HARDWARE DESIGNER Google changed the tablet market in 2012 when it released the original Nexus 7. As well as being the first ever own-brand Google tablet, the Asus built device was interesting because it was smaller than the iPad at 7in and was radically cheaper.
The Nexus 7 proved to be such a hit that Apple, which had previously argued there was no market for a 7in tablet, made a U-turn and unveiled its first 7.9in iPad Mini. One year on Apple has released an upgraded iPad Mini 2, but with Google having again beaten it to the punch, releasing a new more affordable Nexus 7 months before, we've compared the key specifications of both tablets to see whether the new iPad Mini 2 looks a better tablet than its Android rival.
iPad Mini 2: 200x135x7.5mm, 331g
Nexus 7: 200x114x8.65mm, 290g
Visually the iPad Mini 2 and Nexus 7 are about as different as you can get. The iPad Mini 2 has a classic iPad design, featuring metal back and sides and a Gorilla Glass front. The Nexus 7 by comparison has a single piece, slightly rubberised polycarbonate chassis. However, the Nexus 7 is the lighter of the two, weighing a full 40g less than the iPad Mini 2, meaning it might be the more travel friendly option.
iPad Mini 2: 7.9in, 2048x1536, 326ppi Retina display
Nexus 7: 7in 1920x1200 1080p HD 323ppi
The Google Nexus 7 made waves earlier this year, being the first ever tablet to boast a 300ppi-plus display. Aware of this, Apple's learned from its mistake with the first iPad Mini, which featured a 7.9in 1024x768 resolution, 168ppi screen, and loaded its latest small tablet with a 7.9in, 2048x1536, 326ppi Retina display. While we haven't yet had a chance to compare the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini 2 head to head, considering how good other Retina displays are, we're thinking that the Nexus 7's reign as the tablet with the best display could be shortlived.
iPad Mini 2: iOS 7
Nexus 7: Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
The Apple iPad Mini runs iOS 7, while the Nexus 7 runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Picking which of these is better is largely determined by which PC ecosystem the user is in. For Apple Mac users iOS 7 is better as it features enhanced iCloud syncing and a host of free productivity apps, like Pages and iWork. However, for those outside the Apple ecosystem Google's Android apps are more cross-platform friendly and will work within pretty much any ecosystem, meaning they are far more appropriate for businesses using Microsoft Windows.
iPad Mini 2: A7
Nexus 7: Quad core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor
Apple has made big claims about the A7 processor used in the Apple iPad Mini 2, claiming it enables the tablet to offer users four times better GPU performance and eight times better graphics than its predecessor. But, even if true, we're not sure it will be able to beat the Nexus 7 in performance. With the Nexus 7 featuring a quad-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and robust 2GB of RAM, we're yet to find a task or application on the Play Store that it can't handle.
iPad Mini 2: 5MP iSight rear and HD Facetime front
Nexus 7: 5MP and 1.2MP cameras
Both the Apple iPad Mini 2 and Google Nexus 7 boast 5MP rear cameras. Testing the Nexus 7's rear camera, while usable, photos aren't great and generally look slightly washed out or faded. For us this means if even a fraction of Apple's claims about iOS 7's camera software are true, the iPad Mini 2 should be better than the Nexus 7 at taking photos.
iPad Mini 2: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
Nexus 7: 16GB and 32GB
The Apple iPad Mini 2 has better internal storage choices than the Nexus 7, featuring 64GB and 128GB models. However the extra storage space comes at a premium. Apple iPad Mini 2 pricing starts from £319 for the 16GB, £399 for the 32GB version, £479 for the 64GB model and £559 for the 128GB model - and that's just for the WiFi only models. By comparison the 16GB and 32GB WiFi only Nexus 7 models cost £199 and £239 respectively.
In conclusion, on paper the iPad Mini 2 is a very nice tablet. It fixes many of the key problems of its predecessor, featuring a Retina display and significantly more powerful A7 chip. However, the iPad Mini is still much more expensive than the Nexus 7, which boasts some pretty impressive hardware and software.
For this reason while we're certain the iPad Mini 2 will prove to be a hit with established Apple fans, we're not so sure it'll win much new business. µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ