Last Updated on March 25, 2023 by Ernests Embutnieks and Saad
Samsung and Apple have been butting heads in the high-end tablet space for a few years now. However, Apple has reigned supreme in the budget tablet market since the inception of the iPad. With Samsung now introducing tablets like the Galaxy Tab A8, will the iPad still keep the crown?
In this article, we’re going to go into a deep dive of the iPad 9th Gen and compare it against the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 and find out which one is the better tablet!
Specifications – A Quick Look
The iPad 9th Gen and Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 follow exceptionally different design languages. The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 objectively looks better. Why’s that? Well, the iPad 9th Gen has retained the same dainty look that we’ve gotten used to for a few years now.
On the other hand, the Galaxy Tab A8 has much smaller bezels and looks like it has a smaller frame (even though it doesn’t) So, the minimal look of the Galaxy Tab A8 really brings everything together.
The iPad and the Galaxy Tab A8 have lightweight aluminum chassis. In terms of weight, the iPad comes in at 1.07 lbs, while the A8 is slightly heavier at 1.12 lbs.
Taking a look at the back, I think the iPad 9th Gen looks, well, like an iPad always does. The Galaxy Tab A8 looks much cleaner, though. However, the difference isn’t nearly as apparent compared to the front. I mean, how old can the back chassis of a device look?
Hen it comes to the sides, the iPad 9th Gen has clicky volume rockers and a headphone jack with bottom-firing speakers. On the other hand, the Galaxy Tab A8 takes the cake with four array speakers that also support Dolby Atmos.
So, the Galaxy Tab A8 is the clear winner in terms of overall chassis design.
What makes or breaks a tablet experience is the display. I mean, think about it, it is the reason why tablets were popularized in the first place. A good display is a great way to differentiate between an average and an amazing tablet.
And, to be honest, both the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 and iPad 9th Gen offer gorgeous displays. The Tab A8 comes in with a 10.5-inch TFT LCD with a resolution of about 1200×1920, which equates to roughly 216 PPI.
The iPad 9th Gen has a Retina IPS LCD sized at 10.2 inches with a slightly higher resolution of 1620×2160 at about 265 PPI. Now, in apples to apples comparison, you will notice some slight differences between both displays.
For instance, the Galaxy Tab A8 allows for wider content since its aspect ratio is closer to 16:9. So, if you like watching movies, you’ll appreciate the reduced black bars and the reduced bezels.
The iPad 9th Gen, on the other hand, is great for vertical tasks. So, web browsing or taking notes feels more convenient since more text is visible on the screen due to the higher resolution. Moreover, the iPad 9th Gen does not have a fully laminated display, while the A8 does.
What difference does it make? Well, not a lot if you don’t put the tablets side-by-side. But, in essence, the iPad has slight separation between the actual panel and where your stylus’s nib touches while the A8 doesn’t. So, you end up with a slightly more natural experience on the A8.
Both displays are clocked at 60 Hz, while the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 clocks in at about 350 nits of max brightness with the iPad going up to 500 nits. This makes a huge difference if you use your tablet in direct brightness. Although truth be told, both tablets aren’t really meant to be used outdoors.
For the display, both tablets are at a draw since both of them have advantages and disadvantages, and neither tops the other.
The iPad 9th Generation supports the first generation of the Apple Pencil. It is great for taking notes and drawing. The only annoying part is the charging process. You have to remove the cap from the top and then plug it into the iPad’s Lightning port, having it stick out like a sore thumb.
The Galaxy Tab A8 does not support the S Pen. You can purchase a third-party stylus, but it really isn’t the same. So, annoyingly, the A8 lacks quite an important feature that further edges the iPad’s lead. So, even if the Apple Pencil wasn’t all that good (that isn’t the case), the fact that the A8 does not support an OEM stylus leads to an easy win for the iPad.
For the stylus, since the iPad 9th Gen supports a stylus while the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 does not, it is a clear win for the iPad.
Performance and Software
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 runs Android, while the iPad runs iPadOS. Both software have their pros and cons. For instance, Android allows for a greater degree of customization, but the fluidity of iPadOS is second-to-none.
Honestly, I enjoy the tablet experience on iPadOS slightly more. The frequent updates and addendum to the software always seem like the iPad gets a fresh coat of paint every year while Android remains the same. Plus, Samsung isn’t known for its extended software support, unlike Apple, which commits to at least 3-4 years of major software updates.
Performance is where the iPad truly takes the cake. Running an A13 Bionic, which is 20-25% faster than its predecessor, it runs circles around the Galaxy Tab A8 whose octa-core processor isn’t slow by any means. I was seeing an average FPS gain of about 20-40%, depending on the title I was playing.
Given that both tablets are easily able to take demanding titles to 50-60 FPS, it’s extended sessions of gaming where I felt the iPad heat up less and push out stable frame rates for much longer, if not dropping at all.
The iPad 9th Gen just feels slightly more responsive when multi tasking. Plus, its integration with the Apple ecosystem means you have access to applications like Procreate and Affinity Photo while also being able to use AirDrop and iMessage.
So, for performance and software, the iPad 9th Gen takes the cake with its stellar A13 Bionic chip and emphasis on great software.
The iPad 9th Gen offers about 9-10 hours of screen time, while the Galaxy Tab A8 clocks out at about 8-9 hours. There’s no major difference in battery life, and honestly, I wouldn’t really place the iPad 9th Gen above the A8 for just half an hour of difference.
This is because we aren’t sure how the battery life will change over time. A difference of half an hour can easily be compensated for with software updates and battery health degradation over time. However, if you really want to squeeze in an extra few minutes of battery life, the iPad 9th Gen is the better choice.
Camera and Speakers
The Galaxy Tab A8 has four-array speakers, while the iPad 9th Gen has only two bottom-firing speakers. So, it is an absolute slaughter for the Apple iPad here. The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 is able to fill a room much better with its wider soundstage and Dolby Atmos support.
Even when watching movies or listening to songs, the four speakers provide a more stereo experience. The iPad’s speakers aren’t very bad if you listen to them solely. But, as soon as you establish a comparative with the A8, there’s absolutely no coming back.
The back cameras are both 8 megapixels. They have almost the same picture quality, with the iPad slightly edging out the A8 in low-light situations. Both cameras have the same color accuracy, but the iPad feels more dynamic and vibrant, while the Samsung is more vibrant. So, the color profile is up to personal choice.
In either case, you won’t be using the rear cameras for professional photography any time soon. So, they’re passable at best, which isn’t really a bad thing. The Galaxy Tab A8 has a 5-megapixel front camera, while the iPad 9th Gen has an ultra-wide 12-megapixel front camera.
Apple has really played its cards right here; while it may seem weird for a phone to have a better front camera than its rear, it makes a lot of sense on a tablet. After all, we use tablets for video calls more than we use them for rear camera photography. The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8’s front camera is fine; it sucks in low light and isn’t really able to produce crisp images.
The iPad 9th Gen’s front camera is ultra-wide, supports Center Stage (a smart AI-assisted feature that pans and crops the wide camera to keep subjects in the frame at all times), and has better picture quality. Moreover, even the microphones sound better on the iPad 9th Gen.
For camera and speakers the Galaxy Tab A8 has much better speakers, while the iPad takes the cake in both the rear and front camera departments.
Before we get on our verdict, here’s a quick look at what tablet has won what particular category:
|Specification||iPad Pro 9th Gen||Samsung Galaxy Tab A8|
|Performance and Software||✓||X|
Now, the clear winner, in my opinion and what seems to be the verdict shared by many, is that the iPad 9th Gen outperforms the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 as a tablet. Yes, it doesn’t beat it in every single standard, but it doesn’t need to.
The iPad has better stylus support, has much better performance, slightly better battery life, an improved front-facing camera, and an emphasis on long-term software support compared to Samsung.
While you can’t go wrong with either of the tablets, the iPad 9th Gen delivers a better package with a greater value for money overall.
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