Samsung has made the pricing of the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 official: $749 for 32GB and $849 for 64GB. That’s the most expensive Android tablet ever. But Samsung is pitching this device as much more than a tablet. It’s designed to be a productivity dynamo, offering not just pen input but the ability to run four apps at once on its giant 12.2-inch screen.
The Note Pro goes on sale February 13, but you can pre-order one now. But should you get the Pro or opt for the iPad Air (starting at $499, $599 for 32GB)? Here’s a quick spec and feature breakdown to help you decide.
The Galaxy Note Pro is jam-packed with high-end specs, including an octa-core Exynos proessor, 3GB of RAM and a 2560 x 1600-pixel display. The tablet runs Android 4.4 KitKat with 32GB of internal storage to start. You can add an additional 64GB via a microSD Card slot.
Apple’s iPad Air has a smaller 9.7-inch screen with a resolution that’s not as sharp: 2048 x 1536. The 64-bit A7 CPU on the inside offered very fast performance. This is paired with reportedly just 1GB of RAM (though Apple doesn’t specify). You can order the Air with 16GB, 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of storage, but it doesn’t offer expansion.
The iPad Air weighs about 1 pound and measures just .29 inches thick, versus 1.6 pounds and .31 inches thick for the Galaxy Note Pro. However, the Note Pro sports a much larger display.
Here’s where the the Note Pro and iPad Air seriously diverge. Samsung has revamped Google’s homescreen with its own Magazine UX, which uses a Flipboard-like interface to present everything from your favorite apps and news headlines to business tools and social feeds. iOS 7 is more simple and straightforward, but not nearly as customizable.
The Galaxy Note Pro also takes multitasking to the next level with Multi Window. Now you can run four apps on the screen at one time, and you can drag and drop content between Windows. Samsung even says you’ll be able to quickly launch your frequently used Multi Window app configurations. The iPad can’t run more than one app at a time, although iOS 7 at least makes it simple to switch between apps.
Google has reportedly asked Samsung to tone down its Magazine UX and remove some of its homegrown apps, but it doesn’t look like Samsung has any plans to change the Note Pro’s user experience anytime soon.
The Galaxy Note Pro brings Samsung’s S Pen to the party, offering the ability to take notes, draw and use convenient features like Air Command for quickly getting things done with the stylus. But in order to position this slate as a true laptop replacement, Samsung is also including Remote PC software for accessing your desktop while on the go and Hancom Office for working on office docs.
For aiding text entry, Samsung has revamped its on-screen touch keyboard to closely mirror a traditional laptop, complete with arrow keys and familiar shortcuts like cut and paste. Not good enough? Samsung has partnered with Logitech, Belkin and Zagg to create Bluetooth keyboard cases for this large tablet.
MORE: Best Tablets 2014
The iPad Air has plenty of business-friendly software, too, including the free and improved iWork suite, which benefits from iCloud integration. In addition, the App Store stocks dozens and dozens of productivity apps, although the lack of a central file system irks some owners. Android doesn’t have this drawback.
You certainly won’t be lacking for accessories with the Air, as there are several keyboard cases and third-party pens available. However, none of these options are as tightly integrated as Samsung’s S Pen.
Samsung knows that Apple is the reigning champ when it comes to apps and content, so it’s not surprise that the company is taking matters into its own hands. The Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 will ship with $800 in so-called Galaxy Perks. This includes a $25 Google Play credit, three months of Hulu Plus, a one-year Bloomberg Businessweek subscription, six months of WebEx Premium and 50GB of Dropbox storage for two years.
Nevertheless, the iPad Air offers more than 375,000 apps that are specifically designed for tablet use, while many Android apps are mere supersized smartphone apps.
In some ways the Galaxy Note 12.2 is in a class by itself, because of its price but also its size. Jumping from 9.7 to 12.2 inches is a big leap, but some may be willing to make it if it means potentially ditching the laptop. The new Note certainly has the iPad Air beat when it comes to multitasking and pen integration. On the other hand, the iPad Air is more portable and may prove faster, especially since it doesn’t have the overhead of TouchWiz and Samsung’s new Magazine UX. The Air also leads in terms of tablet apps, though Samsung’s value-added bundle helps.
Apple could very well be working on a premium iPad Pro of its own, but for now the Air remains a good value for work and play. We won’t know how well the Galaxy Note Pro works as an everyday productivity companion until we’ve had a chance to fully test it, but for now this supersized slate shows promise.