Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Apple iPad mini versus Google Nexus-7

Apple announced the iPad mini at the historic
California Theater in downtown San Jose, CA
Apple announced their much-anticipated iPad mini this morning, during a "Special Event" at the historic California Theater in San Jose, CA. CEO Tim Cook gushed about how "cool" the new 7.9" iPad mini is. Though Apple boasted of commanding a 91% share of the tablet space, with 100 million iPads shipped, the company covets the remaining 9% of the market taken mostly by the smaller Amazon Kindle, Samsung Galaxy, and Google Nexus devices.

Cook went into great detail to compare the mini to the Google Nexus-7, but also to the iPad-2, at least in terms of display resolution. Steve Jobs famously ranted about how 7" tablets paled in comparison to the original 10" iPad, so it was ironic to see his successor present the mini as a shrunken iPad, in a side-by-side video.

 Beyond the hidden details of the iPad mini's inner workings, which designer Jony Ives refers to not as shrunken but as "compressed", consumers won't see any new technology in the mini. A model with 4G LTE connectivity will be available, but that will cost a minimum of $459.The WiFi -only models start at $329.

Nevertheless, legions of Apple fans will likely be happy to fork over the additional $80 more than the cost of the most comparable 16GB Google Nexus-7. (A $199 Nexus-7 is also available with 8GB of storage).  Consumers may choose the iPad mini as a less expensive iPad option for their children, compared to the much smaller 4" iPod Touch (32 GB) with Retina display for $299. The iPad mini has a somewhat larger 7.9" display compared to the Nexus-7, but weighs 32 grams less. The Google tablet is more than a half-inch narrower however, which could be more important for single-handed e-reading.

The Nexus-7 has a more powerful applications processor than Apple's 32nm dual-core A6. The NVIDIA Tegra-3 in Google's tablet is a Quad (+ 1) core device, and is manufactured in a 40nm process. The 7" Nexus tablet has much higher display resolution, at 216 pixels per inch (ppi) versus 163 ppi in the iPad mini. (No retina display in the lower priced Apple tablet). The higher resolution of the Nexus-7, combined with the 12-GPU core Tegra-3, should significantly outperform the mini's graphics, especially for gaming applications.

The iPad mini provides a 5MP rear-facing camera, which the Google tablet lacks. Owners of the Android tablet get additional Near-Field Communications (NFC) capability, which Apple has not yet supported, for Android Beam applications. GPS location capability is standard in the Nexus-7. Apple buyers must purchase a cellular model to get location-based applications in an iPad mini, plus incur the expense of an AT&T, Sprint or Verizon data plan.

The table below summarize the feature comparison of the 16GB Nexus-7 and iPad mini tablets.

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