iPad Pro M4 13-inch VS Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: Pro tools for pro people

iPad Pro M4 13-inch VS Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: Pro tools for pro people

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Intro

After a year of being left behind, Apple’s finally given some love to the iPad Pro family. The brand new iPad Pro is larger but simultaneously the thinnest Apple device ever, with a spic-and-span OLED screen, and debuts the second-gen 3nm Apple M4 chip, as well as new accessories aimed at creative professionals who’d use it as their main tool. 

Meanwhile, Samsung announced its top-of-the-line Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra tablet last summer, and in mid-2023 it’s still the best Android device of the type you can get. It’s a large boy, and it’s an impressive boy, for sure: the 14.6-inch tablet has the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip as well as a massive battery and also comes with a useful S Pen included in the box.

Which of these tools could be the weapon of choice for professionals?

iPad Pro (2024) vs Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra differences:

Table of Contents:

Design and Size

Changes on the horizon

Design-wise, the time has finally come to see some changes to the iPad Pro lineup. The new iPad Pro is the thinnest Apple tablet so far, measuring just 5.1mm, with a redesigned rear camera island (and just a single rear camera). Meanwhile, the front camera is situated on the long edge of the tablet, allowing for a more natural video-conferencing.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, on the other hand, is a behemoth by comparison. Towering at 14.6-inches, the 16:10 tablet is quite thin and easy to use, but its sheer size could pose problems for those who usually use tablets on the go: it’s just a big boy! There’s a notch that houses the front camera at the front, and the bezels are quite thin and sexy.

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Weight-wise, the iPad Proeasily beats the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: 579 grams versus 732gr is a significant difference that will be felt by all. 

Viewed in landscape mode, the 16:10 Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is wider but shorter, making it ideal for media consumption, like movies, TV shows, and YouTube binges. At the same time, iPads are typically thinner but taller thanks to the 3:2 aspect ratio, giving you more screen real estate in the vertical plane, thus making it more suitable for note-taking. Watching movies or TV shows will incur the infamous black bars at the top and bottom, so you might have a slightly worse media experience. 

Display Differences

The iPad Pro comes along with a new Ultra Retina XDR display, which utilizes tandem OLED displays. That’s right, the display consists of two layers, allowing for a superb maximum brightness of 1,000 in SDR and 1,600 nits in HDR mode. There’s a new nano-texture option for the display promises to do away with unwanted reflections. Apple asserts that it is precisely etched on a nanometer scale, preserving image quality and contrast while scattering ambient light to minimize glare. However, this option is only available for the 1TB and 2TB versions of the tablet, and costs $100 extra.

At the same time, there’s a 14.6-inch OLED screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio on the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. It’s truly a large screen, but it also comes with a notch to facilitate the dual front cameras, whereas the iPad doesn’t have a notch marring the display. 

The iPad Pro also has ProMotion high-refresh screen that can dynamically switch between 10 and 120Hz, the current flagship refresh rate standard, just like the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. This is important as it allows for a super-smooth user experience with virtually no stutter and oh-so-pleasing scrolling animations. We love that.  

Both tablets have stylus support: an S Pen for the Galaxy and the Apple Pencil Pro for the iPad Pro. However, only the Galaxy Tab S9 comes with a stylus in the box, you will have to supply your own for the iPad, a $129 extra purchase. 

Performance and Software

The new M4 chip versus last year’s garden-variety Snapdragon chip

Surprise––the new iPad Pro comes along with the M4 chip. Usually, laptop-grade Apple chips debut on MacBooks, but Apple has chosen for the M4 to arrive on the iPad Pro as a change of pace. The most probable reason? Catching up to the competition when it comes to on-device AI, most probably. 

The M4 chip is built on the same 3nm process as the Apple M3 but consists of up to four performance cores and six efficiency cores. The new silicon uses TSMC’s 3NE process, which should improve the performance and power efficiency of the chip. And that’s precisely what Apple promises: the chip has four times faster performance than the M2 chip of the previous generation but requires way less power, making it much more power-efficient.

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The M4 has the most powerful neural engine on an Apple M chip so far, with some 60X better performance than Apple’s first Neural Engine that came with the Apple A11 Bionic chip that powered the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X.

Don’t get us wrong, we don’t mean to slander the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that’s powering the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, but it surely won’t stand a chance to the desktop-grade Apple M4 chip in the new iPad Pro. As far as raw performance goes, make no mistake: it’s the iPad that will have the upper hand by a landslide. Hopefully, efficiency will be adequate on the new iPad as well. 

Then again, the question remains: what are you even doing with all that power? Despite the galactic performance, the iPad is still hampered by the limitations of iPadOS and the not-so-vast list of professional software that can run on the iPad. 

In terms of software support, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra will be supported until 2027, while the iPad Pro will be supported until 2029. That’s in line with the industry standard, for sure. 

Camera

Tablet essentials

While the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra has a dual rear camera, consisting of a wide and an ultra-wide camera, the new iPad Pro has a single 12MP wide camera, merely accompanied by a depth-sensing LiDAR scanner. The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is outfitted with 8MP ultra-wide and 13MP wide cameras, which will do you just fine during the oddball chance that you have to snap a quick photo with your tablet.

What’s more important on tablets, however, are the front-facing cameras, which are used more often during video calls. The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra has dual cameras at the front, a wide and an ultra-wide, both 12MP in resolution. 

Meanwhile, the iPad’s front camera comes with a vertically positioned camera, which will allow for more natural video calls as the user will no longer have to look to the side of the device (where the front camera was positioned on previous iPads). The iPad Pro comes with the Center Stage feature, which intelligently centers the frame on you during video calls. Right next to the front camera are the Face ID modules. 

Audio Quality and Haptics

Both the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra and the iPad Pro will certainly be the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to audio quality. The Samsung tablet arrives with four speakers and delivers impressively bass-heavy and crisp sound.

The same applies to the iPad Pro as well: just like most high-end Apple devices out there, this one will hardly disappoint, equipped with quad speakers. Previous iPads have all been excellent in terms of audio quality, so no reason to be Doubting Toms regarding the new iPad Pro. 

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As far as haptic feedback goes, only the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra will vibrate when you interact with the interface and apps, while Apple’s iPad will most certainly remain devoid of haptic feedback once again. Who knows, the iPad Pro might finally deliver such a feature.

Battery Life and Charging

Battery champs

The iPad Pro (2024) and the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra will most certainly be the devices with the largest batteries you can find out there. 

You will find an 11,200mAh battery if you’re a bad boy and disassemble the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. While it sounds like a lot (and it is), we shouldn’t forget that this Android tablet is a hungry one, so the battery life isn’t record-breaking by any means. It fared well in our custom video streaming test, breaking the 7-hour threshold, but mostly disappoint in the 3D gaming test. 

The new iPad Pro has a battery in the ballpark of 10,340mAh, which should allow it to comfortably deliver a full business day of battery life. The question is, would it beat the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra or not? We are eager to find out as well. 

Charging-wise, you can top up the Samsung tablet at up to 45W. The iPad Pro comes with a 20W charging brick in the box, but might charge faster, similarly to previous iPads. 

Specs Comparison

Summary

Undoubtedly, both the brand-new iPad Pro and the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra are the finest examples of professional tools that can be used by creative professionals on the go. 

If you’re already tied to an ecosystem, then the choice could be obvious: the iPad Pro for the Apple fans and the Galaxy S9 Ultra for the Android folks. 

Both tablets will undoubtedly be the cream of the crop for the foreseeable future. The iPad Pro is shaping up to be a decent upgrade over its predecessor, but it doesn’t look like you’d be missing much if you don’t upgrade. Given the higher price, upgrading should be carefully considered, as Apple has hiked the price by a $100. 

Meanwhile, with the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Samsung is easily flexing, as it’s one of the best Android tablets so far, only hampered by its excessive size. 



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