Almost exactly one year after announcing its first mini tablet, today Apple announced the new iPad mini 2 with Retina Display. After countless leaks, reports, rumors, and even release date leaks all the details are finally official. The hotly-anticipated device didn’t change much as far as looks and styling, but under the hood we have a new Retina Display and better 4G LTE support.
The new iPad mini 2 will have the same design many love, thin bezels, and the same 7.9-inch display, only this time you’ll enjoy a Retina-quality screen. The new iPad mini 2 isn’t the only impressive small tablet on the market, and Google’s second-gen Nexus 7 (2013) is readily available and packs tons of improvements over the previous model. Read on to see what’s new, what’s different, and seven things you need to know.
One key selling point for both of these tablets is the display, and with good reason. Packing in the latest technology to deliver stunning visuals and full HD screens in a small package. The Nexus 7 comes with a 7-inch IPS panel with a full HD 1920 x 1200 resolution and 323ppi. Just like last year the iPad mini has a slightly bigger (and wider) 7.9-inch IPS panel only this time Apple upgraded it to Retina quality, offering a resolution of 2048×1536 and 324ppi.
The new iPad mini 2 is a huge improvement over the 1024 x 768 resolution with 163 pixels-per-inch we saw in the previous model, which remain available at $299. Google upped its game with the new Nexus 7, and Apple has answered. Rumors were back and forth on the mini getting a Retina Display, and Apple delivered. Until we get our hands on it we can’t say for certain, but most likely both of these devices will have a display that’s on par with one another.
As far as design the new iPad mini 2 is nearly exactly the same as the original, so there isn’t much difference here, except for the fact that the new Nexus 7 is much improved over the previous model. As we mentioned in our Nexus 7 review, the new matte black finish is extremely comfortable, the device is lightweight, and it’s a joy to use. The important part here will be the design and dimensions both, considering you’ll be holding these devices for an extended period of time.
Overall the dimensions are the same for the iPad, and slightly different for the Nexus 7. Comparing the two you’ll notice the size and weight isn’t very different, even with the bigger 7.9-inch screen on the mini. The Nexus 7 comes in at 200 x 114 x 8.7mm, and weighs just 290 grams. When compared to the iPad mini 2 at 200 x 134.7 x 7.5mm and 331 grams you’ll notice the Mini is a bit wider, but also more sleek coming in with a very thin build. This was the same as before, meaning you’ll get more in the same space as the original, something we’re accustomed to seeing from Apple.
In the end here you’ll get the beautiful aluminum design of the iPad mini 2 and some added weight, or the soft-touch matte plastic design of the Nexus 7, both which are extremely comfortable.
As expected Google updated the Nexus 7 to some top-tier specs, and Apple did something somewhat similar. The new Nexus 7 sports a blazing fast and fluid 1.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM. This makes it extremely fast, responsive, and generally handles all jobs and multi-tasking very well. And this should only improve with Android 4.4 KitKat, which is rumored to arrive any day now.
Apple however, with the iPad mini 2, added the new A7 dual-core 64 bit processor from the iPhone 5S. It still has the new M7 motion co-processor under the hood, and along with the newly optimized and redesigned iOS 7 it should be blazing fast. If our current iPad mini with iOS 7 is any indication, the new iPad mini 2 will be as fast and smooth as ever, even though it will be pushing more than double the pixels as before.
Both tablets have camera for those who enjoy some tablet photography or video chatting. Rocking a 5 megapixel rear camera on the Nexus 7 and the all familiar iSight 5 MP shooter on the mini 2. You’ll still get the Facetime HD front shooter, and a 1.3 front camera is available from Google’s Nexus. The new Nexus 7 and iPad mini 2 stack up nearly identical on paper, so the important parts come next. Those being software, storage, and price.
Available now is the newly improved iOS 7, which is rolling out to a slew of devices as we speak. Touted as the worlds fastest and best update available, already on nearly 64% of all iOS devices, iOS 7 is Apple redefined. Being the biggest changes yet, if you’ve not used iOS 7, the iPad mini 2 will be a completely different experience from what you’re use to.
Read: iOS 7 on iPad 3 Review
The Nexus 7 runs on Android, a pure version right from Google. Currently with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean on board the device flies, and Android 4.4 KitKat is coming sometime extremely soon. The experience will differ with both devices greatly, and surely apps are an important role. Both of these devices have their respective manufacturers latest and greatest software, and will continue to have it. Getting updates direct from Google or Apple, no carriers will slow the process, and you’ll always have the most up-to-date software around.
An important factor with any tablet purchase is storage limits. Being that you’ll fill it with music from iTunes, Movies, pictures, and most important apps. Tons of games will take up the majority of space, but then again this is all about the consumers needs. Some just need a tablet, others will opt for the 64GB experience to fill it with anything and everything.
The Nexus 7 sadly only has two options here, with Google offering only a 16 and 32GB option for buyers. While 32GB is plenty for most, there’s no way to expand storage as they don’t offer a micro-SD slot. Apple doesn’t either, and as a result you’ll have 16, 32, 64GB and lastly 128GB storage options available. They’ll cost you, but at least we have 128GB as a choice. Google needs to do the same.
Another key feature with tablets as of late is connectivity. Being able to connect to Facebook, Twitter, and everything else on the go. Why have a portable 7.9-inch iPad mini 2 if you can’t use it at the bus stop or on the train? As a result both Apple and Google have continued to push the boundaries here.
The Nexus 7 is only offered in one variant with 4G LTE, and that’s the more expensive $349 32GB version. Available with full 4G LTE from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Verizon has some issues and still hasn’t certified the device, but that’s coming. AT&T and T-Mobile users will fall back on 3G and HSPA+ as well, for when LTE isn’t an option.
The iPad mini 2 with WiFi + LTE comes with support for all major US carriers. AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint are all on board out of the gate. Well, whenever the tablet is released “later in November.” The iPad mini 2 also supports more LTE bands than ever before, and will have support all over the world.
Ahh. The most important aspect of all, that being the price. As expected Google went ahead and undercut Apple and the iPad again, by releasing a very compelling Nexus 7 at an excellent price. This is one area the iPad mini 2 just can’t compete, and you may want to look into getting the original refurbished for $249, which is still more than the new (and much more powerful) Nexus 7.
Google’s Nexus 7 comes in three easy choices. Those being 16GB for $229, 32GB for $269, or a 32GB model with 4G LTE for $349. If you choose the Apple route, you’ll be paying more than the top Nexus, to get the base model iPad mini 2.
The base iPad mini 2 with 16GB of storage starts at $399, which is $170 more than the Nexus 7. Pick your poison folks! As expected, each bump from 32, 64, and 128GB storage options comes with a $100 price hike. Getting a 128GB iPad mini 2 for $699 might sound crazy, but you’ll be able to fill it to the brim with content.
As a comparison, the 32GB 4G LTE iPad Mini 2 will cost users $629, which is just $70 shy from customers being able to purchase two Nexus 7’s with 32GB of storage and 4G LTE at $349. It’s a pretty expensive slate, no matter how we look at it, so the choice is yours. Apple’s continued to offer prices much higher than the competition, and won’t stop until customers choose elsewhere. With more than 170 million iPad sales confirmed by Tim Cook this morning, there’s no signs of them slowing down.
Google really stuck it to Apple when it comes to pricing, just as expected, which offers plenty for your dollar without breaking the bank. Obviously it will all come down to funds available, consumers specific needs, not to mention loyalty to Android vs iOS, but the pricing is a big factor. Apple most likely has a winner on its hands with the new iPad mini 2, but we’ll have to wait and see once it finally hits shelves sometime next month.
For those who’d rather not wait, or don’t intent to spend the amount Apple will be asking, you can get the Nexus 7 right this moment. It’s been available for a few months already, beating Apple to the market, and in price, all for a similar experience and device. As a reminder, there are some Refurbished iPad mini originals that come pretty close to the Nexus 7 price, but then again, that’s last years goods.