Mobile Technology

iPad Air 2 vs. Nexus 9

iPad Air 2 vs. Nexus 9
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the iPad Air 2 (left) and Google/HTC Nexus 9
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the iPad Air 2 (left) and Google/HTC Nexus 9
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Anti-reflective display
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Anti-reflective display
Camera aperture (rear)
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Camera aperture (rear)
Battery (note the different formats ... we'll update when we find the capacity of the iPad Air 2)
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Battery (note the different formats ... we'll update when we find the capacity of the iPad Air 2)
Build
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Build
Camera (megapixels)
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Camera (megapixels)
Color options
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Color options
Dimensions
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Dimensions
Display resolution (and pixel density)
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Display resolution (and pixel density)
Display (size)
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Display (size)
Display (type)
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Display (type)
Fingerprint sensor
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Fingerprint sensor
Camera flash
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Camera flash
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the iPad Air 2 (left) and Google/HTC Nexus 9
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Gizmag compares the features and specs of the iPad Air 2 (left) and Google/HTC Nexus 9
MicroSD card
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MicroSD card
Starting price (in USD)
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Starting price (in USD)
Release
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Release
On the software front, it's iOS 8 vs. Android 5.0 "Lollipop"
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On the software front, it's iOS 8 vs. Android 5.0 "Lollipop"
Storage
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Storage
Tap-on display
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Tap-on display
Weight
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Weight
Processors
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Processors
RAM
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RAM

The latest Nexus tablet probably has the most iPad-esque appearance of any Android tablet to date (well, unless you count this gem from Xiaomi). Let's see how the features and specs of the Apple iPad Air 2 compare to those of the HTC/Google Nexus 9.

Size

Dimensions
Dimensions

With the Nexus 9, Google and HTC are trying to hit a sweet spot between mini- and full-sized tablet. It comes out 5 percent shorter and 9 percent narrower than Apple's tablet.

The iPad Air 2, though, is one damn thin tablet. At a mere 6.1 mm (0.24-in), it's 24 percent thinner than the Nexus.

Weight

Weight
Weight

Both tablets are light, but the iPad Air 2 has the relative advantage. Despite having a 16 percent larger face, it's only 3 percent heavier.

Build

Build
Build

If you used the Nexus 7 tablet (or Nexus 5 smartphone), the Nexus 9's matte plastic back will look very familiar. This time around, though, there's a brushed metal band running around its edge.

The iPad Air 2 still has the higher-end build materials, with its smooth aluminum unibody design.

Colors

Color options
Color options

This year's iPads are the first to give you a gold option. The new iPads are sold in the same three hues as the latest iPhones.

We're looking at three very similar color options for the Nexus 9.

Display (size)

Display (size)
Display (size)

The Nexus 9 gives you 84 percent as much screen as the iPad Air 2. If 9.7-in iPads were a little too big for you, and 7.9-in iPad minis a bit too small, then the Nexus' 8.9-in display might be the Goldilocks slate you've been looking for.

The biggest reason that the Nexus 9 looks like an iPad (at least at a quick glance) is its 4:3 aspect ratio. During the last few years, it's been rare to see any non-iPad tablets in 4:3. 16:10 is much more common on the Android side of the aisle.

Display (resolution)

Display resolution (and pixel density)
Display resolution (and pixel density)

We're also looking at the same resolution on both tablets, which gives the smaller Nexus a slightly higher pixel density.

Display (type)

Display (type)
Display (type)

Both slates use IPS tech for their screens.

Anti-reflective display

Anti-reflective display
Anti-reflective display

This might be the iPad Air 2 feature we're the most intrigued by: it has an anti-glare coating on its screen. Apple says it can reduce reflections by 56 percent.

Tap-on display

Tap-on display
Tap-on display

Similar to what LG has done with its recent flagships, HTC has added sensors that let you turn on the Nexus 9's display by double-tapping it.

Fingerprint sensor

Fingerprint sensor
Fingerprint sensor

Apple's excellent Touch ID sensor makes its way to the iPad Air 2. It lets you easily secure your device, as well as log-in to Touch ID-supported third-party apps.

The iPad's fingerprint sensor also works with Apple Pay, the company's new payment service. But it only works for online purchases, not the in-store portion of Apple Pay.

Storage

Storage
Storage

Both tablets start at 16 GB, but once you get to the second tier, the iPad doubles the Nexus' internal storage.

MicroSD card

MicroSD card
MicroSD card

Neither of these tablets lets you augment your internal storage with a microSD card.

Processor

Processors
Processors

Apple's chips typically outperform what you'd expect from their cores and clock speeds alone (often by a wide margin).

RAM

RAM
RAM

We look forward to the first iPad with 2 GB of RAM. Backgrounded apps and browser tabs needed to reload a bit more often than we'd like on older (1 GB RAM) models.

Cameras (megapixels)

Camera (megapixels)
Camera (megapixels)

You know tablet-makers are running out of obvious areas to upgrade when they start making their cameras more like smartphone cameras (have you ever tried using a full-sized tablet as a camera?). Still, it should be a nice bonus to have (quite possibly) very good cameras in both of these slates.

Camera aperture

Camera aperture (rear)
Camera aperture (rear)

Both tablets' rear cameras have the same ƒ/2.4 aperture.

Camera flash

Camera flash
Camera flash

The Nexus 9 has something no iPad has had: a flash for its camera. It's a single-LED flash, though, not a superior dual LED.

Battery

Battery (note the different formats ... we'll update when we find the capacity of the iPad Air 2)
Battery (note the different formats ... we'll update when we find the capacity of the iPad Air 2)

Apple and Google are listing their respective batteries in different formats, so we can only draw so much from these specs. Perhaps more telling is that Apple estimates 10 hours of web use (over Wi-Fi), while Google and HTC are advertising up to 9.5 hours.

Software

On the software front, it's iOS 8 vs. Android 5.0 "Lollipop"
On the software front, it's iOS 8 vs. Android 5.0 "Lollipop"

We're looking at iOS 8.1 on the iPad vs. Android 5.0 Lollipop on the Nexus 9.

Release

Release
Release

The iPad Air 2 launches this week, while the Nexus 9 starts shipping soon after, at the beginning of November.

Starting price

Starting price (in USD)
Starting price (in USD)

With the latest pair of Nexus devices, Google is scaling back its budget pricing. While the Nexus 5 and 7 were priced very aggressively, the Nexus 6 and 9 are priced more like top-tier flagships. That has the Nexus 9 starting at just US$100 cheaper than the iPad Air 2.

Also worth mentioning is last year's iPad Air: it's sticking around at the same $400 as the Nexus 9. If you prefer the iOS ecosystem, but like that price tag, that model could still be worth a look.

For more on these two, you can read our full reviews of the iPad Air 2 and Nexus 9.

9 comments
Peter Mason
Apparently the iPad has a triple core and 2GB of ram according to an article on Mac Rumors.
Alba Silva
Htc Nexus 9 is better (I'm sorry Apple) why? - better processor - faster - better images - pictures improved (and flash) - it's narrower and shorter, just ipad is thinner
jasont
after a quick read I notice the bit about screen size .When has 8.4 inch been 84% of 9.7 inch.More like 91.7525778% me thinks.Way out me thinks can we trust anything else this apple fanboy has to say
Liamwhiteley
The comment from Alba Silva must be a troll right? Seriously, what you just said literally does not make nexus 9 better in any way as the 'better processosr' is false (tests show A8x is way faster: http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/10/21/apples-new-a8x-powered-ipad-air-2-smokes-new-android-tablets-including-nvidias-tegra-k1) And the other points are just ridiculous.
jasont
Sorry that should read 8.9 inch is near 92% of 9.7 inch . Not 84%
Wombat56
@ jasont The 84% would relate to screen area, not linear dimensions.
Light_Lab
We have tested many iGadgets and Android phones and tablets for day-to-day use right up to iPad Air and a Nexus 7. There is no doubt that iGadgets are well made and are more standard for iterfacing with second party devices; but when it comes to OS functions Apple has been resting on it's laurels for sometime. (1) The Android devices are much cheaper for the same quality and also the apps are slightly cheaper. (2) When you buy an Android app you own the app and can install it on any number of Android devices without buying it again. iOS apps tend to expect you to buy the app again for each device. There is also a slightly better Android app selection range. (3) The iOS touch keyboard gives very little indication of when it is in uppercase or lowercase, the Android devices actually show upper and lower case letters on the keys. (4) Some (not all) Android devices have an SD chip slot, those that don't have an SD slot you can use the OTG socket. Evn with an adapter interfacing to SD chips on iGadgets is very limited. (5) More of the Android internal hardware is accessible to applications. (6) iCloud for iOS8 is incompatible with iOS
jasont
Fair point Wombat 56 I stand corrected .would be intrested to see the benchmarks on these two beast
Giuseppe Papari
Hi, please check out the nexus 9 processor. Tegra K1 seems to be a 4+1 core, not a dual core http://www.nvidia.com/object/tegra-k1-processor.html