Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 with 4G LTE vs. iPad 3G: What's the Better Deal?

One of our favorite Android Honeycomb tablets is coming to Verizon July 28th, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 with 4G LTE. This slate promises ultra-zippy downloads of 5 to 12 Mbps and 2 to 5 Mbps uploads and will come in Metallic Gray or Glossy White. Cost? $529 for the 16GB model and $629 for the 32GB version. We liked the Wi-Fi-only Galaxy Tab 10.1 when we reviewed it, but is this a good deal versus the 3G iPad for Verizon?

When you buy the Tab 10.1 with 4G LTE, you're purchasing it on contract. That's why the 16GB version costs $100 less than the 3G iPad: $529 vs. $629. The data plans cost the same for both tablets: 2GB for $30 per month, $50 for 5GB, and $80 for 10GB. Given that Verizon's 4G speeds are up to 10 times faster than its 3G network, you're getting more for your money with the Samsung slate in terms of data. (Verizon will also be selling a Wi-Fi only version for $499.) Unfortunately, you can't use the Tab 10.1 as a mobile hotspot.

The most critical difference between the iPad 3G + WiFi and Tab 10.1 with 4G LTE is that the former device doesn't require a contract; Samsung's tablet comes with a $350 early termination fee. With the iPad you can turn data on one month and turn if off the next, depending on your needs. So that extra $100 up front buys a lot of freedom, not to mention a heck of a lot more apps.

Assuming you used a 2GB data plan every month over two years, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 would come out to a total of $1,249, compared to $1,349 for the iPad 2. The data alone over 24 months is $720, which is more than the hardware. And we're assuming many of these customers are already paying a similar amount for data for their smartphones.

Deciding which of these tablets with built-in mobile broadband is a better deal comes down to what you value most. If you want speeds as fast as a home broadband connection, the Tab 10.1 with 4G LTE is more compelling than the iPad 2 with 3G. But if you're not a fan of contracts and want Apple's vast App Store and easier-to-use interface, the iPad on Verizon is the better choice.

Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.