Apple debuted the iPad Mini with Retina Display on Tuesday, and it’s already making waves with gadget fans, from the typical early adopters to wait and see crowd.  Compared to other tablets in the same category, the new iPad Mini Retina stands out as the most robust of the bunch, even though some highly anticipated upgrades were missing in action.

The popular Google Nexus 7 (2nd generation) introduced earlier this year, has already gotten high marks for being an affordable tablet with a gorgeous touch display and powerful quad-core processor.  It seemed like a very cutting edge device when compared to the competition, even the iPad… which to many seemed inadequate due to the lack of the high resolution Retina Display.

Apple has now rectified that issue, so let’s take a look the specs of each small tablet to see who comes out ahead.

iPad Mini with Retina Display
iPad Mini with Retina Display
Google Nexus 7 (2nd Gen.)
Google Nexus 7 (2nd Gen.)
Size  7.87(H) x 5.30(W) x 0.29(D) inches 7.81(H) x 4.72(W) x 0.41(D) inches
Weight  12.03 oz  10.55 oz
Body Composition  Aluminum / Gorilla Glass Plastic / “Soft Touch” plastic (back) / Gorilla Glass
Display 7.9″ Retina Display (diagonal); 2048 x 1536 resolution; 326 ppi 7″ (diagonal) IPS LCD; 1920 x 1200 resolution; 323 ppi
Battery Non-removable, rechargeable Li – Polymer 4,440 mAh (unconfirmed) via Lightening adapter / Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi, watching video, or listening to music Non-removable, rechargeable Li – Polymer 3950 mAh via microUSB (allows for wireless charging via Qi branded inductive power stands) / Up to 9 hours active mixed use
Processor Apple A7 with 64-bit architecture; 1.3 GHz; 1GB RAM;  M7 Motion Co-Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core; 1.5GHz; 2GB RAM
OS iOS 7.x Android (4.3; Jelly Bean)
Connectivity  GSM / CDMA / LTE / GPS and GLONASS GSM / LTE / EDGE / GPS and GLONASS / NFC
Storage 16GB / 32GB / 64GB / 128GB  16 GB / 32 GB
Camera 5 MP iSight camera (rear); Video recording: HD (1080p) up to 30 frames per second with audio /  1.2 MP FaceTime HD camera (front); Video Recording HD (720p) up to 30 frames per second  5 MP camera (rear); Video recording: HD (1080p) up to 30 frames per second with audio / 1.2 MP camera (front); video calling
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n; MIMO technology 802.11 a/b/g/n/
Bluetooth 4.0 4.0
Price Wi-Fi Only: 16GB $399 / 32GB $499 / 64GB $599 /128GB $699 ** Wi-Fi + Cellular: 16GB $529 / 32GB $629 / 64GB $729 / 128GB $829 Wi-Fi Only: 16GB $229 / 32GB $269 ** Wi-Fi + Cellular: 32GB $349

SIZE / WEIGHT / BODY COMPOSITION

The Nexus 7 is a lighter and smaller than the Mini 2 (which we’ll call it going forward), save for its depth…  the iPad is amazingly slim much like the iPhone, and very easy to hold between the fingers for reading.  I like to consider the Mini 2 in the same class, size-wise, as most popular ebook readers, and it performs quite well as a “book”.  The Nexus 7 is 1.48 ounces lighter than the Mini 2, and it’s noticeable, especially when kicking back on the sofa to read.

Both tablets look great, but the iPad edges the basic black Nexus out with the classic premium look now available in Space Grey or Silver.  The Mini 2′s minimalist glass and aluminum design just looks more high tech and future forward than the Nexus, though the soft-touch back of the Google tablet gives it a nice feel in the hand.  The Nexus 7 is made by Asus in Taiwan, while the iPad Mini 2 is made by Apple and assembled in China.

Winner:  The Nexus 7 wins here for being a bit lighter.  Honestly, it’s a matter of taste when it comes to aesthetics.

DISPLAY

Google’s newest Nexus 7 has gotten a lot of attention for its brilliant display, prompting Amazon to recently up the ante with the recent release of the Kindle Fire HDX.  Google’s small tablet received a solid upgrade with a sharp, bright 1920×1200 pixel display (323 ppi) that renders game graphics, web pages and video beautifully.

Apple had introduced the original iPad Mini with a standard 7.9-inch (163ppi), 1024 x 768 resolution display.  Retina Display found it way onto the iPad 3, but while the original Mini’s small screen size allowed for greater pixel density, it seemed to be lacking when compared to the competition, especially the Nexus 7.  That has been rectified as of Tuesday… the iPad Mini 2 simply crushes the Nexus 7 on screen resolution. At 2048 x 1536 (326 ppi) is the best among small tablets, period.

In the bigger is better contest, the iPad Mini 2′s screen is considerably larger than the Nexus 7, but still within size for the small tablet category.

Winner: No contest, it’s the iPad Mini with that killer Retina Display… as gorgeous a display as you’ll find on any tablet.

BATTERY AND PROCESSOR

The original iPad Mini packed a 4440mAh Li-Po battery and since Apple’s specs for the Mini 2 are very close, I’d say it’s the same battery.  It’ packs more punch than the Nexus 7′s 3950 ampere hour battery giving longer standby time and longer mixed use time when actively using apps, web browser, and camera functions.  Though the Nexus 7 is able to recharge wirelessly using the Qi branded power stands, this is a negligible feature at the moment, not widely adopted.  While the Lightening connector was more of a high-priced liability when first introduced, it’s come down in price and third-party versions are becoming available.

While the Nexus 7 packs a solid Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC, the iPad Mini 2 has the new A7 chip with 64-bit architecture.  Leaving the M7 co-processor aside, all benchmark tests have the blazingly fast A7 ahead of the pack.  While many apps don’t yet take advantage of the 64-bit processor, many are coming up that can, and the iPad line is the perfect mobile “computer” to showcase that power.

Winner: iPad Mini has the Nexus 7 beat.

I’m going to leave aside Operating System as I’ve covered it before with Android devices.  We’ll also skip connectivity since both are GSM/LTE devices with GPS.  Apple’s Wi-Fi offers multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) technology, though the jury is still out on if it improves the overall W-Fi experience.  Neither device sports the new “ac” Wi-Fi configuration, but it’s not widely adopted yet, so… meh.

STORAGE

If you need a LOT of onboard storage, Apple has the Nexus 7 beat, though when price comes into the picture, this suddenly changes.  Add to that the increasing use of respective cloud services that both Google and Apple are actively pushing to customers in lieu of more onboard storage, and though Apple clear comes out ahead with the iPad Mini 2′s storage configurations, the Nexus 7 does offer two of the most popular SSD storage solutions.

Winner: iPad Mini 2, though I don’t think many folks will plop down money for the  64/128 GB models when iCloud is becoming more accepted among Apple fans and general consumers.  Still it’s nice that the options are  there for business users.

CAMERA

I was disappointed that Apple didn’t upgrade the camera in the Mini 2.  I think both new iPad models deserve a kick up to 8 MP with a larger sensor, better aperture, and LED flash.  I really need to point that one out… the iPad Mini and Air still do not have an LED flash (rather they have “backside illumination”) and nothing close to the iPhone’s badass True Tone flash.  In low light shooting conditions, it’s helpful to have a flash, so what up with that, Apple?

The Nexus 7 however, not only lacks a flash, but also has virtually the same camera specs as the iPad Mini 2.  That’s not to say that the Google tablet takes better pictures than the iPad Mini 2 (it doesn’t), nor that it’s more versatile (it’s not, especially in the realm of video recording).  Without getting into nitpicking over megapixels and pixels size, internally, Apple has always taken greater care with camera optics and the iPad Mini 2 is no exception.

Winner: iPad Mini 2.  Without a flash, or upgraded camera, Apple’s newest Mini is preferable to the Nexus 7, especially when shooting video (including video chats… FaceTime is superior).

PRICE

Let’s cut to the chase:

Winner: Nexus 7.  If you’re interested in a less premium product than the iPad Mini 2, then the Nexus is for you.  Overall, you won’t miss much and if you’re an Android user, you could do worse for a small tablet.  It has a wonderful display and all the bells and whistles at much less than you’d pay even for a refurbed iPad Mini 2 (once they show up).










Christian Hokenson

 
Christian Hokenson is a writer based in Burbank, CA. He's interested in technology, movies, and home entertainment. If you're nice to him, he might buy you ice cream.