By virtue of its capturing a large share of the global smartphone market, Samsung has worked its way into the elite group of tech companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and (depending on who you ask) Microsoft.
In the last year and a half, Samsung has blasted ahead of its competitors, shipping more phones than any other hardware company out there. Even Apple.
And with good reason. Samsung makes a lot of really good stuff, especially when you consider its flagship phones like the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II.
But when it comes to another incredibly important category –– tablets –– Samsung has yet to come up with a winner.
I've tested nearly every variation of Samsung's Android-based tablets since it launched the original 7-inch Galaxy Tab in 2010 and none of them stack up to the other top-tier tablets available. I'd recommend buying an iPad, Nexus 7, or Kindle Fire HD over any of Samsung's tablets. No contest.
There are several reasons, but here are the most important ones to consider:
- Samsung likes to add a bunch of special features to its Android tablets that don't often work as well as advertised. In the case of its current flagship tablet, the Galaxy Note 10.1, you can do cool stuff like run two apps at the same time in a split screen. But that feature only works with a handful of Samsung-made apps, and those apps usually aren't as good as the one you can find in the Google Play app store.
- Samsung tablets are made from cheap-feeling plastic. This is easier to get away with on a handheld smartphone, but when plastic is used on a full-sized tablet, it doesn't feel like you're using a high-end product. The Galaxy Note 10.1 and Nexus 10 have particularly bad designs.
- Samsung has trouble getting carriers to sell versions of Galaxy tablets with cellular data connections. Instead, Samsung typically sells a WiFi-only model first and a 4G LTE version much later. For example, the Galaxy Note 10.1 will finally go on sale through Verizon later this year, several months after the WiFi version launched.
- There are way too many variations of Samsung tablets out there, making it nearly impossible to choose which one is the best. By my count, there are at least seven different models available.
With the upcoming debut of its iPad Mini competitor, the Galaxy Note 8.0, it looks like we're about to get more of the same from Samsung, just on a slightly smaller screen.
There's a ton of potential here. Samsung has already nailed it with smartphones. The next challenge is to make a killer tablet.
UPDATE 1/21/2013: Samsung reached out to say that it started rolling out a new software update last week for the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet that lets you run more apps in split screen. There are now 14 apps that work in this mode. I apologize for missing that detail.
Still, most of these apps are Samsung-made. But Samsung tells me support will be added for more apps in future updates.
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