Those in the market for an Android tablet with a large screen but not a large price might be trying to decide between either Samsung’s recently released Galaxy Tab A 9.7 or HTC’s Nexus 9. We’re here to help.
This is a case where superficial similarities cover up dramatic differences, as we’ll discuss.
Build and Design
The Samsung model is the slightly larger of the two, both in size and in weight, which isn’t surprising as it has a bigger screen. It also has a somewhat squarer design, which makes it a bit more comfortable to hold in landscape mode.
The Galaxy Tab A 9.7 has been well designed and it feels solidly built. The Nexus 9 doesn’t feel cheap, but its casing does seem a bit thin and the overall design is plain and uninspired.
The Samsung tablet includes a 9.7-inch screen, while the HTC model has a noticeably smaller 8.9-inch one. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
HTC put a 2048 x 1536 display in its offering, while Samsung used a 1024 x 768 one, so their respective pixel densities are 281 ppi vs. 132 ppi. Another way to look at it is that for every pixel in the Tab A, its rival has four.
Samsung’s screen uses a 4:3 aspect ratio, but HTC’s has a 16:9 ratio, which means the Nexus 9’s is more rectangular. Many users of larger tablets prefer a squarer screen, like the one in the Galaxy Tab A 9.7.
While some will see advantages in the larger display, the much higher resolution screen in the Nexus 9 gives it a clear advantage for most people.
Buttons and Ports
The fact that the Galaxy Tab A 9.7 has a microSD memory card slot and the Nexus 9 does not gives Samsung’s device a considerable advantage, as it makes adding additional storage capacity to the tablet a simple process.
That said, the Nexus 9’s micro-USB port supports USB OTG so it can make use of micro-USB flash drives. The Tab A’s micro-USB port can use these same accessories, but the microSD slot means this isn’t as important.
The Nexus 9 follows Google’s guidelines about minimizing the number of external buttons, so the Recent Apps, Home, and Back buttons are on screen. Samsung’s offering, on the other hand, has these permanently placed on its front. This means they never take up any screen space, but are available to be accidentally pushed.
HTC built speakers into the front of the Nexus 9, so they are aimed at the user, and these are on either side of the screen so there’s some stereo separation. The Galaxy Tab A 9.7, on the other hand, has its speakers on one edge, right next to each other.
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