Google debatably created the small form factor tablet market in 2012 when it released its first Nexus 7 tablet.
Offering all the productivity benefits of Android in a travel-friendly 7in frame, the Nexus 7 proved a hit with buyers and managed to reignite interest in Android-powered tablets. It is even believed to have stolen a number of customers away from Apple's then-ruling 10in iPad.
Riding off the back of the first Nexus 7's success, numerous manufacturers have since taken an interest in the small form factor tablet market. Though to date, despite the wealth of small tablets hitting the market, Apple has been the only company to enjoy any real success in competing with Google's Nexus 7 range, with its iPad Mini range.
However, this year Korean contender Samsung has worked to outdo Apple, releasing its own top-end Galaxy Tab S 8.4 tablet. Coming loaded with a number of unique selling points and technologies, which on paper make it one of the most advanced tablets ever released, buyers have begun wondering how the Samsung tablet compares with its more established iPad Mini 2 with Retina display competition.
Design and build
Apple's iPad designs have been a constant selling point, with buyers and reviewers across the globe, including us here at V3, concluding that their metal frames and lightweight measurements make them feel both more top end and sturdily built than the majority of their Android competitors.
This remained true on the iPad Mini 2 with Retina display when it was first released. Featuring a single-piece, non-removable metal backplate that wrapped around its Gorilla Glass front, the iPad Mini 2 feels like a top-end tablet and is more than capable of surviving the odd accidental bump or drop. Additionally, measuring in at 213x125x6.6mm and weighing either 331g (WiFi) or 341g (3G/LTE), the iPad Mini 2 is fairly travel friendly.
But despite its ongoing allure, Samsung has managed to outdo Apple with its Galaxy Tab S 8.4. In a clear show of one upmanship Samsung has designed the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 to be lighter and thinner than the iPad Mini 2. Measuring 213x125x6.6mm and weighing 294g the difference in dimensions made the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 more comfortable to hold and noticeably more travel friendly than the iPad Mini 2.
The Galaxy Tab S 8.4's comfort in hand is aided by its backplate's slightly rubberised, perforated finish. While the iPad Mini 2's metal back feels more luxurious, it was easier to get a firm grip on the Galaxy Tab S, which is significantly more scratch and chip resistant than its Apple competitor.
Winner: Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Next: Display and operating system