The Google Nexus 7 and the iPad Mini are two of the best small tablets around, and if you’re stuck between the two, it comes down mainly to a choice between Android and iOS. Of course there’s more to it, like battery, display and price.
iPad Mini vs Google Nexus 7
If you’ve got $329 to spare you can buy the 16GB Wi-Fi iPad Mini. It’s easier to carry and cheaper than the Retina iPad 4. The Google Nexus 7 has lots of customisation room, and at $199 for the Wi-Fi version, might be better for a tighter budget. These are fast devices, with sharp IPS screens. So which is best?
Price: Anyone with a small budget will go for the Nexus 7, as the only other tablets in this price range are the Nook HD and the Kindle Fire HD. Google keeps its prices down to draw in the punters, whereas Apple always regards its profit margins and build quality. The iPad crew is well known for its software and superlative design, but you can save yourself $129 if you go for the Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 3G is $299, and the LTE iPad Mini is $459, so you can’t compete on price.
Design: Obviously Apple is out in front here, and the iPad Mini is the best looking Apple tablet so far. The Nexus 7 isn’t bad looking, though, and does offer some competition, with its touch soft plastic back and slender lines. It’s heavier than the iPad mini, and does look a bit less classy, so ultimately it has to bow down to Apple.
Screen: Theoretically, the Nexus 7 should beat the iPad Mini as it has a higher ppi, but Google and Asus let things slide a bit in order to save money in production, and the calibration of the display is not as good as it could be. The colours on the Nexus 7 aren’t as rich as on the iPad Mini, despite the numbers. The Nexus 7 is 216ppi, and the iPad Mini has 163ppi. Text looks sharper on the iPad Mini, and the contrast and colours are sharper too. The bigger display on the iPad Mini makes photos and videos look much better, as well.
Performance: When it comes to performance and OS, it’s between iOS and Android 4.1. The Nexus 7 also has Project Butter, which means smooth running apps. However, when the Nexus 7 upgraded to Android 4.2, it got a bit slower, which needs fixing soon.
On hardware, the Nexus 7 wins with its 1.2GHz quad-core chip. The iPad Mini has the dual-core A5 chip, the same as is in the iPad 2. Geekbench showed that the Nexus 7 is twice as fast as the iPad Mini, but the Mini’s chip has enough power to run iOS well, and the world-leading GPU doesn’t hurt, either.
For chips, the Nexus 7 wins, but the iPad Mini’s GPU claws some favour back for Apple.
Software: The Nexus wins on customisation, with app shortcuts, multiple home screens and custom ROMs. iOS just doesn’t offer this experience, so it can’t compete.
However, tablets are all about the apps, and so the iPad Mini wins. It’s got access to way more tablet-optimised apps in the App Store than the Nexus 7 has in Google Play Store. Which is more important to you, then? Software or apps?
Battery: Both devices have great batteries, with 8.5 hours from the Nexus 7 and 10 hours from the iPad Mini. The iPad Mini takes the prize, obviously.
Conclusion: These are well-matched tablets, and so the final choice will rest on OS preference, cost and whether you want LTE.