The rivalry between Samsung and Apple has reached an unprecedented level over the past year, but while Samsung seems to have found the perfect recipe for the smartphone market, the Galaxy Tab line was not nearly as successful in taking on the Apple iPad.
More recently, Samsung has been making efforts to push the Galaxy Note in the tablet space. A first step was the introduction of the Galaxy Note 10.1, a high-end device that was received mixed reviews, the major drawbacks being its steep price and mediocre display. The next step is the Galaxy Note 8.0, a tablet that the South Korean manufacturer has recently officially announced.
Back when Apple introduced the Apple iPad Mini, plenty argued that the Mini was not a direct competitor to the Nexus 7, but a new product aimed at a different niche. Personally, I don’t exactly agree with this idea, but if we were to take it a face value, the new Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is the first real competitor to Apple’s mid-range, mid-sized tablet.
If you’re looking to compare the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 against the Google Nexus 7, check out our previous article here. For a Nexus 7 vs Apple iPad Mini comparison, head over to the article here. However, if what you’re looking for is Apple iPad Mini vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8, you’ve definitely come to the right place.
Both the Apple iPad Mini and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 use a mediocre IPS LCD display, although some differences are noticeable.
As the name suggests, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 uses an 8 inch display. The resolution is 1280 by 800 at a 16:10 aspect ratio, meaning that pixel density rests at 189.
In the other corner, the Apple iPad Mini uses a 7.9 inch display, but this one works at a 1024 by 768 resolution with a 4:3 ratio. Given that the iPad Mini works at a lower resolution yet features more screen real estate (the difference in aspect ratio makes this possible), the pixel density drops to 162. I’m no Apple hater, but this is really a poor display, even by mid-range standards.
As I said before, the two displays are mediocre at best, representing the weak point of both our contenders. Additionally, it should be said that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 features a Wacom digitizer that works with the S-Pen to provide some interesting features. We’ll further discuss this in the Software section.
Verdict: The Galaxy Note 8 wins this round thanks to its slightly crisper display.
Design and Build Quality
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a very odd tablet to look at, as it’s basically a very large Samsung Galaxy Note 2, with very thick bezels all around. Samsung’s usual plasticky build has reared its ugly head once again.
Another thing that people dislike about the design of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the fact that it really does not feel like a compact tablet, a fact seriously aggravated by its massive bezels.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 measures 210.8 x 135.9 x 8 mm (8.30 x 5.35 x 0.31 in) and weighs in at 338 g (11.92 oz).
In the other corner, the Apple iPad Mini bears the mark of Apple’s impressive design language. The bezels are thin, as is the tablet itself, while the overall impression is that of a much better build quality.
The Apple iPad Mini measures 200 x 134.7 x 7.2 mm (7.87 x 5.30 x 0.28 in) and weighs in at 308 g (10.86 oz). This section of our comparison is really no contest.
Verdict: The Apple iPad Mini is more compact, better built, and better looking.
CPU, GPU, and RAM
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 uses the same internals as its smaller brother, the Galaxy Note 2, namely a Samsung Exynos 4 Quad chipset. The 1.6 GHz quad-core processor is paired with a Mali 400 MP GPU and 2 GB of RAM.
In the Apple corner, the iPad Mini uses the same Apple A5 chipset that was used inside the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S. This means a 1 GHz dual-core processor, a PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU, and 1 GB of RAM memory.
Overall, both device seem equally snappy, meaning that iOS requires less impressive hardware to run well on. But more on that a bit later!
The Apple iPad Mini comes in three variants of internal storage: 16GB, 32GB, and 64 GB; the device lacks the option to expand the storage via a microSD card.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 comes with either 16 GB or 32 GB of internal storage. A microSD card slot is present, meaning that you can add up to 64 GB to the internal storage.
Using a tablet to take pictures might sound foolish to many, but some actually dig it, so it’s best to spill out the facts in this category as well.
Just in case Bigfoot happens to be passing by and you don’t have a real camera nearby, both the Apple iPad Mini and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 could provide the rescue thanks to their 5 MP primary cameras. For video calling (the only viable use for a camera on a tablet as far as I’m concerned), the iPad Mini has a 1.2 MP sensor, while the Galaxy Note 8 has a 1.3 MP sensor.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and the Apple iPad Mini are similarly equipped when it comes to battery capacity: there is a 4440 mAh inside the iPad Mini and a 4600 mAh battery inside the Galaxy Note 8. This should translate into similar battery life for our contenders.
Verdict: It’s a close call, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 wins this round thanks to its 2GB of RAM and an SD card slot.
Operating System and Software
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, while the Apple iPad Mini uses iOS 6.1. If you’re looking for a more thorough comparison of the world’s two best mobile operating systems, check out the extensive article here.
In the context of this article, it should be mentioned that the Apple iPad Mini has access to all the tablet-optimized apps that make the iPad line so interesting. That’s not to say that recently, apps that are optimized for Android tablets have not surfaced at an encouraging pace. In all honesty though, the iPad Mini currently has access to a wider range of tablet optimized apps.
Despite all this, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 still has its own advantages over the Apple iPad Mini on the software side. First, there’s the suite of Samsung Smart Functions that plenty have learned to love, but that’s hardly impressive. What is impressive, however is that the Galaxy Note 8 has access to all the S-Pen-enabled apps and software tweaks that make the Galaxy Note 2 such an amazing device. If you’re into drawing, the Galaxy Note 8 should be your tablet of choice, despite its other shortcomings.
Verdict: The Apple iPad Mini has access to more and better apps, but the Galaxy Note 8 comes with an open ecosystem as well as an interesting range of S-Pen apps. Draw!
Note: Price plays a very important role in choosing one device over the other. To wrap this post up, I assumed that Samsung would release the Galaxy Note 8 at a price that ranges between $300 and $350 for the 16 GB version.
So, is the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 a worthy competitor for the Apple iPad Mini? Well, yes and no, as it really depends on what you’re looking for!
If the only thing that matters to you are the overall specs, our contenders are closely matched, although the Note 8 seems to be slightly better equipped. On the other hand, if you’re into design and build quality, the Apple iPad Mini is clearly better suited for your needs.
However, although it is quite plasticky and odd looking, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 might draw in a lot of users who are just craving to get creative on the go with the S-Pen.
What do you guys think about this mid-range tablet battle? Vote in our poll!