Pantech Element vs Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 | Speed, Performance and Features Reviewed | Full Specs Compared
At the AT&T developer summit 2012, Pantech introduced its first tablet, Pantech Element. This was introduced along with some other tablets and smartphones, and the audience was given a limited time with these devices. From what we have gathered so far, AT&T is rather proud about the introduction of Pantech Element, which they noted to be an economical alternative of a tablet featuring LTE connectivity. We, on the other hand, believe this to be one of many such tablets to come, and our initial impression about Pantech’s tablet was indeed favorable.
The Pantech element falls in to the 8 inch tab range, and we decided to compare it against much renowned Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE version to benchmark it at the inception. Samsung certainly will be delighted to learn that Pantech has followed the trend of 8 inch tablets, and the competition for that niche market is bound to boom in time to come, as well.
This 8 inch tablet is rather glossy and has an expensive look. It certainly acts as eye candy, yet the extra glossiness causes fingerprint smudges all over the plain, so beware; you’ll have to keep wiping it every now and then. As was rumored earlier, Element is powered by 1.5GHz Snapdragon dual core processor on top of Qualcomm chipset and backed up by 1GB of RAM. It runs on Android OS v3.2 Honeycomb, and we expect Pantech to come up with an upgrade to IceCreamSandwich. As usual, this is the setup we see in almost all the new tablets in the market and it is, indeed, a splendid blend of hardware and software. The sheer power will enable seamless operation and multi-tasking even with the high-speed LTE connectivity enabled. AT&T guarantees that Pantech Element would utilize their LTE infrastructure gallantly and, this is good enough assurance for us to take Element into consideration.
Pantech Element features a homemade screen; that is to say the 8 inch TFT XGA display is made by Pantech itself and features a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels at 160ppi pixel density. While we cannot determine the quality of the screen without preliminary tests, it looked good, the images were clear, and the screen did serve the purpose. What really differentiates Pantech Element is that it comes under IP57 certification; that is to say the Element is waterproof. In theory, it can be submerged into 1m of water for 30 minutes without any hassle. While the Element is not the first tablet to be waterproof, it certainly is a worthy addition. We also reckon that Pantech Element would come with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n although there was no official indication on that. It would be great if they were cautious enough to include DLNA for wireless streaming and the ability to act as a hotspot, to share the blazing fast internet. In terms of the UI, Pantech has included the stock UI without any modification of their own, so it features a clean minimalistic default Honeycomb layout.
Tablets have been having some deficiency in cameras since most of the tablets were featuring low end cameras. Surprisingly Pantech has decided to include 5MP camera in the Element that can capture 720p HD videos. The 2MP front camera is meant to be used with video conferencing. The Element is rather thin and light in weight, which is favorable. Pantech Element seems to promise a battery life of 12 hours, which is really great compared to it being a LTE device.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9
Samsung is trying to test the usability of tablets with different screen sizes to come up with the best. But they are doing it with making competition with their own and setting up trends to be followed by others, which I’m still not sure worth the cause. Anyhow, the 8.9 inch addition seems to be quite refreshing considering the fact that it has almost the same specs as its predecessor Galaxy Tab 10.1. Galaxy Tab 8.9 is a slightly scaled down version of its 10.1 counterpart. It almost feels the same and comes with the same smooth curved edges that Samsung gives to their tablets. It has a pleasing metallic grey back that we can cling on comfortably. We expected it to come with the amazing Super AMOLED screen that Samsung normally ports their devices with, but we have to suffice with a PLS TFT capacitive touchscreen of 8.9 inches which can do a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels in 170ppi pixel density. While we have no complains about neither the resolution nor the crispness of the images and the viewing angles, Super AMOLED would certainly have been an eye candy for this beauty.
Galaxy Tab 8.9 has the same 1.5GHz ARM Cortex A9 dual core processor, which is better than its predecessor Galaxy Tab 10.1. It’s built on top of Qualcomm chipset and comes with 1GB RAM to optimize the performance. The Android v3.2 Honeycomb does a good job in binding them together, but we’d have preferred if Samsung would promise an upgrade to ICS. Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 also gives rise to some storage restriction, since it only comes with 16GB or 32GB modes with no option to expand the storage via a microSD card. The 3.2MP back camera is acceptable but, we would expect more from Samsung for this beauty. It has autofocus and LED flash along with Geo tagging backed up by A-GPS. The fact that it can capture 720p HD videos @ 30 frames per second is a relief though. Samsung hasn’t forgotten the video calls as well since they have included a 2MP front facing camera bundled with Bluetooth v3.0 and A2DP.
Since the Galaxy Tab 8.9 comes in different flavors of connectivity such as Wi-Fi, 3G or even LTE version, it’s not fair to normalize and describe them generically. Instead, since the counterpart we’re comparing features LTE, We will take the LTE version for comparison of network connectivity. It does have the same speeds as the Pantech Element and has no problem whatsoever in been connected to the LTE network. It also has Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and the ability to act as a Wi-Fi hotspot, which as we mentioned before is great. It comes with an accelerometer sensor, Gyro sensor and a compass besides the usual suspects and features a mini HDMI port, as well. Samsung has included a lighter battery of 6100mAh but surprisingly, it can stay up to 9 hours and 20 mins, which only fall behind 30 mins from its predecessor.
A Brief Comparison of Pantech Element vs Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE
• Pantech Element is powered by 1.5GHz Scorpion dual core processor on top of Qualcomm chipset, while Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE is powered by the same processor on top of the same chipset.
• Pantech Element has 8 inch TFT XGA capacitive touchscreen featuring a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels at 160ppi pixel density, while Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE has 8.9 inches TFT Capacitive touchscreen featuring a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels at 170ppi pixel density.
• Pantech Element comes with 5MP camera with advanced functions, while Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE comes with 3.15MP camera.
• Pantech Element is waterproof, while Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE doesn’t come with such guarantee.
Mobile devices nowadays become increasingly alike with respect to core hardware specs. Some say this might be because the technology has saturated, which I don’t buy. What I can say is that, there is a certain gap between the hardware and software at hand. While hardware is highly advanced, it seems the operating systems needs to be further optimized to handle the multi core processors to utilize the maximum out of them. That is one of the reasons why we have been seeing dual core processor line stopping at 1.5GHz clock. Including more advanced hardware would not guarantee the desired performance boost over cost with the existing operating systems. ICS may well be an optimized alternative, but that is yet to be tested. So, we are left at 1.5GHz dual core processor line with 1GB of RAM to suffice with the mobile devices, and that is the exact configuration in both of these tablets. They even have the same processor. So what is different? To start with, Pantech Element is water proof, and that is the differentiating factor. It is also offered for a relatively low pricing scheme than Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE. In terms of hardware, the only problem we have is with Element’s homemade screen which we didn’t get to test, but we assume it’ll hold well. Apart from that, Element also offers a better camera although the resolution needs to be improved. We are all in for Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE’s HD resolution and pixel density as well as the long standing maturity. It does lack the battery life. Another important thing to look for is accessories, if you’re going to work on a professional scale with your tablet, you may want a keyboard dock to improve productivity and Samsung has just the right solution for you while Pantech is yet to come up with a dock. Without these differences, you would have landed with two identical tablets and with these differences pointed out, you certainly have a choice to make.