Last year, Apple, Amazon and Google did battle in the 7-inch tablet arena with their respective iPad mini, Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD tablets. In 2013, it appears that the battle will wage on with the companies rumored to be releasing sequels in the form of the iPad mini 2, Nexus 7 2 and Kindle Fire HD 2 sometime later in the year.
In July of last year, Google released the Nexus 7, a 7-inch Nexus-branded tablet that was built by Asus and sold on the Google Play Store. The device packed high-end hardware, vanilla Android software, quick updates and like other Nexus devices, was and is extremely cheap starting at a mere $199 and going up to $250.
The Nexus 7 battled the likes of the larger 9.7-inch iPad and the Amazon Kindle Fire and went on to be one of the bigger tablet successes of the past year. In the months after its launch though, the device ran into some stiff competition in the form of the 7.9-inch iPad mini 2, Apple’s first go at a smaller iPad, and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD which brought a higher resolution display and other perks to Amazon’s popular Kindle Fire tablet line.
Like the Nexus 7, the Kindle Fire HD and the iPad mini both saw success and joined the Nexus 7 as the premier tablets in the 7-inch range. Unsurprisingly, it looks like Apple, Amazon and Google are all working on successors to their 7-inch tablets with rumors pegging releases by the end of the year.
In the case of Apple, it’s said to be constructing a new iPad mini 2. In the case of Google, rumors have been swirling in regards to a Nexus 7 2, a device that is once again built by Asus. And most recently, from Amazon’s camp, there are rumors of a new Kindle Fire HD 2 that will be touching down at some point during 2013.
Like the previous models, all three of these tablets are enticing and now, ahead of their arrival, it’s time to take a look at the five most important things to know about the match up between the rumored iPad mini 2, Nexus 7 2 and the Kindle Fire HD 2.
Nexus 7 2 Release Will Come First
Rumors may be circling about all three 7-inch slates but it’s clear that Google is going to strike first. Rumors have pegged the Nexus 7 2 release date for some time in July. The device is said to have Android 4.3 on board and with Android 4.3′s release imminent, it appears that we are closer than ever to a new Nexus 7 tablet.
And while the Nexus 7 2 release is likely close, the release dates for the iPad mini 2 and the Kindle Fire 2 appear to be distant, something that shouldn’t be surprising to anyone.
Thus far, we’ve heard that the iPad mini 2 could be coming sometime this fall, at the earliest. The iPad mini 2 arrived just before the holidays last year and remains a solid option, meaning, Apple isn’t in any hurry to replace it. Replace it it will but from the looks of things, it likely won’t arrive until after September 21st.
Today, BGR revealed Amazon’s plans for a Kindle Fire HD 2. Unfortunately, the leak did not contain any information on a release date only that it would be arriving sometime later this year. The original Kindle Fire HD didn’t arrive until September, ahead of the holiday, and it would be strange to see Amazon release its new Kindle Fire HD well before that.
What this means is that consumers should expect the Nexus 7 2 to arrive first, Kindle Fire HD 2 second and the iPad mini 2 last.
Better Hardware a Given
These are sequels to former high-end tablets and sequels typically have some hardware upgrades involved whether it’s with the display, the processor, the camera, and the list goes on. With the iPad mini 2, Nexus 7 2, and the Kindle Fire HD 2, consumers should know that Apple, Google and Amazon will certainly be making some upgrades to the hardware of their sequels.
In the case of all three, we should see display resolution increased. The iPad mini 2 is expected to get a Retina Display, a massive upgrade over the display that is one the current model. In the case of the Nexus 7 2, consumers should expect to see a 7-inch 1920 x 1200 resolution display that is an upgrade over the 1280 × 800 resolution display on the current Nexus 7. And finally, the Kindle Fire HD 2 is expected to have a display that rocks 1,900 x 1,200 resolution, a big upgrade over the original.
We also expect to see processor changes with all three outfitted with brand new processors. The Nexus 7 2 in particular is expected to have a powerful quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor and we expect Apple and Amazon to outfit their devices with something on par with that. Consumers should also expect to see 4G LTE built in to all three devices, including the Nexus 7 2, whose predecessor relied on 3G.
Better hardware for all three tablets is a given, something that should be interesting to those that view a lot of content or play a lot of games.
Similar Screen Sizes
One of the more important things to know about these devices is that their screen sizes likely won’t change from their predecessors. Rumors suggest that the Nexus 7 2 will keep a 7-inch display like the Nexus 7, the iPad mini 2 should check in with a familiar 7.9-inch display and the Kindle Fire HD 2 is rumored to have a 7-inch display as well.
This means that the iPad mini 2 will likely boast the larger of the three displays and will be more appealing to those that simply need an extra bit of space for things like gaming and reading.
Major Software Differences
Consumers should know that these three devices, the iPad mini 2, Kindle Fire HD 2 and Nexus 7 2 will feature drastically different software. The iPad mini 2, since it’s arriving later this year, will almost assuredly be coming with iOS 7, Apple’s new iOS update.
iOS 7 is a huge departure from iOS 6, the software found on Apple’s current slate and the iPad mini 2 may ultimately not come with the same software limitations as the iPad mini.
The Nexus 7 2 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 2 will likely both come with some version of Android, likely Android 4.3 Jelly Bean for the Nexus 7 2 and an earlier version for the Kindle Fire HD. For the Nexus 7 2, this is important because it’s a pure Android device meaning it’s how the Android experience from Google was meant to be. No interference from the manufacturer, all Google.
The Kindle Fire HD 2 will likely come with Android but it won’t look anything like Android on the Nexus 7 2 thanks to its heavily customized look. Amazon in the past has draped a skin over the top of Android so that it doesn’t resemble Android at all. In fact, this is a big reason why the tablets don’t get major Android updates.
The Kindle Fire HD 2 will more than likely have updated and new Amazon services, something that the Nexus 7 2 won’t have. It’ll also have access to the Amazon Appstore which houses apps for Amazon’s array of devices.
Familiar Price Points
While we haven’t heard much as far as pricing is concerned, consumers should know that the pricing on all three devices should not fluctuate much from the older models.
All three companies will launch competitive prices and that should mean somewhere in between $200 and $350 which is where we saw the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD and iPad mini land last year. Both the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD started at $199 last year and consumers should expect the same, despite rumors of the Nexus 7 2 jumping up in price.
Apple typically carries its price points over for years and because of that, we expect it to keep the iPad mini 2 price starting at $330, despite the upgrades from the older model.
While the prices could indeed fluctuate, don’t look for any of these companies to make a big splash with a deeply discounted or sharply increased starting price point.