Two really popular small tablets are the Google Nexus 7 and the iPad Mini. If you’re stuck between the two, it’s a toss-up between iOS and Android, with a few extra factors like display, price and battery life thrown in.
Google Nexus 7 vs iPad Mini
If you have a few bucks to spare, you might want the 16GB Wi-Fi iPad Mini ($329) as it’s easier to port around and cheaper than the Retina iPad 4. The Nexus 7 has lots of customisation options and is better for smaller budgets, at $199 for Wi-Fi. These are both fast devices with sharp IPS screens, so how do you decide?
Price: Smaller budgets might have no choice but the Nexus 7 – the only other tablets in this price bracket are the Nook HD and the Kindle Fire HD. Google is keeping the price of this tablet down to lure punters in, whereas Apple is more concerned with build quality and profit margins. The iPad range is well-known for its software and top-notch design. The Nexus 7 is $130 cheaper, which is quite a wedge. If you want the Nexus 7 3G, this will cost $299, but the LTE iPad Mini is $459, so the Nexus 7 is the better deal all round.
Design: Of course the iPad Mini is stunning to look at – it’s made by Apple. It’s thin, light and is aluminium on the back. The Nexus 7 isn’t bad-looking, either. It has a soft plastic back and isn’t lumbering. It doesn’t look as nifty or high-end as the iPad Mini, which is why the Mini has to win.
Screen: The Nexus 7 should win, as it has a higher ppi than the iPad Mini, but Google and Asus cut a corner too many and the display’s calibration is a bit skewed. In real-world terms, this means that the Nexus 7’s colours aren’t as rich as they could be, despite the ppi. The Nexus 7 has a ppi of 216 and the iPad Mini has 163. Text looks sharper on the Mini, and you’ll also notice better colours and contrast. Photos look better on the Apple device as well, as they’re on a larger display.
Performance: You get to choose between Android 4.1 with Project Butter, and iOS 6. When the Nexus 7 bumped up to Android 4.2, however, it became a bit slower, so Google could do something about this.
The Nexus i7 s the winner in the hardware stakes, though, as it has a 1.2GHz quad-core chip. The iPad Mini has the same A5 dual-core chip as the iPad 2, and in Geekbench tests the Nexus 7 was found to be twice as fast as the A5. The Mini does have enough oomph to run its OS well, though, and the top-notch GPU helps a lot too. The Nexus 7 takes the medal for its chip, but the Mini wins for its GPU.
Software: The Nexus 7 on Android wins for customisation, as you’d expect, with its custom ROMs, widgets, custom launchers and more. There’s none of this over on iOS 6, so the Nexus 7 is a definite winner.
Tablets are all about the apps, though, and this is where the iPad Mini excels. It’s got access to way more tablet optimised apps in the App Store than the Nexus 7 does in the Play Store. So, you have to pick between software or apps.
Battery: The batteries on both are brilliant – 8.5 hours on the Nexus 7 and around 10 on the Mini. The iPad Mini wins.
Conclusion: These devices are well matched, so your final choice will be determined by your preferred OS, your budget and how important LTE is to you.