Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet vs iPad Air vs Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014)

Welcome to the Thursday tablet showdown. Commencing countdown to the clash of giants in 3, 2, 1...

Wondering which tablet deserves your hard-earned cash? We (try to) make it a little easier for you in our tablet tech-spectacular throwdown.

We've stacked the Apple iPad Air against the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) before, but today, we introduce a new contender into the fray - the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet.

READ MORE: Apple iPad Air vs Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014)

Build: Through the thin and thinner

Let’s talk vital stats. At 6.4mm thin, the modelesque Xperia Z2 tablet makes the 7.9mm Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) and even the 7.5mm iPad Air look like chunky monkeys. Argue all you want about volume and not mere dimensions, the Xperia Z2 tablet wins the weightwatchers war at just 439g while the 478g iPad Air and 547g Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) prove to be heavyweights - in a bad way.

Build: Through the thin and thinner

All three tablets are gorgeous in their own right, with their slimmed down bezels, clean lines, and glass-slabbed fronts. But start to feel them up and you’ll notice the difference. What looks good from afar might not always translate to the best experience in hand. The Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) immediately loses favour with its plastic and faux-leather clothing combination. Surprisingly, it does nothing to help it weigh less - next to the other two tablets all draped in sleek metal.

READ MORE: Apple iPad Air review

We would lean towards the iPad Air’s indisputably premium looks and smooth curves if not for the fact that the Xperia Z2 Tablet having one less killer move in the back - waterproof ability. Not content with just being waterproof, the Xperia Z2 Tablet is also dust and scratch-resistant to keep it looking as good as the day it emerged from the box. It’s hard to argue with that kind of self-preservation skill.

Winner: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

Display: Power of the pixel

The Xperia Z2 Tablet is slathered in a 1920 x 1200 Triluminos Display with IPS technology for excellent all-round viewing. But that’s all we can say about it until we get a review unit and put it to the test in real lighting conditions.

Display: Power of the pixel

As for the other two, the 9.7in iPad Air packs 2048x1536 resolution and racks up an admirable 264ppi, but all that’s undermined by the 10.1in Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014)’s 2560x1600 resolution and its resulting 299ppi.

But that’s just a game of numbers. Unless you have eyes powerful enough to pick out pixel for pixel, it’s the overall experience that counts. Anyone who’s been treated to a view of the iPad Air will be hard-pressed to find fault with its Retina display.  

Winner: undeclared for now

Camera: In your sights

While we’d advise against wielding your tablet at any time as a camera, we understand that it might come in handy on the rare occasion. In that case, both the Xperia Z2 Tablet and the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) sport 8MP rear cameras while the iPad Air stumbles with just a 5MP shooter.

Camera: In your sights

But when it comes to tablets, it’s the front-facing cameras that matter for all those Skype sessions you’re planning. Once again, the iPad Air falls short with its 1.2MP FaceTime HD camera against both the Android tablets’ 2MP cameras, while the Xperia Z2 Tablet bests the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) slightly at 2.2MP.

Winner: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

More after the break...

Performance: The race of haste

Numbers, numbers and yet more numbers. The Xperia Z2 Tablet easily blazes through to the finish line with its 2.3GHz quad-core processor, leaving the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) and its 1.9GHz quad-core processor behind. Where’s the iPad Air, you ask? It’s trying its best to keep up somewhere in the back thanks to its not-quite-there proprietary dual-core 1.4GHz A7 processor.

Performance: The race of haste

While both Android tablets pack 3GB RAM, the Xperia Z2 Tablet comes up tops for being armed with the numbers to potentially handle the endless lists of tasks you might set for it without skipping a beat.

Winner: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

Battery: Live long and prosper

What’s the point of being feature-packed to the extent of unsustainability? Don’t knock the humble battery, it's the lifegiver of your device. In this case, the iPad Air’s 8820 mAh juicepack comes just on top of the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014)’s 8220 mAh, while the Xperia Z2 Tablet is already blinking red, clocking in at just 6000 mAh.

The iPad Air claims to give up to 10 hours of Wi-Fi time while the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) professes slightly lower Facebook-usage time of up to 9 hours. The Xperia Z2 Tablet must have known it can’t compare in this area, thereby conveniently leaving all mention of battery life out of its official product page, except for a sneaky note on how users can significantly improve usage time with the use of Battery STAMINA Mode under its performance tab.

READ MORE Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) review

We see what you did there, Sony, but you can’t fool us. Until we abuse the tablets' juice pack extensively with movies and heavy usage, we can't in good conscience give a definite verdict for its battery mileage.

Winner: undeclared for now

The OS Wars

Between the two Android tablets, the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) pales in comparison with its Android 4.3 Jelly Bean while the newer Xperia Z2 Tablet is understandably fed on the new fad diet of Android 4.4 KitKat.

READ MORE: iCheapskate: 25 amazing free games for iPad and iPhone

And then we have the good-looking iOS 7 courtesy of the iPad Air. You could go on forever debating the merits of both ecosystems and yet, better geeks have never reached a conclusion. We'll leave it at this.  

Winner: draw

Verdict

The Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet beats the other two tablets in most categories but the biggest niggling fact is that it still has too small a battery to properly allow its features to be put to good use.  

As of now, Apple's iPad Air is still comfortably ensconced in the top spot on our Top 10 Tablets list. But we foresee the latest Sony tablet giving it a run for its money. That is, if it doesn’t cost too much in the first place.

WATCH NOW: Video: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet hands-on review

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