Editorial: Apple Used Their New iPad Mini To Bash The Nexus 7, But Was It Fair?

Today Apple held a big event, revealing many refreshed products and one new one: the iPad Mini. The iPad Mini is Apple’s first forage into the smaller tablet market, going after competitors like the Amazon Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble Nook Color/Tablet, and of course the Nexus 7. And at 7.9″, it’s an excellent size. But during the event, they didn’t just unveil the iPad Mini: they used it to make the Nexus 7 look bad. Let’s ignore the fact that bringing up the comparison was acknowledging competition, something Apple doesn’t often do. Let’s just look at the facts.

The first thing Apple states is that the Nexus 7 is thicker and heavier than the iPad Mini, despite having a smaller display (7 inches compared to 7.9). That one definitely goes to Apple, that’s good design. They also state that the Nexus 7 has 21.9 square inches of display real estate, while the Mini has 29.6 square inches. The rest of the comparisons are all “the Mini is larger in this way and this way and this way.” We get it, the iPad Mini is bigger because you designed it to be bigger. Why compare the two if they have different display sizes and aspect ratios? But let’s get down to the facts.

The iPad Mini may have a bigger display, but it’s also lower resolution. In the 7.9″, you get a resolution of 1024×768 at a puny 163 ppi. In the smaller 7″ of the Nexus 7, you get 1280×800. That’s 216 ppi. With that higher resolution in a smaller display, you get a denser, better looking display with more pixel real estate. Apple’s dependence on the Retina displays is gone with the iPad Mini, where they not only used a standard display, but a sub par one resolution-wise. I’d never buy a tablet with a resolution under 1280×800 anymore.

The iPad Mini houses an Apple A5 processor, a dual core chip released over one and a half years ago. The same chip housed in the iPad 2. It’s a good chip, but it definitely shows its age. The iPad 2 isn’t nearly as fast as I’d like it to be. The Nexus 7, on the other hand, has a quad core Tegra 3 processor. We won’t argue which chip is better, but you’re getting a newer chip in the Nexus 7.

The iPad Mini does have a rear camera, while the Nexus 7 does not. It also has a smaller bezel, which to be honest, looks impossible to grip comfortably. The Nexus 7 has NFC, though. They’re both rated at the same battery life. But there is one little detail we forgot to mention: This comparison has so far been assuming that they’re priced the same. Let’s look at the pricing.

A 16GB iPad Mini starts at $329. Each step up in memory costs you $100. How much does the Nexus 7 cost? For the 16GB version, $250. That’s an $80 difference. The 8GB model costs $200. And very soon, there will be a 32GB Nexus 7 costing $250, with the 16GB model probably being dropped to $200. So within about a week, the effective price difference will be a whopping $130. For that $130 extra for the iPad Mini, you get half the cores, a far worse display, and no NFC. Of course you do get a second camera, a lighter and thinner design, and the perks of iOS (if that is your preference). But the difference in hardware and price is massive. If Google can make a better tablet for a lot cheaper, what is Apple doing making a slightly smaller iPad with specs from 2 years ago, priced very high?

Apple’s attacks on the Nexus 7 were fabricated specifically to avoid any real comparison, where the Nexus 7 would of course win. Bringing up the Nexus 7 at all was a sign that they were worried about competition, especially at the high price point they set. Was it a sign of weakness, or just desperate aggression? We’re not sure. But the Nexus 7 sure didn’t deserve that. What do you guys think? Was Apple’s comparison fair? Or is the Nexus 7 the superior product? Tell us in the comments!

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