The iPad Mini with retina display is now available, and I was able to get some hands on time with one, so I couldn’t help but put it up against this year’s Nexus 7. How does it stack up?
The iPad Mini 2 is 7.5mm thin and has subtle design flourishes like the chamfered edges, just like the previous version. The Nexus 7 is 8.5mm in comparison. Neither feels particularly thick or cumbersome. The iPad mini weighs in at 340g and the Nexus 7 comes in at only 299g. There is a real noticeable weight difference here, the Nexus 7 feels much lighter in the hand.
Then we have the rubber-like, grippable back of the Nexus compared to the cool smooth aluminium finish of the iPad mini, which definitely has a premium feel to it. And I’d have to say the overall dimensions of the iPad are much more balanced compared to the Nexus 7, which is easier to wrap around in one hand but seems taller than it really needs to be.
Both tablets have a 5.0MP camera with the same full HD recording ability. (I have to say I’m amazed at how many people I see using iPads as cameras. I still feel like shouting NO DON’T DO IT!) Both tablets have a 1.2MP camera on the front panel, and both can support HD video calls, although the Nexus 7 one is offset to the right.
The displays on both are now very interesting to compare. the iPad Mini has the same resolution as its big brother, the air at 2048 x 1536 and therefore has a higher pixel density at 324 pixels per inch. The Nexus 7 has less actual pixels, at 1920 x 1200, but because it is a smaller screen the pixel density is virtually identical, at 323ppi. They are both IPS screens and both look stunning.
Now here’s the other interesting thing. Even though the Nexus 7 is widescreen, you can’t really bemoan the four by three ratio of the iPad Mini because it’s display is actually slightly wider horizontally, providing the same screen area for movies, and then you still have the 4 by 3 screen for other content like magazines and browsing.
The iPad Mini is powered by a 64 bit A7 dual core processor, versus the Nexus 7’s Snapdragon quad core. A quick run of the geekbench software shows the A7 smashing the Snapdragon in top line figures.
From a storage point of view, the iPad comes in sizes from 16 up 128 gigabytes capacities with no memory expansion, and the Nexus comes in a choice of 16 or 32GB models, also with no external memory.
Content wise, the the iPad mini has many hundreds of thousands of apps for both the iPad platform, and this has been one of its strengths from day one. Google are much more focused on making it easy to find tablet apps now, and the Google Play store has a much stronger offering than when the original Nexus was released last year.
When I look at these two tablets, I see two brands at the top of their game in the small tablet category. Both Apple and Google made significant improvements to their hand-sized tablets from last year. If you’re in the Apple ecosystem it’s hard to argue against the new Mini, it now has the internals and display to bring it up to being a truly smaller version of the larger iPad Air. Google’s own branded tablet will always be a fav for Android fans because it will always have the latest software support and newest features, plus the value for money can’t be argued – for the screen quality and performance it’s great bang for your buck.