The iPad mini may be making headlines, but it pales in comparison to the Nexus 7. While Apple's device is little more than a shrunken version of 2011's iPad 2, Google's tablet forges boldly ahead with innovative hardware and software that's designed with real power-users in mind. Here’s why the Nexus 7 beats the iPad mini, hands down.
A Much Lower Price
It almost goes without saying that Apple's product is pricier: the base model of Nexus 7 costs $129 less than the base-level Pad mini and, for most people, that's a significant difference. For that amount of money, you could buy a 128GB SSD that would dramatically speed up your computer, a new 21-inch, 1080p monitor or a fantastic smartphone like the $99 Droid RAZR M. Do you really want to donate that money to Tim Cook's retirement fund?
Google Now – Siri for People with Friends
If you want to live like J.F. Sabastian, the “Bladerunner” scientist whose robots are his only friends, the iPad and its Siri voice assistant were made for you. Siri will follow you all the way into the uncanny valley, providing preprogrammed platitudes when you invite her to dance or ask if she likes hotspacho. However, if you have human friends and family to talk to, you’re better off with the Nexus 7’s Google Now voice assistant. Want to know what movies Russell Crowe has been in or who won the Giants game? How about making a call, sending a text or opening an email? Google Now will do all of that, without any of Apple’s anthropomorphic antics.
Real HD Screen
At the iPad mini press conference, Apple’s Marketing SVP Phil Schiller claimed that the iPad mini shows more of each web page because it has a larger screen and fewer navigation bars to eat up screen real estate. That’s a nice claim, but the reality is that the 1280 x 800 Nexus 7 has a lot more pixels than the 1024 x 768 iPad mini. By putting more pixels on a smaller screen (7-inches versus 7.9 inches), Google’s tablet achieves a density of 215 pixels per inch, compared to 162 ppi for the iPad mini. That means the Nexus 7 has sharper images and can show HD videos at their native resolution rather than downscaling them and tossing out details.
Charging Over USB
If you’re like me, you have five drawers full of USB cables. And if you’re not like me, you could just buy one for 3 dollars online. Either way, you can use your USB cable to power up the Nexus 7, one of the only major tablets that employs a standard micro USB port for charging. The iPad mini, on the other hand, uses Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector. Lose the Lightning-to-USB wire that comes with the tablet, and you’ll have to pay a good $20 for a replacement.
Better Parental Control Options
Apple’s famous walled garden of apps isn’t strong enough to completely protect your kids. Though the iPad lets you block some built-in Apple apps and restrict content by subject matter, you can’t block third-party apps, can’t monitor what your kids do and can’t restrict their use according time of day or amount of time. Because the Nexus 7’s Android operating system gives app developers greater access to core functions, there are apps like Kytephone, which creates a separate, walled-off environment for your children that only contains the apps you choose. There’s also Funamo, which offers parents the ability to block just about anything, from mature websites to dangerous apps, while limiting the hours their children can use the device.
The Nexus 7 is one of the only tablets on the market that has a built-in Near Field Communications (NFC) chip. With NFC on board, you can share contacts or other information with different Android devices just by tapping their backs together. You can also take advantage of new mobile-payment systems like ISIS and Google Wallet that let you tap your device at the register to check out. And a new generation of mobile headphones like the Sony MDR-1RBT can pair with the Nexus 7 automatically when you tap them against its NFC chip. The iPad mini, like all of Apple’s products, lacks NFC. Maybe we’ll see it when the iPad mini 2 launches sometime next fall.
Share From Anywhere
Want to share this article with your friends on Google or LinkedIn? You won’t be able to do that directly from Safari, the default browser on the iPad mini. Apple’s iOS limits you to Facebook and Twitter. On the Nexus 7 and other Android devices, there’s one sharing menu that contains all your options and is available from any downloaded app that’s capable of sharing content. So, if you want to share to Pinterest from the Firefox browser, you don’t need someone at Mozilla to bless the transaction.