Apple’s iPad Catches Jabs from Sony and Samsung as Tablet Segment Heats Up

Apple’s iPad Air is still the standard in the tablet computer segment, but new devices and ads show that the competition isn’t sitting pat. Sony and Samsung are gunning for the top spot, taking shots at Apple both in terms of looks and functionality.

Samsung hasn’t released any new tablets in recent weeks, but that isn’t stopping the South Korean tech conglomerate from taking pot shots at the tablet market leader. Tech news site The Verge points to the newest commercials from the Galaxy Note maker, which riff on Apple’s earliest iPad Air commercials. While poking at the gravitas with which Apple usually produces ads, Samsung’s ad spot points out that, though Apple’s newest iPad is indeed thinner than a pencil, Samsung’s own Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is even thinner.

As the spot notes, the Samsung tablet can also do something the iPad Air cannot: handle multiple applications on one screen. That’s because of the considerable alterations Samsung has made to the Android operating system, which allow the manufacturer to use the considerable power of its tablets to pull off such multitasking feats.

Of course, Apple devotees will respond, commercials aren’t the only thing of Apple’s that Samsung is known for copying. The tech giant lost a 2012 lawsuit against Apple in which the iPad maker claimed Samsung had shamelessly copied the look and feel of both the iPhone and iPad. That defeat, which was reaffirmed in late 2013 following a partial damages retrial, left Samsung on the hook for roughly $1 billion, and Apple has filed even more suits in the time since that decision.

Next up is the new Xperia Z2 tablet from Sony, which tech industry observers expect will see an unveiling during next week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Sony hasn’t yet been able to make a big splash in the tablet segment, but the Japanese tech giant is hoping to reverse that trend with the Xperia Tablet Z2. Sony’s tablet won’t have the sort of high-resolution screen seen with the iPad Air’s Retina Display, but it will be thinner than Apple’s bestselling tablet, and waterproof to boot. As BGR points out, the new Sony tablet will also have a super-speedy processor to complement that sleek design.

Even as its competitors poke fun and look to close the quality gap, Apple seeks to grow its lead. Industry insiders tell 9to5Mac that Apple will release a newer, faster, and possibly lighter iPad Air successor in the second half of this year. The new tablet will likely incorporate the Touch ID fingerprint sensor that Apple showed off late last year with the iPhone 5s, and it is also said to include a more advanced 64-bit processor.

While both companies’ tablets have drawn comparisons to the iPad, Apple’s line of tablets remains head and shoulders above the competition in terms of sales and mindshare. 9to5Mac reported earlier this year that just about a third of all tablets sold in 2013 were iPads, with Samsung being the only other company to hit double digit market share in the segment. The competition is gradually catching up to Apple in terms of share, but the consensus appears to be that iPads are still well beyond their competition in terms of build quality and most features.