iPad mini vs. 2012 Nexus 7
October 23, 2012
Apple and Google don't have a lot of love for each other. Yet the two companies' hardware has seldom directly competed. Sure, the iPhone is rival to the Galaxy Nexus and a slew of Android phones. The iPad also does battle with some slow-selling full-sized Android slates. But perhaps the budget tablet market will show us the first true slugfest between the sworn enemies. The Nexus 7 – possibly the best budget tablet on the market – now has to contend with Apple's new iPad mini. How do the two miniature slates compare? Let's take a look …
Both are in the same class of smaller tablets, but there are differences. Though the devices are nearly the same height, the iPad mini is a bit wider and much thinner.
The iPad mini has narrower bezels on the side, which Apple used to keep the form nearly as small, but with a larger display.
As light as the iPad mini is, the Nexus 7 holds its own. Both slates should be comfortable for extended one-handed use.
Each tablet's display has its pros and cons. The iPad mini offers an extra 0.9 inch (22.9 mm) of diagonal real estate, but the Nexus 7 has better resolution and a significantly higher pixel density.
At least on paper, this is a big win for the Nexus. It has a quad core Tegra 3 chip, while the iPad mini is rocking the old A5 chip – which first appeared in 2011's iPad 2.
Neither tablet, however, should be too much of a slouch in the performance department.
The iPad mini's 512 MB of RAM is unconfirmed, but – as it shares much of the iPad 2's components – that's where the smart money is. Consider this another (probable) victory for the Nexus.
Until recently, the Nexus 7 was only available in 8GB and 16GB models, but those have now been replaced by 16GB and 32GB options - for the same price points (US$200 and $250, respectively).
Apart from the more expensive 64GB iPad mini, storage is basically a draw.
The Nexus 7's minor update also saw it receive cellular data. You can buy a 32GB model with mobile data off-contract from Google. The only caveat is that it doesn't support LTE, only 3G and HSPA+ (often marketed as "4G").
The iPad mini's cellular model does support LTE, but you'll have to pay for it. The 16GB cellular model costs $460 - nearly as much as a Wi-Fi only full-sized iPad.
Until we put some time in with the iPad mini, these are based solely on estimates. Going off of those, we're looking at similar uptimes.
Google and Asus left a rear-facing camera off of the Nexus 7, so the iPad mini comes out ahead here. It has the same shooters that are found in the 4th-gen iPad.
Millions of customers will likely buy the iPad mini, largely because of the App Store. Though Google Play is nothing to sneeze at, Apple's marketplace has a much larger selection of native tablet apps. They will all run in the same resolution (1024 x 768) as they do on the first two iPads.
A huge advantage for the Nexus 7 is its cost. Its US$200 starting price is $130 cheaper than the base model (16 GB, Wi-Fi only) iPad mini. With the Nexus 7 coming out ahead in several other key categories, anyone but die-hard Apple fans would be wise to at least consider Google's tablet.
Apple's pricing is a bit higher than many people expected. Considering that the device's components fall short of the cutting edge, a $130 premium over its rivals is a gutsy move. Because it's made by Apple, it will sell in bunches, but that may not necessarily make it the leading budget tablet. The App Store may be all it needs to outsell its rival, but should we expect more from Apple?
Is the iPad mini better than the Nexus 7? As always, much of that will come down to personal taste. We will, however, attempt to make this distinction even clearer when the iPad mini arrives on doorsteps on Nov. 2.
For the full-sized version of this battle, see our comparison of the Nexus 10 vs. iPad.