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Nexus 7 vs iPad mini for Android user
December 19, 2012 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Android phone user considering a tablet purchase. Considering iPad mini or Nexus 7 and trying to determine pros and cons of staying with android or having access to the Apple realm.

I'm a happy android phone user. I currently have a Nexus S and if I were buying a new phone right now it would almost certainly be a Nexus 4.

I'm looking at tablets and like the 7" form factor versus 10" tablets so am caught between a Nexus 7 and iPad mini. I'd be doing normal tablet things, reading articles, watching some video, etc.

Initially the Nexus 7 seems like an obvious choice, especially considering the price. It would seem to make sense to have the apps I'm used to on my phone in the larger format.

Is there any advantage to the iPad mini in that I'd have access to some different apps? I'm occasionally annoyed when I hear about neat apps that are iOS only. That said, I have never owned any apple products, nor use itunes, etc.

My feeling is the Nexus 7 is the better option, but wondering if I'm missing something.
posted by sinical to Computers & Internet (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
If you're already plugged into the Android ecosystem, then the Nexus 7 might be a better choice. iOS can seem a bit frustratingly locked down (you can't kill individual running apps, for instance) compared to Android. The iPad mini has exceptional build quality and better cameras than the Nexus 7, but the screen is no better. Also, there will probably be an upgraded display iPad mini out some time in late spring 2013.

If you can, check out both at a retail store to see how each feels in your hands.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:41 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am an android user and love my nexus 7. Play store already knows the apps you like. Cheap! Lovely!
posted by k8t at 7:41 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have an Nexus 7 and an Ipod touch. I've found that while Ipod gets a few apps that are not in the Android library, these are few and far between. Also, due to Apples app development arrangements, MOST apps that I've run across cost money as oppossed to the Android market having a free (with ads) and a paid (ad free version). There are fewer free apps on iOS.

In addition to that, all the apps you currently have through your Android device will carry over if you use the same account on the Nexus 7.

(That being said, I LOOOOVE my Nexus 7, though I have no complaints with the Ipod Touch.)
posted by Twain Device at 7:45 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


My specs were: can I read epub books? can the battery last a transatlantic flight? Both were a resounding "yes" for the Nexus 7, along with a higher resolution screen and a cheaper price.

I have tried both the iPad mini and the Nexus 7, and I LOOOVE my Nexus 7. Completely recommended.
posted by alchemist at 7:50 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


The screen sizes and aspect ratios of the two devices are pretty different, more than you'd expect just from seeing the numbers. If it's convenient, you'd be well served by holding both in your hands, using them, etc, before making the choice.
posted by alms at 7:53 AM on December 19, 2012


you can't kill individual running apps, for instance

You don't have access to the processes directly, but you can certainly kill apps via the app switcher.
posted by griphus at 7:56 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


But the malfunctioning app will still be stuck until you reboot the iOS device.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:58 AM on December 19, 2012


I just ditched my Android phone for an iPhone. I've also had an iPad for a while.

Minuses: I miss widgets. And the stock keyboard's autocorrect.

Pluses: Much more polished-feeling stuff on the app store. If someone's going to make a cool physical device that's made smarter by a phone or tablet, it's much more likely to be an iDevice due to the much smaller range of shapes to work with. You'll probably never see, I dunno, a guitar you can slide an N7 into to use as an onboard stomp box/midi axe, you know?
posted by egypturnash at 7:59 AM on December 19, 2012


Also I find that the experience of killing malfunctioning apps is thousands of times easier on iOS than Android - double-tap the home button to bring up the switcher, press and hold on app until a minus appears, then hit that to kill it, versus go to launcher, hit menu, go into system prefs, select applications, select another menu item there to see ALLLLL your apps, scroll down to find the misbehaving one, tap it, say "force quit", tap a confirmation dialogue.
posted by egypturnash at 8:02 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Versus just hitting one soft button on Android 4+ and flicking the app away. But, derail.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:05 AM on December 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I found the touchscreen on the Nexus 7 relatively unresponsive and frustrating to use compared to the one on an iPad. Swipes weren't as smooth.
posted by zsazsa at 8:08 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I personally have noticed no noticeable difference in touchscreen sensitivity/smoothness between my Touch and Nexus7/Droid phone. YMMV.
posted by Twain Device at 8:18 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm in the Android universe, but own a first-gen iPad (wi-fi). In addition to its problems of size and weight, I don't use it because I don't use iTunes, and that's part of the bargain when you're in the iOS universe. It appears there are tools I can use to end-run this for general files and music, but if I want to, for example, throw videos into the iPad VLC app, I must use iTunes. So mainly I use the iPad when I travel, and the rest of the time my android phone and my kindle meet my needs.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:31 AM on December 19, 2012


One point no ones mentioned, you save easily a $100 - $200 by getting the Nexus 7 over the iPad, there is really not enough difference between the 2 for me to spend that sort of extra money. It should be noted I'm a tight ass/fiscally responsible and I am madly in love with my Nexus 7.
posted by wwax at 9:16 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I have, uh, a Galaxy Nexus, a Xoom, a Nexus 7, a Nexus 10 and an iPad 2... it's a long story.

Go play with an iPad for a while in a store. Target has them out, go find an Apple store, whatever. My personal opinion is that I don't like the iOS apps much. I dislike the mail app and I don't even like iOS Gmail. The browser is OK. iTunes integration is good if you have a lot of itunes content.

But personally I have never found those little apps that everyone talks about loving on iOS. Maybe I don't have enough hobbies. I am also pretty invested in the google ecosystem - I use gmail, calendar and drive a lot. So from a software POV I think it's really a wash. My opinions are subjective but I think all the major apps are at parity on both platforms.

But as others have mentioned the Nexus 7 is a little underpowered. Mine doesn't stutter so much as just hang once in a while, especially if you overtax memory bandwidth. I have heard the newer models are using better memory components, but be aware of this. Honestly, this may not even be a dealbreaker for you - I've never been extremely put out by performance blips in devices.

I like my Nexus 7 a lot and I think it's a great device. I think if you're pretty happy with Android apps and have your data all their already then you'll lik the N7 better. One cool thing is that it syncs your wireless router setting with your account so that once you log into your N7 the first time you don't have to do any setup again - it pulls in all your settings that you had on your phone automatically.
posted by GuyZero at 9:54 AM on December 19, 2012


I haven't played with a mini ipad, but as an android phone owner, and a nexus 7 owner (and a tf101), I'd say go with the nexus 7 32GB. Any paid apps will be available for your new device, and everything will be more familiar. Granted, I've only put about $40 into apps, but I'd be annoyed at needing to buy new apps, or possibly re-pay for the same app but a different port.

egypturnash: For misbehaving apps with a recent android OS, open the task switcher, long-press the app icon, which brings up a context menu to app info, and from there force close. Similarly for many situations, open the task switcher, and just swipe the offending app away, and then re-start it.
posted by nobeagle at 10:04 AM on December 19, 2012


Galaxy Nexus, former iPhone, and Nexus 7 user here.

I'm looking at tablets and like the 7" form factor versus 10" tablets so am caught between a Nexus 7 and iPad mini. I'd be doing normal tablet things, reading articles, watching some video, etc.

Between the two, the basic functionality that you describe would be virtually identical.

Initially the Nexus 7 seems like an obvious choice, especially considering the price. It would seem to make sense to have the apps I'm used to on my phone in the larger format.

Actually a lot of Android apps, especially the more popular ones, have tablet-specific modes or interfaces. For those, the apps aren't just larger format, they may have layouts that are better for someone using a tablet or use screen real estate in a way that's less claustrophobic then a phone. You can unlock the same functionality on rooted phones with custom ROMs (ParanoidAndroid, for instance), but for stock devices it actually detects your make and model and configures it accordingly.

Is there any advantage to the iPad mini in that I'd have access to some different apps? I'm occasionally annoyed when I hear about neat apps that are iOS only. That said, I have never owned any apple products, nor use itunes, etc.

Well, that depends on what apps you're worried about. As you're probably familiar with, all of Amazon's apps including Kindle are there. So are Netflix and Hulu Plus, and of course, Google owns YouTube. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, etc are all available either through official apps or alternate interfaces when APIs are allowed. Google's in-house apps are at worst the same as their iOS versions, and are often better (GMail, as pointed out, is a good example of this). Overall, I find mobile Chrome a better experience than mobile Safari, and the ability to easily sync most of your mobile Chrome setup with your home/office Chrome setup is crucial. I've also heard good things about mobile Firefox in the same vein, and mobile Opera and Dolphin are supposed to be excellent if you don't need bells and whistles. I also use Google Voice, which is not only more flexible and powerful (message transcription FTW!) than either the iPhone's or any carrier's Android voicemail systems, but is also completely free, and can be accessed from either the phone or the tablet.

One (IMO) big advantage is the Authenticator 2-step verification system. If you set up two-factor authentication for your Google account(s), then access to your account from an unauthorized computer or device requires that they have your phone (which should really be secured with a PIN/pattern/face unlock). If you authorize your computer as well as your phone and tablet, it's transparent to you after the initial setup and login.

My feeling is the Nexus 7 is the better option, but wondering if I'm missing something

It's much less expensive, you're already a part of the ecosystem, and it looks like you don't use major parts of the iWorld. Plus, it automatically sets up access to all of the Google apps you enable (and won't do it for those you don't). Go ahead and go for the Nexus 7.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:16 AM on December 19, 2012


The apps on the iOS side will be better, but the screen on the iPad Mini is worse and it costs from $130 to $180 more. iOS has some annoying limitations - no widgets, the keyboard autocorrect is terrible, and you can't share data between apps on iOS. Want to post an article from the browser to Tumblr? Kind of, with a bookmarklet. Want to save a link from a Twitter app to Pocket or Instapaper? Only if they've built it in to the app. Want to e-mail two photos from the photo app? Nope. Want to Tweet a photo? Only with the default Twitter app, not with the one you want.

Want to change your default browser? Nope. Want to change your default maps app? Nope. Change the default keyboard? Surely, you jest. Multitasking is also a pain on iOS, double-click the home button, but if you do it too slow you'll get the home screen, and if you hold it down too long, you'll get Siri, or sometimes you'll get the search field. Then you slide around looking for the icon of the app you want to switch to. On Android, it's two clicks.

On the other hand, iTunes is sometimes frustrating, but you can sync stuff to your devices without too much trouble. (Syncing local music on Android is a pain.)

My Nexus 7 is outstanding and my iPhone is really stable, has great apps - and can be frustratingly limiting. I wouldn't buy an iPad Mini or a regular iPad, but I would buy an Android (JellyBean or above) phone.
posted by cnc at 11:13 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


There aren't many tablet apps for Android, because the tablets just aren't as popular. If you want a better selection of software, go with the iPad mini.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:19 AM on December 19, 2012


The "580%" figure touted by Leenie comes from this article, which does a good job of breaking down the numbers. As GuyZero notes, as long as you don't install apps that aren't sourced directly from the Play Store, you'll be okay.

I have an iPad 3 and a Nexus 7, and out of the two, I find myself carrying the Nexus 7 around more. I'm equally embedded/invested in each ecosystem, and with the exception of a few apps that are iOS-only, I prefer my Android devices. Your mileage may vary, of course, but the Nexus 7 sounds like it would be the better of the two for your situation.
posted by evoque at 11:20 AM on December 19, 2012


On the other hand, iTunes is sometimes frustrating, but you can sync stuff to your devices without too much trouble. (Syncing local music on Android is a pain.)

You can enable a setting that treats the device as an external USB HDD and just copy music over as you would any copy-and-paste file explorer.

There aren't many tablet apps for Android

100% misleading and not true. Not only are there many Android tablet apps in general, but the OP specified reading and media, of which there are plenty of tablet apps.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:16 PM on December 19, 2012


I got the mini as a work bonus and was strongly considering the Nexus 7 previous to that. The iPad mini has a disappointingly bad screen compared to the Nexus.
posted by quince at 1:35 PM on December 19, 2012


Honestly, I'd say go with the device that works with the ecosystem you're already invested in. At least on the Apple side, the more devices you have, the more additional utility you get from each piece- so when I was using a Mac and had an iPad, moving from an Android to an iPhone gave me a huuuuuuuuge usefulness bump because everything worked together and synced together with no problems, automagically. Similarly, if you're all up in the Google and Android land, it just makes sense to use a tablet that will work with those things. You can argue tech nitpicks one way or the other all day, but in the end what matters is what you will USE.

So, go hold and play with each device to make sure the one you are leaning towards works in your hands, consider your ecosystem, and purchase accordingly.

If you were starting from scratch, it would be more relevant to argue the differences between platforms, but unless you're considering a move from Android to iOS wholesale, I'd stick with where you are.
posted by oblique red at 2:08 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think if you're used to android, then there's no real advantage to switching to iOS. I have a Nexus 7, my husband has a 10, and we LOVE them. There are plenty of apps, it's super easy to use and the display and price are really fantastic. You'll want a nice case - I got one I love from Speck.
posted by thylacinthine at 3:43 PM on December 19, 2012


100% misleading and not true. Not only are there many Android tablet apps in general, but the OP specified reading and media, of which there are plenty of tablet apps.

Here is an article from the New York Times from November 2012 in which a Google engineer describes the relative lack of tablet apps on Android:

I don’t have a number for how many apps are properly adding those APIs that you need to put fully to use the extra screen real estate. What I can say is that the Nexus 7 has been a superstrong catalyst to kick off developers’ attention to making those expansions, so we’ve seen tremendous growth in apps for the larger screen size. The trending is very positive because of the Nexus 7.

But before, I’ll be honest and say, yes, there was a lack of tablet apps that supported bigger screen real estate. But I’ll add that, I know we talked about the Cupertino guys, but obviously people who have smartphones are a huge target for us. If you look globally that’s something we worry more about, not so much about competing with other smartphones, but more about, how can we get more people onto the Internet on mobile phones? And that’s a big deal. That’s why low cost is so important.


-- John Lagerling, Google's director of business development for Android

The state of apps at this time is not equivalent between platforms, and it may not equalize for some time. It is an issue a potential Nexus buyer should certainly be aware of before putting down cash for one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:35 PM on December 19, 2012


The OP didn't ask for "relative" or "equivalent" number of apps, they just asked if the apps existed, which they most certainly do.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:45 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I may piggyback here (and I know this question has been up awhile, so not sure if people are still reading): would the people recommending the 7 answer differently if he were interested in using the tablet for games? I am also thinking about an iPad mini or Nexus 7, and also use an Android phone. I'd really like to use a tablet for watching videos and playing games -- mostly point-and-click kinds of stuff. Is the availability of such games on the iPad so much better as to make it the best choice?
posted by imalaowai at 9:42 PM on December 19, 2012


Any games in particular?

Pretty much all of the well-known casual stuff like Angry Birds, Cut The Rope, Words with Friends, Fruit Ninja, Plants v Zombies, etc is available on both. Same goes for more sophisticated games like the Grand Theft Auto series, The Bard's Tale, the Final Fantasy series, Chrono Trigger, and a bunch of older arcade games.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:41 AM on December 20, 2012


Not to mention the various console emulators!
posted by Burhanistan at 6:04 AM on December 20, 2012


Point and click adventure games - stuff like Myst, Machinarium, and games from Big Fish. I know they have Myst on ios, but is the general selection of these types of games lots better?
posted by imalaowai at 8:35 AM on December 20, 2012


Myst isn't available, but similar (to me) games like The Lost City and Another World are. Here's Machinarium and the Big Fish games on Android. I don't know what the count is on iTunes, since I don't have installed on this specific computer.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:02 AM on December 20, 2012


Thanks everyone for the responses. I will be acquiring a Nexus 7 32gb in the near future!
posted by sinical at 10:55 AM on December 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Congrats. Don't forget to check some of the general Android and Nexus-specific AskMes from the last couple of months for suggestions on cool stuff you can do with it.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:12 PM on December 20, 2012


I got a nexus 7 but am seeing problems with its touchscreen. I have to press things a couple of times to make things happen (e.g. open page or links)
posted by pakora1 at 2:30 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


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