The iPad started shipping in April, and since then it has basically had the tablet market to itself. Literally, in the six months after the iPad’s release, it didn’t have a single direct competitor. Dell launched the Streak shortly after the iPad, but the Streak was a 5” unit that was significantly smaller than the iPad. In the 7-11” tablet market, Apple has been the only real player.

But that all changed when Samsung launched its 7” Galaxy Tab last month. It’s available for $599 off contract on all four major American carriers and US Cellular ($399 on a two year contract with Sprint or US Cellular, $349 for T-Mobile), with a $499 WiFi-only model on the way. If those pricepoints sound familiar, it’s because the unsubsidized prices are right on top of the 16GB iPad. I’m betting that’s not coincidental; it’s pretty clear what Samsung was targeting when they priced the Tab.

The Tab is the first Android slate to come from a major manufacturer, and probably will be the last one to release with Froyo. The rest (Dell’s 7” Looking Glass tablet, the Motorola tablet showed off in Google’s D: Dive Into Mobile press conference, and rumored devices from HTC, Acer, Asus, and others) appear to be releasing with Honeycomb in the early part of next year. Samsung says that the Galaxy Tab will be updated to Gingerbread at some point in the future, along with Honeycomb whenever that releases. But we’ll get to the software in a moment, let’s talk hardware first.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Physical Comparison
  Samsung Galaxy Tab Apple iPad Motorola Droid X HTC EVO 4G Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate
Height 190.1 mm (7.48") 248.2 mm (9.6") 127.5 mm (5.02") 121.9 mm (4.8") 125 mm (4.92")
Width 120.5 mm (4.74") 189.7 mm (7.5") 66.5 mm (2.62") 66.0 mm (2.6") 63.5 mm (2.5")
Depth 12.0 mm ( 0.47") 13.4 mm (0.5") 9.9 mm (0.39") 12.7 mm (0.5") 9.91 mm (0.39")
Weight 380 g (13.4 oz) 680 g (24.0 oz) 155 g (5.47 oz) 170 g (6.9 oz) 117 grams (4.16 oz)
CPU 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird Apple A4 @ 1GHz TI OMAP 3630 @ 1GHz Qualcomm Scorpion @ 1GHz 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird
GPU PowerVR SGX 540 PowerVR SGX 535 PowerVR SGX 530 Adreno 200 PowerVR SGX 540
RAM 512MB LPDDR1 256MB LPDDR1 512MB LPDDR1 512 MB LPDDR1 512 MB LPDDR1
NAND 16GB or 32GB integrated 16GB integrated 8GB micro SD 8GB micro SD 2 GB, 16 GB microSD (Class 2)
Camera 3.2MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera None 8MP with dual LED Flash 8MP with dual LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 5 MP with auto focus and LED flash
Screen 7.0" 1024 x 600 LCD 9.7" 1024 x 768 IPS 4.3" 480 x 854 4.3" 480 x 800 4. 0" 800 x 480 Super AMOLED
Battery Integrated 14.8Whr Integrated 25 Whr Removable 5.698 Whr Removable 5.5Whr Removable 5.55 Whr

On paper, the Galaxy Tab is essentially a jumbo-sized implementation of the Galaxy S smartphone platform. You’re looking at the same A8-based 1 GHz Hummingbird processor and PowerVR SGX 540 graphics chip, the same 512MB RAM, the same lightweight plastic build, and pretty similar industrial design. The screen has been upsized, from the 4” WVGA unit in the Galaxy S to a 7” WSVGA panel, but it’s not a Super AMOLED display like on the smartphones. You lose a couple of megapixels and HD video recording capability on the rear-facing camera, but the Galaxy Tab does get a 1.3MP front facing camera for video calling.



The design is rather minimalistic, with the front having a small bezel around the screen and four capacitive touch buttons underneath the screen. Since we’re on the topic, I’d like to voice my annoyance that the touch buttons are always in different orders. HTC and Samsung use different layouts, Motorola uses two different layouts for no explicable reason, and Google has specced both of its Nexus phones with layouts that are not normally used by their manufacturers. The lack of standardization isn’t a huge problem, but it can get annoying if you switch between multiple Android devices on a daily basis.

The top view of the Galaxy Tab, iPad, and Vewsonic G Tablet (top-bottom)

Anyways, back to the industrial design. The sides are matte black, with the headphone jack at the top, dock connector and speakers at the bottom, mic on the left side, and the power and volume buttons and the covered microSD card slot on the right side. The back is glossy and dotted in the same way as the Fascinate and Vibrant. Unfortunately, the Galaxy Tab’s back panel is non-removable, so you can’t swap out the battery. Compared to the iPad, the overall feel is a bit less high end, mostly due to the use of glossy plastic instead of the aluminum unibody. But overall, the ID is very straightforward, leading to a clean and elegant device.

When you pick it up, the Galaxy Tab feels light, almost shockingly so. Given that it’s half the size of the iPad and just over half the weight, this first impression isn’t exactly unfounded. Given the lightness, the feeling of solidity is actually surprising if you’re expecting something along the lines of the Galaxy S phones - compared to the ultralight Fascinate/Captivate/Vibrant/Focus, the Tab feels significantly more substantial. The overall build quality definitely exceeded my expectations, though the unibody aluminum shell puts the iPad on a different level.

Samsung Galaxy Tab - Oh, That Screen
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  • sciwizam - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    Wikipedia has:

    Dimensions 190.09 mm (7.484 in) (h)
    120.45 mm (4.742 in) (w)
    11.98 mm (0.472 in) (d)
    Weight 380 g (0.84 lb)

    These make a lot more sense.
    Reply
  • VivekGowri - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    Fixed, so sorry - it got pushed live before I had a chance to edit that part. Reply
  • medi01 - Friday, December 24, 2010 - link

    "HD video recording is sadly not supported"

    Having in mind how "huge and powerfull" are the lens "HD resolution" would make sense, wouldn't it?

    I understand, when this BS comes from usual customers, but when it comes from a reviewer, sigh...
    Reply
  • VivekGowri - Friday, December 24, 2010 - link

    Why Samsung decided to spec their bigger, better device with a lower end camera than the Galaxy S phones is an openly debatable question that I have no real answer to, but it doesn't support HD video recording. What else am I supposed to say? Reply
  • medi01 - Friday, December 24, 2010 - link

    Obviously neither HD video nor 5+ megapixels photos make any sense on devices with tiny lens.

    Whether they upscale or produce "HD" noise is completely irrelevant, mentioning "lack of HD video" as a real disadvantage reiterates the myth and confuses the customers.
    Reply
  • NesuD - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    You're getting things wrong on the other comparison units as well. Droid X Nand is 8GB integrated and a 16 GB micro SD. This is a well publicized spec of the Droid X from launch. Fact checking and verification is an essential part of Journalism that seems to be slipping here at Anandtech of late. Reply
  • VivekGowri - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I copied that part of the table out of the Fascinate review, so I'll look into it. But I'd like to point out that this is literally just a spec table, don't call our journalistic integrity into question based on that alone. Reply
  • aniallator - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    You have posted the dimensions and weight values for the iphone 4 (well those values match) all other areas of the Samsung galaxy tab hardware information appear to be correct. Reply
  • veri745 - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    The posted dimensions have to be wrong. Reply
  • misterjohnnyt - Thursday, December 23, 2010 - link

    Listing Proper Dimensions FAIL Reply

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