We compare the just-announced iPad Mini with its closest competition, two solid 7-inch tablets based on Android’s OS.
After dominating the larger tablet market it popularized, Apple has turned its attention to the slightly smaller screen. The 7/9-inch iPad Mini has Apple’s attention to style and detail behind it, but it certainly isn’t the only slate of this stature that’s worth considering, especially with the Mini’s stepped-down processor and screen resolution.
As the days march on after the iPad Mini’s announcement, we’ll continue to update this story with further impressions, hands-on details, and results from our iPad Mini rated review.
|Apple iPhone Mini||Google Nexus 7||Kindle Fire HD|
|Operating system||iOS 6||Android 4.1||Custom Android OS|
|Price||Wi-Fi: $329 (16GB), $429 (32GB) and $529 (64GB). Cellular: $459 (16GB), $559 (32GB), $659 (64GB).||$199.00 (8GB); $249 (16GB)||$199.00 (16BG), $249 (32GB)|
|Release date||November 2, 2012 for Wi-Fi; cellular 2 weeks later||July 13, 2012||September 14, 2012|
|Display||7.9-inch IPS, 1,024×768 pixels (162 ppi)||7-inch IPS, 1280×800 pixels (216 ppi)||7-inch IPS, 1024×600 pixels (169 ppi)*|
|Size||7.9 x 5.3 x 0.28 inches||7.8 x 4.7 x 0.41 inches||7.4 x 4.7 x 0.45 inches|
|Weight||0.68 pounds/308 grams||0.75 pounds/340 grams||0.88 pounds/400 grams|
|Processor||A5 processor||Quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3||1.2GHz dual-core TI OMAP4460|
|Memory||16GB, 32GB, or 64GB||8GB or 16GB; 1GB RAM||16GB or 32GB; 1GB RAM|
|Expandable memory||No||Up to 64GB||No|
|Camera||5-megapixel rear-facing, HD “FaceTime” front-facing camera||1.2-megapixel front-facing, no rear camera||720p “Web chat” front-facing|
|Battery||10 hours battery life (rated)||4,325 mAh; 10.1 hours video battery life (tested)||4,400 mAh; 5.1 hours video battery life (tested)|
|Extras||4G LTE versions available||Tegra games||Whispersync, X-Ray, Amazon Prime|
|Ports||Lightening connector||Micro-USB||Micro-HDMI, Micro-USB|
|Color||Black, white||Black||Dark grey|
* 8.9-inch version also available, with a 1920×1200-pixel resolution.
At this point, it’s clearly too soon to tell, but keep in mind that the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD already target slightly different audiences from the beginning. The former lures gamers, multimedia enthusiasts, and Android fans looking for the “pure” Jelly Bean experience. The Fire HD is a steal for Amazon Prime members looking to maximize their Amazon membership while keeping tablet costs low, memory high, and the screen mighty.
So where does the iPad Mini stand? Certainly existing Apple fans will gravitate toward it, but there’s a question mark over how good the Mini actually is. Yes, it’s lighter and thinner than the competition, but the screen resolution lacks Apple’s crystal clarity, and the battery life is on-par with rivals, but won’t surpass it.
Beyond that, the iPad Mini’s A5 processor is akin to dual core, versus the Nexus 7’s quad-core CPU. Of course, we don’t know how performance stacks up without testing the tablets in-house.
Offering two colors, three capacities, and a cellular option with 4G LTE connectivity will certainly help flood the market with iPad Minis, especially with the tablet presumably hooking into Verizon and AT&T’s shared data plans (no carrier announcements yet, though.) Still, I’ll agree with CNET editor Molly Wood when she observed that “They missed the price point that would have crushed the competition.”
As far as I’m concerned, Apple may have the edge when it comes to product lore and sheer ubiquity, but for those deliberately seeking an affordable, portable in-between device, we’re looking at a much more level playing field for smaller-size tablets.