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Enterprise tablet wars: Galaxy TabPro S vs. Surface Pro 4

Enterprise tablet wars: Galaxy TabPro S vs. Surface Pro 4

If you’re looking for a hybrid device that shines in the enterprise, Microsoft and Samsung both offer high-end Windows 10 tablets. CIO.com senior writer Sarah White compares the Surface Pro 4 and the Galaxy Tab Pro S to see which one fits best in business.

It was no surprise when Samsung unveiled its first tablet hybrid, the Galaxy TabPro S. However, the surprise came when Samsung announced it opted to equip the device with Windows 10 instead of Android. It was a smart move by Samsung, firmly placing the Galaxy TabPro S alongside the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. The Surface 4 is the most popular Windows 10 hybrid today, but that could change with Samsung's latest flagship device. But which device is the better enterprise option when you pit them head-to-head?

surface pro 4 Microsoft

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 is the kind of device leading the trend toward detachable tablets, also called 2-in-1s. Many Windows 10 detachables are expected to be launched in 2016.

Design

Both devices feature high-end designs, but the Galaxy TabPro S chassis includes more plastic than the Surface Pro 4, which is all magnesium. But it's important to note that the plastic also lends to the lightweight design and doesn't make the device look cheap. In fact, the Galaxy TabPro S is the more eye-catching device, perhaps only because the Surface Pro 4 looks similar to the versions that came before it, making it less exciting.

The major difference in overall design is apparent when you hold each device in one hand. The Galaxy TabPro S feels more like a tablet -- think the iPad Pro -- while the Surface Pro 4 feels like an entirely different device and is actually a bit cumbersome to use as tablet. If you plan to use the device in tablet mode regularly, you will most likely find the Tab Pro S a more comfortable experience.

Looking at the weight and portability of each device, the TabPro S is lighter than the Surface Pro 4, but not by much. The Surface Pro 4 won't break your back if you throw it in your work bag, but the TabPro S is 26 percent thinner and weighs just over 1.5 pounds, while the Surface Pro 4 weighs just under 1.7 pounds. It doesn't sound like much of a weight difference, but in devices this slim and compact, you can feel the difference when holding the device in one hand.

Winner: This one is a tie, if you want a better tablet experience, go with the TabPro S, but if you want a more traditional notebook experience, you'll want to stick with the Surface Pro 4.

Ports

When it comes to available ports, the Surface Pro 4 really outshines Samsung's Galaxy TabPro S. The Surface Pro 4 comes equipped with a USB 3.0 port, a microSD port and a Mini DisplayPort -- and Microsoft also sells a compact docking station to give you more ports and the capability to connect to multiple displays.

The Galaxy TabPro S is like the iPad Pro in that it has only a USB-C port. That means if you want to charge the device, use a thumb drive and connect to a display, you're going to need an adapter. For entertainment, you probably don't need a device with so many ports, but in a business setting, ports become far more important. The TabPro S also lacks a microSD slot, which means you can't expand the storage or swap out microSD cards as needed.

Winner: If you want a lot of connectivity built into your device, the Surface Pro 4 is a clear winner, offering more flexibility and connectivity for business users.

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S

Display

The display size on the Galaxy Tab Pro is 12 inches, while the Surface Pro 4 display measures at 12.3-inches. The difference in size is barely noticeable. In terms of resolution, the TabPro S has a 216 ppi display, while the Surface Pro 4 resolution is 267 ppi. While it might seem the TabPro S has a lower resolution, the fact that it's a super AMOLED display puts it on par with the Surface Pro 4 IPS display. Both are gorgeous, crisp and clear and you can't go wrong with either display. The Surface Pro 4 does have better integrated graphics in the i5 and i7 models, but the TabPro S and entry level Surface Pro 4 share the same Intel HD 515 graphics card.

Winner: Although Samsung offers the first SuperAMOLED display for Windows tablets, both devices offer a clear and flawless display. This one is a tie as you won't miss out on a stunning display with either device.

Accessories

The biggest accessory with any hybrid is the keyboard, but it gets a bit tricky when comparing the Surface Pro 4 keyboard and the Samsung TabPro S keyboard. Both companies got a lot of things right, but they also got a few things wrong. Let's start with the Surface Pro 4 keyboard. It magnetically attaches to the base of the tablet and it doesn't support the device -- you'll use the kickstand for that instead. It's comfortable to use regularly, and the trackpad is responsive. The downside comes when you realize you have to purchase the keyboard separately, which raises the price of the device by at least $115, if you can find the keyboard on sale. Plus, the lack of stability makes it a bit wobbly in your lap, and you have to be careful when you pick the device up since it is so top heavy.

Samsung includes its keyboard stand in the price of the device, and it's more like the iPad Pro keyboard in how it supports the device, but it's also firm and sturdy, which gives the device a more solid base. However, you get only one good viewing angle, and the second viewing angle is awkward and seems impractical for daily use. That might get frustrating fast, especially if you're trying to use the device anywhere other than a desk.

The Surface Pro 4 comes with a stylus, which is a convenient accessory for business users who need to sign documents on the fly. But the TabPro S currently doesn't come with a Stylus, although there are rumors that Samsung plans to release one in the future that will feature a 162-hour battery life.

Winner: The Surface Pro 4 takes first place for accessories, even though you have to pay a little more for the keyboard. The keyboard offers a better overall experience and the fact that it comes with a stylus will be a pull for many business users.

[ Related story: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review: It's faster, it's better, and it has more competition ]

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S has one basic configuration with an Intel Core m3 dual core processor and 4GB of RAM, and you can choose between 128GB or 256GB of storage. That leaves limited options for business users who need a little more juice under the hood. While it might be enough for employees who mostly use basic programs, apps and Web-based apps, but it won't be enough power for anyone using more taxing programs.

There are more available configurations for the Surface Pro 4. You can choose between an Intel Core m3, i5 or i7 dual core processor as well as 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of RAM. It also offers more storage options, ranging from 128GB to 1TB. With the range of options, IT departments might be swayed by the multiple configurations, which means someone who needs more power can get a device that suits them, while others can stick with a more entry-level model.

The battery life on each device is also substantial, with the Microsoft advertising nine hours of video playback, while Samsung boasts 10.5 hours for its device. However, real-life battery length may not measure up, but in testing the devices, it's clear that both will last you an entire day with typical use.

Winner: The Surface Pro 4 offers more flexibility, even though the Galaxy TabPro S does offer a decent amount of power. But for businesses, having the option to get a higher-powered device for some employees and a lower-powered one for others makes more sense than just one lower-powered option.

Enterprise Features

Both devices run Windows 10, which means they will integrate into any office that is set up on the Microsoft ecosystem. It also means you'll get all the enterprise security features already baked into the popular OS. However, Microsoft offers more in the way of enterprise perks for businesses that decide to adopt the Surface Pro 4.

Incentives include a better warranty program, a stronger trade-in program, the capability to destroy a malfunctioning device as to not compromise data, a partnership with Dell and accidental damage coverage. Samsung, on the other hand, has plenty of enterprise-friendly features for Android, but none of them extend to the Tab Pro S, including the enterprise device program.

Winner: Microsoft's enterprise offerings are far ahead of Samsung's when comparing the Surface Pro 4 to the Galaxy TabPro S. Any IT leaders who are wary about adopting hybrids will probably feel more comfortable going with the Surface Pro 4 thanks to the wealth of enterprise features.

[ Related story: iPad Pro vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 4 for business supremacy ]

Price

The entry-level Surface Pro 4 costs $899, without the keyboard, which is the same price as the Galaxy TabPro S with keyboard. As you add higher-end configurations to the Surface Pro 4, the price quickly skyrockets, topping out at $1,799 for the i7 processor and 16GB of RAM. But for users who aren't interested in going above the mobile processor, the Galaxy TabPro S offers more bang for your buck. It lacks a stylus, but not everyone cares about having a stylus and the fact that it comes with the keyboard sets it apart from the Surface Pro 4.

Winner: The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is great for businesses on a budget at $899. You won't have to pay more for the keyboard, making it more affordable than even the lowest-end Surface Pro 4.

And the winner is …

When you compare side-by-side, the Surface Pro 4 is a better option for businesses, but it took Microsoft a few iterations to get to this point. Samsung came out of the gate with a strong Windows 10 device that will certainly fit into the enterprise, and any improvements it makes with the next release will only bolster its enterprise status. But for IT departments and business leaders looking for a device that offers similar connectivity to a traditional notebook as well as strong enterprise features, today the Surface Pro 4 is the better option.

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