Nexus 7 vs. iPad 3 – how do the tablets compare? [Video]

iPad nexus 7

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.

Apple iPad metal back

The iPad’s metal back makes it feel like a premium product

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.

Nexus 7 apps

The Nexus 7 has a wide vareity of compatible apps, but it still doesn’t match the choice available for the iPad

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:

  1. If you want something that’s small and cheap, the Nexus 7 is the better bet.
  2. 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.

More on this…

Categories: Apple, Tablets

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10 replies

  1. Have you actually tried using a 7″ (let alone a 10″) tablet as a camera? Don’t bother: it is just unwieldy to have practical use. If you need photos, buy a Smart Phone with a good camera (iPhone of Galaxy S2/S3).

    Using a keyboard on a 7″ tablet is fine, especially if you use one of the better keyboards apps such as SwiftKey 3 for Android. If you’re a heavy typist, I suggest that you need a Bluetooth keyboard for either of these tablets. Touchscreen are not much good for more than emailing, SMSing and short notes.

    Your choice between these really comes down to size/weight. A 7″ tablet is easier to hold one-handed and thus good for traveling and (most importantly) reading in bed with the Kindle app!

  2. This is a ridiculous and pointless comparison. The price points are vastly different and is like comparing an S-class Mercedes with a Ford Fiesta. They can both do the required job brilliantly bearing in mind their prices but the Mercedes is also 4 times the price of a Fiesta. People in the market for a Fiesta will not pay the premium for a Mercedes.

  3. Its not the first comparison that comes to mind but unless you’ve tried both devices you’d think the iPad would walk it. The Nexus7(N7) really is that good. If you write a list of what you want the tablet for the iPad always seems overpriced compared to the N7. On paper the N7 is more powerful than the new iPad which only has a better display. I think Google have made a device that most can afford and not feel limited in its ability. The equivalent iPad is better (hardware) but not £200 better.

  4. I have just bought a nexus 7. I’m very pleased with it. The size is great and for me much better than a 10″ tablet – it can fit into my rucksack or in the back of my jeans pocket.
    The main downside is lack of flash support, and in particular many of the apps written for Android (e.g. BBC Iplayer) won’t work on the nexus 7.

    1. To get full Flash on the Nexus 7, first download and install FireFox beta browser (free from the GooglePlay store). Then download the Flash.apk and install (search Google for the apk). Power cycle the Nexus and you’ll find Flash works fine using FireFox as your browser. It’s just bizarre that Google made Chrome mobile incompatible with Flash: as though everyone has converted to HTML 5!

  5. Come on Which! There is at least another 7″ tablet around and it is very good – the Samsung Galaxy 2 7.0.
    The choice is not between the iPad and the Nexus 7. The choice is whether you want a highly portable 7 inch tablet or do you want to lug around the iPad [laptop replacement].

    1. There are lots of 7-inch tablets available – and we have put them to the test as well – but the Nexus 7 looks set to become the most popular of these, mainly due to its low price.

  6. As an Android Tablet user, I get really annoyed by the no tablet apps canard. It simply is not the day to day experience. The thing that gets overlooked is that many android phone apps scale incredibly well, so well, in fact, that you may not even notice, you don’t have a tablet version. I think things are a lot closer here, then the cliche the reviewer sticks to.

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