Mobile Technology

iPad mini vs. 2012 Nexus 7

How does the iPad mini compare to the Nexus 7?
How does the iPad mini compare to the Nexus 7?
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At least on paper, the Nexus comes out ahead here
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At least on paper, the Nexus comes out ahead here
iPad mini gives you more real estate, but the Nexus 7 packs more pixels
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iPad mini gives you more real estate, but the Nexus 7 packs more pixels
This is one of the few categories that's a clear advantage for the iPad mini
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This is one of the few categories that's a clear advantage for the iPad mini
The iPad mini is a bit wider and notably thinner
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The iPad mini is a bit wider and notably thinner
Estimates are fairly close
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Estimates are fairly close
As light as the iPad mini is, the Nexus 7 isn't far away
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As light as the iPad mini is, the Nexus 7 isn't far away
iPad mini probably has half the RAM of the Nexus 7
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iPad mini probably has half the RAM of the Nexus 7
App Store or two Benjamins? (Bill: Shutterstock)
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App Store or two Benjamins? (Bill: Shutterstock)
How does the iPad mini compare to the Nexus 7?
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How does the iPad mini compare to the Nexus 7?
The Nexus 7's storage bump puts it on even ground with the iPad mini (apart from the 64GB model)
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The Nexus 7's storage bump puts it on even ground with the iPad mini (apart from the 64GB model)
The Nexus 7 is also now available with mobile data, but it lacks LTE
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The Nexus 7 is also now available with mobile data, but it lacks LTE

Apple and Google don't have a lot of love for each other. Yet the two companies' hardware has seldom directly competed. Sure, the iPhone is rival to the Galaxy Nexus and a slew of Android phones. The iPad also does battle with some slow-selling full-sized Android slates. But perhaps the budget tablet market will show us the first true slugfest between the sworn enemies. The Nexus 7 – possibly the best budget tablet on the market – now has to contend with Apple's new iPad mini. How do the two miniature slates compare? Let's take a look …

Dimensions

The iPad mini is a bit wider and notably thinner
The iPad mini is a bit wider and notably thinner

Both are in the same class of smaller tablets, but there are differences. Though the devices are nearly the same height, the iPad mini is a bit wider and much thinner.

The iPad mini has narrower bezels on the side, which Apple used to keep the form nearly as small, but with a larger display.

Weight

As light as the iPad mini is, the Nexus 7 isn't far away
As light as the iPad mini is, the Nexus 7 isn't far away

As light as the iPad mini is, the Nexus 7 holds its own. Both slates should be comfortable for extended one-handed use.

Display

iPad mini gives you more real estate, but the Nexus 7 packs more pixels
iPad mini gives you more real estate, but the Nexus 7 packs more pixels

Each tablet's display has its pros and cons. The iPad mini offers an extra 0.9 inch (22.9 mm) of diagonal real estate, but the Nexus 7 has better resolution and a significantly higher pixel density.

Processor

At least on paper, the Nexus comes out ahead here
At least on paper, the Nexus comes out ahead here

At least on paper, this is a big win for the Nexus. It has a quad core Tegra 3 chip, while the iPad mini is rocking the old A5 chip – which first appeared in 2011's iPad 2.

Neither tablet, however, should be too much of a slouch in the performance department.

RAM

iPad mini probably has half the RAM of the Nexus 7
iPad mini probably has half the RAM of the Nexus 7

The iPad mini's 512 MB of RAM is unconfirmed, but – as it shares much of the iPad 2's components – that's where the smart money is. Consider this another (probable) victory for the Nexus.

Storage

The Nexus 7's storage bump puts it on even ground with the iPad mini (apart from the 64GB model)
The Nexus 7's storage bump puts it on even ground with the iPad mini (apart from the 64GB model)

Until recently, the Nexus 7 was only available in 8GB and 16GB models, but those have now been replaced by 16GB and 32GB options - for the same price points (US$200 and $250, respectively).

Apart from the more expensive 64GB iPad mini, storage is basically a draw.

Wireless

The Nexus 7 is also now available with mobile data, but it lacks LTE
The Nexus 7 is also now available with mobile data, but it lacks LTE

The Nexus 7's minor update also saw it receive cellular data. You can buy a 32GB model with mobile data off-contract from Google. The only caveat is that it doesn't support LTE, only 3G and HSPA+ (often marketed as "4G").

The iPad mini's cellular model does support LTE, but you'll have to pay for it. The 16GB cellular model costs $460 - nearly as much as a Wi-Fi only full-sized iPad.

Battery

Estimates are fairly close
Estimates are fairly close

Until we put some time in with the iPad mini, these are based solely on estimates. Going off of those, we're looking at similar uptimes.

Cameras

This is one of the few categories that's a clear advantage for the iPad mini
This is one of the few categories that's a clear advantage for the iPad mini

Google and Asus left a rear-facing camera off of the Nexus 7, so the iPad mini comes out ahead here. It has the same shooters that are found in the 4th-gen iPad.

Intangibles

App Store or two Benjamins? (Bill: Shutterstock)
App Store or two Benjamins? (Bill: Shutterstock)

Millions of customers will likely buy the iPad mini, largely because of the App Store. Though Google Play is nothing to sneeze at, Apple's marketplace has a much larger selection of native tablet apps. They will all run in the same resolution (1024 x 768) as they do on the first two iPads.

A huge advantage for the Nexus 7 is its cost. Its US$200 starting price is $130 cheaper than the base model (16 GB, Wi-Fi only) iPad mini. With the Nexus 7 coming out ahead in several other key categories, anyone but die-hard Apple fans would be wise to at least consider Google's tablet.

Summing up

Apple's pricing is a bit higher than many people expected. Considering that the device's components fall short of the cutting edge, a $130 premium over its rivals is a gutsy move. Because it's made by Apple, it will sell in bunches, but that may not necessarily make it the leading budget tablet. The App Store may be all it needs to outsell its rival, but should we expect more from Apple?

Is the iPad mini better than the Nexus 7? As always, much of that will come down to personal taste. We will, however, attempt to make this distinction even clearer when the iPad mini arrives on doorsteps on Nov. 2.

For the full-sized version of this battle, see our comparison of the Nexus 10 vs. iPad.

37 comments
DaveBG
The only thing the Nexus is lacking is SD card slot. Everything else is better than the iPad. Clear winner for me.
Inappropriate Response
@daveBG "eveything else is better than the iPad" Nexus - worse battery, worse apps, worse cameras, worse dimensions, worse wireless, worse storage options. so apart from the battery, apps, camera, dimensions, wireless and storage options.. everything else is better than the iPad - got it - thanks
A S Raju
I recently bought Nexus 7 not knowing about Ipad mini's release. I was a bit worried until I read this article, but now I am happy to know I got the best value for my money. Having used Nexus for a couple of weeks, the only shortfall I noticed is lack of an SD card slot, which if added will make Nexus7 the ultimate tablet for budget buyers like me.
Silverbird
The asterisks next to every spec that the Nexus 7 is lacking tells me that this is a biased article. I agree with IR, better battery, apps, camera, dimensions, wireless...not to mention the display, make the iPad mini a much better option. In addition, with the additional camera and processing power, it is able to be more than just an e-reader.
Fahrenheit 451
This category is really about economy and other tablets in this category clearly understand this aspect as does the Nexus 7. To use as a kick-about the Nexus 7 trumps the "precious" (aka Lord of the Rings) iPad Mini. Too many hedge funds invested in Apple trying to keep the hype at a fever pitch. Sad.
Brian Mcc
Silverbird... Did You even read the article? ipadM has a slower cpu, lower rez screen, less Ram and cost more. Costs ALOT more.
PhyllisVE
I was just about to buy a Nexus 7 when I found out that it won't run the Square credit card app. I think the headphone jack is different and won't fit the gadget. Let us all know if the iPad mini will!
Ramape
Remember how when those of us that bought the first gen iPad felt when a year later the iPad 2 hit the shelves? I felt cheated and didn't rush out to buy the iPad 2 This is just the same thing Think of this as a feeler product, toe on the water to see how cold it is or hot for that matter 6 month to a year down the line the iPad mini 2 will arrive and those of us that bought the first gen iPad mini will have been cheated out of our hard earned cash The second gens iPad mini will have a a6 chip retina display and still cost the same They probably have it already but holding it back until next year It's the same with all apple products I want to buy one but who doesn't they are cool products that apple produce But I would advise holding off for 6 month to a year We can live with out these things in our lives
Grunchy
These devices are rapidly commoditizing, either one represents an amazing amount of capability at impressive price points. The technology is rapidly evolving too, it doesn't pay to get worked up on technical specs - by this time next year, both these brand-new tabs will have been leapfrogged again. I agree with the sentiment that SD slots are necessary, and they will become the norm. Everybody is asking and the first manufacturer that provides that will win a lot of customers. Same for replaceable battery, USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, GPS map data, etc.
Bob Fately
@Ramape, I hope you are correct because without the Retina display (disappointing) I see no need to switch from my Kindle Fire
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