It’s a comparison that is bound to be made, but how does Google’s new Nexus 10 compare to the Apple iPad when it comes to sheer specs? If someone is OS neutral, these may well be the two tablets to consider this holiday season when making a choice between two of the most well-supported tablets in the market.
Let me start by saying that I’m fairly OS neutral. I’m a fan of both iOS and Android, and a Galaxy Nexus is my current smartphone of choice if only because it came unlocked at a price that was similar to that of a comparable device on contract. I’ve purchased no less than six iOS devices in the past several years for myself and family members, and am writing on a Windows 8 desktop sitting next to a MacBook Pro. The idea of having a choice between 10-inch tablets supported directly by the makers of the operating system is brilliant. Choice is good, and it means these products will undoubtedly get better as they evolve.
How about we get down to the heart of the matter, shall we?
Screen resolution is a hot topic, and this is one area where Apple’s marketing prowess has created quite a warped perception. Most folks might assume that the Retina display on an iPad puts it leaps and bounds above the competition. The funny thing is, Android tablets are coming out with screens that have even higher PPI (pixels per inch) numbers all the time.
The newest iPad has a 9.7-inch display and a 2048 x 1536 resolution. This gives it a PPI number of 264. It’s considerably sharper than the iPad 2, and perhaps about as sharp as someone might need a display to be.
The Nexus 10, however, is a 10-inch display with a resolution that matches that of the 13-inch MacBook with Retina. At 2560 x 1600 and a PPI of 300, it would appear to dwarf the iPad in the area of resolution. Everything Apple said about the display on the 13-inch MacBook Pro could translate to the Nexus 10.
I’m giving the Nexus 10 an edge here despite a possibility that users won’t actually even notice the increase in pixels. There comes a point where the human eye reaches a point of diminishing returns. Google could very well
crap cram 600 ppi in the device and it may not be noticed. Because the Nexus 10 has a slightly bigger screen (only slightly) it may grant a little more space for users to enjoy the resolution.
Edge: Nexus 10
The iPad has an advantage when it comes to connectivity. While the Nexus 10 is stuck in a world of Wi-Fi, the iPad can be purchased to connect wirelessly to AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and a large number of international carriers. This makes it a lot more useful when you’re on the road and nowhere near a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The iPad also utilizes dual-band Wi-Fi which promises to deliver a stronger and faster connection than a standard Wi-Fi antenna. This, coupled with 4G LTE, makes it easy to declare the iPad a clear winner in the area of connectivity.
The operating system is at the heart of user experience. The iPad is running iOS 6, an operating system with over 275,000 apps designed specifically for the tablet surface. This is a hard number to ignore, and would undoubtedly have the largest direct impact on user experience. Apps are what make the tablet worth using for most users. If you can’t play your favorite game or use your favorite mobile photo editor, the tablet isn’t worth very much to you.
The Nexus 10 runs the latest version of Jelly Bean, and as an operating system it gives more power to the user. You can modify it pretty heavily, take advantage of widgets, and do most of the things you can do on iOS (with a good helping of exclusive features to enjoy). While tablet-specific software might not be as abundant, it’s harder to tell in Android because so many developers utilize vector graphics to scale the phone apps. You aren’t left with a 2x button and pixelated graphics when you use a phone-specific Android app on a tablet.
At the end of the day, the operating system is a matter of personal preference. I’d be hard-pressed to decide a victor between the two as the debate rages on in forums and comment threads around the world.
Both of these tablets will give you sufficient battery life to get through a typical day’s use. The iPad offers 10 hours of battery life, while the Nexus 10 (according to Google) will give you nine hours. This difference is enough to declare an edge in iPad’s favor, but we all know how real-world usage plays into things. It could go either way, depending on the user’s needs.
You want an iPad? You’ll be spending $499 for the base 16 GB model with Wi-Fi only. The base 16 GB Wi-Fi Nexus 10 runs you only $399. You may not get the option to put 4G LTE service on it (starting at $629), but you can at least take one home and keep an extra $100 in your pocket.
Edge: Nexus 10
Apple’s A6X processor sounds like a huge advance in the world of mobile computing. It’s a dual-core processor that promises to deliver even peppier response to a tablet that has been optimized to run smoothly with virtually any app.
The Nexus 10 introduces the world to a dual-core A15 processor. It’s hard to tell which one deserves the edge because there are no side-by-side comparisons from which to draw.
The iPad is almost universally recognized and supported by a number of software and hardware vendors. Many hotels have appliances with dock connectors available for guests (which does little good with the lightning connector without an adapter). The Nexus 10, like many other Android tablets, uses a standard USB plug so you won’t need to break the bank to charge it.
I’m honestly not sure which one I’d recommend to a newcomer to the tablet world. If someone already owns an iPhone, it would almost certainly be a smart move to get an iPad because App Store purchases carry over. Likewise, an Android phone user would feel more at home with an Android tablet. A complete newcomer to the tablet space would have to try the two out and consider which one feels more comfortable. Android has a learning curve to it that Apple doesn’t, but once that curve is overcome, the freedom a more open OS gives the user can be a very good thing.
Image: Nexus 10