Head-To-Head: iPad Mini Vs. Amazon Kindle Fire HD Vs. Google Nexus 76:19 PM EST Wed. Oct. 24, 2012
Don't let the "mini" name fool you.
Apple's iPad mini packs a punch despite its scaled-down size, touting a number of robust features and specs that even the most fanatic Apple followers didn't see coming. But, how does it shape up against the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD, the two tablets that have traditionally set the standard in the 7-inch space?
Take a look.
iPad mini: 7.87 inches
Google Nexus 7: 7 inches
Amazon Kindle Fire HD: 7 inches
Steve Jobs famously said two years ago that Apple would never make a 7-inch tablet because the screen size would be too small to adequately "express" Apple's iOS software. So Apple, seemingly in honor of its late CEO's wishes, equipped the iPad mini with a slightly larger 7.87-inch screen. So, does that extra .87 inches actually make a difference? According to Apple, yes. Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said during the iPad mini launch event that Apple competitors in the 7-inch tablet space have "failed miserably" in their designs, sacrificing a rich Web browsing experience to achieve these smaller form factors. Schiller said the new iPad mini, thanks to its extra .87 inches, offers nearly 35 percent more screen real estate than competing tablets. In all fairness, though, if users are looking for a genuinely petite-sized tablet, the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD might be the better way to go.
iPad mini: 0.28 inches thick; 0.68 pounds
Google Nexus 7: 0.4 inches thick; 0.75 pounds
Amazon Kindle Fire HD: 0.4 inches thick; 0.87 pounds
Despite its bigger screen size, the iPad mini is both lighter and thinner than the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD. At just 0.28 inches thick and 0.68 pounds, Apple's new tablet has officially raised the "thin-and-light" bar.
But, as noted by NPR reporter Laura Sydell, who got some hands-on time with the iPad mini this week, the device's super-lightweight form factor might make it more susceptible to breaks and cracks.
"When I picked up the iPad mini I almost tossed it over my shoulder because I'd been using a lot more strength than I needed to lift it. At .68 pounds it's actually half the weight of the larger iPad," Sydell wrote. "But it felt lighter, as if I was lifting a large cracker and at 7.2 mm it's about as thin as some crackers. The new iPad mini actually seemed delicate to me, as if I might break it."
iPad mini: Apple A5; 1 GHz
Google Nexus 7: Nvidia Tegra 3; 1.3 GHz
Amazon Kindle Fire HD: Texas Instruments OMAP; 1.2 GHz
Processing power is one area where the iPad mini doesn't come out on top.
Running Apple's A5 chip -- the same chip used in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S -- the iPad mini can reach processing speeds of up to about 1GHz, falling short compared to the 1.3GHz that Google Nexus 7 can reach running on an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and the 1.2GHz reached by the Amazon Kindle Fire using a Texas Instruments OMAP4460 processor.
iPad mini: 1.2-megapixel front; 5-megapixel rear
Google Nexus 7: 1.2-megapixel front
Amazon Kindle Fire HD: 720-pixel front
If a camera is a top priority in your 7-inch tablet search, the iPad mini delivers the most bang for your buck.
Out of the three contenders, Apple's tablet is the only one equipped with both a front- and rear-facing camera and, accounting for both, has the highest pixel count. The Google Nexus 7 is next in line with a still-strong, 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, trailed by the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, which comes with a 720-pixel front-facing camera.
iPad mini: 10 hours
Google Nexus 7: 8 hours
Amazon Kindle Fire HD: 11 hours
When it comes to longevity, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD takes the cake.
Amazon claims its newest 7-inch tablet can run up to an impressive 11 hours, while the iPad mini trails behind (closely) with 10 hours. Google finishes last in this category, with its Nexus 7 getting up to eight hours of active use.
iPad mini: 1,024 x 768
Google Nexus 7: 1,280 x 800
Amazon Kindle Fire HD: 1,280 x 800
Apple's new full-sized iPad is equipped with the same industry-leading Retina display that debuted with the third-generation iPad, but the iPad mini isn't, which makes it a step behind rivals Google and Apple when it comes to screen resolution.
The iPad mini display isn't poor, by any means; it's the same 1,024-x-768 display found on the iPad 2. But, the Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD have it beat with a 1,280-x-800 screen resolution that arms them with 53 more pixels per inch.
iPad mini: Lightning connector
Google Nexus 7: Micro-USB
Amazon Kindle Fire HD: Micro-HDMI, Micro-USB 2.0
One drawback of the iPad mini's ultra-slim build is that it's too thin to include either an HDMI or USB port. Instead, the new tablet comes with the Lightning connector that Apple debuted with the iPhone 5. Because it's smaller, the Lightning connector requires the purchase of an adapter to synch with most iPad and iPhone accessories on the market today, but, according to Apple, it also significantly boosts data transfer rates.
The Amazon Kindle Fire takes home the gold in this category, delivering both a micro-USB and micro-HDMI port for video output to HD TVs. The Google Nexus includes a micro-USB port, but no HDMI.
iPad mini: Starts at $329
Google Nexus 7: Starts at $199
Amazon Kindle Fire HD: Starts at $199
The iPad mini has a heftier price tag than most projected. Original estimates pointed to $250 price point, but Apple revealed a starting price this week of $329 -- a figure that surpasses the price of both the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD by a pretty significant $130.
For $329, users can get a Wi-Fi-enabled 16-GB iPad mini. A 32-GB model will go for $429 and a 64-GB model will sell for $529. For cellular- and Wi-Fi-enabled models, Apple is offering a 16-GB model for $459, a 32-GB model for $559 and a 64-GB model for $659.
The Amazon Kindle Fire HD seems to be the best deal in town (in terms of delivering the most storage at the lowest cost), with a $199 16-GB model and a $249 32-GB model. Google, comparatively, offers the same $199 price point for the Nexus 7, but that model comes with only 8 GB of storage. A 16-GB model is also available for $249.