If you’re shopping for a 7-inch tablet, there’s absolutely no shortage of options. It’s undeniable, however, that the leading choices are Apple’s iPad mini and Google’s Nexus 7. We’ve reviewed both of these devices individually, but it’s time to put them head-to-head.
Some might say that comparing the iPad mini to the Nexus 7 is like comparing apples to oranges. They’re very different devices, with different ecosystems and an even more contrasting user base. So comparing specifications simply does not make sense. Instead, I’ll be comparing certain important aspects which matter in everyday use.
We’re also extremely pleased to announce that we’ll be offering five 32GB Nexus 7s through our Rewards program. If you’re unfamiliar with our Rewards program, head over to our gaming guide and Rewards FAQ to find out more.
Price and storage
Let’s begin with the most obvious comparison: price. If you’re on a budget, the Nexus 7 is the clear winner. The 16GB model is available at just under $200; whereas the iPad mini (Wi-Fi only model) in the same capacity is $130 dearer. In fact, the price difference gets even steeper as we move higher along the product line.
16GB Nexus 7: $199
16GB iPad mini: $329
Price difference: $130
32GB Nexus 7: $249
32GB iPad mini: $429
Price difference: $180
32GB Nexus 7 (Wi-Fi + cellular): $299
32GB iPad mini (Wi-Fi + cellular): $559
Price difference: $260
I’ve been criticising the iPad mini’s screen since I first heard that it wasn’t a Retina Display. Apple took a step backwards with that decision. The iPad mini is more expensive than its competition, so it’s only fair to expect a better display. Instead, the Nexus 7 packs more pixels into a smaller screen. To be more specific, the Nexus 7 has a 7-inch 1280 x 800 display, with a pixel density of 216 pixels per inch
Another important point to consider is the fact that the iPad mini’s display is not only larger, it has an aspect ratio of 4:3 while the Nexus 7′s display carries an aspect ratio of 16:9. Basically, the iPad mini is wider — and that makes web browsing more enjoyable because more elements can be displayed.
But is it too wide? I had difficulty grasping the iPad mini in my hand, but then again, my hands aren’t that large. Ultimately, I’ll just say that it’s too wide to hold with one hand, but I’m happy with the trade off for a slightly larger screen.
Dimension & Design
The differences between both tablets in terms of dimensions is negligible. They weigh roughly the same, but the iPad mini is noticeably thinner (although longer and wider). The Nexus 7 doesn’t feature any hardware buttons on its front surface, which often begs the question, “Which side is up?” To answer that, you’ll have to search for evidence of its front-facing camera. On more than one occasion, I’ve picked up the Nexus 7 and fumbled around feeling for the power button, which camouflages with the rear rubberised panel. It’s not a device that you can easily wake from sleep unless you pick it up, unlike the iPad mini which has a home button on its front surface.
Subjectively, I can tell you, even without any thorough testing, that the iPad mini’s battery life is more superior than the Nexus 7′s, despite having similar batteries (Nexus 7: 4325 mAh; iPad mini: 4440 mAh). On standby with Wi-Fi enabled, the Nexus 7′s battery will drain in just a couple of days whereas on the iPad mini, the battery meter wouldn’t have even flinched. If you think it’s weird, this is actually a known issue. As a result, uptime on the Nexus 7 is significantly reduced when Wi-Fi is enabled. Some users have reported that a system reset rectifies the issue, but that’s unproven
The bottom line
The Nexus 7 is a great, affordable 7-inch Android tablet, let down only by the lack of properly designed applications on Google Play. Before you decide on which tablet to purchase, you need to know what you’ll be doing with it: consuming or creating? Although the iPad mini has a superb selection of apps to fall back on, the Nexus 7 is a great all-rounder with excellent hardware specs.
Advantages of the Nexus 7:
– affordable price
– crisp, high definition display
– solid design
– capable hardware (including NFC)
Disadvantages of the Nexus 7:
– cramped display
– lack of hardware buttons
– lack of high resolution rear-facing camera
– needs better apps
– battery life could be better