nexus 10), one that shows literally three times as many pixels as that of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.

Build quality and design

From the exterior, it is impossible to tell an Apple iPad 4 apart from an Apple iPad 3 — the same industrial design, aluminum unibody, and scratch resistant glass that make up the iPad design trademark.

As the iPad 3, the Apple iPad 4 measures 241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4 mm (9.50 x 7.31 x 0.37 in) and weighs 662 g (1.46 lb).


The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is a bit thinner than the iPad 4, and features an interesting curved figure, which some say was designed to protect it from Apple’s battalions of lawyers. Regardless of the reasons, the Note 10.1 is distinctive, and that wide bezel allowed Samsung to fit it with two frontal speakers, which is a nice touch and a boon for media fiends. When it comes to build quality however, the Galaxy Note 10.1 does not feel like a high-end tablet of 2012, although it is priced like one.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 measures 262 x 180 x 8.9 mm (10.31 x 7.09 x 0.35 in) and weighs 600 grams (1.32 lb).

Verdict: Although the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is thinner and lighter, the Apple iPad 4 wins this round thanks to its excellent build quality!



On the only segment where the iPad 4 improves over the iPad 3, the new iPad (a bit confusing, right?) makes use of a custom designed A6X SoC, one that is not very different from what’s powering the iPhone 5. We’re talking about a 1.4 GHz dual-core Swift processor and a quad-core PowerVR SGX554 processor. This is the fastest SoC out there, a fact proven by numerous benchmarks. There’s only 1GB of RAM on the Apple iPad 4, but it should be enough for what iOS requires.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 features the same Exynos 4 SoC (1.4 GHz quad-core A9 processor and a Mali-400MP GPU) that you can find in the international version of the Galaxy S3, and packs 2GB of RAM on the side. This is not a slow combination, although it just isn’t as powerful as what you can find inside the fourth generation iPad.

On to internal storage, both the Apple iPad 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 come in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 versions, but only the Note 10.1 features a microsSD card slot. Both these tablets come in variants with added cellular connectivity, but only the iPad 4 can use LTE networks.

Taking pictures with your tablet is kind of silly, but just in case you need to take a quick shot, the iPad 4 features a 5 MP rear camera alongisde a 1.2 MP video camera for video calling, while the Galaxy Note 10.1 comes equipped with a 5 MP rear facing camera and a 1.9 sensor on the front.

Apple have equipped the iPad 4 with the same 11,560 mAh battery that powers up the iPad 3, while the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 uses a 7000 mAh battery. The difference in battery capacity between our two contenders might look a bit odd, but overall battery life should not vary by much between the two, since the battery on the iPad 4 has to power three times as much pixels.

Verdict: The Apple iPad 4 wins this round thanks to its better performing processor and GPU

Software and Ecosystem

While the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 has been initially released with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on top, it looks like Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is finally starting to arrive on Samsung’s tablet. We’ll judge this section through the perspective on an updated Galaxy Note 10.1.

note 10.1 software

Ever since the beginnings of the Android vs iOS battle in the tablet segment, one thing has been constantly plaguing Google’s OS: the lack of a diversified market of tablet-optimised apps. Android is finally beginning to catch up to its rival, in part thanks to the success of the Nexus 7 and the launch of the Nexus 10, but the reality is that there are more great running apps on the iPad 4.

If the Galaxy Note 10.1 were to be a regular Android tablet, the discussion would have stopped there. However, since this is a Note family member we are talking about, the Note 10.1 can take advantage of the ever increasing number of S-Pen optimized apps. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 shares its resolution with the Galaxy Note 10.1, meaning all S-Pen optimized apps (S Memo, Air View, S Note and such) are available on the big brother as well.

io6 ipad

This is the unique selling point of the Galaxy Note 10.1: do you want to be able to accurately outline graphs, take notes or go creative from a graphical perspective? The Galaxy Note 10.1 has you covered. Add Samsung’s software tweaks (Multitasking is a real winner), the Galaxy S3-inspired Smart Functions and the various useful features of Jelly Bean and the Note 10.1 seems to be a very potent tablet when it comes to its software capabilities.

Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 wins this round thanks to Jelly Bean and an array of S-Pen optimized apps

Pros and Cons

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Pros

– S-Pen apps
– Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Cons

– Low resolution display

Apple iPad 4 Pros

– Retina display
– Apple A6X is really fast
– Huge selection of tablet-optimized apps

Apple iPad 4 Cons

– iOS is a walled garden


In the smartphone segment, the Samsung Galaxy S3 has recently overthrown the iPhone 5 as the best selling smartphone in the world (judging by numbers reported for the third quarter). This is the first time that the current iPhone model is not the best selling smartphone. However, Samsung is not likely to repeat this performance in the tablet segment anytime soon.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is an interesting tablet that many could grow fond of, especially if users utilize of the S-Pen. But judging overall, the Apple iPad 4 comes at roughly the same price, but features a superior display, the best SoC on the market, and has access to an unrivaled range of tablet optimized apps.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 lets you hoping for more (pixels), a problem that seems to be plaguing all of Samsung’s tablet line-up for 2012. If you exclude the Nexus 10, none of Samsung’s top-end tabs go beyond 1280 by 800 pixels. Now imagine a successor to the Note 10.1 that features a display of Nexus 10 quality but maintains its S-Pen functions… that would be cool right?

  • mikkej2k

    Should price be one of the comparison points ?

  • Luke S

    The Galaxy Note doesn’t come out ‘roughly the same price’ as iPad here in the UK. Samsung are currently offering a £50 rebate on this tablet, As well as the product itself being heavily discounted at several retailers.

    Note 10.1 = £258 via Tesco offer (after £50 Samsung rebate).
    iPad 4 = £399

    When you see this price comparison, the Note 10.1 was a no brainer for me.

    • crisdp720

      Same here…. couldn’t real care about the respecially difference at that price it’s a commodity… The real game changer for me was price and pen.

  • Jeff

    This site meant to be Apple authority, the whole language used here is very biased, after reading couple of article comparing anything from Apple Vs. Andriod

    • satsmine2k4

      Well the point is that review is comparing apples vs oranges. Am not trying to suggest ipad 4 is good but the note 10.1 sucks out right…It’s more expensive than the Nexus 10 and it’s just not worth it…

      • Delia

        There is one thing that both the iPad 4 (or the newer new IPad) or the Nexus 10 can do.

        Use a stylus. I can draw, surf better, and do more in the Note 10.1 because of it. It is easier to click on TINY things (without having to zoom first). Makes drawing and specialized note taking (symbols, diagrams) POSSIBLE.

        If you need that is like comparing a sport car and a pick up truck. If you need to move stuff all the time the Corvette SUCKS!

        It does not matter if the iPad 4 is 4x faster has 10x the screen resolution. No Stylus, so don’t care. End of story.

  • I think this might be the only blog in the world that hands the ecosystem victory to an Android tablet over the iPad.

    The Galaxy Note is an interesting product. The digitizer enables an entire realm of applications that are barred to other tablets. But there’s no really compelling apps out there, and there won’t be unless there’s a critical mass of digitizer equipped Android tablets in the hands of app-buying users.

    Too bad they had to compromise the core component of the device to fit the digitizer in. A 150 PPI screen just doesn’t cut it in 2012.

    Maybe if they didn’t have to compromise on the screen and the additional components and licenses were reasonably priced, digitizers and pens could become standard equipment on Android tablets.

    A better comparison here would be with the Nexus 10.

  • The Samsung Galaxy note 10.1 can do a lot more the ipad. And if you think that the ipad is better, that is because Samsung supplies the core processors for the ipad, iphone, ipod touch, apple tv, even their latest ipod nano. Here’s the best, Samsung also many LCD display, memory chip, and hard drives to many apple products.

    • Johnny Fernando

      I am a deep android fan but please don’t dispute facts with product assembly. As far as phones go the iPhone has been overthrown by Samsung because they have the hardware to supply a bigger screen with better specs.

      However, please do not make false claims. When it comes to the 10″ tablet world Android fans have been plagued with horrible tablets. Samsung provides the core processors but the design of the Apple processors are designed by Apple. Yes, Nexus 10 is great but when considering that there is seriously an app for everything Apple hands down wins everytime.

      I tried the Nexus 10 and the iPad 4 together. It’s just not the same. The Nexus 10 has horrible batter life and nothing is optimized for it. When compared to the Note 10.1 productivity may be a little bit stronger to the ones that need it but it’s performance is a huge disappointment. I would HIGHLY suggest getting the Galaxy Note II over this tablet because the performance on the Note II is far better than this.

      The 10″ tablet world hands down Apple wins. I hate it because I literally live within the google ecosystem and have a lot of money invested into a lot of it’s apps that I can’t see myself owning an iPad but I will not as of now purchase any 10″ android tablet.

  • JoshuaB

    I have a Galaxy Note 10.1 … as far as the screen resolution on the 10.1 goes it sucks … END OF STORY.

    Their is only one reason that I purchased the Note 10.1 (an previously the HTC Flyer 7 inch) an that is for the digital stylus for accurately marking up PDF documents, drawing diagrams, and taking notes and instantly emailing them the the relevant people.

    The Note 10.1 is solely a table for work… the screen limitation is purely a trade-off with having a relatively accurate stylus (as nobby pens do not cut it).

    To complain about the Note 10.1 screen resolution is like complaining about the big nobby wheels and poor highway fuel economy of a 4×4 vehicle… It ain’t no sedan or sportscar for the road, but point it at the rough stuff then …

    For me my Flyers 7 inch display has a better viewable screen resolution than the Note 10.1, but the 10.1 is closer to an A4 page and hence viewable by workmate.

    Hence, which is better an iPad 3 / 4 or a Note 10.1 is a meaningless comparison as it all comes down to the purpose of usage.

    IMHO, if you ain’t going to use the S-Pen for a specific purpose on a daily basis then the Note 10.1 ain’t for you … get a Nexus 10.1 instead.


  • Guest

    no offense but the note 10.1 is just theoretically 32 and 64 GB never even saw one in a store retail or internet shops doesn’t matter …. still got one

  • Darktanone

    I don’t see how you could give the Galaxy Note a win for software and ecosystem! That’s 275,000 iPad specific apps versus, oh… I dunno, less than twenty S-Pen apps? I just don’t get it! I guess you had to give the Galaxy Note a win so it wouldn’t be an iPad sweep. After all, this is an Android site. Right?

    • Are you serious? I have owned both an ipad 3gen and currently have the note. It is a productivity powerhouse compared to the “toyish”ipad. I use it to teach on a daily basis and the spen interacting with apps outperforms the ipad. What takes just a few minutes to do on my Note takes what seems forever on the ipad. Heck I couldn’t even attach an sd card without jailbreaking. If you need a REAL productivity tool that is blazing fast don’t get an ipad. Apps???? Exactly what USEFUL apps aren’t available in the play store? My 3rd gen ipad is sitting in the drawer of my desk…

      • Darktanone

        First, if your iPad is really sitting in a drawer, I’ll take it off your hands. Next, why is it in a drawer? You could have sold it and used the cash to pay for your note. I’m sure you can’t find 275,000 tablet specific apps for Android! Android tablet specific apps is severely lacking.

        The iPad for me is both a productivity tool and an entertainment appliance. I’m an artist and I produce sketches and paintings on my iPad and iPhone using both a stylus and my fingers. I also create music using Garage Band, quick videos and slide shows using iMovie and iPhoto. My portfolio is hosted on iCloud using iPhoto journal free of charge. I travel and astound clients with my presentations using Keynote over Airplay. I also play games, watch videos, view photos using Airplay. The iPad is arguably the most fun and productive tablet available.

        The S-pen is not a game changer and is in many ways a step backwards, but that’s my opinion. However you look at it, the Galaxy Note presents no meaningful competition for the iPad.

        • Delia

          You even admitted you use a styllus. But the s-pen stylus is 200x better than anything you can get in the iPad. Pressure sensitivity is a huge thing. That is why my family got rid of the iPad and got the Note 10.1 the s-pen is awesome. It is like going from finger painting to using a pen. Oh it is exactly that. I guess at your school it went from using technical pens to using your fingers. Yes that is progress.

          • Darktanone

            Some apps use the accelerometer to determine pressure. No need for a dedicated stylus like the S-pen and you can even use your fingers. Artists use pens, pencils, brushes, knives, cloth, sponges and, yes, their fingers as tools. Imagine that, huh? We are taught that in art school and continue it in our professional lives. I also use a Wacom Cintique. What’s that? Look it up! Point being, styluses get lost and misplaced and are expensive to replace. Chances are slim you’ll lose a finger and even if you lost one, you still have 9 left. Like I said before, the S-Pen is a move backwards. It’s not compelling enough to swing would be iPad buyers in any significant numbers.

            Nice to know you got rid of the iPad since your last posting. Now it’s delighting someone instead of languishing in a drawer.

    • Correct this is a android site so we expect it to bias to androids

      • Darktanone

        I can’t believe you chose Christmas day to respond to this old posting! This must be a lonely time for you. Go find some family or friends to spend the time with… And I mean that whether or not you celebrate Christmas.

  • No wonder the Samsung note 10.1 was chosen over the iPad for the royal collection!! Lets face it – What the note can, the ipad can’t!

  • nexus 10 is better than all!


    I’m an arquitect, a designer, a professional, hands down the best productivity device I have ever layed my hands on is the Samsung Note 10.1 the preassure senssitive screen, and the S Pen make it some what of a human electronic note book. You can actually draw, and take notes, not so much wiht the Ipad, and let me tell you I had the last 3 Ipads, all with the Stylus and it just has no comparasion to the Note 10.1, I mean if you want a toy, watch pictures and videos, play video games go for the Ipad, If you want to work do all of that and actually have a good sound get the note.

  • nexus 10 for the win!

  • HB

    I have only played with the Ipad in the store. Very nice and impressive software and display. But I chose the Samsung Note 10.1 mainly because of the SPen. I have had this tablet now for four months and it has been extremely useful and I use it all day long. It is fast with the Quad Core 1.6 GHz and 2 GB Ram, and with the use of Splashtop HD I can access my laptop and use all the graphics, web page design, video editing software with no visable lag in time and excellent sound.

    As for the screen resolution, not sure what all the fuss is about. Although iPad’s Retina display (made by Samsung) is far better, the Note 10.1 still looks stunning and colors and text are vibrant. I have not found a disadvantage with it’s display.

    The split screen function is so very useful and I find myself using it daily. The ability to capture something from a web page and drag it over to S Pen note, then add my own written, typed or voice to text notes, is an absolute boon. I do a lot of public lecturing and this is an invaluable tool. Coupled with audio recording software, I have been able to record an entire meeting whilst using the note for my lectures.

    Another amazing feature are the 8 mini pop up apps (soon to be about 20 on the Jelly Bean update) that can be placed anywhere on the screen. A must have feature. While using split screen, you may need to pop up the calculator or calendar or listen to music while you work. Very nice feature. Also, the pop up sizeable video player is very useful. I have taken screen shots of a video and cropped them and placed in a note with annotations. Very useful indeed.

    There are some apps on the iPad that I would love to have on my Samsung, like garage band, which I have played with and love. But this is not a major issue. As for all the apps available on iPad, there are only so many you can load at a time depending on memory size on the iPad, a problem that the Note does not have since you can always add a larger SD card.

    My pad doubles as a TV as I have the Brighthouse app that allows me to watch my cable channels. Very nice. Also useful is the TV controller app which uses the infrared beam technology on the Note 10.1 Very nice

    Not having used iPad for any of the above, I cannot compare, but for me the Samsung Note is the most useful and versatile computer gadget I have ever owned.

  • Ron Johnson

    The note is superior for work. I gave my wife an iPad3 for her b’day and just bought a Note and she wants to trade. There’s plenty of apps for my purpose and resolution is only really noticeable on text.

  • Luc.S

    It all comes down to the purpose of use. I have both but in the end i choose the ipad4 because of its quicker response and better display. Also apple has better apps. However, i do like the ” freedom ” you have with android. You can add folders and add stuff of your choice. Also you can upgrade memory by micro sd. Android apps are mostly free but are mostly poor quality. Believe me people, Ipad 4 is a way better ipad since the ipad 2 (performancewise) plus you get the great quality feel and experience you used to with apple products.

  • The problem with the Note 10.1 is that S Notes is not a finished app. It does some cool things but you can’t do others such as search on written text or embed context sensitive voice recordings, both of which are done well by Apple apps.

    That and the fact the screen resolution really does suck.