Android is doing very well in the smartphone market and leading in the OS wars, but up until recently, Google’s mobile operating system failed to impress many tablet customers.
The Google Nexus 7, manufactured by ASUS, was one of the first Android tablets that actually sold well, primarily thanks to its impressive bang for buck ratio. Unfortunately for Google though, the high-end Nexus 10, a device manufactured by Samsung, is not selling nearly as well, despite the fact that it features some amazing hardware and an attractive price tag.
Can the Sony Xperia Tablet Z succeed where the Google Nexus 10 fell short? Or is the latter still the current king of 10-inch Android tablets? We’ll address this question in detail before we reach our conclusion, and we’ll do that by dividing this article into four equally important sections: display, design and build quality, internal hardware, and Android implementation.
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z has a 10.1 inch LED-backlit LCD that runs at 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution (also known as full HD or 1080p) and features a 224 PPI. The overall quality of the display on the Xperia Tablet Z is very good. However, its opponent features the best display currently available on a tablet.
The Google Nexus 10 uses a 10.1-inch Super PLS display that runs at the whopping resolution of 2560 x 1600 and showcases a pixel density of 299. Consuming media, browsing the web, or playing a graphically intense game are all areas where the Google Nexus 10 display outshines any competition.
Verdict: The Google Nexus 10 features the best display available on an Android tablet.
Many high-end mobile devices these days tend to adopt sort of an aggressive look, but the Google Nexus 10 is not one such tablet. Instead, the 10-inch tablet features very rounded corners and a body made out of rubbery plastic that make the tab seem more like a toy, a friendly device that anyone can come to like.
The Google Nexus 10 measures 263.9 x 177.6 x 8.9 mm (10.39 x 6.99 x 0.35 in) and weighs 603 g (1.33 lb); it's not the most compact tablet around, but we think most people will be okay with it.
The Sony Xperia Tablet Z measures 266 x 172 x 6.9 mm (10.47 x 6.77 x 0.27 in) and weighs in at 495 g (1.09 lb), meaning that it is noticeably slimmer and lighter than most competitors. The Tablet Z follows a totally different design language. Personally, I think that its aggressive, edgy design and sleek build make the Sony Xperia Tablet Z the better looking of our two contenders. Add the fact that the Tablet Z is dustproof and waterproof, and you get a new standard for high-end 10-inch Android tablets.
Verdict: The Sony Xperia Z is slimmer, lighter, and dustproof / waterproof.
The Tablet Z is based on the same Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset that you can find in Sony's two other high-end devices of this spring, the Xperia Z and the Xperia ZL. The 1.5GHz quad-core Krait processor, Adreno 320 GPU, and 2 GB of RAM are more than enough for almost anything you can throw at it.
However, the Samsung Exynos 5 Dual chipset inside the Google Nexus 10 has been proven to be a little bit faster, especially at the GPU level. The 1.7 GHz dual-core Cortex A15 chipset and Mali T604 GPU are paired with 2 GB to make up one of the fastest chipsets currently available in the Android Universe.
Although both the Google Nexus 10 and the Sony Xperia Tablet Z come with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, only the latter can be extended with a microSD card (of up to 64 GB in size).
Furthermore, the Google Nexus 10 is currently available with Wi-Fi only, while the Sony Xperia Tablet Z also comes in a version that can run on LTE networks (depending on the region), as well as HSPA connections.
The Google Nexus 10 is the Android device with the biggest battery that we currently know of: a 9000 mAh beast that does all the hard work of powering up all those pixels and that power hungry A15 processor.
In the other corner, the Sony Xperia Z only uses a 6000 mAh battery, but given that we’re talking about a 6.9 mm thick (or is that thin?) device, some are willing to let this slide.
Verdict: The Google Nexus 10 is the faster of the two, but lacks microSD and cellular connectivity.
As most of you guys well know, Google’s Nexus devices are the first ones to receive new Android updates (usually, all Nexus devices are updated to the new Android version in less than a week following the official announcement of a new Android flavor). The Nexus 10 makes no exception to this rule, as it is currently running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and is expected to be updated to Key Lime Pie as soon as the new version comes out.
In the other corner, Sony (just like most other Android manufacturers) is not a company that’s renowned for speedy Android updates, although there are signs of improvements in this section for the Japanese company. Currently, the Sony Xperia Tablet Z runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Another noticeable difference is that the Google Nexus 10 uses the stock (vanilla) Android UI, while the Sony Xperia Tablet Z runs on Sony’s proprietary user interface, one that doesn’t really bring any noticeable improvements to the UI, but is used mostly as a marketing move.
Verdict: The Nexus 10 wins this round thanks to the priority at which it will receive new Android versions in the future.
Make no mistake about it: these are the two best Android tablets currently on the market.
However, although although the Sony Xperia Tablet Z features a very impressive design (probably the single best looking Android tablet out there) and top-end hardware, the fact remains that the Google Nexus 10 is the undisputed king of the Android tablet space: blazing fast Exynos 5 Dual chipset, ultra high resolution display, and vanilla Android (flavored with the promise of timely Android updates).
Another thing that you should take into consideration is that the Sony Xperia Tablet Z is more expensive than the Google Nexus 10, although availability for the latter was found to be an issue as well, as was the case with all of Google’s Nexus that were launched during 2012.
What do you guys make of this battle? Is the design enough to make the Sony Xperia Tablet Z preferable to the Google Nexus 10? Or are the hardware specs of the latter just too good to pass on? Share your vision via the comment section below!