HP Chromebook X2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 – Could a Chrome OS Tablet Replace Your Android Tablet?

HP Chromebook X2 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 – Could a Chrome OS Tablet Replace Your Android Tablet?

It is no secret that Android tablets are not as popular as they used to be. With the exception of the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Samsung Galaxy Tab line of tablets, it seems like many Android tablet manufacturers have given up on Android Tablets. Google has been working hard to replace Android with Chrome OS on future tablets and while this is a refreshing change, Could a Chrome OS Tablet replace your aging Android Tablet? For this post, we are going to put two leading flagship devices in a head to head battle – the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3  (Android) and the HP Chromebook X2 (Chrome OS). 

Hardware Comparison

While the purpose of this article is not to compare the hardware, I want to briefly mention the specifications of these two devices to show how similar the specifications between the two devices are.

Android – Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Chrome OS – HP Chromebook X2
  • Release Date – April, 2017
  • Processor – Snapdragon 820 (Quad Core)
  • RAM – 4 GB
  • Storage – 32 GB
  • MicroSD Card Slot – Yes
  • Display – 9.7 inch Super AMOLED (1536 x 2048 pixels)
  • Ports – 1X USB 3.1 Type C (Data and Charging), 1X 3.5 mm headphone
  • Stylus – Samsung SPen (Included)
  • Keyboard Dock – Yes (Optional Purchase – $140.00)
  • Wildcards – LTE Options Available, Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging, Fingerprint Reader
  • Note : Tablet upgraded to Android 8.0 Oreo
  • Release Date – June, 2018
  • Processor – Intel m3-7Y30 (Dual Core)
  • RAM – 4 GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – 32 GB
  • MicroSD Card Slot – Yes
  • Display – 12.3 inch IPS (2400 x 1600 pixels)
  • Ports – 2X USB 3.1 Type C (Data and Charging), 1X 3.5 mm headphone
  • Stylus – Samsung SPen (Included)
  • Keyboard Dock – Yes (Included)
  • Wildcards – LTE Options Available, USB Power Delivery, Runs Android, Chrome OS and Linux Applications via Crostini
  • Note : Tablet upgraded to Chrome OS 69 via the Dev Channel
Price : $450.00 on Amazon Price : $600.00 on Amazon

I am intentionally not using the Pixelbook in this comparison as I am trying to compare two models that perform very similarly in everyday tasks. The two devices posted above are devices that I personally own and use several times throughout the week. Now on to the show down.

I am also intentionally leaving out devices that have built-in keyboards that fold out of the way for this breakdown. For this blog post,  the HP Chromebook X2 will not be put into the included Keyboard Dock to force it to be a tablet with the exception of the “Productivity” section in which I will use the official Samsung Keyboard on the Tab S3 and the included HP Keyboard on the Chromebook X2. I am also not giving any of the Samsung exclusive features any credit. The Stylus options will factor in.

Finally, while it is my intent to focus on tablets, most of the content I am posting also applies to most modern Chromebooks.

The Showdown

Please remember that this breakdown is to compare Android Tablets vs Chrome OS Tablets in general and not the specific models.

Form Factor

Winner : Android Tablets

Tablets are designed to be something you can grab and toss into your backpack for easy and convenient use on the go. The lightweight and thin Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is perfect for just grabbing and taking with you without adding any additional weight to your backpack. It is also small enough to carry in your hands when you want to leave the backpack behind to head to a coffee shop. The HP Chromebook X2 is on the heavy side.

It should not be much of a surprise that Android won this as Android Tablets can be purchased in many sizes depending on your needs and budget. Users can get tablets ranging from a pocket-able 7 inch Nvidia Shield K1 to the insanely large 18.4 Inch Samsung Galaxy View. Chrome OS Tablets start at 10 inch models with the upcoming Acer Chromebook Tab 10 and go up to 12.4 inches with the HP Chromebook X2.

The User Interface

Winner : Android Tablets

Android was an operating system designed around touch while Chrome OS only saw touch support implemented in the past few years. The win for this category goes to Android as Android works to put your applications and content front and center while Chrome OS requires that you open the navigation tray to access applications. Android also supports several features that are completely absent from Chrome OS devices such as desktop widgets and icons on the home screen.

It is worth noting that Chrome OS is constantly evolving and becoming more and more intuitive to tablet users with each release. I do expect Chrome OS to eventually win this category within a year or two if I were to re-visit this post.

Application Support

Winner : Chrome OS Tablets

There was a time when Chrome OS was seen as a very limited operating system that only had access to the internet. This is thankfully no longer true as the ChromeOS team has worked hard to turn Chrome OS into a very capable operating system that is easily able to satisfy the needs of a large number of computer users. Within the past few years, Chrome OS has inherited the ability to run most Android Applications and even desktop Linux applications (in “DEV” on many modern units). This is why Chrome OS takes this victory from Android – It can simply do everything most Android Tablets can do and more.

Aside from the Android Application Support, Chrome OS tablets also give you access to the full desktop version of the Chrome web browser to allow you to experience the web in full and use Chrome extensions. I will admit that most web pages do perform well on the Android version of Chrome, there are a few that try to force mobile themes on you and limit features when it shows you are on Android.

Storage

Winner : Android Tablets

There are several reasons that Android takes the win in the storage category, here is a list;

  • While both Chrome OS and Android Tablets support Micro SD Cards, Chrome OS’s implementation is severely lacking as there is no way to use the Micro SD Cards with Android Applications on Chrome OS. I have complained about this a few times on my site and there are several bug reports on the Chrome OS issue tracker to hopefully change this.
  • Android supports the encryption of Micro SD cards, something that is not possible with Chrome OS at this time. This is a big problem for business use.
  • Chrome OS has to run Android and Linux in virtual machines, thus adding to storage overhead to store the operating system images for the virtual machines.
  • Android Applications on Chrome OS cannot be offloaded to the Micro SD card so you could easily consume most of your built-in storage with a few games.

Media Consumption

Winner : Android Tablets

Both Chrome OS Tablets and Android Tablets excel in media consumption but this win has to go to Android for now due to a technicality, offline support. As I mentioned above, Chrome OS’s implementation of external storage is lacking where Android Tablets will allow you to store weeks worth of offline Netfix, Google Play Movies, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and More for use when you are away from a high-speed internet connection.

When both devices are online, the Chrome OS Tablet actually takes the edge as the desktop version of the Chrome browser grants you access to thousands of other streaming media services as well as the popular ones I mentioned above.

The victory can be clenched by Chrome OS Tablets if the Chrome team can allow the Micro SD card to be used by Android Applications.

Battery Life

Winner Chrome OS Tablets

One expectation you should have with a tablet is that it should get you through a day (or more) of use without needing to find a charger. Both devices will get you past the standard 8 hour mark but your Chrome OS Tablet will likely have enough juice left over for a few Netflix videos when you get home. This is partially due to Chrome OS tablets being a bit thicker and thus allowing space for larger batteries. As an example – A typical day with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 will personally get me about 8.3 hours of use while the HP Chromebook X2 will give me 11.5 hours of use with similar workloads.

Offline Use

Winner : Chrome OS Tablets

With the exception of the Storage/Offline Media complaints I touched on in a few of the previous topics, Chrome OS can do a lot more when you are away from an Internet Connection. This is dimply due to the fact that a Chrome OS device can run  all of my Android Applications, Chrome Applications and Linux Desktop Applications while the Android Tablet is limited to just one of them.

This means I can install all of my development tools, clone a few source code trees and work on code while on a plane (assuming I don’t consume all of my internal storage). I can even spin up a local web server to test and develop PHP or NodeJS while on the go if I need to.

Sorry to beat the dead horse again but if Chrome OS could make proper use of the Micro SD cards, it would be almost perfect.

Operating System Updates

Winner : Chrome OS Tablets

On of the biggest complaints with Android Tablets is that hardware manufacturers are slow to release software updates. You would not be mistaken for thinking that the “Check for Updates” button on many Android Tablets actually does nothing as some Android Tablets never see an update throughout its lifespan. Chrome OS Tablets are different as updates are mostly handled by Google. This means that updates come much faster on Chrome OS devices with many devices getting monthly updates.

As a further bonus, you can change the update cycles on Chrome OS devices from “Stable” to “Beta” or “Dev” if you want to get faster, potentially unstable, updates.

Productivity

Winner : ChromeOS Tablets

Note : This is the only area of this post where a physical keyboard may be used.

On-Screen Keyboards are great for casual use but fail spectacularly when you wish to use them for heavy productivity. If this section were to exclude the use of physical keyboards, Android would win this as the play store is full of great on-screen keyboards that make productivity somewhat possible – a feature that is eventually coming to Chrome OS in a future update.

Physical Keyboards on the other-hand are built for productivity. I have done extensive testing using the official Samsung Tab S3 Keyboard and the Chromebook X2’s included Keyboard Dock and I can tell you hands down that the Chromebook X2 wins. This is partially due to the fact that the larger Chrome OS tablet allows for a larger, more spaced out keyboard and the fact that the Chrome OS keyboard also features a trackpad for tasks that are not well suited for a touchscreen. Of course, you could also use any Bluetooth Keyboard in place of the official Samsung Keyboard if you want full sized keys.

The addition of Desktop Linux Applications really could turn Chrome OS tablets into powerful workstations when needed for tasks like software development and lightweight rendering.

The final nail in the coffin for productivity is that the Chrome OS Tablet can be plugged into an external monitor (or two) via either a USB to HDMI or a DisplayLink dock to give you a multi-window extended desktop.

Conclusion

In my post, I outlined 9 test cases and Chome OS Tablets just barely won with 5 out of 9. While this does make it seem like Chrome OS is a great Tablet Operating System, it is not a victory to be proud of as it shows that Chrome OS still has a lot more work to do before I can honestly consider it as a worthy replacement to Android. The good thing is that many of these failures can (and will likely) be fixed with future software enhancements.

There will also likely be future Chrome OS Tablets that will give users more choices when it comes to form factors. This is not an assumption but a guarantee.

So could a Chrome OS Tablet replace your Android Tablet? The answer is yes and no and maybe. It all depends on your specific use cases.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Leave a Comment