The iPad mini and Google Nexus 7 are battling it out and there's more choice than ever in the full form factor market as well.
A raft of recent products - including the Microsoft Surface, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, and the Asus Transformer Infinity - are all staking their claim for buyers' hearts and wallets. Yet at the end of the day, the 10in category, too, is an Apple vs Google dogfight. The iconic Cupertino-based firm refreshed its iPad line-up with a fourth-generation offering featuring its famed Retina display in October 2012, while the Internet search giant added to its increasingly influential Nexus oeuvre with the Samsung-made Google Nexus 10 tablet. So how do the two devices compare?
Size and weight
The dimensional differences between the two rival tablets may seem subtle on paper, but are in fact relatively pronounced. Measuring 263.9 x 177.6 x 8.9mm, the Google Nexus 10 is a more elongated device that could favour horizontal usage, while Apple's iPad 4 measures the same as its third-generation predecessor at 241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4mm and is more square-like and evenly proportioned.
Both the Nexus 10 and the iPad 4 slot neatly into the 10in category, with the former Samsung-manufactured device sporting a 10.1in screen, and Apple's new tablet offering a marginally smaller 9.7in display. The Google device comes up trumps with regards to pixel density: the Nexus 10 boasts a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution at 299 PPI, while Apple's iPad 4 is a still-stunning 2,048 x 1,536 at 264 PPI. Apple's famed 'Retina' display doesn't get bested often, but it's the inferior proposition in this instance.
Storage and memory
Neither the iPad 4 or the Nexus 10 offers anything remarkable with regards to storage. Both lack a memory card slot, with Apple's latest full-form factor tablet providing the greatest choice for media buffs, coming in a 64GB iteration in addition to 16GB and 32GB flavours. The Nexus 10 comes in two variations, 16GB and 32GB, but offers an impressive 2GB of RAM where the new Retina-display iPad offers a more standard 1GB of memory.
Processor and battery
Based on ARM architecture, Apple's custom-built dual-core A6X chipset features a Swift CPU - a kind of halfway house between a Cortex A-9 and A-15 - thought to be clocked in the region of 1.4GHz and complemented by a quad-core PowerVR SGX543 graphics set-up. The Nexus 10's Exynos 5 SoC is formed of a Cortex A-15 CPU clocked at 1.7GHz and supported by Mali-T604 graphics. The iPad 4 bests its Google rival in terms of battery performance, packing a powerhouse 11,560 mAh (vs. the Nexus 10's 9,000 mAh driver) with a claimed battery life of 10 hours.
With regards to software, Nexus 10 vs. iPad 4 is a straight-up Android vs. iOS grudge match. Google's new 10in category tablet runs the latest version of its native mobile OS, version 4.2 Jelly Bean. The new platform continues to build on the breakthrough Ice Cream Sandwich system, offering a number of improvements aimed at furnishing a more user-focused experience: PhotoSphere, the Swype-style Gesture Typing, and a deeper, better integrated Google Now are some of the features that make up this impressive update.
Apple's iOS 6 is a more complicated proposition. Some new features, like Passbook, look set to be hugely useful when more companies in the UK and Europe are integrated into the fold. There's some neat new call handling options too, and Siri finally seems to have blossomed into the kind of enchantingly helpful personal assistant we always knew it would. Unfortunately, the iOS 6 Maps debacle seriously undermines the overall usefulness of the platform, so while Apple undoubtedly boasts a superb ecosystem, iOS 6 is still a future upgrade in many people's mind.
There's not much to choose between these two sure-fire Christmas stocking stretchers in the camera department. If you're the kind of oddball who regards a full form-factor tablet as a legitimate photography device, then both offer you a 5-megapixel primary camera complete with 1080p HD video at 30fps. The Nexus 10 offers a slightly superior secondary snapper, boasting a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera for video-calling and the like, a specification that bests the iPad 4's 1.2-megapixel auxiliary shooter.
Being part of Apple's fiercely proprietary ecosystem, the iPad 4 doesn't boast a plethora of external outputs – in fact, the only one it has got is the infamous Lightning port. The Nexus 4, on the other hand, has sockets for both USB and HDMI cables (see images, below), making it a much more versatile partner for non-Apple fanboys. That said, the iPad 4 offers greater choice from a mobile data perspective, coming available as a 'cellular' model that will allow you to connect to 3G networks in the UK, and to the 4G LTE spectrum in the US. The Nexus 10 only features Wi-Fi flavours for the time being, and Apple's latest tablet also features a more recent Bluetooth standard.
Price and availability
Along with its smartphone stablemate the LG Google Nexus 4, the Nexus 10 went on sale earlier this week - 13 November to be precise. And, like the affordable Android handset, demand for Google's 10.1in tablet has exceeded its initial supply. The product is now listed as "sold out" on the Play Store, with the Internet search giant's UK press office indicating to us that it was unsure when additional stock will arrive. When the Nexus 10 does become available again, it will cost £319 or £389, depending on whether you opt for 16GB or 32GB of on-board storage. It's a price point that – while certainly at the high-end of the tablet market - significantly undercuts an equivalent iPad 4. For more on Google's first full form factor tablet, see our Nexus 10 review.
Yes, as ever, getting the latest Apple tablet will cost you. The current going rate is £399 for a Wi-Fi-only 16GB model, while a fully loaded fourth-generation iPad featuring mobile network connectivity and a 64GB storage capacity will drain you of £659 - a pretty whopping outlay, even at Christmas. However, in its favour, the new iPad with Retina display is currently available - or, rather, Wi-Fi-only models are. Apple has cited late-November as the due date for the 3G-ready variant, so come December it really should be a right ol' tablet ruckus out on the high street.
|Google Nexus 10||Apple iPad 4|
|Resolution||2,560 x 1,600 pixels||2,048 x 1,536 pixels|
|Pixel density||299 PPI||264 PPI|
|Type||‘Super’ PLS TFT||IPS TFT|
|Processor and battery|
|Family||Samsung Exynos 5||Apple A6X|
|CPU||Cortex A-15||Swift (ARMv7s)|
|Clock speed||1.7GHz||1.4GHz (speculated)|
|Battery||9,000 mAh||11,560 mAh|
|Claimed battery life (mid-heavy usage)||9h||10h|
|Storage and memory|
|Internal storage||16 / 32GB||16 / 32 / 64GB|
|Resolution||2,592 x 1,936 pixels||2,592 x 1,944 pixels|
|Video||1080p @ 30fps||1080p @ 30fps|
|Wi-Fi||802.11 a / b / g / n||802.11 a / b / g / n|
|NFC||Yes (Android Beam)||No|
|Bluetooth||3.0 with A2DP||4.0 with A2DP|
|Size||263.9 x 177.6 x 8.9mm||241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4mm|
|Operating System||Android 4.2 Jelly Bean||iOS 6|
|Price||£319 (16GB) / £389 (32GB)||Wi-Fi only (16 / 32 / 64GB): £399 / £479 / £559, Wi-Fi & 3G: £499 / £579 / £659|