View from the Labs
The iPad continues to be a dominant force in tablets despite the best efforts of Samsung et al, but 2023 might just herald a turning point.
Apple’s continued dominance of the tablet market isn’t just a question of high brand values and marketing mumbo jumbo. And it’s not that other manufacturers don’t make excellent tablets: as you can see from our reviews and our test results, Samsung, Lenovo and Huawei are all putting superb screens into well-designed bodies with innovative features and impressive specs. When it comes to browsing the web or media consumption, you won’t lose anything by ditching Apple for the competition. In fact, with Apple’s gruesome price rises, you could save quite a lot of cash.
However, there are two areas where Apple still pulls dramatically ahead. First, the performance of its A15, M1 and M2 processors is proving hard to beat. Even Samsung’s latest tablets with Qualcomm’s flagship mobile chipsets are struggling to maintain pace, both when it comes to mainstream app performance and 3D games. Second, the iPad still has a huge advantage in terms of software support. Sure, you can do a lot in the browser these days, while there are Android apps for most needs, but if you want to use the biggest apps from the biggest names, or have access to the best range of games to play, then Android plays a distant second fiddle to Apple’s line – and there are still too many smartphone apps that have barely been reworked to fill a tablet screen.
The Google camp can fix this, but it’s going to take some work. My big hope is that things will start to come together in 2023 with Google building on the foundation of Android 12L, which brought more tablet features into the OS, and with the launch of the new Pixel Tablet, featuring the Tensor G2 chip. The latter could become a real powerhouse, but its wider legacy might be a new wave of app and game development that makes Android a stronger tablet platform. The iPad deserves its leadership position, but it badly needs some competition, too.