The Google Nexus 7 from Asus is the latest tablet to hit the market. It runs the latest version of Android and on paper sounds impressive, but how does it stack up against Apple’s all-conquering iPad?
What is the Google Nexus 7?
The Nexus 7 is an Android tablet and is the first tablet or phone to include the latest version of the operating system, Jelly Bean – read our Google Android Jelly Bean guide for more info. It’s Google’s first tablet, though it’s designed and manufactured in partnership with Asus.
It’s got a 7-inch screen and some impressive sounding features, but the most noteworthy one is the price: it’s just £159 for the 8GB version, or £199 for the 16GB version.
It’s widely tipped as the first serious contender to the iPad, so we decided to pit the two together to see how they compare.
This comparison is just based on our first impressions of the Nexus 7, but we are currently testing the tablet in our labs. We’ll be publishing the review early next week, where we’ll get the definitive verdict on battery life, performance, screen quality and lots more. Read our how we test tablets page for more details on how we test tablets.
Nexus 7 vs iPad 3 – how do they compare?
If you’re thinking about buying a tablet, read our Tablet Buyers’ Guide for all the info you need to know to find the best tablet for you.
Which is the better size?
The most obvious difference between the two tablets is the size of the screen. Apple’s iPad has a 9.7-inch screen, while the Nexus is a modest 7-inches. Which one you will prefer will depend on how you think you’ll use it.
For example, if you’re going to be using it on your commute to work, the smaller and lighter (it weighs 340g, more than 300g less than the iPad) Nexus 7 will be easier to lug around; however, if you’re just going to be using it around the home for web browsing and watching video, the larger iPad screen will be a better bet.
Also think how much typing you’ll do. The iPad’s on-screen keyboard won’t be as cramped, so should be easier to use and apps may also be easier to use – we test every tablet’s on-screen to see how easy it is to use.
While the larger iPad screen is better for a lot of things, the Nexus 7’s smaller screen is easier to handle in tight spaces and it’s lighter, too. They’re impossible to separate.
Which is better made?
While lots of cheap tablets feel exactly that, cheap, the Nexus 7 isn’t one of them. Its rubberised back isn’t as luxurious as aluminium, but it makes it easier to hold and looks good, too.
Saying that, it still can’t compete with Apple’s styling and the iPad wins hands down when it comes to a premium finish. At the same time the iPad’s metal case does make it a lot heavier, but it’s clearly a solid, expensive bit of kit.
It’s another close one, but the iPad edges it. That said, the Nexus 7 is a cut above any tablet of the same price.
Which has the better screen?
Here there’s no way to compete with the iPad. Apple’s display blows away the competition. The level of detail is astounding, and coupled with its larger size makes it better for most tasks.
However, that’s not to say the Nexus 7 doesn’t have a very good screen. It still has an impressive resolution and colours look rich – it’s just up against the very best.
Again, the Nexus 7 doesn’t embarrass itself, but the iPad is in a different class.
Which is better to use?
In the past Android tablets have suffered from being a bit laggy and unresponsive – often making them frustrating to use as you have to wait for your touch to register.
Fortunately, the Nexus 7 runs the latest version of Android that addresses these problems. On first impressions it’s a serious improvement and brings it level to the iPad in this respect, but only the Which? tablets lab can give the verdict on this.
We’ll have to wait for our full lab results for the definitive verdict, but for the moment there’s nothing to choose between them.
Which has the best apps?
Another new feature of Android is Google Now, a new search function that gives you relevant information without you having to ask for it. This includes using your location and search history, as well as calendar events to suggest routes to your next appointment or possible restaurants to eat at nearby.
Despite this the Google Play store still lags far behind the Apple App Store when it comes to quality apps – especially for tablets.
Apple still leads for the number and quality of tablet apps, but if the Nexus 7 is a success for Android then that could change in future.
Which has the best hardware?
We’ll have to wait for our full lab test to see which is faster overall, but it’s no surprise that that the more expensive iPad wins this category overall. The main difference is that there are 3G versions of the iPad, whereas the Nexus 7 is wi-fi only – an issue if you want to connect to the internet on the move.
Also, the Nexus 7 has less space for apps, files, music and videos – its maximum capacity is 16GB, whereas the iPad comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions. Neither tablet has a memory card slot, either, so whichever version you buy can’t be expanded at a later date.
Another plus for the iPad is that it has a rear-facing camera, where the Nexus 7 has none. Google’s tablet does have a higher-resolution front-facing camera for video chatting, but it’s not enough to defeat the iPad.
The iPad is the clear winner here – the Nexus 7 suffers for its limited storage capacity and the lack of a 3G version.
Which is the best value for money?
There’s no real contest here, with the 16GB version of the Nexus 7 costing half as much as the 16GB iPad without 3G. Considering the top quality features of the Nexus 7 it seems a real steal for just £200, and looks like one of the best budget tablets we have ever seen.
We won’t know for certain until we’ve tested the Nexus 7 in our labs, but it’s hard to imagine there’s any other tablet that will perform as well for the price.
A clear win for the Google Nexus 7. If, as our recent poll suggests, you don’t want to spend too much on a tablet, it’s hard to argue with its sub-£200 pricing.
Which one should I buy?
If we’ve proved anything, it’s that these tablets are actually difficult to compare. Once we’ve fully-tested the Nexus 7, where we’ll find out exactly how good the screen is, how it compares to the other Android tablets and – most importantly – how good the battery life is, we’ll have a better idea.
But it really boils down to two things:
- If you want something that’s small and cheap, the Nexus 7 is the better bet.
- If you want to be more productive, and enjoy more high quality tablet apps, the iPad wins out.
Finally, before you decide it’s worth remembering rumours suggest Apple might release a 7-inch tablet of its own. And, even if the larger iPad suits you best, that isn’t to say it’s the only option available to you. Read our Android tablet reviews to see which ones we recommend.