Today Apple announced its 7.9-inch iPad mini tablet and compared it to the Nexus 7 (considered the current “Google” tablet) to show the wealth of differences between the two. But Apple skipped a few key comparisons that consumers will want to be aware of. Here’s a closer look at those differences, as well as how Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD tablet compares to both:
The iPad mini is without a doubt the thinnest tablet ever produced. It’s thinner than most smartphones today at just 7.2 millimeters thick. It’s slightly taller and wider than most competing 7-inch tablets, though not the Kindle Fire HD. From my time with the Fire HD, I’ve found that holding it from edge to edge with one hand is possible, though not comfortable. The iPad mini is also the lightest tablet available, although the upcoming Barnes & Noble Nook HD tablet will weight just seven grams more at 315 grams.
Processing power from the specs alone appears fairly similar, but they don’t tell the whole story. The A5 processor inside the iPad mini is identical to the one inside the iPad 2 — which is now one and a half years old — compared to the newer processors inside both the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. The competing tablets may be faster and offer double the RAM, but Apple’s current operating system (iOS 6) is better suited for the included components, which makes it better at processing data more quickly and more efficiently. Google constantly updates its operating system to improve speed and efficiency; Amazon historically has not.
Apple’s Phil Schiller (Senior VP of Marketing) also talked onstage today at the device’s unveiling in San Jose about how the iPad feels much better than the Nexus 7 because the Android tablet is made of plastic and feels cheap. I haven’t found that to be the case. The Nexus 7 is the best 7-inch tablet to hold because of a well-designed case that is easy to grip and feels warm in the hand. The Kindle Fire HD has a rubber-feeling back, which is also comfortable and warm. The iPad mini will have a metallic back panel similar to the current iPad, which feels cold in the hand but provides good grip. I prefer the warm Nexus 7 to the iPad, though size and weight has to be considered as well.
The iPad mini is available in three capacity variations: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. The Nexus 7 starts with just 8GB, which in my use is completely inadequate. A 16GB model is also available, and 32GB models have been found in stores across the US. The Kindle Fire HD comes in 16GB and 32GB capacities.
All of the tablets use a 1.2 megapixel (MP) front-facing camera that can record video in 720p, but the iPad mini is the only tablet here that includes a rear-facing camera. That 5MP camera is likely the same found in the latest iPod Touch and the iPhone 4. Tablet cameras have traditionally offered mediocre to poor still photography and video recording, but larger 10-inch tablets have shipped with significantly improved cameras this year.
Most 7-inch tablets feature widescreen (16:9) displays, but the iPad mini has the same aspect ratio as the full-size iPad of 4:3. This means all HD video will have letterboxing, just as on the iPad. The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD both have denser displays at significantly higher 720p resolutions. This will make HD media appear clearer and without letterboxing. All of the tablets use high-quality IPS displays, but the iPad’s lower resolution and larger screen will make pictures appear blurrier and more pixelated. It’s surprising Apple didn’t include a Retina display on the iPad mini for exactly this reason.
Apple boasts the same 10-hour battery life on the iPad mini as on the iPad, though the Kindle Fire HD offers 11 hours of continuous use. The Kindle Fire HD is also the only 7-inch tablet that can be purchased with a cellular data plan and access to LTE networks across all major carriers that support the latest generation data network. LTE will be available on the iPad mini in the US through Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint.
The biggest difference between the iPad mini and all competing Android tablets is the price. The starting price for the iPad mini is $330, $130 more than both the starting Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD. The iPad mini also increases the price in $100 increments for doubling the memory, compared to Amazon, which only charges $50 more for the 32GB model. Additionally, other tablets like the Nook HD will feature expandable memory through user-purchased memory cards. The iPad mini is far more expensive than the competition and at equivalent capacities only gets more expensive as the capacity increases. In fact, the iPad mini is expensive even compared to the latest iPod Touch, which has all of the same internal components as the iPad mini.
Will you buy an iPad mini? Tell us what you think about it in the comments section below.
This article originally appeared on VentureBeat