The iPad Air is the new full-size king of the Apple slates, and boasts the same 2,048 x 1,536 resolution Retina display seen on its predecessor, the iPad 4. The new iPad has a thinner aluminium unibody chassis – in fact it’s 2mm thinner – and its width has been reduced by 15mm compared to the iPad 4.
The brain of the iPad Air is Apple's new 64-bit A7 chip, which made its debut in the iPhone 5S. The M7 motion coprocessor is also incorporated, allowing for the collection of motion data, taking some of the load off the CPU and saving power.
Of course, the new iPad Air isn't without competition. Samsung's newest large screen tablet, the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition), has just been unleashed. It has a slightly larger display, and its built-in stylus has improved functionality over last year's Note 10.1. But which tablet will give you more bang for your buck? Check out the comparison chart below to see how they stack up in terms of raw tech specs.
Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1, true to its name, has a 10.1in IPS LCD. That’s slightly larger than the iPad Air’s 9.7in screen, and the Samsung slate also betters Apple in terms of resolution, with a 2,560 x 1,600-pixel display and 298 pixels per inch (compared to the iPad’s 264 ppi). Samsung also has a built-in IR blaster, capable of controlling cable boxes and HDTVs – even those not made by Samsung.
Apple's iPad Air has a 5-megapixel rear camera in addition to its 1.2-megapixel front-facing FaceTime camera. Compare that to Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 and its 8-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front-facing camera. On paper, the Note has the lead here, but the megapixel count isn't everything, and only testing will determine which shooter is truly the best.
A further advantage of the Note 10.1 is that it boasts a microSD slot, so you can expand the on-board storage.
In terms of battery life, Apple makes a bold claim of up to 10 hours of longevity. In our last battery test of the fourth-generation iPad, it only lasted 5 hours and 36 minutes at full brightness. Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 trudged on for 7 hours and 31 minutes at full brightness. We’ll just have to see how the iPad Air fares in our battery test when we’ve completed our review of the tablet.
Apple's new mobile operating system, iOS 7, may have been given a visual overhaul and a few new tricks up its sleeve, but Samsung's slew of options for multitasking and its built-in stylus give it the edge in terms of the number of features. The Note runs Android 4.3 with Samsung's generous coating of TouchWiz interface tweaks, and the Note's stylus allows for writing and easy note-taking on the screen. With Pen Window, Samsung has nailed multitasking, at least compared to the iPad Air.
The case for Apple's dominance may not be gaining any ground, but it certainly isn't going away. The iPad still has the most robust selection of tablet-optimised apps of any ecosystem, and third-party manufacturers are still making more cases accessories for Apple's products than anyone else. But that isn't to say that Apple is in the clear. If the competition keeps throwing fresh ideas around, a few are bound to stick and chip away at Apple's tablet empire.
The iPad Air will be available to order at the end of this week, and it is priced more reasonably than Samsung’s tablet. The Air starts at £399 for the basic 16GB Wi-Fi tablet, whereas the equivalent Note 10.1 will set you back £479.
For more, see our full review of the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition). You might also want to check out our iPad Air hands-on, and our spec comparison between the iPad Air and the new iPad mini Retina. Furthermore, we've got a spec comparison of the iPad Air and iPad 4, for those wondering if it's worth upgrading from the fourth-gen iPad.
Apple iPad Air
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition)
2,048 x 1,536 pixels
2,560 x 1,600 pixels
Processor and battery
Samsung Exynos 5420
Claimed 10 hrs life
7 hrs 30 mins (as tested)
Storage and memory
16 / 32 / 64 / 128GB
16 / 32 / 64GB
240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm
243 x 170 x 8mm
Wi-Fi: £399 (16GB); £479(32GB); £559 (64GB); £639 (128GB)
Wi-Fi + Cellular: £499 (16GB); £579 (32GB); £659 (64GB); £739 (128GB)
£479 (Wi-Fi, 16GB)