Google is evolving. Though Android is still licensed to countless manufacturers, the company is stepping up production of its flagship Nexus products. The devices, close collaborations with hardware vendors to promote new versions of Android, have been multiplied in number. This year, Google has released (at least) one new Nexus smartphone, and two Nexus tablets.
The higher-end of Google's tablets – the Nexus 10 – was built to go toe-to-toe with the iPad. How does it compare to Apple's market-leading slate? Let's take a look …
The Nexus 10 is thinner than the iPad, with slightly more oblong dimensions. Google intends Nexus 10 as more of a landscape tablet, while the iPad is primarily seen as a portrait-mode device.
The Nexus 10 is a bit lighter than the iPad, despite its slightly larger display.
Google and Samsung went for broke with the Nexus 10's display. Its 2560 x 1600 resolution makes it the first major tablet to improve on the iPad's 2048 x 1536 resolution. That gives the Nexus a whopping 299 pixels per inch (PPI), notably sharper than the iPad's 264PPI.
There are other differences, as the Nexus utilizes Super AMOLED technology, next to the iPad's IPS. We look forward to getting these remarkable displays next to each other for some real-world comparisons.
The Nexus 10 packs Samsung's dual core Exynos chip, while the iPad 4 carries the Apple A6X (also manufactured by Samsung). This will also get more interesting with hands-on time, but both tablets should perform well.
The 4th-generation iPad's 1GB of RAM are the same amount as the 3rd generation iPad, and double the RAM of the iPad 2 and (probably) iPad mini. The Nexus 10, meanwhile, brings a full 2GB of random-access memory.
Apart from the iPad's pricier 64GB option, storage options are even. The big story here is that the Nexus 10 undercuts the iPad's equivalent models by US$100.
The Nexus 10 launches as a Wi-Fi only affair, but it's possible that Google will later offer a mobile data-equipped version. The iPad is available in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G/LTE models.
At least on paper, cameras look close. Both sport 5MP rear shooters, with the Nexus 10 having a higher-megapixel front-facing camera.
The only meaningful battery life comparison will come with hands-on use, but, on paper, the iPad's battery hardware looks better. As the Nexus 10's display also packs a ludicrous amount of pixels, it will be interesting to see if its uptimes are on par with the iPad's.
The Nexus 10 ships with the updated version of Jellybean, Android 4.2. It's a relatively minor update, but it adds some new features like Photo Sphere (a 360 degree panorama photo tool), updated Google Now, and multiple user accounts. It also adds a Swype-like trace keyboard, built right into stock Android.
The biggest weakness of Android tablets, though, is still their native tablet app selection. This is where the iOS App Store excels, with its 275,000+ library of tablet-specific applications. If the Nexus 10 – along with its little brother, the Nexus 7 – is popular enough, that gap could soon shrink. It already has, to some degree. For now, however, too many Android tablet apps are still stretched-out smartphone apps.
For many shoppers, the most important category will be price. Here the Nexus 10 has a big advantage. Google and Samsung wisely undercut the iPad, selling the 16GB model for US$400. A tablet is a big purchase, and it will be interesting to see how many holiday shoppers opt for the cheaper – yet arguably more powerful – Nexus 10.
When rumors recently surfaced about the Nexus 10, we didn't think we'd see the device until 2013. Google and Samsung, however, are getting it into customers' hands on Nov. 13. This could make for an epic holiday showdown with the iPad.
Many full-sized Android tablets have fallen at the iPad's feet. Is the Nexus 10's top-notch hardware, aggressive pricing, and trusted branding enough to give the iPad a serious run for its money? It won't likely outsell the iPad anytime soon, but it could position itself as a long-term threat. Stay tuned.