On 24 July, Google unveiled the new Nexus 7 tablet at a special event in San Francisco, also showcasing the latest iteration of its mobile operating system, Android 4.3. Apple's iPad mini, by way of comparison, launched back in October 2012, and while that makes it relatively long in the tooth in the fast-paced technology world, it's still one of the seminal devices in the reduced form factor tablet market. So how do the two rivals compare? Let's take a look at the key specifications.
Size and weight
Google's new Nexus 7 offers a rectangular design and measures 200 x 114 x 8.65 mm, while the iPad mini features a more square-like build and sizes up at a slightly slimmer 200 x 134.7 x 7.2mm. The iPad mini is the heavier device, though, tipping the scales to the tune of 312g, compared to the new Nexus 7's 290g weight (299g for the LTE model).
The new Nexus 7 features a best-in-class Full HD display with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 pixels, making for a whopping pixel density of 323ppi. That comfortably trumps the iPad mini's 1,024 x 768 pixel display, which equates to a sharpness of 163ppi. Some users may like the fact that the iPad mini offers nearly an inch of extra screen space, with its display measuring 7.9in compared to the 7in screen found on the second-generation Nexus 7.
Storage and memory
In terms of on-board storage, Google's refreshed Nexus 7 will be available in 16GB and 32GB models, while the iPad mini is offered in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB iterations. The new Nexus 7 packs a hefty 2GB of RAM, while the iPad mini is thought to come with 512MB of memory. Neither device features a card slot for storage expansion.
The 2013 Nexus 7 packs a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset clocked at 1.5GHz and complemented by Adreno 320 graphics. Under the hood, the iPad mini features a dual-core Apple A5 configuration, compromised of a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and a dual-core PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU. Though officially unconfirmed in the context of the iPad mini, it's thought that the A5 clocks at 1GHz, making the new Nexus 7 a far beefier beast in terms of raw processing power.
Android vs iOS is one of mobile's most bitter grudge matches, and both platforms have vocal supporters. The new Nexus 7 will arrive running the latest version of Google's mobile OS, Android 4.3, and will surely be first in line for future updates like Key Lime Pie. Amongst its other new features, Android 4.3 will allow users to implement Restricted Profiles, preventing children from racking up costly in-app purchases, for example. The iPad mini runs iOS 6, with an update to Apple's recently unveiled iOS 7 expected later in the year.
With regards to camera specifications, the new Nexus 7's addition of a 5-megapixel rear camera means it now matches up identically to the iPad mini, as both devices also sport a 1.2-megapixel front snapper.
Nearly a year on, the exact battery spec for the iPad mini has yet to be confirmed, but Apple claims that its reduced form factor tablet offers up to 10 hours of fun. Google has confirmed that its new Nexus 7 is powered by a 3,950 mAh battery that provides up to 9 hours of active use.
The new Nexus 7 will be available in both Wi-Fi-only variants and an LTE model that will land on the UK's budding 4G spectrum. The iPad mini also comes in an LTE variant. While Google didn't really talk it up during the device's launch, the second-generation Nexus 7 also supports integrated wireless charging - hardly essential stuff but a very neat extra.
Price, availability and verdict
Like the original Nexus 7, the 2013 Nexus 7 offers a superb set of cutting-edge specifications and is priced ultra-competitively. Google has confirmed official US pricing of $229 (16GB; Wi-Fi-only), $269 (32GB; Wi-Fi-only), and $349 (LTE).
In terms of UK-specific pricing, nothing is official at time of writing, but Curry's has opened pre-orders for the new Nexus 7, anointing the 16GB model with a £200 price tag and offering the 32GB variant for £240. The LTE model is still shrouded in mystery, but we'd expect it to cost around £280 or possibly £300. Google pegged UK availability as the "coming weeks," with Curry's saying the first devices will begin shipping on 13 September. A frustrating wait, but will it be worth it?
In short, yes. The most basic iPad mini - a 16GB, Wi-Fi-only model - costs £269, with Apple enthusiastically pricing its gadget all the way up to £529 for a 64GB, LTE-ready model. Some feel that Apple's design nous makes its products worth the extra dosh and there's no doubt the iPad mini is a beauteous specimen, but its specifications are thoroughly put to shame by those of the new Nexus 7. One industry insider went so far as to call it a "bloodbath" in Google's favour, and while we wouldn't go that far, the second-generation Nexus 7 offers a superior feature set, especially on the hardware front. Many will also find its pricing far more palatable.
While we obviously need to put the new Nexus 7 through its paces in full before issuing any kind of definitive pronouncement, it would be our pick based on the respective spec sheets. Stay tuned for the all-important review, and in the meantime be sure to check out our hands-on preview of the new Nexus 7. Like many, we think Apple will break cover with an iPad mini refresh in Q3, so this showdown could get even spicier in the coming weeks.
Apple iPad mini
Google Nexus 7
1,024 x 768 pixels
1,920 x 1,200 pixels
Processor and battery
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
Unconfirmed (10h claimed life)
3,950 mAh (9h claimed life)
Storage and memory
16 / 32 / 64GB
16 / 32GB
200 x 134.7 x 7.2mm
200 x 114 x 8.65mm
290g (LTE model: 299g)
Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
Wi-Fi / Wi-Fi + LTE
£269 / £369 (16GB)
£349 / £449 (32GB)
£429 / £529 (64GB)
£199.99 (16GB; Wi-Fi)
£239.99 (32GB; Wi-Fi)
TBC (Wi-FI + LTE)
13 September (speculative)