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iPad Mini vs. Nexus 7: A head-to-head tablet comparison

Has Apple really created a new state-of-the-art in small tablets?

By , Network World
October 23, 2012 04:13 PM ET

Network World - iPad mini vs. Nexus 7

Apple made a point of doing a side-by-side comparison of its new iPad Mini with Google's Nexus 7 at the launch event Tuesday in San Jose, highlighting the mini tablet's thinness, larger viewable screen area and custom app compatibility.

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Those are all fine points, but they might not tell the whole story -- here's a more detailed comparison between the two devices.

SCREEN: The Nexus 7 boasts higher resolution in a smaller overall package than the iPad mini -- 1280x800 in 7 inches, compared to 1024x768 in 7.9 inches -- giving it superior pixel density and a sharper picture. Apple opted not to include its Retina display technology in the new device for compatibility reasons -- since apps written for other iPad versions are all designed for a 4:3 aspect ratio, they would have to be retooled for differently proportioned screens.

 
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Apple made a lot of hay out of the bigger screen at the launch event, saying that it represents a substantial increase in viewable area -- and the thin side bezels allow it to accomplish this without swelling the device's overall size by too much. While that's true, it's also slightly misleading -- yes, content can be displayed on a bigger scale, but it will still be less sharply defined than on the Nexus 7's screen.

UNDER THE HOOD: Much was made of the "missing" features on the Nexus 7 at its release -- the consensus is that Google skipped out on cellular connectivity and a rear-facing camera in the interest of keeping costs down. However, the device's other internals are nothing to scoff at -- the quad-core Tegra 3 system-on-a-chip provides solid performance and decent graphical horsepower.

Apple's iPad Mini adds a 5-meagpixel rear camera, but other than that, packs hardware similar to that of the second-generation iPad, released in March 2011 -- meaning 512MB of RAM to the Nexus 7's 1GB, and a dual-core A5 SoC instead of the aforementioned quad-core Tegra.

SOFTWARE: The excellent Version 4.1 of Android, better known as Jelly Bean, powers the Nexus 7, providing a powerful, responsive user experience. While the iPad Mini is no slouch in this department either, iOS 6's well-documented problems with Maps and other features detract from the usually seamless Apple UI.

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