Mobile Technology

iPad mini with Retina Display vs. 2013 Nexus 7

iPad mini with Retina Display vs. 2013 Nexus 7
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the iPad mini with Retina Display and 2013 Nexus 7
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the iPad mini with Retina Display and 2013 Nexus 7
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Gizmag compares the features and specs of the iPad mini with Retina Display and 2013 Nexus 7
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the iPad mini with Retina Display and 2013 Nexus 7
View gallery - 15 images

If you're looking to pick up a smaller tablet this holiday season, it's hard to beat Apple's Retina iPad mini and the Google/Asus Nexus 7. If you've narrowed your search down to these two, do you go with the bigger screen or the smaller price? Join Gizmag, as we compare the features and specs of the iPad mini with Retina Display and 2013 Nexus 7.


The tablets are both 200 mm (7.9 in) tall, but that's where the similarities end. The Nexus 7 is 16 percent narrower, giving it a very different look and feel. The Nexus isn't by any means a beefy tablet, but it is also 16 percent thicker than the svelte iPad mini.


The Retina iPad mini is actually heavier than last year's model. It isn't a huge difference in hand, but it also doesn't feel quite as feathery as the 1st-gen iPad mini. The extra heft has it coming out at 14 percent heavier than the Nexus 7.


We're looking at a familiar aluminum construction for the iPad mini, and a matte plastic build for the Nexus 7.

Neither tablet is uncomfortable in hand, but one thoughtful little software touch by Apple gives the iPad mini the advantage. If you grip the side of the tablet, your thumb resting on the edge of its screen won't register as a touch. On the Nexus 7, it will.


You have two color options for the Mini, and a standard black for Google's tablet.


Screen size is a huge advantage for the iPad mini. The Nexus 7 only gives you 74 percent as much display area as Apple's tablet does. When you take the Nexus 7's ever-present onscreen navigation buttons into account, the difference is even bigger.

The 2012 Nexus 7 and 1st-gen iPad mini both had sketchy display resolution. But no worries there anymore, as these latest models are razor-sharp. The Nexus 7 does display a wider range of colors, though that probably isn't something you'd notice unless you put the two side-by-side.


iOS and Android each have their fans, but the iPad's App Store still has a much bigger and better selection of tablet apps. The Nexus 7's screen is small enough that stretched-out phone apps don't look too bad on it, but its dedicated tablet app library lags far behind.

The Android 4.4 KitKat update is still in the process of rolling out to the Nexus 7. So if you buy one today, you might still be on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean for a little while.


The iPad mini offers two extra storage tier options. Neither tablet has a microSD card slot.


Both slates are sold in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + cellular models. The cellular models in both devices support LTE, as long as your carrier provides it.


The above numbers show battery capacity, but we have some much more telling numbers. In our hands-on test, where we stream video continuously (with Wi-Fi on and brightness at 75 percent), the Nexus lasted 5 hours and 33 minutes. In the same test, the Retina iPad mini lasted 10 hours and 50 minutes. We wouldn't call battery life a huge concern on the Nexus 7, but it also doesn't compare to the excellent uptimes from the Mini.


The iPad mini's A7 chip is faster than the Nexus' Snapdragon CPU. In regular use, though, both tablets are plenty zippy. The iPad mini's performance just has more room for improvement, if developers ever start pushing the 64-bit A7 to its limits.


The Nexus 7 doubles the iPad mini's 1 GB of RAM.


Nothing mind-blowing in the camera department, but since tablets make for awkward cameras anyway, we don't think that's anything to worry about.

Release cycle

It's hard to believe, but the 2nd-gen Nexus 7 has already been around for four months. If Google sticks with its established cycle, we could see a 3rd-gen Nexus 7 about eight months from now.

Starting prices

The iPad mini gives you a much bigger screen, a superior app selection, and terrific battery life, but you're also paying for it. It starts at US$170 more expensive than the Nexus 7.


If prices were equal, this would be a blowout for the iPad mini. Though it's a little heavier than the original iPad mini, it's still very light, while offering a great screen, cutting-edge performance, and over 475,000 tablet apps. If you don't want to compromise screen real estate, battery life, or app selection, then the iPad mini is the clear choice.But $170 is a big price difference. In fact, for only $60 more than the cost of one Retina iPad mini, you can buy two Nexus 7's. If you're trying to keep your budget down, the Nexus 7 gives you a very light and powerful device with a razor-sharp screen for much less.

If you're thinking about throwing down for the Nexus, though, just be sure to research Google Play's tablet app selection first. If the iPad mini has your favorite apps, and the Play Store doesn't, then Apple's tablet is probably going to be worth that extra $170.

For more, you can check out our individual reviews of the Retina iPad mini and 2013 Nexus 7. You can also broaden your search with our updated Tablet Comparison Guide.

View gallery - 15 images
Joel Detrow
Balanced, well-rounded review. Good to see.
Eddie Hu
One thing not mentioned in this comparison is that the Nexus 7 screen is significantly brighter than the iPad mini display (over 200 nits brighter according to Anandtech). Therefore the battery life tests at "75% brightness" are completely skewed in the iPad's favor. The actual battery life of the two tablets at equal brightness is actually about equal.
Work colleague has the new 7. Great for reading books and web material.
I opted for the Air over the Mini in the end because of the larger screen.
All I can say is if you are mostly using the 7 for surfing the net and the odd game/media experience, you can stretch battery to almost a week if you're using it a 1-2 hours a day.
Speaking for the Air, with about 25% brightness, which I consider to be quite bright, I nearly hit two weeks the first time I got it with light use. The ability of the new architecture to scale down power usage when not used is amazing.
We have come far !
Lewis M. Dickens III
Since AAPL has managed to develop the finest Desktops, and Laptops, the integration of all this from one to the other is superb. They are always talking to each other and that is a huge plus.
Fly an
Another thing they forgot to mention is the Nexus has a built in gps and the mini doesn't' unless you get the LTE or 4g model for an extra $120. The Nexus also has a built in accelerometer at the base price.
Bernie Koppenhofer
My grandson has both the Mini and the 7, he said four apps on Mini and it is "full", he has put "many, many" apps on the 7 without hitting capacity.
Whilst the Nexus 7 is considerably cheaper than the iPad Mini Retina, so is the build quality of every single component. If you buy Apple, you buy quality that is controlled by Apple from start to finish. If you buy Google, it only goes as far as the point of sale. Apple's are "generally" sold through Apple controlled retailers. However, even if you buy an Apple product from a non-directly controlled Apple retailer, Apple shops still support the products. Try doing that with any of their rivals. Apple's customer care is legendary, Google products are cheaper for a reason, they're not as good, period (as you Americans say!)
Grant Geske
Well rounded review. I am a converted apple fanboy and have owned both versions of the Nexus and iPad mini. As the 2nd gen Nexus 7 has become my tablet of choice, I have to concede the fact that the App store still has a larger selection, but it is important to remember that the Play store grows everyday. Furthermore, when you compare the fact that the Play store covers almost 98% of the App store's top 250 apps in every category you quickly realize that the difference in total number apps is not a big deal. When people ask me for advice for what to buy I tell them...If you want the best tablet (any size) for the money, hands down Nexus 7 won't disappoint. If you have unlimited funds the best tablet (any size) is the Retina Mini. Of course there always arguments of OS, but the beauty of tablets is that you can get them to do what you want them to do with minimal effort.
One thing nobody ever mentions in any article, and the ONE reason I chose the Nexus 7 over the iPad mini: the Nexus 7 fits in my back pocket and jacket pocket. The iPad mini is just a BIT too wide. If the mini was a just 1/4" narrower, I'd go with Apple. That make a huge difference to me, since I don't carry a man-purse around.
David Foggia
Once saw what this guy said about the display, I stopped reading and had to comment.
How could you say "The Nexus 7 only gives you 74 percent as much display area as Apple's tablet does. "??? That's comparing it to the Mini! Do you not see anything wrong with that? How could that be a negative for the nexus 7. I have a nexus 7 and used to have a mini and the mini was just uncomfortable to hold for me. People say "I need that extra .9 inches for web browsing and emails". How? Is it really that bad web browsing on a pure 7 inch tablet? And emails?? Htf does that work out? Its HUGE my thumbs can't even reach across I have to use my index for each letter.
The Nexus 7 has a MUCH better display. Its been proven that it have a better color reproduction and gamut. Stuff retina. Apple's 'holier than thou' terminology is disgusting. The nexus 7 has 323 PPI and the retina mini has 326. Is that really that much better?
For the price, the mini is a piece of crap in my eyes.
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