iPad mini retina and Nexus 7 comparison

I’ve been lucky to end up with an iPad mini retina and a Nexus 7 (v2 from 2013) in our household. Here’s a short comparison. (Hopefully unbiased, because so far I’ve been an iOS only guy. Nexus 7 is the first Android device I’ve really been using.)

Hardware

Both devices are slick. iPad mini is a bit larger, feels nicer because it’s made of aluminium, but also feels heavier. Nexus 7 has an odd design because the borders on top and bottom are really big. Other than that the device is easier to hold and nice and light. Though plastic, it doesn’t feel cheap at all.

Also: iPad has an optional smart cover which is great!

Screen

Very high resolution on both. Color reproduction has been identified as better on the Nexus 7 (see here: http://www.anandtech.com/show/7519/apple-ipad-mini-with-retina-display-reviewed/3) and it is noticeable. Saturation and contrast are superior on the Nexus (I personally don’t mind saturation, but I really like the better contrast on the Nexus). But then in day to day use when browsing the web or reading Email/Twitter/Facebook you might not really mind.

Screen size on the other hand is more useful on the iPad for me. Most time people use tablets for web browsing. And the 4:3 aspect ratio is simply better suited for that task. On the Asus in portrait the screen is too narrow, in landscape it’s not better, the content is cut off too early. When watching movies some people prefer widescreen displays. The actual image is of similar size on both, so why bother about black bars?

OS Pt1

iOS 7 vs Android Kit Kat. Both are smooth and easy to use. Weirdly scrolling is still smoother on iOS. You’ll only notice when you compare directly though. iOS has the advantage of being simpler. So it’s more suited e.g. for my mom. There are no app shortcuts, no widgets etc. that could confuse people without any computer experience. Android has the advantage of being more flexible. You can customize a lot more stuff. It’s really a matter of preference here.

OS Pt2

The PC/Mac side of things. Here I prefer Android hands down. One word: no iTunes (ok that was two words). Syncing data to the Nexus is a lot simpler. As much as I like Apple, iTunes sucks in my opinion. E.g. you want to try out different comic readers or video players? On Android you create a movie folder, put some movies in there (simply drag and drop) and all video players you’ve installed can access them. On iOS you have to use iTunes to sync the movies to each app. Because of sandboxing one app doesn’t see the other app’s content. Decided to switch to a new player? Bad luck, you need to resync all movies to the new app, which can take a looong time.

Apps Pt1

The built in apps on both tablets are ok. Chrome vs Safari, Google Mail vs Apple Mail. To me they are the same.

Apps Pt2

When it comes to the App Store then iPad wins this one. There are simply more apps that have been optimized for tablet use. Android apps tend to be blown up phone apps. In my opinion that’s because there is no fixed line on Android between phones and tablets. Phones go up to 5.7″. Tablets start at 7″. So at what point should a developer decide to use a tablet UI? On iOS it’s much simpler, you simply query whether you are running on an iPhone or iPad.

On the other hand I’ve learned to enjoy the openness of Android. You can play around installing various emulators for example. Want a different keyboard? No problem. And the list goes on. Everything that Apple for one reason or another doesn’t want on the App Store, on Android you’ll find it after some digging.

Gaming is fine on both devices. Most big titles come out on iOS and Android and run smooth on both.

Price

Nexus 7 32GB costs about €240. iPad mini 32GB costs about €470. BUT Apple hardware usually has a very high resale value. So it you plan to upgrade in one or two years, then the iPad might be the smarter choice.

Conclusion

If I had to choose one over the other I guess I’d go with the Nexus. Mostly because it’s nearly half the price. Also because I’m not really a tablet user. Normally I browse on my Mac and when I’m on the go, my iPhone is more than enough. If I weren’t a developer then I guess I wouldn’t have purchased a tablet at all. So for the occasional comic book or movie (which are my main uses for a tablet at the moment) the Nexus 7 is more than sufficient.

You can’t go wrong with either device. It’s amazing, how far computing hardware has come and both are more than up to any task for normal users.

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