With the arrival of my new Ipad Mini 16GB Wifi I figured it was time to write my initial opinions on both, the Ipad Mini and the Nexus 7 since I had not written anything to this point.
Both are the 16GB Wifi versions and since I have had the Nexus for a few weeks longer I am obviously more familiar with it and all its glory! I am no stranger to Android as I currently have the Samsung Galaxy Note phone so moving from a 5.3 inch screen to 7 inches was not that big of a move. In the Apple line-up I have owned all three versions of the Ipad (16GB wifi/3G models) and currently scratching my head over the latest Ipad 4 release (whether or not I should sell my current model, lose $200 in the process just to go for the faster GPU) but I digress, this review is for the 7 inch tablets not the full sized Ipad.
I purchased a very nice leather case (MOKO) which has the magnetic on/off for the Nexus so it works similarly as the Ipad magic covers. As well, I opted for the Ipad Mini smart cover since I own one for both Ipad 2 and 3 models and find it invaluable. Although I would have liked the complete case like the new model ipad case and smart cover which wasn't out until after the Ipad3 was released.
Moving on to initial wow factor... the Nexus 7 is a little thicker, not as wide and a about 2 mm shorter then the Ipad Mini. The thickness of the Nexus as well as the rubbery feel helps with the grip, whereas the Ipad's thinness definitely helps manage it. I read some other reviewer mention that they felt the Nexus was groomed to be used in Landscape mode more whereas the Ipad worked well in Portrait mode. I know with the full sized Ipads, I tend to like using it in Landscape mode but find with this current Nexus 7, when it is in the case, that acts like a book, I tend to use it in Portrait mode more. Or so it seems. As with the Ipad mini, even though you can roll it up and hold it like a grip handle (the magnets feel more secure then on the full size as well), I found folding it completely behind the ipad was the most comfortable due to the sheer thinness of the unit but that being said, I have always like using these gadgets in their bare form, sans cases and covers as it not only makes the unit that much lighter but somehow seems less burdened to hold it a certain way.
On to the screen size and quality. Nexus wins in the resolution department. Things just look sharper, however the extra width of the Ipad does seem to make it seem like you are using a larger device so I would have to say the basic web surfing is probably going to feel more comfortable visibly on the Ipad mini. The speed is another issue however. Of course the Nexus 7 comes with Chrome built in and so until I downloaded Chrome for the Ipad, I was surfing with Safari, which isn't a bad browser but to be comparing tablets I felt it necessary to be using the same software. Starting from closed tabs, the Nexus opens faster but when clicking on the same bookmark the Ipad gets to the page faster. But this is about as far as the Apple device goes in winning at the web surfing game because for whatever reason, when going to fill out forms, etc the Nexus starts at the beginning of the space and clears out any writing that happens to be in the form placeholder whereas with the Ipad you must double click, select all and or press and hold and move your finger to the beginning.. a real pain. Not to mention the spell check that constantly tries to fix what you enter on the Ipad. Not an issue EVER with Nexus. Since the initial landing page to many websites may appear small(er) on the Nexus, when you actually go to fill in the form it kindly zooms in for you. Something you have to pinch to zoom (or double click) on the Ipad. These may be little things and most certainly not a deal breaker but just the same, it should be noted that the Android O/S does seem to be more user friendly in this regard. Being a big google user the Android O/S also wins when initially setting up the device since you simply enter your gmail account information and everything is just there! Of course because I have other Apple devices, syncing to the cloud was easy enough. So is there a clear winning in this category for me? As much as I hate to admit it (since before the Ipad mini came out I was a firm believer the Nexus would win in every category) but I have to think the Ipad mini will continue the reign when it comes to basic tablet web surfing.
Where I believe the Nexus is going to clean house is with the 32GB/3G version at a fraction of what the Ipad mini's LTE version costs. Yes, it may not be LTE speeds but for the next year or so many/most cities that aren't major metropolises don't have LTE and if they do, it is only while you are within the city limits and quickly drops to 3G when you are travelling between cities. Anyone from Canada knows what I am talking about here! Why I think Nexus/Android O/S will win is because of the built in tethering options you are going to have. I love the fact that I press a button on my Samsung Note and immediately have a wifi hotspot, for which is now going to be used on two new devices. (note to any client reading this: My current Nexus 7 (16GB wifi) will be for sale the moment the 32GB/3G model becomes available.. Since I currently own and use both Ipad 2 (3G-but use in wifi due to the fact the Ipad3 is also 4G), which do not have the tethering capabilities through wifi, unless I plug in a USB cable and use the tether app that I was fortunate to get in on when it was available in the Itunes store many moons ago--which I use to tether my MacbookPro when in a real pinch).. having a simple 3G if not 4G with wifi tethering solution is going to be a must for me...
The final words.. many have already asked why I have so many devices when one will do? Quite simple really, I multitask and find each device is like a mechanics tools in their toolbox. It is not uncommon for me to be communicating with multiple client computers at the same time. Now, with the ability to connect on many devices to different clients mean more screen real estate since these tablet devices, although they will allow a limited multi-tasking within, will not allow for multiple connections at the same time. The Nexus 7 has only a front facing camera whereas the Ipad mini has both front and back. Personally I have rarely ever used either on my other ipads and certainly feel more use in front facing if you do want to have video chat. I use a DSLR camera for real pictures and have my Samsung Note phone in a pinch so this is not a very important factor for me.
So which one should you be looking at getting? In my opinion, they are both very good. Looking at it from a cost point of view, you can save $130 going the Nexus route and you won't be sorry you did. But if you have already familiarized yourself with other IOS (Apple) devices then you will most likely be ready and willing to spend the extra money and go with something you already know. Sure, the apps are much more limited on the Android device (for now) but I believe the ones that are available are more powerful then the billion or so flashlight and fart apps available for Apple devices... if you are still unsure, drop me a line along with any questions you may have about your particular needs and wants and I'll try to point you in the right direction. Just remember, regardless of what you decide, don't be looking back 3 months later and start kicking yourself, saying you should have waited, because there will always be something greater down the road.. and with the 7 inch tablets, this is simply a hot time in the market as it is still very new!