A bit earlier today, Apple unveiled the iPad Air and iPad Mini (2nd gen). The newly refreshed models offer improved specs over their predecessors, and the iPad Mini even gets an upgraded Retina display.
For most of us in the Android world, there’s probably not much to be excited about here, though. This is the same old Apple and that means relatively minor spec revisions and tons of hype. Still, some folks might be curious about what exactly has changed with the new iPads and how they compare with flagship Android tablets.
So let’s jump right in and take a brief look at how the iPad Mini and iPad Air hold up when compared to Android’s best – at least on paper.
In the Android camp, there are few 10-inch tablets that come close to Samsung’s latest, the Galaxy Note 10.1. The Note 10.1 comes in two configurations, a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 for LTE markets, and a 1.9GHz octa-core Exynos 5 for 3G markets.
The rest of the specs apply to both versions and include a massive 3GB RAM, 32/64GB storage, microSD, an 8MP back cam, 2MP front cam, an 8220mAh battery, an S-Pen and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with Touch Wiz. Finally, the display is a 10.1-incher with a 2560 x 1600 resolution.
On the Apple side of the fence, the new iPad Air features a 64-bit Apple A7 CPU, which provides 8x faster performance than the original iPad and 72x better GPU performance. There’s also a Facetime HD front cam, 5MP iSight main cam, expanded LTE support and a battery rated for 10 hours of life.
Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014)
|CPU||A7 64-bit chip with M7 motion co-processor||Snapdragon 800 (LTE)
Exynos 5 Octa (3G)
|GPU||integrated quad-core GPU||Adreno 330|
|RAM||unspecified, likely 1GB||3GB|
|Display||9.7-inch LED-backlit IPS display||10.1-inch super AMOLED|
|Resolution||2048 x 1536, 264 ppi||2560 x 1600, 299 ppi|
|Cameras||5MP rear iSight cam, 1.2MP Facetime front cam||2MP front cam, 8MP back cam with face detection, HDR mode and more|
|Battery||32.4 watt-hours, roughly 10 hours web surfing/videos||8,220 mAh Li-ion|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/gn and MIMO, Bluetooth 4.0, LTE optional||Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, NFC, LTE optional|
|OS||iOS 7||Android 4.3 with Touchwiz|
|Weight||469 grams||535 grams|
|Dimensions||240 x 169.5 x 7.5 mm||243.1 x 171.4 x 7.9 mm|
|Pricing||$499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, 64GB for $699, and 128GB for $799||$549 for 16GB, $599.99 for 32GB model|
While the new iPad Air offers an impressive 64-bit processor, the Mac maker didn’t go into detail in terms of RAM, so we have a feeling we are looking at a paltry 1GB RAM – just like with the iPhone 5S. Overall, the iPad Air has decent specs and a very thin design, but its hardware isn’t going to blow anyone away.
Turning to the software side, the iPad Air is powered by iOS 7, and includes iLife and iWork for free. Beyond that, this is pretty much the same OS as we have already seen with the iPhone 5S – only in larger screen glory.
As for the Note 10.1, you get Android 4.3 with TouchWiz right out of the box. This includes all the Android 4.3 goodies you’d expect, alongside tons of TouchWiz improvements, S-Pen enhancements and other special software that really sets the Note 10.1 apart from both the stock Android experience and anything that Apple brings to the table with iOS 7 and the iPad Air.
So which tablet is the better one? It really comes down to preference. Some folks truly prefer the walled garden approach of an Apple device and don’t mind that their hardware isn’t necessarily bleeding edge in the same way as Android devices.
For the rest of us, there are plenty of great Android options – the Galaxy Note 10.1 included.
Now let’s turn our attention to Apple’s next-gen Mini. This time around we’ll compare the 7.9-inch tablet to the trusted Nexus 7 (2013), as well as the recently released LG G Pad 8.3. We’ll start by taking a look at the new iPad Mini.
The Apple iPad Mini (2nd gen) is basically the same exact device as its bigger brother, only in much more condensed form. You get the same cameras, same 64-bit CPU and the power of iOS 7. The only noticeable differences are the 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536 resolution display and a smaller 23.8 watt-hour battery. That said, the battery performs similarly to the Air’s bigger battery due to the smaller display and other optimizations.
Like the iPad Air, we are looking at iOS 7, again with free iLife and iWork access out of the box. Not much to say here about iOS 7, other than it seems to be a pretty sizable improvement over iOS 6 and should provide pretty much the same experience as found on the iPhone 5S and iPad Air.
The G Pad is is an 8.3-inch tablet with a 1920 x 1200 resolution display, it also features a Snapdragon 600 CPU, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, a 4,600 mAh battery, a 5MP main cam, a 1.3MP rear cam and Android 4.2.2.
On the software side, you get Android 4.2.2 with light customized theme from LG. Probably one of the most significant added software features is LG’s Q Pair, which allows you to sync certain notifications from your phone over to your tablet.
Last but certainly not least we have Google’s popular refreshed Nexus 7. This bad boy features a 7-inch 1920 x 1200 resolution display, a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 24 Pro, 2GB RAM, 16/32GB storage, a 5MP rear cam, 1.2MP front cam and a 3,950 mAh battery.
On the software side we get stock Android 4.3, and that means this will be one of the first devices to get Android 4.4 KitKat when it rolls out later this month. For stock Android fans, it doesn’t get better than this!
Nexus 7 (2013)
LG G Pad 8.3
|CPU||A7 64-bit chip with M7 motion co-processor||1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064||1.7GHz Qualcomm APQ8064 Pro Snapdragon 600|
|GPU||integrated quad-core GPU||Adreno 320||Adreno 320|
|RAM||unspecified, likely 1GB||2GB||2GB|
|Display||7.9-inch LED backlit IPS||7-inch IPS||8.3-inch LCD|
|Resolution||2048 x 1536, 326 ppi||1920 x 1200, 323 ppi||1200 x 1920, 273 ppi|
|Cameras||5MP rear iSight cam, 1.2MP Facetime front cam||5MP rear cam, 1.2MP front cam||5MP rear cam, 1.3MP front cam|
|Battery||23.8 watt-hour battery, rated for 10 hours moderate use||3,950 mAh||4,600 mAh|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/gn and MIMO, Bluetooth 4.0, LTE optional||802.11 a/b/gn, NFC, optional LTE, Bluetooth 4.0||802.11 a/b/gn, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, IR Blaster|
|OS||iOS 7||Android 4.3 Jelly Bean||Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean|
|Weight||331 grams||299 grams||338 grams|
|Dimensions||200 x 134.7 x 7.5mm||200 x 114 x 8.65mm||216.8 x 126.5 x 8.3mm|
|Pricing||16GB - $399, 32GB - $499, 64GB - $599, 128GB - $699||16GB - $229, 32GB - $269||$350|
When pitting all three of these tablets against one another, they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. For the Nexus 7 (2013) we get decent hardware, a smooth stock Android experience and a very low price tag. The G Pad 8.3 has a large, high-resolution display, beefy specs, cool features like G Pair and a metal design that is both durable and reasonably attractive.
The iPad Mini actually surprises a bit here by offering a higher resolution display and a unique 64-bit CPU- both of which one-up the competiton. On the downside, the tablet may only have 1GB of RAM (Apple has yet to verify this). Starting at $399, it’s also not exactly super affordable.
Again, it’s hard to call any of these three tablets ‘better’ than one another. If you want the best resolution display, a 64-bit processor and Apple’s iOS 7 – the iPad Mini is a no brainer. On the Android front, it comes down to whether you’d rather have stock Android or a larger 8.3-inch display with a speedy Snapdragon 600 CPU.
Apple has been working hard to up its game recently with both its smartphones and now its brand new tablets. Whether or not they succeed in this area is debatable, but we have to admit that the new iPads are certainly not bad looking devices and seem to have more than solid enough specs to give Android’s best tablets a run for the money.
In short, it’s all about which ecosystem fits you best. What do you think of Apple’s latest tablets? Impressed or not?