With the arrival of Samsung's Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4, joining the earlier launched second iPad Mini with Retina and the LG G Pad 8.3, the battle for supremacy in the 8-inch tablet class has become tougher and interesting than before.
It used to be that Apple is the runaway winner. The company's first iPad Mini easily won the hearts of tablet users. The Mini overtook the original 9.7-inch iPad and simply overwhelmed its Android counterparts.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note challengers were no match at all. And the same goes with the 2012 and 2013 builds of the Nexus 7.
However, the Galaxy maker is fast catching up as reports from research firm Gartner indicate that Samsung is no longer a distant second to Apple in the global tablet competition. As of December 2013, the South Korean tech giant shipped out more than 37 million tablet computers.
Samsung's tablet business grew by 400 per cent last year, Gartner said, and the company intends to further expand. It appears that with the Tab PRO 8.4, Samsung plans to topple the iPad Mini 2 and dislodge Apple from its throne.
In the following specs and features comparison, let's see how the new Galaxy Tab challenger will fare against the latest iPad Mini edition and LG's G Pad 8.3:
Apple mostly kept the first Mini's winning formula and among the features dear to iOS fans is the 7.9-inch tablet's classy and solid build. The Mini 2 remains largely wrapped in aluminium alloy with its display panel shielded oleophobic coating. In the look department alone, the Mini 2 is a clear winner.
And LG seems inspired by Apple engineering as the G Pad is mostly encased too in aluminium that melds with plastic sidings. Reviewers call LG's return to the tablet arena as triumphant enough, highlighted by its premium-looking and comfy to hold G Pad.
The Tab PRO 8.4, like its predecessors, maintained its emphasis on durability by using a super-strong plastic material. And to deal with criticism that Galaxy handsets feel and look cheap in polycarbonate, the back cover of the new Tab PRO was fashioned into a faux leather finish. Reviewers hailed the new design as beautiful and practical - the latter alludes to the device's easy-to-grip feature.
The iPad Mini 2 boasts of a Retina-laced 2048 x 1536 screen resolution with pixel density of 324ppi. For months after its release date, the Mini 2 enjoyed its reputation of having the best display in the 8-inch tablet class.
Even the G Pad's 8.3-inch panel that beams a screen resolution of 1920 x 1200 with 274ppi was dwarfed over by the Mini 2.
But when the Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 touched down, it introduced the best screen capabilities so far in a small tablet. It sports an HD LCD panel that beams out in 2560 x 1600 screen resolution. With 359ppi, the Ta PRO's screen rendering easily bests that of the Mini 2 and the G Pad.
Processing muscle and speed
The Mini 2 CPU is nothing short of impressive. It has an A7 chip that is in 64-bit computing standard, tapped too on 1GB of RAM for sufficient processing speed.
The G Pad is not very far with its 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 plus 2GB of RAM.
But the Tab PRO 8.4 will easily make the two devices inhale dust with its powerhouse 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM.
Shooting and storage edge
The Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 has an upscale camera combo for quite a portable slate. The main shooter is 8MP while the front cam is with 2MP lens.
There are pitted against the 5MP rear cam and 1.2MP secondary cam both found on the Mini 2 and the LG G Pad.
Ecosystem and operating hours
Apple insists that optimal operating system configuration sets the iPad Mini 2 apart from its foes. Not only that the new iOS 7 makes for more than 10 hours of productivity and enjoyment, but also the Mini 2's ecosystem is optimised for tablet use with more than 400,00 applications that are designed for tablet screen and behaviour.
The Tab PRO and the G Pad come with 4800mAh and 4600mAh batteries respectively that ensure tablet use will be longer than previously experienced. The two devices stand on Android but Samsung has the latest build, KitKat 4.4 layered with TouchWiz skin while LG deployed its bet with Jelly Bean 4.2.2, which somehow is a bit ageing.
Which is the best buy?
Apple and Samsung sell their respective wares for $400 apiece, both in 16GB model. But the advantage waiting for Tab PRO 8.4 buyers is it has a microSD slot that accommodates extra memory of up to 64GB. In contrast, those opting for the iPad Mini 2 are stuck with a claustrophobic 16GB of digital space, further dwindled by the room occupied by iOS 7.
However, if the emphasis is on realising savings then the LG G Pad 8.3 is definitely inviting with its $350 tag price that according to analyst will certainly be getting significant price cuts in the immediate months ahead.