If you're on a quest for a new mini tablet, the brands "Nexus" and "Galaxy" might have caught your attention. Or, more specifically, the new 2013 Nexus 7 and the Galaxy Note 8.0 might have made the cut for your shortlist. Join Gizmag, as we break down the specs and compare the features of the two 2013 Android tablets.
The first thing you'll notice on the store shelf is that the Galaxy Note 8.0 is the significantly bigger tablet. Specifically, it's six percent taller and 19 percent wider than the Nexus 7.
The Note 8, however, is an extremely thin tablet. It's eight percent thinner than the Nexus 7.
Both tablets are made of plastic, though you get a matte black on the Nexus 7 and a glossy white or brown for the Note 8.
As the smaller tablet, it's no shock that the new Nexus 7 is 14 percent lighter than the Galaxy Note 8.
Screen size is one of the advantages for the Note 8. It's noticeably bigger (the Nexus 7's screen only gives you 77 percent as much area), and it also has physical/capacitive nagivation keys. The Nexus 7's onscreen navigation bar means apps' useable area is even less than that 77 percent.
Screen resolution, however, is a huge advantage for the new Nexus 7. If you want razor-sharp text and crisp images, then it's the much better choice. Despite that smaller screen, the Nexus gives you 125 percent more pixels than the Note 8 does.
There's little to worry about with either tablet's processor, but the Nexus 7's Snapdragon S4 Pro is going to deliver slightly faster performance.
Good to see that neither Asus nor Samsung skimped in the RAM department, as each tablet packs a healthy 2 GB.
The Note 8 gives you a bit more storage, with 32 GB and 64 GB base options, with the addition of a microSD card slot.
Samsung will sell you either a Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi with LTE version of the Note 8. So far there's only a Wi-Fi version of the new Nexus 7, though Google says we'll see a 32 GB LTE model eventually.
The Note 8 has a higher capacity battery, and should deliver slightly longer battery life. We wouldn't say battery life is a concern on the Nexus 7, but when you have a razor-sharp display and an ultra-portable form factor, it's hard to also deliver industry-leading battery life. Thus its uptimes aren't quite as impressive as several rivals, especially the iPad mini.
Both cameras are pretty much par for the course for tablets. Adequate rear cameras for the ocassional shot, and HD video for the front-facing cameras.
This is probably the biggest reason to choose the Note 8 over the Nexus 7. If you like working with a styus, Samsung's S Pen is tightly integrated with the Note's software, letting you transcribe handwriting, jot notes, and get an overall more precise level of control.
Samsung's Air View is also in tow here, letting you hover the S Pen over some onscreen targets to get live previews. The S Pen on the Galaxy Note 8.0, unlike the one on the Galaxy Note 2, also lets you tap the capacitive back and menu keys.
If you like to use your tablet as a TV remote control replacement, then look no further than the Note 8. The Nexus 7 doesn't have an IR blaster onboard.
If you want to transfer files to a nearby device with a quick bump – or be prepared in case NFC payments ever catch on – then the Nexus 7 has an NFC chip. Samsung skipped NFC on the Note 8. Probably not a deal-breaker for most of us. But it still would have been a nice bonus, considering the Note's higher price (more on that in a moment).
Both devices run Android at the core, as well as the Google Play store and the standard suite of Google apps.
The Nexus 7, though, runs the latest version of Jelly Bean, and also runs stock "Pure Google" Android. The Galaxy Note 8.0 has the glitzed-up Samsung TouchWiz UI on top. We typically prefer stock Android, but the S Pen integration has TouchWiz, in this case, actually offering some improvements.
Right now you can snag the Note 8 for US$20 less than its suggested retail (both directly from Samsung and at Amazon). But even at $380 it's still much more expensive than the new Nexus 7.
But if a stylus isn't that important to you, then the Nexus 7 offers a razor-sharp display, an ultra-light form factor, and a rock-bottom price. The only other real sacrifice is screen size, so if you can live with that, then the Nexus 7 is probably the best tablet value on the market right now.
Leaning towards the Nexus, but still not quite sure? Then look no further than our 2013 Nexus 7 review.
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