Apple’s iPad mini versus Google’s Nexus 7

By , Nov 2, 2012

The closest competitor to the iPad mini is obviously Google’s Nexus 7 tablet. Some may even argue that Apple felt compelled to push out the mini due to the success that Google’s diminutive tablet offering has experienced.

Although it’s been a while since I’ve dusted off my Nexus 7, there’s simply no denying that it’s a solid offering in many areas. I sung the device’s praises, and even Sebastien, who has been a bit more critical of the device, had some nice things to say about it.

Whatever the case may be, it’s pretty obvious that Apple has drawn a line in the sand with the iPad mini, and it too, is quite the compelling offering. How do the two compare? We thought you’d never ask. Check out our head-to-head comparison video inside…

As much as I truly appreciate what Google has done with the Nexus 7 as far as price and features go, there’s simply no denying that the iPad mini beats out its nearest competitor in nearly all facets of the game. Then again, you are paying a premium price for the iPad mini, so you’re getting what you paid for.

You’ve heard the story before, but let me reiterate it one more time for you. The iPad mini’s build quality is leaps and bounds above that of the Google and Asus collaboration. I won’t go as far as to label the Nexus 7 as a toy, because it’s a very nice tablet in its own right. However, once you’ve put in some hands on time with Apple’s tablet, it becomes readily apparent that it’s on a whole new level of polish and sophistication.

As good as the build quality is for the iPad mini, that’s not even the best thing about it. The software is what really makes the iPad mini shine, and it shines brightly. Every iPad customized app already available on the App Store works flawlessly with the mini. That means that at launch, the mini already runs circles around a device that has been out for quite some time now.

It may not seem fair to compare the iconic App Store to the relatively new Google Play, but Google has been at this long enough to help its developers get their act together. The best phone apps are on the App Store. The best tablet apps are on the App Store. Therefore Apple has a huge advantage by default.

I’ve always thought of the Nexus 7 as a decent tablet, but with the release of the mini it seems more and more like an oversized phone. It’s littered with apps that just aren’t customized for the extra real estate, and that, frankly, is a shame.

Yes, the iPad mini comes at a premium, yes, the screen looks like an oversized, albeit improved, iPhone 3GS. The iPad mini isn’t perfect hardware. Like all of Apple’s first run products, it usually takes a generation or two for them to hit the sweet spot. The fact is, though, that neither of these tablets are anything to write home about when it comes to hardware specs.

The iPad mini is hands-down the better tablet because of its build quality and because of its excellent tablet optimized software library. You can kick and scream all you want about the lack of a Retina Display, or the fact that it comes in at a premium price, but the facts are facts, and the apps don’t lie.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Childs/1067107105 Matthew Childs

    the lack of a retina display is barely noticeable, if at all noticeable. it’s really crisp and easy to read text on the screen. it’s the perfect size and weighs almost nothing. no strain on the wrist at all, it doesn’t become tiresome like my iPad 3 does. i think this will be replacing my iPad 3.

    • Jeff

      Agreed. Thanks for reading.

      • http://twitter.com/El_Barto_01 El Barto

        Great review. Everyone seems to be trashing the screen but looks like is the usual android fan that doesn’t even have one

      • TriguyRN

        No

    • iamnotfan

      K
      But am i the only person who couldn’t here any music track that i heard when he was playing NFS on the Ipad
      Even distorted sound

    • amir80

      The next iPad will probebly have a retina display to make every body upgrade to the new model…

  • Maru_The_Cat

    Hi Jeff,

    I went to check out the mini today at the Apple Store. All the white models were out, so I got the black. But I might get the white and return the black if I can lol.

    For me, I definitely noticed the lower resolution on the screen. It was kind of a bummer. Not a deal breaker but I felt like I was going backwards when using it. I started thinking of other mid size offerings like the Galaxy Note 2. I know it’s like comparing apples and oranges, but I crisp screen is such a joy to look at. We got spoiled by the retina displays. Anyways, I got a pre-order on the Galaxy Note 2 so i’ll check that out as well as the mini and make my decision on what to keep afterwards. Thanks for the review.

    • Jeff

      It’s a big flaw, admittedly. But I’ll suffer with it until it is inevitably updated. But I think the small form factor is the best for me going forward. The Retina iPad is just too big and heavy.

      • Maru_The_Cat

        I previously had the iPad 3 or Retina iPad and eventually sold it cause I didn’t use at all. I found it too cumbersome to use when lying down. I must admit that I did enjoy beating Infinity Blade 2 on that gorgeous display ;) Like all Apple products, once the get the form factor right, everything else will just naturally improve. Like the Macbook Airs, their iPhone line, I think they are still working the kinks on their iPod line though. Awesome videos and reviews though Jeff, definitely one of the best out there.

      • Jay Kay

        Same i think about my ipad 3, but i love Apple intro new size, eventually they will update it with retina.

  • CollegiateLad

    I’m loving this Mini. What it has easily outweighs what it doesn’t. Initially, I thought I couldn’t live without retina. But after owning the Mini, its pluses more than make up for the lack of retina. I score this tablet a 9/10. This thing is the new gold standard for 7 inchers – hands down, it’s not even close.

    That being said, I’m all over the retina mini when it drops. 10/10 for sure.

    • Maru_The_Cat

      Did you get the white one or the black one? All the white ones were sold out at my local Apple Store. But they had tons of black. I think the black is more likely to show the nicks and scratches.

      • CollegiateLad

        I got black… 32 gig. Love it, too. I’m gonna install it in my vehicle so white wouldn’t cut it.

      • Maru_The_Cat

        What! That’s sweet. Is it custom panel you need or something? Gotta hide it when not using it though or take it with you no? Wouldn’t want someone seeing it in your car. I got black too, 16GB. I was thinking of the white but I just might keep the black….

      • CollegiateLad

        I have a lifted truck. You can’t see inside unless you’re 10 feet tall… lol. I have black leather interior so the black matches better.

    • TriguyRN

      It’s not really 7 inches though.

  • CollegiateLad

    I love the 10 inch iPad too… I don’t think it’s too heavy or cumbersome. Of course, I used to carry a 17″ MacBook Pro around. Now I’m rocking the 11″ Air, iPad 3rd gen, Mini, and iPhone 5.

  • Bieberkinz

    Hey Jeff, there’s an iPad mini knockoff called GooPad Mini, with a similar display (apparently) running Android with an iOS theme. $99 backs and made by very good knockoffs, GooPhones and GooPads…… GooPad Mini vs Nexus 7…. Spend $100 less on the Chinese knockoff? Lol…

    • http://twitter.com/zicario25 gabriel espinosa

      you suck

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Laing/100000029389036 Jeff Laing

    So far, the killer difference for me is that the Nexus has the hardware GPS and Google Maps will off-line their maps. That makes it the winner if I’m heading out on foot into a strange city – fill up the maps on Hotel wi-fi, and then just wander, knowing that I can work out where I am.

    I understand why Apple restrict the GPS to the 3G machines but confusingly, though I see it as a killer feature, it’s not enough for me to want to pay the extra.

    • http://twitter.com/El_Barto_01 El Barto

      Phones have GpS

    • http://twitter.com/Jackzzz99 Jack Wong

      I bought Nexus 7 mainly for the GPS… but the google map navigation really disappoint me… it would’t re-route or bring me back to the original route if I went the wrong way…

      And I have placed an order for mini 32GB with cellular.

      Most likely it will replace the iPhone 5 for my car, and I might use the iPhone 5 as a car recorder, drivers are crazy in NY…

    • http://twitter.com/Jackzzz99 Jack Wong

      I bought Nexus 7 mainly for the GPS… but the google map navigation really disappoint me… it would’t re-route or bring me back to the original route if I went the wrong way…

      And I have placed an order for mini 32GB with cellular.

      Most likely it will replace the iPhone 5 for my car, and I might use the iPhone 5 as a car recorder, drivers are crazy in NY…

    • http://twitter.com/Jackzzz99 Jack Wong

      I bought Nexus 7 mainly for the GPS… but the google map navigation really disappoint me… it would’t re-route or bring me back to the original route if I went the wrong way…

      And I have placed an order for mini 32GB with cellular.

      Most likely it will replace the iPhone 5 for my car, and I might use the iPhone 5 as a car recorder, drivers are crazy in NY…

    • http://twitter.com/Jackzzz99 Jack Wong

      I bought Nexus 7 mainly for the GPS… but the google map navigation really disappoint me… it would’t re-route or bring me back to the original route if I went the wrong way…

      And I have placed an order for mini 32GB with cellular.

      Most likely it will replace the iPhone 5 for my car, and I might use the iPhone 5 as a car recorder, drivers are crazy in NY…

    • http://twitter.com/Jackzzz99 Jack Wong

      I bought Nexus 7 mainly for the GPS… but the google map navigation really disappoint me… it wouldn’t re-route or bring me back to the original route if I went the wrong way…

      And I have placed an order for mini 32GB with cellular.

      Most likely it will replace the iPhone 5 for my car, and I might use the iPhone 5 as a car recorder, drivers are crazy in NY…

  • http://twitter.com/David_amp David Morones

    I went to go check them out today at the apple, and oh my these iPads are amazing! I can’t wait to have enough money to buy one of these

  • iamnotfan

    I am very happy with my nexus 7
    And
    I am sure lot of ppl here are very happy with there ipad mini

    Peace
    :D

    • Jess Oakley

      I have the N7 and like but got the iPad mini and Love it !

    • http://twitter.com/docdawning Doc Dawning

      This is probably the most constructive comment ever made on a thread like this. I salute you!

  • iamnotfan

    Good review
    but
    Did you disable Background music when playing NFS on Nexus 7

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000966493541 Scott Walther

      Nope it was playing but the sound for it is low and the fx noise overshadows it.

  • http://twitter.com/Saichovsky Señor Saichovsky

    What of battery life?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Childs/1067107105 Matthew Childs

      playing around on it from 5:30 when i got it until 2:30am…some netflix, syncing, surfing, reading, gaming….it was down to 85% when i plugged it in. it wasn’t constant use but easily 3 or 4 hours of use during that time. it felt like the iPad 1 as far as battery life and with the iPad 1 i easily got 11 hours of use on a charge.

  • http://twitter.com/FootStepsOfTobi T0b1 Zoldyc

    Jeff which do you prefer the white or black one?

  • ap3604

    Seriously Jeff?

    Comparing two tablets without even covering the screen quality / brightness / resolution? Wow…

    This video & article should simply be titled “What the iPad does better than the Nexus 7″ since at least then we would know its a biased article. Every point of comparison you chose to highlight was simply things that the iPad does better.

    Not saying the iPad mini doesn’t have it’s great points over the Nexus 7, hell I might pick one up myself, but try to be at least a little objective in your “comparisons” since we look to you for good information… not biased deck stacking.

    • genXhippie

      I concur.

    • genXhippie

      I concur.

    • CollegiateLad

      He mentioned that the cheaper plastic is easier to hold. lol

      My question is, how does a dual core outperform a quad core?

      • TriguyRN

        I also concur. What ever that means :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/zacksloane Zachary Sloane

        Because the software behind it is more tuned for the hardware.

      • amir80

        The nexus 7 processor is much stronger than the ipad mini. Games which are optimized to this processor just looks amazing. It actually has 4 cores for processing, 12 cores for graphics and 1 small core for saving battery when on idle

      • Emre SUMENGEN

        And the question is: How many games are there out, really optimized for that processor? (Honest question)

        It seems NFS is not optimized, at least not yet?

        I’m not saying hardware is irrelevant, don’t get me wrong.

        I’m merely saying, hardware which is not backed up or supported with the best software, doesn’t live up to expectations.

  • http://twitter.com/nAcolz Acolz

    Does the black mini get scuffled the same way like iPhone 5?

    • CollegiateLad

      I don’t think so… I haven’t noticed any scuffs yet.

      • http://twitter.com/nAcolz Acolz

        Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/lgasparjnr laszlo gaspar

    I didn’t realise how much of a difference there is in screen size between the two devices. The iPad mini is better when it comes to apps but i can easily put a nexus 7 in my pocket. The iPad mini has no chance of ever getting into my pocket.

    • CollegiateLad

      Stop wearing skinny jeans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/khan.rulzz.7 Khan Rulzz

    ipad mini amazing no words too say !!!!!

  • seyss

    Jeff, what happens when I run a retina-display game on iPad mini?
    What if the app is Retina-display ONLY?

    • RarestName

      Apple won’t even let you install it from the App Store.

      • seyss

        Is this accurate? Cuz Apple advertises iPad Mini can run “all” 275k iPad apps from the Appstore.

      • CollegiateLad

        And Apple is correct.

      • RarestName

        I’m not too sure. Some games won’t install on the 3GS but will for the iPhone 4 and above.

  • Jay Kay

    I always wanted this size specially when i moved from ipad 2 to 3, it feels like my wish came true but no retina means no buying ill wait for retina in next upgrade then ill sell my ipad 3 and buy mini.

  • iNfAMOUS70702

    Build quality and apps is the only thing that the iPad mini has over the nexus 7… this dogfight was clearly biased

    • CollegiateLad

      Don’t forget performance. Aesthetics. Screen display area. Speakers. Ecosystem. Fluidity of OS. 4G LTE. And you mention apps – which happens to be the most important element.

      The Nexus is cheaper – And for good reason. You think Jeff is biased. Read the other 2 dozen reviews online(particularly those comparing the two). It’s higher resolution and price point can’t overcome its shortcomings.

      The Nexus looks favorable when compared to the Kindle, but when compared to the Mini, it’s lights out. Now that Apple has shown its hand, Google has something to aspire to. They are great at playing catch up – Not so good at leading.

      • Altechi

        Wha? didn’t the mini come out as a response to the N7 and Kindle?, so how exactly are they leading that?

      • CollegiateLad

        These products wouldn’t exist if not for the iPad. They would still be trying to push net books down our throats. They aren’t leaders – They are follower. When they realized they couldn’t compete with the 9.7″ iPad on quality, they decided to build a smaller, cheaper product because they know that Apple doesn’t build bottom of the barrel cheap products for the sake of market share. They figured the only way to steal market share was to sell their device at cost(or give it away depending on how you look at it).

    • Jess Oakley

      1080p video recording and Air Play

    • http://twitter.com/docdawning Doc Dawning

      *1080p recording (as per Jess)
      *AirPlay (as per Jess)
      *iCloud sync of app states (I switch between games on my iPhone &iPad, my game states are automatically in sync)
      *Massive (250K+) tablet optimized Apps (apps – you)
      *Build quality (you)

      I love my mini. I still wanna get a N7 too – just so I have an Android device to goof with too. I think it’s Apples and Oranges, they’re both sweet, but they’re simply different. I think the price difference is pretty big. If iDroid gets going on the mini, then I could dual boot my mini with iOS and Android, and THAT would make the mini ultra ultra sweet.

  • Johnathan Jennings

    I won’t be buying.. It’s just another iOS device.

    • Emre SUMENGEN

      LOL
      An Apple iPad Mini running Android would be fun to watch :P

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000457333495 Angelo Dayao

        Then buy a goopad :)

      • Emre SUMENGEN

        Lulz :)

        When Apple does it, I’ll buy it :P (Fan-boi talk)

  • http://twitter.com/khoobler Kyle Hoobler

    Ok when he said nexus 7 is a big phone I disagree. Ipad mini is a scaled up iPod and a scaled down ipad. Therefore the ipad mini would be like a phone as well. I do however like both tablets.

    • Jeff

      When I say a big phone, I’m referring to the apps.

      • TriguyRN

        There are many optimized apps…..

  • MagicDrumSticks

    Jeff, approximately how many more apps are tablet customized on the mini compare to the nexus?

  • Karl

    Went to the Apple Store yesterday to check out the Mini. Simply gorgeous! And I specially wanted to check out this not retina display thy if heard soooo much about. I didn’t see the big fuss.

    My eyesight is fine and I corrected. I compared and iPad and a mini side by side running the same apps. Safari, videos, photos, iTunes, Temple Run, and so on. From what I could tell, I really had to pay extra hard attention to find the slight differences.

    After just over 30 minutes of playing around and comparing I concluded that since I don’t often enlarge text to maximum size, or photos for that matter, the difference was negligible. And even more so because to be conscious of any difference I had to not pay attention to the app I was wanting to use and instead get lost in looking for less resolution. But that’s just me, and my take on less than an hour spent with a new toy that wasn’t even mine. yet…

  • TriguyRN

    asus is pronounced ACE US

  • TriguyRN

    PRICE!

  • TSXYYZ

    you forgot to factor in how much cheaper the Nexus 7 is against the iPad Mini. that alone can make a difference from purchasing for some.

  • rgphoto70

    Way to give a balanced review. You sound like an Apple fan boy.

  • http://twitter.com/monster_hazardo Roger Riekki

    Mini is clearly better, it’s Apple.

  • amir80

    The math is simple- you can get 2 nexus 7 16gb for the price of 1 iPad mini 32 and you save 30$!
    If you add a smart cover and adapter, you can even get 2 nexus 7 32gb for that price.

    When you say that the iPad min is better because the screen is bigger, it’s like the claim that Galaxy S3 is better for the same reason.

    For web surfing, email, reading books and magazines, their both great.

    And more, you also get a GPS on the nexus which makes it a great navigator

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.benjamin Aaron Benjamin

    As you said, the Nexus 7 is more like a “big phone” …so of course it’s going to run phone apps. Personally, I’d rather run mobile optimized apps on hardware that’s WAY overkill for them than run tablet apps scaled down. The text on the mini is tiiiiiiiny (depending on the app). Really, the “phablet” fad has no place in the personal computing eco-system. Tablets barely fit in. A tablet is too big to be a phone, and not powerful enough to be a portable PC. As laptops and ultrabooks get thinner, lighter and more portable, I think we’ll see tablets start to disappear. But who knows, Microsoft may change the game running Windows 8 across all platforms. We’ll see!

    • CollegiateLad

      Clueless!!!

  • Mcsquared

    My question is, is this the next generation of the iPad? Or is this is a new product line all together?

    LIke will the iPad mini 2 also be the “iPad 5″? Will apple keep updating its 9″ tablets?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mraihanhidayat.56679015 M Raihan Hidayat II

    ipad mini! :D

  • Gorgonphone

    ipad min screen is total crap and i will skip it just like i skipped the ipad2…NO RETINA

  • din

    hello jeff i need to ask you something a lil bit funny, can you give me your email plz it is very important to me
    tanks din

  • Chris

    I’ve had my fair share of apple products and love them. But now I’m looking into buying a tablet I’m going with the N7 I’ve played on both and I just adore the N7. Why do I want something which is exactly the same as my iPhone only bigger?? Google have drawn me in and I’ll be purchasing the 32gb version very soon :-)

    • http://www.facebook.com/you.menimum Prasad Velkuri

      You will realize only after using non Apple product. I did move from 3Gs to Note but not very happy about the Android experience. But it is very important to taste both because if you dont taste bad you will never know what is good. So just buy it and use it for a couple of years,

  • http://twitter.com/docdawning Doc Dawning

    I love your conclusion. Well said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Timothy-Ayangco/1419597733 Timothy Ayangco

    Still Don’t get all this hate for the nexus 7 it was build by Google to help the other manufacturers build better tablets. that is what the nexus brand is all about.

  • Roomie

    The name of this blog is “idownloadblog, iphone, ipad, iOS”… its natural that Jeff would find Ipad mini the winner. Stop complaining and look for a more neutral reviewer.

  • Harmurph

    I guess I shouldn’t have expected a fair comparison from a site like this but really? All this talk of the mini being leaps ahead despite the nexus having just as much power and a better display.

    And not a single mention of the size difference? The whole point of a smaller tablet is that you can hold it in one hand and use it on the go. And in this the nexus 7 is miles ahead. It fits more comfortably in your hand because its not so bulky and the edges are more nicely rounded. And the “build quality” of the mini that this review kept going on about makes its back practically slippery compared to the leather-esc material on the nexus. I hold my nexus with one hand while walking all the time but I’d never do the same with a mini. I know its hard for apple fan’s (myself included) to admit but the nexus is simply a better thought out product at a far more reasonable price.

  • http://twitter.com/BakerMaker Sly Shapey

    i have read speculations that this is google’s first step in the direction of gaining a larger catalog of tablet optimized apps and games. there wasn’t enough motivation for a marketplace to develop around android tablets the hardware options were so spread out. now they have a big competitor and the apps will follow/build the money trail (i hope, cuz i got one for my g/f, so maybe i’m just reassuring myself) :)

  • Ben Erridge

    This is pure apple fanboyism nexus 7 dominates the ipad mini and I have used both. Sharper dipslay,NFC, and better price point make nexus 7 a much better tablet. I guess if you want to spend nearly twice the price to look cool at the local coffee house buy the apple.

  • http://www.facebook.com/keith.benicek Keith Benicek

    Your review is SO AMATEUR and Inaccurate, totally lame. Here’s a REAL REVIEW!
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57546140-37/nexus-7-kindle-fire-hd-outperform-ipad-mini-display/

  • http://twitter.com/iDaiGurren Nathaniel☝

    I remember when the iPhone 4 came out, Apple was really proud of the Retina display, and they had that as a bragging right. Now that the mini has reared its head with a non-Retina display, resolution doesn’t matter anymore?

  • Lewis

    I was hoping for a impartial review to actually help me choose which one to buy – turned it off half way through because this is way too biased.

  • ERYREB

    Just got the Nexus 7. It was a very easy decision. All you have to do is go to a store with both and pick them both up (Staples in my case). The screen on the iPad mini just doesn’t compare to the Nexus 7 AND MOST IMPORTANTLY you can easily hold the Nexus 7 in one hand, the iPad Mini seems to be deliberately designed to be just a bit too large to easily fit in one hand. Unless you have huge hands, probably better to save yourself $130 and be comfortable. I can’t believe Apple would do this, it’s unusual of them to make such a stupid mistake. I’ve had quite a few of my friends also try this and all of the women and most of the men are in the same boat. If it doesn’t fit in your hand, what’s the benefit of going to a smaller tablet?

    As a tablet, I’m absolutely amazed how good it is. It’s a really wonderful device, very fast and easy to use.

  • AngryBird8

    I bought Nexus 7 at the end of November. From the beginning it had software bug, it got freezed 3-4 times a day. Then some weeks later it did not re-load battery anymore, so it had to be send for manufacturer for reparation, 4-6 weeks. Great.
    My advice: today manufacturers of tablets and smartphones push the products to the markets as quick as possible, without proper testing. So the products are full of bugs etc and they buyers are doing the testing (and like me, paying the price). At least wait some months when the new products comes in to market, so at least the worst problems are solved.
    And maybe dont buy google tablet, I know I wont do anymore.