Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini Retina Specs Comparison

Written by B Johnson January 27, 2015
Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini Retina - Specs Comparison
Hi guys, welcome back!

In the past few years, Samsung has been insanely popular with its superiority over its Super AMOLED screen technology. Almost all of Samsung flagship devices have really gorgeous and sharp screens.

One of the strongest points of Samsung’s Super AMOLED display is definitely its outstanding color saturation.

(Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini Retina - Specs Comparison)

Even though many people call it as unrealistic compared to what we see with our own 2 eyes, vast majority users of Samsung GALAXY devices still love it a lot.

It looks really vibrant, the colors look popping out and saturation level of colors is just perfect, so long story short, everything on the Super AMOLED screen looks really gorgeous.

And that’s the thing that Samsung wants to brag in front of its closest rival – Apple – through its Samsung GALAXY Tab S series.

Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini Retina benchmarks and gaming performance

Samsung GALAXY Tab S actually just launched a couple of months ago, but its commercials are already spreading out like crazy across the planet, even than the iPad Air, because Samsung has always been so aggressive with its marketing strategy.

Anyway, today i want to keep the momentum going by giving you more of my comparison review.

However, this time, as mentioned above, i’m really interested to bring up Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4 and iPad mini Retina into this comparison review.

I think it would be great to compare between these 2 devices especially because they are popular tablets, and they are also in the same league (8-inch tablet category).

Well, if you also want to learn more about my comparison between these 2 tablets, including my take on their gaming performance, then here you go, my comparison review between Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini Retina Display.


Samsung GALAXY Tab S series can be considered as the premium and flagship series of Samsung GALAXY Tab family.

And as a flagship premium variant, no wonder if Samsung decides to cram all the powerful even the best hardware specs on the market into this device. And that what exactly happens on Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4.

Compared to iPad mini with Retina Display, it’s quite obvious that Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4 is more superior and better performer than Apple’s tablet, especially on the screen department.

Thanks to Samsung’s years of experience in the developments and improvements of its in-house Super AMOLED screen technology, the 8.4-inch display of Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4 is totally unmatched by even the Retina Display of iPad mini.

it has much sharper 2560x1600 pixel resolution, its colors look really popping out and the saturation level of the colors is just perfect.

To make it simple, on this Super AMOLED display, even the flowers look more gorgeous than what we actually see with our own eyes.

The same story happens on the performance department and some other sectors of this Samsung’s tablet. it has full-featured TouchWiz UI, fast performance, strong processor, more mature design (although not as premium as iPad mini), longer battery life, great gaming performance, sharp cameras and many other more.

But the questions remain. With all of the goodies found on Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4, does this tablet have what it takes to be an iPad mini Retina killer?

Do they deserve to be positioned alongside other flagship devices on today’s tablet market?

Which one between Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4 and iPad mini Retina that is a so much even better tablet for gaming?

Well, hopefully we’re about to find out more about the answers of these questions at the end of this review. So be sure to stick around guys!


When it comes to design, i think both tablets look great and premium. But iPad mini Retina is definitely the one that really stands out here if pitted side-by-side against Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4.

It has full aluminum material all over the place (except the screen of course), it looks really elegant and premium and it feels like you’re really holding an expensive device.

Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini Retina - Tablet Specs Comparison

Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4

Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4 vs iPad mini Retina - Tablet Specs Comparison

iPad mini Retina

The more impressive thing about this iPad mini is, it is really thin and light in weight, making the experience of using this tablet more pleasing even for many hours in the row. Despite its large footprint – thanks to its 4:3 aspect ratio -, i think it’s amazing how Apple manages to make this device really comfortable to hold even with one hand – although it’s not a one-handed device.

The story contradicts with Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4. Even though Samsung releases this tablet in its flagship lineup, this Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4 still hasn’t received the best treatment from this Korean-based manufacturer on the sector of design.

No – i’m not saying that the overall design of this tablet is not premium. That’s wrong, because this device still looks and feels premium.

However, i think this tablet still hasn’t reached the premium level of iPads, including the iPad mini Retina.

But even so, as mentioned above, in my opinion, Samsung GALAXY Tab S 8.4 still looks very elegant and premium in high-end class.

And the great thing about its design is, it has its own characteristic compared to other rivals on the market right now – especially the iPads.

This tablet actually kind of reminds me with the design of Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone – Samsung GALAXY S5 -, especially with its unique pattern finish all over the rear-cover and also the metal trim all over the bezels.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 LTEiPad mini Retina
Released July 2014,
Fingerprint sensor
8.4 inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 1600 x 2560 pixels, (~359 ppi pixel density), 16M colorsSamsung TouchWiz UI
Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
Adreno 330 GPU   
Android OS 4.4.2 KitKat
microSD card slot for up to 128 GB
8 MP rear-facing Camera with autofocus, LED flash
2.1 MP front-facing camera
16/32 GB Internal storage
Infrared port
Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass Sensors   
HTML5 Browser   
No Radio   
Java MIDP emulator
Non-removable Li-Ion 4900 mAh battery
Released 2013, November
7.9 inch LED-backlit IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen
1536 x 2048 pixels (~324 ppi pixel density) 16M colors
iOS 7 (upgradable to iOS 8.1.2)
Apple A7 Dual-core 1.3 GHz Cyclone (ARM v8-based) Chipset
PowerVR G6430 quad-core GPU
No micro card slot
16/32/64/128 GB Internal storage
5 MP rear-facing camera
1.2 MP front-facing camera (720p@30fps video recording)
Wi-Fi 802.11
USB v2.0
Bluetooth v4.0
No Radio, No Java
Accelerometer, gyro, compass Sensors
HTML5 (Safari) Browser
Non-removable Li-Po 6470 mAh battery
Up to 10 hours (multimedia) for Talk time

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 may not win on the sector of design compared to iPad mini Retina, but fortunately, there is still one sector that this Samsung’s tablet is more superior at than the mini iPad. And that is its overall specs.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is equipped with some beefy specs that can be considered as better than the ones found on the iPad mini.

First of all, the screen. It seems like, Samsung has no problem at all to cram many 2.5K display on all of its flagship devices because most of Samsung’s high-end tablets today already jump to the same bandwagon entirely – a 2560x1600 pixel display.

And that’s the thing you can find on this device. But that’s not the only thing that is so impressive from its display.

Thanks to Samsung’s years of experience and never-ending developments of its homemade Super AMOLED display technology, this screen of this tablet looks insanely gorgeous.

The screen looks sharp and vibrant, the colors look popping out and have great level of saturation and everything on the screen like text or image looks really crisp, even from far distance.

So to make it simple, the flowers on this Super AMOLED display looks more gorgeous than if we stare it with our own 2 eyes. Yup – that’s true.

Besides the screen, this tablet is also much better than the iPad mini Retina on other sectors, like cameras, software features, RAM, and it also has microSD card slot for up to 128GB and better software experience.

However, it doesn’t straightly mean that iPad mini Retina is really horrible in terms of specs.

Well, that’s not true because this mini iPad is still great on the sectors of display, performance, experience, UI, cameras, gaming experience, hardware especially GPU and of course battery life.


There’s no doubt that Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is definitely really superior on the sector of screen compared to iPad mini Retina.

And this is not very surprising because Samsung itself is actually the one that develops and engineers its own screen including the technology on this tablet.

So no wonder if this Samsung’s tablet is just untouchable by even the iPad Air when it comes to display.

But even so, the display of iPad mini Retina still looks really sharp though. It may not be as gorgeous looking as the Super AMOLED screen on Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4, but at least, it still looks great, the text looks sharp, image looks crisp and everything on the screen delivers such a pleasing experience to the users. And that’s the most important thing for iPad users.

User Interface

The UIs of both tablets are like men and woman. The UI of Samsung’s tablet is coming from Mars, while iPad mini’s UI is from Venus.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 has a full-featured UI complete with all useful and great Android features we’ve already come to love, while the iOS 7 (now iOS 8) of iPad mini Retina is more prominent with its simple-to-use straight-forward but still elegant UI.

However, both UIs are still great equally. Even though iOS 7 is really simple and straight forward, it’s actually the thing that makes its users insanely in love with this device.

It goes the same Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4. Thanks to Samsung’s never ending efforts to improve and develop its homemade TouchWiz UI, now it looks much better, more elegant and more efficient by putting more prominent and useful features directly to the users, while keeping others safely on the place that only geeky users know them.

The overall look of this UI is also now much improved with some revamped icons and navigation all over the place, making its experience much better for users.

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If we talk about the overall gaming experience between these 2 tablets, then iPad mini Retina is definitely the one that takes the crown here.

And this is not very surprising given that Apple has been really good at making all of its iGadgets great gaming devices.

It has a fast-growing App Store that has a wide range of apps and games all over the world, it has easy payment system for vast majority of its users and it also has huge support from many game developers especially to bring the well-optimized versions of their apps on each specific of Apple device. And this is truly amazing.

So when it comes to gaming experience as a whole, no doubt that iPad mini Retina is too superior than Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4.

It has powerful performance and graphical capability, it has much bigger game catalog well-optimized specifically for this iPad mini Retina, it has a very comfortable design that makes it convenient for users to play games even in many many hours and the most importantly, it has a solid long lasting battery life, even in heavy use.

In terms of games, you can actually play any kind of games that you see today on App Store, which is not very surprising given that this device has the latest hardware and software that surely are more than adequate to execute all the iOS games in smooth buttery performance and of course, in full highest graphics.

The other thing that makes its gaming experience stand out compared to Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is definitely the one called Metal API, which is supported only on iOS 8.

This Metal API (similar like JDK or Java development Kit) helps iOS game developers improve and revolutionize their games by using the full potential and graphical power of GPU inside this iPad mini Retina.

So their iOS games will have more detailed graphics, advanced visual effects and many other goodies that surely elevate the experience of playing their games.

Long story short, with this Metal API, the next-gen iOS games in the near future will look far better than the ones on other platforms.

On the other hand, despite not having the same great gaming experience just like iPad mini Retina, Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is still a great gaming tablet.

Thanks to the Snapdragon 800 processor, coupled with Adreno 330 GPU and huge 3GB of RAM, any Android games on the market right now – even the most graphically demanding ones like Asphalt 8: Airborne, Modern Combat 5 or GTA San Andreas – can all be executed perfectly on this device, in buttery smooth performance and of course in full highest graphics.

Well, actually there’s still one great thing on Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 that probably could make its gaming experience on the same level with iPad Air Retina. And that is its display.

As mentioned above, Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is equipped with an insanely gorgeous Super AMOLED display sporting 2560x1600 pixel resolution – as opposed to the Retina IPS display (1536x2048 pixels) found on the iPad mini Retina.

So as a result, games will look more gorgeous, crisp and much sharper than the ones deployed on the mini iPad.

The most impressively is, even with that crazily lots of pixels, this device still delivers the best smooth performance when playing games, even in full highest graphics.

However, it’s worth noting that Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is divided in different models, carrying 2 different processors – Snapdragon 800/Adreno 330 GPU inside the LTE models, while the WiFi-only variants get the Samsung 5 Octa Exynos 5420 processor and Mali-T628 MP6 GPU.

But even so, both models are equally powerful even for playing games.


It’s probably tough to pick which one between Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and iPad mini Retina that has the best camera because both tablets take great pictures and videos.

But to make this comparison more simple, i think i have to go with both devices on this department.

The 8MP rear-facing camera of Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and 5MP iSight camera of iPad mini Retina are equally great. And you just can’t do wrong if you pick any of these tablets, especially if you’re into photography. Trust me, pick any of these tablets, and you’re good to go.

Battery Life

Besides the cameras of both tablets, the other sector that is also pretty hard to determine which one as the best between Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and iPad mini Retina is definitely the battery life. Apple has always been doing great with the battery life of its iPads (not to mention iPhone 6 Plus).

It’s great to use for longer reading session, and even for playing games or watching HD movies in marathon, without resting the screen at all.

So if you decide to buy this tablet, you must accept the fact that its battery life just cannot be killed, even in heavy use.

The same story happens also on Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4. Even with that crazily super-high 2.5K resolution screen (2560x1600 pixels), this tablet is impressively still capable to survive in many many hours, even in heavy use – despite using only small 4900mAh battery.

This is actually really similar to what happens with Samsung’s flagship smartphone – Samsung GALAXY S5 -, which has longer battery life than most of its flagship rivals out there, despite using a smaller battery capacity than the predecessor.

So either you buy Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 or iPad mini Retina, you just won’t regret it at all.

They are equally strong and powerful in terms of battery life and you’re gonna have such a pleasing experience of using it even for many many hours.

My Personal Opinions

So in conclusion, i think both Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and iPad mini Retina are just great equally in the whole aspect.

They have their own strengths and their own weaknesses against each other. Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 may have a razor-sharp 2.5k display and better cameras, however, iPad mini Retina is also great on those 2 sectors. It goes the same with their overall gaming experience and battery life.

They both are strong to play any games on each app market and the experience of playing games on both devices is just awesome.

iPad mini Retina has much bigger well-optimized game catalog, huge support from game developers, Metal API on iOS 8 (on developers' side), better more comfortable design to play game (given its thinness and light weight), plus great battery life.

It goes the same with Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4.

This tablet has powerful hardware to play many high-performing games, it has much sharper 2.5K display, it has comfortable-to-hold design, it has great long lasting battery life and the most importantly, all games can be executed perfectly on this device in smooth performance and full graphics.

However, there is still one part – actually 2 parts – that probably make this Samsung’s tablet much better offering than iPad mini Retina. And those are the microSD card slot for up to 128GB and of course, the fingerprint scanner.

The first aforementioned part is actually the thing that has been lacking (actually will always be even in the next few years) on all iPads, including this iPad mini Retina.

So if you buy – for example – the 32GB model, you’ll be stuck with this storage forever and you’ll be forced to upgrade to the biggest 128GB model – which is insanely more expensive than the 32GB variant.

And then, the fingerprint scanner. Even though this element is currently not that important for most users. But in the future, when the advanced mobile payment system finally becomes viral all across the world, it’s gonna be the killer feature on this tablet.

And Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 already has it, which means, this device will still look modern even in the next few years.

I know that, iPad mini Retina also receives the fingerprint scanner. But it’s only on the third-gen model though, not the 2nd-gen model (which is the one i’m discussing right now in this review).

So the solution is of course, buy the latest-gen model if you think that this finger print scanner is really important for you.

But even so, both tablets – in my opinion – are still great quality tablets overall. in fact, they are 2 of the best tablets on the market right now.

You’ll make no mistake if you pick up any of these devices.

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