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Here's Samsung's Answer to the iPad Pro

By Sam Mattera - Jan 13, 2016 at 5:30PM

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The Korean tech giant chooses Microsoft's operating system for its productivity-focused Galaxy TabPro S.


Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) finally has an answer to Apple's (AAPL 0.86%) iPad Pro.

The Galaxy TabPro S is a convertible tablet powered by Microsoft's (MSFT 0.37%) Windows 10 operating system. Like the iPad Pro, it sports a relatively large display and pairs with a Bluetooth stylus and keyboard cover that folds. There's no firm pricing or release date just yet, which makes it difficult to compare the two tablets directly, but the TabPro S should be among the most compelling alternatives to the iPad Pro when it arrives sometime next month.

Lighter and less expensive?
The Galaxy TabPro S is slightly lighter and slightly smaller than the iPad Pro. At 12 inches, its display is nearly an inch smaller than the iPad Pro's 12.9-inch display, and its body is about half an inch shorter and narrower. As with its smartphones, Samsung is using an AMOLED display, while the iPad Pro uses LED. Notably, despite being larger, the iPad Pro's screen boasts a greater pixel density. Samsung is using a dual-core Core M processor, which is slower than the Core i5s and Core i7s found in some versions of Microsoft's similar Surface Pro 4 and is likely slower than the A9X in the iPad Pro.

Samsung hasn't said exactly how much it plans to charge for the TabPro S, but given these technical concessions, it will likely be cheaper than (or perhaps around the same price as) the iPad Pro. Total cost of ownership may be considerably lower given that Samsung plans to include the TabPro S's keyboard cover in the box. Apple charges $169 for its Smart Keyboard cover, a fact that has attracted strong criticism. "I was disappointed with Apple's optional keyboard case... It's... really costly," wrote The Verge's Walt Mossberg.

Of course, it's possible that Samsung charges the same or more for its TabPro S than the iPad Pro. That could put the device at a notable disadvantage.

A different Galaxy
But the most interesting aspect of the Galaxy TabPro S is its operating system, particularly within the context of its name. To date, Samsung has reserved the "Galaxy" brand strictly for its Android devices. Its touch-based Windows devices have been sold under the "ATIV" moniker instead.

Samsung remains Google's largest hardware partner -- it stills sell more Android-powered devices than any other company -- but it seems increasingly interested in alternatives. Its recently released smartwatches and smart TVs are powered by its own Tizen operating system rather than Google's Android, for example. Giving a Windows-powered device the Galaxy name may be the first attempt to shift the brand's image away from Android.

It should also be seen as a win for Microsoft's Windows 10, both in terms of adoption and vision. Several of Microsoft's hardware partners have announced or released Windows 10-powered tablets in recent months, but none are as dominant in the tablet market as Samsung. The Korean tech giant was the second-largest seller of tablets in the third quarter last year, according to IDC. It shipped 8 million units, capturing about 16.5% of the market.

Most of those tablets were powered by Android, even the larger ones. The massive 18.4-inch Galaxy View Samsung launched late last year relies on the Android operating system. Samsung could've easily chosen Android for its TabPro S but opted for Windows 10 instead. Android may be a better mobile platform, but for a device centered around productivity, Windows 10 is the better option.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), and Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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