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Galaxy Tab S7 FE Vs. iPad Air: Best Tablet For Under $600?

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE 5G is finally hitting the shelves as a watered-down version of the flagship Galaxy Tab S7 tablet, but it actually has the iPad Air in its sights. The iPad Air made its debut roughly one year ago and the Apple offering continues to be one of the best tablets out there for at the asking price, thanks to a lucrative blend of clean design, a blazing-fast processor, and great software to go with its huge app ecosystem.

Over on the Android side of the tablet ecosystem, buyers don’t have many options across different price brackets, especially from major players in the industry. Samsung has been offering flagship tablets like the Galaxy Tab S7+ for the past few years, but their asking prices have proved to be a deterrent for many buyers. The company has recently tried to bridge that gap in its product portfolio with devices such as the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, and is now following it up this year with the Galaxy Tab S7 FE.

Related: Galaxy Tab S7+ Vs. iPad Pro 12.9-Inch (4th Gen): Best $1,000+ Tablet?

The ‘Fan Edition’ formula has been a hit for Samsung when it comes to smartphones, and unsurprisingly, the company is now looking to replicate the same trick for tablets. The result is Galaxy Tab S7 FE, which starts at $529 in the US for the 4G variant and $669 for the 5G version. In comparison, the 4th Gen iPad Air starts at $599 in the US market making it relatively comparable with the 4G Galaxy Tab S7 FE for a tablet priced under $600. Before a head-to-head comparison can be made, however, it’s worth quickly highlighting their similarities. Both of these tablets rock a sleek metallic build, pack an LCD display with stylus support, come in Wi-Fi-only as well as cellular configurations, and can be purchased in a choice of colors.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab S7 FE features a larger 12.4-inch (2560 x 1600) display that is better suited to creative work, such as creating illustrations or web-based tasks. The iPad Air packs a smaller 10.1-inch (2360 x 1640 pixels) display. Both the panels support stylus input, although there is a noticeable touch input latency in the case of Galaxy Tab S7 FE which makes the sketching experience slightly more unpleasant. The stylus comes bundled in the retail package, but it’s a barebones affair and doesn’t offer the same tricks as the S Pen on Galaxy Note series phones. As for the iPad Air, Apple sells the Apple Pencil separately, but the experience of drawing and sketching is a lot more fluid.

Coming to the internals, Samsung has gone with the mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G SoC along with up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage, and scope for further expansion via a microSD card slot. The processor is not the fastest out there and although the multitasking experience is acceptable, demanding games like Call Of Duty: Mobile don’t offer the best experience. The load times are high, graphics options are limited, and the gameplay often stutters during intense combat scenes. The iPad Air comes equipped with a flagship-grade A14 Bionic chip that can handle any task thrown at it with ease. From video-editing and creating illustrations to playing demanding games, such as Genshin Impact, the experience is smooth in almost all scenarios. LumaFusion, a well-known video editing app, ran smoothly on the fourth-gen iPad Air without the rear panel getting toasty.

Samsung has armed the Galaxy Tab S7 FE with an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel selfie snapper. The main shooter is just about decent, but it suffers from Samsung’s imaging algorithms that tend to oversaturate colors. The iPad Air’s 12-megapixel camera does a much better job in this respect, and even some of its on-paper capabilities, such as 4K 60FPS video capture and cinematic video stabilization, are way ahead of Samsung’s tablet. The 7-megapixel front camera gets the job done when it comes to video calls in well-lit rooms. Another difference is that Samsung has placed the selfie camera in landscape orientation — a position better suited for video calling — while the iPad Air has its FaceTime HD camera positioned at the top in portrait orientation.

Another area where Apple scores a victory over Samsung is biometric authentication. The iPad Air has a Touch ID fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button, while the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE lacks any biometric sensor at all, which is extremely disappointing considering the price tag. The situation in the software department is not in Samsung’s favor either. The Galaxy Tab S7 FE boots Android 11 with Samsung’s One UI skin on top. Samsung has added a few neat productivity tricks here, in addition to DeX support for offering a desktop-like experience. However, compared to iPadOS, the core Android experience on tablets doesn’t have anything extra to offer. Plus, the software update situation shouldn’t instill much confidence either. The iPad Air runs iPadOS 14, which introduced a redesigned sidebar and widgets, better search, some neat Scribble tricks, and a lot more. With the public release of iPadOS 15 inching closer, the software aspect will get even better for users.

Overall, the iPad experience is likely to be a lot more rewarding and the rich app ecosystem is just the cherry on top. Apple provides software support for a much longer duration than its Android counterparts, including Samsung, and that's something to consider as well. The iPad Air is simply the better investment compared to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE. The only key areas where Samsung's tablet gets the upper hand are 5G support (albeit not for under $600), expandable storage, and a larger display. For mostly everything else, including the overall tablet experience, the fourth-generation iPad Air is a much better deal.

Next: Galaxy S21 Ultra Vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max: Best Premium Music & Movies Phone?

Source: Samsung

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