Samsung Galaxy Tab Nods to Apple iPad, but Goes Own Way: iFixit

Repair site iFixit tore down the new Samsung Galaxy Tab and found a speedy processor, a disappointing camera and an "unlikely offspring" of the Apple iPad and iPhone.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is "the king of Android tablets for now," repair site iFixit said in a Nov. 12 e-mail, following its teardown of the Apple iPad's newest competition. The Galaxy Tab will soon be available from all four major carriers - Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

What iFixit found, to begin with, is that if mimicry is flattery, the Galaxy Tab has compliments galore for the iPad.

"Looking like an unlikely offspring between the iPad and the iPhone 4, the Tab has an iPad-like front fascia as well as a camera-equipped back cover similar to the not-yet-released white iPhone," iFixit wrote. "Even the dock connector very closely mimics Apple's standard pinout.

Also like Apple, Samsung would prefer that consumers don't go digging inside its new pride and joy. Still, while the Apple MacBook Pro scored a low 4 out of 10 for "repairability," the Galaxy Tab received a 6.

"You have to use some unconventional tools - including a heat gun, guitar picks and an tri-wing screwdriver - in order to fully disassemble the device," iFixit explained. "But the battery is replaceable without having to spring for a soldering iron, and other components (such as the headphone jack) disconnect pretty easily once you're inside."

From there, the Galaxy reportedly goes its own way. It's glass on the front, black plastic on the sides and white plastic on the back. And its processor - though built on ARM 8 architecture, like the iPhone 4 - is a Samsung-branded 1GHz Hummingbird. There's 1GB of RAM and RAM-like caches, reports iFixit, as well as 16GB of SanDisk NAND flash storage.

The Galaxy's plastic rear case was also a good move toward ideal wireless reception. "Using plastic allowed Samsung to bypass the creative measures used by Apple's iPad designers to facilitate signal transmission," writes iFixit.

With the back cover pried off, "nearly half of the Galaxy Tab's real estate is engulfed by the battery," reports iFixit, which is "roughly half the size of the iPad's battery." It's also 55 percent of the weight and 60 percent of the capacity of the iPad's, which explains why the Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg, in his review of the Tab, clocked its juice at 6 hours and 50 minutes, versus the iPad's 11 hours and 28 minutes.

Regarding that engulfed real estate, however, keep in mind that the Galaxy is much smaller than the iPad. With its 7-inch display, it measures approximately 7.5 by 4.7 by 0.5 inches, compared to the iPad's 9.5 by 7.5 by .53 inches, with its 9.7-inch display (on the diagonal).

Samsung also went its own way with the display, which has a resolution of 1024 by 600, versus the iPad's 1024 by 768. The Tab has more pixels per inch - 169 to the iPad's 132 - but the iFixit team wasn't sold.

While "169ppi is nice, [it's] nowhere near dense enough for us," the group wrote. "We vastly prefer the iPhone 4s 326 ppi retina display."

One area where the Galaxy Tab bests the iPad, though barely, is its inclusion of two cameras. (Apple left cameras out of the iPad, but teardowns have shown it left space to include them in the next version.) While glad for the cameras, iFixit complains, "the 3.2-megapixel rear-facing camera with an LED flash is a bit sub-par for a device of this caliber, seeing how much smaller devices (like the original Droid) are packed with 5-megapixel imagers."

While more competition for Apple is on its way, and certainly the iPad has market share to spare, the iFixit team concludes that the Galaxy Tab is "the first solid Android tablet we've come across."