CES 2014: First impressions of Samsung Galaxy NotePro 12.2 vs iPad Air

The war between Apple and Samsung is back on.

Of course many would argue it never really relented, but there was a distinct feeling that the feud had cooled somewhat over the past 12 months as courtroom showdowns dried up and predictable smartphone updates took the sting out of tussles in the marketplace.

But Samsung’s bold tablet launch at CES, specifically that of the Galaxy NotePro 12.2, looks to have reignited the duel. While recent Samsung Galaxy launches have failed to generate the buzz of old due to the pure regularity of the event, the NotePro’s launch has some spice - thanks in large part to its huge, stunning 12.2in display.

Significantly, this eye catching new flagship arrives just months after Apple’s own tablet king was unveiled in the form of the iPad Air. And any if the Cupertino bods trekked down to Las Vegas this week for CES, they may have been stalking the Samsung booth with more than a little concern

That 12.2in screen on the Galaxy NotePro is a visial treat, boasting a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution and offering acres of real estate for media consumption, gaming, and productivity. It would be churlish to start down-playing the iPad Air’s impressive 9.7in 2,048 x 1,536 display as a result, but in the fickle world of consumer electronics the Note Pro’s novel, ultra-appealing screen may give it the edge over the iPad when sat on store shelves.

The NotePro looks to have a little more juice in the locker too with its Snapdragon 800 processor clocking in at 2.3GHz compared to the iPad Air’s 1.4GHz A7 dual-core chip. Samsung’s new flagship offers 3GB RAM in the memory stakes compared to the iPad’s 1GB, while on paper, its 9500mAh battery outstrips the Air’s 8820mAh screen. It should however be noted that the huge energy-sapping display on Samsung’s model will probably balance out battery life between these two.

As for cameras, the Galaxy NotePro has an 8-megapixel rear snapper whereas the Air sports a 5-megapixel cam; but you don’t see too many people holding their tablets aloft to take photos, so the importance of this contrast is debatable.

When you have a user experience as silky as that of the iPad Air, getting bogged down in specs has only limited value. But the NotePro offers a lot more than just high-tech hardware, and its smooth ‘Magazine UX’ interface on top of the all-new Android 4.4 KitKat OS produces an equally seductive software set-up. Samsung will certainly play up the productivity aspect of its tablet too - the ability to split your screen into four separate parts to work on simultaneously is fantastic, and such features suggest we have a Galaxy device fit for the enterprise here.

As always the proof is in the pudding, and dessert hasn’t been served just yet. We’ll need to wait for those NotePro reviews to.come in before serious judgements can be made between these two devices, while the sales figures will help us gauge just how serious this product battle is in the overall Samsung v Apple narrative.

Samsung certainly threw down the gauntlet to its old foe in Vegas this week though, and it feels like we’re on the cusp of another classic marketplace battle between the two tech titans.