Google recently updated the Nexus 7 tablet and boy-o-boy are we impressed with the package on offer. Apple too updated the specs and the display of the iPad mini and the tablet does look mighty impressive. If you are in the market to pick up a tablet and want something smaller than a 10-inch behemoth, then these two devices have undoubtedly crossed your mind.
If you have the cash, we’d say go pick up both (highly unrealistic, we know) but if you are going to invest in just one and don't know which of the two is right for you, we are here to help you decide keeping some very important parameters in mind.
Ease of use:
Nexus 7: The tablet has a 7-inch display and is relatively light weighing in at 300 grams (LTE variant). It is comfortable to hold for prolonged use. It has stereo speakers (when held in landscape mode) and this makes the tablet great for multimedia content consumption. The tablet is small enough to fit in the breast pocket of a jacket making it easy to carry around.
iPad mini with Retina display: Moving on to the iPad mini with Retina display, the tablet has a larger display than the Nexus 7 measuring in at 7.9-inches. the tablet is heavier than the Nexus weighing in at 341 grams (LTE version). The device may be a bit to large to fit in the breast pocket of a jacket, but it is comfortable to use. It also sports stereo speakers.
Winner: iPad mini with Retina display: The larger display means that you have more display real-estate to work with. It's not that the 7-inch form factor is bad or anything, it's just that the larger display is a tad more comfortable when it comes to typing, playing games and browsing the internet.
Nexus 7: The Nexus 7 has a 7-inch display with a 1920x1200 pixel resolution giving it a pixel density of 323ppi. The panel is an LED-backlit IPS LCD and it's great for consuming multimedia content and playing games. The response of the touchscreen is butter smooth.
iPad mini with Retina display: The iPad mini has a 7.9-inch display with a 1536x2048 pixel resolution. The display has a pixel density of 324ppi. The panel is an LED-backlit IPS LCD and also has good viewing angles and is great for multimedia and gaming.
Winner: Tie: The display on both the device is gorgeous and great to work on. The pixel density is identical. It is really a matter of just your display size preference.
Nexus 7: Coming to the power under the hood, the Nexus 7 2013 runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4Pro chipset. It has a Quad-core 1.5GHz Krait CPU coupled with 2GB RAM and the Adreno 320 GPU. The power under the hood is great and the interface of the tablet is really smooth. The device has a 3950mAh battery and in our test it lasted for more than 9 hours. In its raw performance, this is the best 7-inch tablet that money can buy today.
iPad mini with Retina display: The iPad mini retina runs on the Apple A7 chipset with a Dual-core 1.3 GHz Cyclone CPU1GB RAM and the PowerVR G6430 GPU. the specifications on paper are the same as the iPad Air and the iPhone 5C. Add to it the fact that the chipset has a 64-bit architecture, and you have hardware that is really future-proof.
Winner: Tie: The Nexus 7 doesn't have the most powerful hardware out there but what it has on offer is more than enough to exploit the apps on the Google Play store, enjoy smooth multitasking and give an overall great user experience. The 64-bit architecture of the iPad mini will not be exploited by third party developers for quite some time. Sure, the new chipset makes apps open faster and ensures smoother multitasking and UI experience but to exploit it to its potential is still quite some time away.
Nexus 7: The Nexus 7 has a 5MP rear facing camera that can shoot video in 1080p and a 1.2MP front facing camera.
iPad mini with Retina display: The iPad mini has also sports a 5MP rear facing camera that can shoot video in 1080p and a 1.2MP front facing camera with 720p video.
Winner: Tie: Irrespective of the tablet, the performance of the camera is at par. Even video chatting via Google Hangouts or FaceTime, the experience is smooth for both the devices.
Both the tablets offer a large app ecosystem and Android has come a long way especially with regards to tablet specific apps in the past year. Apple on the other hand has had a robust tablet app ecosystem ever since the launch of the first generation iPad giving it a first movers advantage along with a larger app library.
iPad Mini Retina display: Despite having a large app ecosystem Android still can't match the tablet specific app library that users get on iOS. Not to mention the fact that on Android you do have a bunch of bloatware apps for every legitimate paid app. On the other hand, Apple maintains a strict app approval process which is a great way to ensure quality. With apps such as Apps gone free and AppsFire showcasing a large library of apps that go free each day for iOS and Apple making one great paid app free for a week adds to the incentive of picking up an iPad. If you are a user who will use a lot of apps and wants the quality of the apps to be top notch, then the iPad is the weapon of choice for you.
Playing games on a tablet has become second nature to some. We have games such as Angry Birds and Cut the Rope that are simple puzzle games and very addictive. We have games available on both the platforms ranging a number of genres such as action (Dead Space, Price of Persia, Dead Trigger, Nova 3 and many more) to racing (Asphalt 8, Real Racing 3, etc.) and many more. There are also a bunch of games exclusive to each platform.
Winner: Tie: Sure, the library of free games on Android is larger when compared to iOS but what is on offer is great on both the devices. Apple also has some great exclusives such as Orc: Vengeance, Infinity Blade and more but Android has more free games so the tradeoff is good. At the end of the day, the winners are gamers as they get the best of games irrespective of the platform they are on.
Nexus 7: It is available in 16GB and 32GB with no expansion options.
iPad mini with Retina display: It is available in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB variants with no expansion options.
Winner: iPad mini with Retina display: If larger storage is what you are looking for then the iPad mini is the way to go. you have all the possible options starting at 16GB going all the way up to 128GB.
Nexus 7: Google will support the OS on the tablet for 18 months from the date of launch. so if there is a new Android OS 18 months from now, chances are that the Nexus 7 2013 won't get it. Why so? Well Google has stated on its official support page (for the Galaxy Nexus: “Galaxy Nexus, which first launched two years ago, falls outside of the 18-month update window when Google and others traditionally update devices.”). So we think unless otherwise stated, this is something that will be applicable across categories.
iPad mini with Retina display: Apple will support the iPad mini Retina for the next three years at least with OS updates. We have the iPad 2 that is still available in the market and going strong with the iOS updates. Sure, there will be some features that may not work a year or two down the road but the device will be supported nonetheless.
Winner: iPad mini with Retina display: There are two reason why Apple wins here. To start with, they will support the device for a longer time frame than Android and secondly, the OS update happens simultaneously globally. Sure, this has its issues, but sitting in India I get the latest OS in a matter of hours after it's launched is a great thing. Android 4.4 KitKat is out and I'm still waiting for an update to pop up on my Nexus smartphone. See the point?
Support and hardware accessories
Sure, both the Nexus 7 2013 and the iPad mini Retina have a ton of accessories at their disposal. You have covers, protective cases, battery packs and more available to enhance your tablet usage experience. In terms of the after sales service, well both the tablets come with a global warranty, and you can find the respective stores in all major cities.
Winner: iPad mini Retina display: The number of iPad mini specific accessories are more when compared to the Nexus 7. Sure, there are a bunch of third party accessories that work across Android or iOS but here we are looking at two devices specifically. be it docking stations, charging stations, cases, covers, protective shells; the works; the iPad mini Retina has a larger selection than the Nexus 7.
Neither of the two tablets have officially launched in India so based on past launches and market speculations (along with price conversion), we are taking an approximate price below.
Nexus 7: The Nexus 7 16GB Wi-Fi is expected to cost Rs. 24,000.
iPad mini with Retina display: The 16GB Wi-Fi only variant is expected to be priced at Rs. 28,000 approx.
Winner: Nexus 7: It's quite simple. The Nexus 7 is less expensive, so it wins here.
In the 10 parameters that we have for the tablets comparison, the iPad mini with Retina display wins in four, the Nexus 7 wins in one and there's a tie between the two in the remaining five parameters. This makes the iPad mini Retina the ideal small screen tablet. The Nexus 7 2013 is also great product and if you are in the Android ecosystem or would like to give it a try, the Nexus 7 is a great device to do so on. But if the epitome of small screen tablet experience is something you are looking for, the iPad mini Retina is the one you should consider.