The iPad reinvented the tablet category, and defined it for a while. But from the beginning, smaller tablets swam into its wake. Other companies did their best to corner that part of the market. It still remains extremely competitive, with Google and Amazon leading the way to push the 7-to-8 inch tablet category to be priced affordably and still offer appealing performance. The flagship devices from both companies, the Kindle Fire HDX from Amazon and the Nexus 7 from Google, are two of the best tablets on the market for any size. Is the second generation iPad Mini ready to compete? We put it head-to-head with the other industry leaders to find out.
iPad Mini Retina
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
Nexus 7 (2013)
|Size||7.9 x 5.3 x 0.3 (in)||7.32 x 5.04 x 0.35 (in)||7.9 x 4.5 x 0.3 (in)|
|Weight||11 oz||10.97 oz||11 oz|
|Screen||7.9-inch LCD||7-inch LCD||7-inch LCD|
|Resolution||2048×1536 pixels||1920 x 1200 pixels||1920×1200 pixels|
|OS||iOS 7||Android 4.2 with Fire OS 3.0 UI||Android 4.3|
|SD Card Slot||No||No||No|
|Processor||A7 chipset||2.2GHz Quad-cord Snapdragon 800||1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, 4G LTE||Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, 4G LTE||Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, 4G LTE, NFC|
|Camera||Front 1.2MP, Rear 5MP||Front 1.2MP||Front 2.1MP, Rear 5MP|
|Bluetooth||Yes, version 4.0||Yes, version 4.0||Yes, version 4.0|
|Battery||10 hours of use||11 hours of use||4,000mAh (9 hours of use)|
|Charger||Lightning connector||Micro USB||Micro USB|
|Marketplace||Apple App Store||Amazon Appstore||Google Play Store|
|Availability||Nov. ’13 on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint||AT&T, Verizon||AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon|
One of the biggest drawbacks with the first run of iPad Minis was the lack of the Retina display. It was running at a lower resolution than most tablets on the market and lacked the clarity and polish that Apple’s Retina displays offer. That has been amended with the new iPad Mini, which features a Retina screen and a resolution equal to that of the full size iPad. It also tops both the Kindle Fire HDX and the Nexus 7 when it comes to sheer pixels. Because of the bigger screen on the iPad Mini, the pixel count is essentially even between the three devices. (iPad Mini comes in at 324ppi while both the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX have 323ppi.) The Nexus 7 has been noted for having an extremely impressive display of its own, so seeing the devices up close and personal may be the best way to tell which looks better (though all three look great).
Things get a little harder to compare when we start looking at the processor. Apple has given the iPad Mini the same treatment it gave the iPhone 5S and iPad by installing the A7 chipset into the device. This 64-bit chip gives the iPad Mini a debatably large step up. As the mobile world continues to inch toward the switch to 64-bit processors, the iPad Mini has already hit that benchmark. Both the Kindle Fire HDX and the Nexus 7 are equipped with fast 32-bit processors with plenty of power of their own. The Kindle Fire HDX has the advantage of having the latest in the line of Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, while the Nexus 7 uses an older – but not outdated – model.
This may end up being a big determining factor when looking at these three devices. Arguably, the iPad Mini has a better display and more impressive internal specs thanks to its A7 chipset, but it’s also priced at nearly twice the cost of either the Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire HDX. Even the old version of the iPad Mini, which is acting as Apple’s entry model now, carries a $300 price tag. That’s too high considering just how impressive and competitive the two Android tablets are. Starting at $230 each, as opposed to $400 for the new iPad Mini, the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX tablets offer a lot for the price point. The Kindle Fire HDX is especially intriguing given its 24/7 help service built into the device as opposed to Apple’s Genius Bar, which requires a store visit, and phone support. Right now, it feels like it’s priced a little high but by November when it’s available, the iPad Mini and its new processor and pretty display could win us and you over. You’ll just have to get it in your hands and see.