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iPad mini: the morning after the night before

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#1
PaulOBrien

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Yesterday evening (here in the UK), Apple finally made their worst kept secret official by launching the iPad mini. The Apple presentation was memorable not just for the mini, refreshed Macbook Pro 13, iMac and iPad (already) but also for a very, very specific face off between the new iPad mini and the Nexus 7. So what's the mini like and how do their claims stand up?

First of all I have to say that while i'm an Android fan (of course), i'm not anti-apple. I'm writing this on an iMac, I own a Macbook Air as my main laptop and i've owned an iPad in the past. There's also 2 iPods in the house, so I think I can be pretty objective. :D

I'm going to examine the points that Phil Schiller raised in the iPad mini presentation itself, to talk about whether they are valid (quotes courtesy of the Verge liveblog).

"Let's look at the bezels around the display." "Theirs is made of plastic, it's thicker and heavier."

The iPad mini does have an impressively thin bezel. It remains to be seen how that works in practice (they have thumb rejection technology for holding it on the screen, so probably pretty well) but yes, the bezel is much smaller. The Nexus 7 is made of plastic and heavier than the iPad mini, but (and i'll say this a lot), the Nexus 7 is engineered to a price. In its defence, I think although the back IS clearly plastic, it actually feels pretty great. I like the feel of my Nexus 7.

"Let's look at those displays. Theirs is 7 inches, our is 7.9." "The iPad mini has a third larger display area."

There's no debating the iPad mini display is larger. It's effectively an 8" tablet rather than a 7" tablet. What Phil neglected to mention is that the iPad mini, with it's iPad 2 resolution of 1024x768, gives up pixels to the Nexus 7's 1280x800 display. I consider a 1024x600 display on 7" Android tablets to be notably inferior nowadays and on the iPad mini's 8" screen, that could be more apparent.

That said, resolution aside, a bigger display without enlarging the device is something most wouldn't say not to... right? :)

"The iPad mini is about 50% larger display area in the browser." (49% portrait, 67% landscape)

It's a bigger screen so this goes without saying right? :D Where the Nexus 7 DOES fall down in my opinion is when it's used in landscape. The fact that the button bar is always on the bottom means valuable vertical real estate is lost in landscape mode, the tab bar is quite substantial and there's no full screen mode in Chrome. Google could definitely do better here. Again however, 'viewing a webpage' is also about resolution... there's arguably no point it being bigger if the definition is lower.

On third party apps: "Customers love the ones written for the iPad." "What does the other one have? Phone applications scaled up."

This isn't really true (it's not 'phone applications scaled up' on the Nexus 7) but with a display resolution that matches the iPad 2 and instant compatability, the iPad mini clearly has the edge here. Google really needs to step up their game, both assisting and encouraging key developers to make great tablet apps and also leading by example - lots of Google apps still have a sub-par tablet experience. No question iOS leads on tablet optimised apps and that needs to change.

A5, LTE versions, FaceTime HD camera, 5MP iSight camera around back.

The Nexus 7 will be adding the cellular enabled version soon (albeit not LTE) but the other specs are purely a cost based decision imho.

Price

The iPad mini UK pricing (RRP) is as follows:
  • WiFi 16GB - £269, 32GB - £349, 64GB - £429
  • LTE 16GB - £369, 32GB - £449, 64GB - £529
The CURRENT Nexus 7 UK pricing (RRP) is as follows:
  • WiFi 8GB - £159, 16GB - £199
My projected future UK pricing (from next week) (RRP) is something like:
  • WiFi 16GB - £169, 32GB - £199
  • 3G 32GB - £249 - £299
So are the Nexus 7 and iPad mini really comparable devices?

When you look at the prices above you've got to say that the new iPad mini really is operating in a different price bracket to the Nexus 7 which frankly explains virtually all the 'issues' that Apple highlighted, with the notable exception of the lack of tablet optimised apps. Bear in mind that with the Nexus range in wide retail we've already seen pretty considerable discounts on RRP to be had if you look around which is very rarely the case with Apple products.

The thing to really take away from yesterday's event is that Apple really validated the Nexus 7 as a rival product in a market that Steve Jobs famously declared was DOA. Apple knows that Nexus 7 is selling like hot-cakes and wants a piece of that pie.

The iPad mini looks like a great little device and i'm sure it'll sell fantastically well but for me it misses the most important strengths of the Nexus 7 - low price and great value. I don't love the Nexus 7 because it's the best tablet in the world (even though it's brilliant), I love it because it's so accessible. I see and hear from so many people picking one up because it's a far easier to justify purchase than tablets of the past... I think the iPad mini just doesn't have that appeal.

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#2
rferrett

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With both this, and the iPhone 5 announcement I can't help escaping a bit of an emperor's new clothes feeling.

Never been much of an apple fan, but their launches did use to wow me. Early iPhones and iPads were noticeably better than their Android equivalents .I just have not felt a wow.

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#3
absro

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Yeah. A product that costs almost double, with similar capabilities (some are slightly better, some slightly worse). Yay Apple!
[as a side note, it's vs its? :)]

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#4
hoeferh

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You keep mentioning that the iPad Mini is almost an 8"-Tablet, but a difference in display area of 49% certainly doesn't come only from a 12% larger display diagonal. You adressed the softkeys on the Nexus 7, but the bigger issue is the display aspect ratio.

That's the (only) point where Apple is spot on: People use tablets mostly for browsing the web. Android tablets almost universally have 15:9 or 16:10 displays. That might be perfect for movies and games, but it's not optimal for browsing or editing documents.

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#5
Sere83

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Yeah I think you nailed it. I mean this being Apple, this will sell millions fast, they could sell an iTurd and it would still sell millions.

I agree though that the price is the issue with this. The Nexus 7 hits such a nice cheap price point and with the 32gb soon to come in at £199 it still really is a great option and good value for a category of product which is essentially only really for 'leisure'.

All apples 'advantages' eg. slimmer design, slight battery improvement, better build, camera, reduced bezel etc etc is reflected in the iPad mini price. Apple was also never going to go super 'cheap'. I also think that the increased size will give a better web browsing experience, but portability will suffer.

As mentioned though the main issue is apps, googles continued insistence not to properly categorize tablet optimised apps in the store is a foolish and detrimental practice they need to stop now. It is putting off average joe consumers who find it confusing. They are basically trying to mask the fact that their tablet app selection and quality are not up to the standard of apples.

They also need to simplify and properly outline the process of buying and setting up a nexus 7, again for the benefit of the general non tech savvy public. I have also seen very little, if any billboard or TV advertising in London relating to the Nexus 7 and the fact that it is a 'Google' tablet. They should be using their relatively good reputation with the general public as a strong selling point.

I also still think jellybean on the N7 lacks fluidity and polish in comparison to iOS. The times i have used the nexus 7, which is a fair bit, I found scrolling content heavy pages pretty laggy in chrome and again the keyboard still lacking against iOS

hoeferh makes a good point too, the aspect is not great for browsing and the non full screen browsing mentioned by Paul should also be rectified.

I will probably still buy a Nexus 7 when the 32gb drops, but would not want to be spending anymore than £199 on it, or in fact any device in this category as at the moment +£200 is not justifiable.

Just wish that Google would take proper control of the playstore and start policing the application approval process more and stop letting all these crap badly coded apps flood the store and organise it all properly so people can easily actually find the few decent tablet apps that are available.

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#6
Chewy11

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Lag on Chrome? Not much here, + I think the Tegra 3 will smoke the A5 of the mini.
As for Keyboards, Swype And Swifkey are kings with NO equals(yet).

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#7
le_lutin

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That's the (only) point where Apple is spot on: People use tablets mostly for browsing the web. Android tablets almost universally have 15:9 or 16:10 displays. That might be perfect for movies and games, but it's not optimal for browsing or editing documents.


That point would be more valid if Apple hadn't just gone and changed the iPhone to 16:9 aspect ratio.

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#8
rferrett

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I get some chrome lag on my Nexus 7 and on my Galaxy S3

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#9
absro

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That's the (only) point where Apple is spot on: People use tablets mostly for browsing the web. Android tablets almost universally have 15:9 or 16:10 displays. That might be perfect for movies and games, but it's not optimal for browsing or editing documents.

I use both my Note and the Nexus 7 for browsing the web, but I use them in portrait, not landscape. And the browsing experience si quite nice.

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#10
everett_psycho

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With the bar at the bottom Google need to address it generally, on the iPad you don't need the buttons there as all apps have the needed soft buttons, I don't think full screen in chrome is the solution though, it would be nice to be able to hide it entirely in any app, maybe swipe from outside the screen at the top down to the bottom similar to the playbooks functions . I know having the bar there gets annoying when watching movies or playing games.

As for app selections, it is annoying not having many good apps designed for tablets.

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#11
Patrick73

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I own a Galaxy Note 1st gen and I find the screen res etc great.

what I dont find great about it is the 16gb memory has only 2gb for apps and 11gb left for storage of app data. even when moving apps to sd its still not moving it fully.

I cannot see why they cannot set the memory up the same as ios where its all for apps data etc, without having to root and do stuff to it.

The Nexus 7 I owned for a little over a week chrome was very bad my £60.00 wm8850 loaded webpages faster.
Also older games like Doodle jump would not install from google play and the makers told me that was to do with google and the screen res. But after sideloading the apk from the wm8850 it worked no problem.

I then got a Galaxy tab 7 2 without doing research on it and found out the microsd card would not allow move app to sd as supported in the os on mobile phones.

I have owned the ipad 1 in the past and I found it to big and heavy so hopefully this iPad mini will be ok.
Plus I own over 550 paid for apps/games so I might get to use them soon.

Only thing I dont like about apple is the fact after two years its not going to get an os update if going on the ipad one updates?.

And price I feel is good you get what you pay for and the Nexus 7 I got rid of as the screen kept popping up on it which I did not like,

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