iPad mini – Dual-core A5 processor, 1GB RAM
Google Nexus 7 – Tegra 3 processor, 1GB RAM
Testing tech day-in day-out has told us that you can’t always rely on specs to judge whether product A is faster or more powerful than product B. The Google Nexus 7 sounds like it packs more of a punch than the iPad mini as it has a quad-core chip rather than a dual-core one.
However, the efficient nature of the iOS system means the iPad mini is likely to significantly outperform the Google Nexus 7 in at least a few benchmarks. The A5 CPU is what’s used in the iPad 3, and here there are fewer pixels to process, which will result in higher frame rates in 3D games in particular.
iPad mini – Lightning port, WiFi, 4G, Bluetooth
Google Nexus 7 – microUSB port, WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC
Before the iPhone 5 arrived, all of Apple’s mid-range and top-end mobile devices used the 30-pin socket. It was in iPods, iPhones and iPad. But now it is virtually no more.
Apple has replaced it with the Lightning connector, a much smaller 9-pim design that’s much more in-line with the design standards of the day. It’s a bit of a pain if you already have a half-dozen 30-pin cables lying about the house, though, especially as you know there will come days when you simply can’t find your Lightning cable. Official replacements cost £15.
The Google Nexus 7 takes the much more accessible route, using a microUSB connection to charge and transfer files. You can buy cables from eBay for pennies, and if you’re a gadget fan it’s likely you’ll have several lying about the house.
The iPad mini has the option to come with 4G capabilities while the Nexus 7 is restricted to getting online only where WiFi access is available. As expected, both devices come with Bluetooth, but the Nexus 7 also boasts NFC which Apple have, for the time being at least, decided to omit from their entire range of products.
iPad mini – 16/32/64GB, non-expandable
Google Nexus 7 – 8/16/32GB, non-expandable
The Google Nexus 7 launched with 8GB and 16GB models, neither of which offered expandable storage. However, the 32GB edition has just been “leaked”, set to sell for the same price as the old 16GB edition, £199.99. Memory remains non-expandable, though.
Some may argue that using non-expandable storage is most un-Android, but it’s becoming a common trend among Android devices.
Apple’s mobile devices never offer expandable storage, and it’s no different here. Storage starts at 16GB and maxes out at 64GB. As many iPad games are over a 1GB these days, voracious gamers should consider stepping up off the bottom rung of the storage ladder.
iPad mini – 5-megapixel “iSight” main camera, 1.2MP Facetime camera
Google Nexus 7 – user-facing 1.2MP
Before it launched, there was plenty of discussion about whether the iPad mini would have no cameras, two cameras or just the one. We now know that is has two, one on the rear for taking snaps and one on the front for use with FaceTime.
The user-facing one is particularly handy if you have friends or relatives who you don’t see too often. FaceTime works a bit like Skype, letting you video chat with far-away folk, and it works very well.
The Google Nexus 7 leaves out the rear camera, with just a user-facing sensor for video chat. And Fatbooth style apps, of course.
Asus said it left out the rear camera because it could only afford to jam in a poor-quality one at the price, and it figured ‘what’s the point in that?’ It’s another good design decision by Asus.
The user-facing sensor is 1.2MP, which is actually well above average quality for a video chat camera.
The Nexus 7 is no slouch when it comes to battery life. Asus and Google quote battery life at 9 hours and our independent tests show that they’re not far off with the battery lasting for more than 8 hours playing video on medium brightness. Once again the iPad mini trumps the Nexus 7 though, with Apple claiming that the battery can last for 10 hours while in constant use. We’ll be testing this claim ourselves soon.
These are both great tablets, but we’re not entirely convinced that the iPad mini can completely eclipse the Google Nexus 7, not among real gadget fans, anyway. Costing over £100 more than the Google tablet without offering masses of extra features, we can imagine many budget buyers sticking with the Android offering.
The iPad mini also has problems inherent to its fan base. If people own an iPad and an iPhone, will they really buy an iPad mini too? We can understand Apple’s reasoning – it’s much better for use on-the-go – but will this translate to purchases?
Worries aside, the iPad mini seems an excellent device that successfully pegs what’s needed of a 7in-ish tablet. We’ll be back with more once we get our review sample in.