The following is a guest post by Chris Smith which originally appeared as a post at a forum Chris and I both frequent. Chris is both an end user and mobile developer so I found the information interesting and informative.
iPad Mini and Nexus 7
I’ll be taking both of these home from work this weekend to play with and I’ll be setting them both up as “my” devices, using apps that I have bought, installed, configured, etc.
First, VERY initial impressions, that may change as I get to use them over the weekend:
Feel: Nexus 7 is the best feeling Android device I’ve used. Fit and finish are nice, it feels decent in the hand and doesn’t feel cheap. The iPad Mini (from now on, I’ll use N7 and Mini) feels better. It’s a step above in fit and finish compared to the N7, and feels a bit nicer in the hand. It’s bigger and has a different aspect ratio than the N7 but is no harder to hold in one hand (I do have large hands, I’ll have my wife try this weekend.) The Mini should feel better, it’s more expensive.
Screen: N7 is slightly better here. But it’s really close and I wouldn’t notice it unless I was trying. The Mini’s 1024×768 isn’t “retina” and as a consumer I sort of wish it were. But as a developer and someone who understands why the did what they did, I’m actually am glad they kept the 1024×768 resolution because hundreds of thousands of apps “just work.”
Android and iOS: Last time I used Android with any regularity was back in the early 2.3 days, when the Nexus One was new. Back then Android lagged way behind iOS on usability and speed, IMO. Now there’s no gap, they’re both great. There are things that iOS does that Android doesn’t and things that iOS does better than Android. But the reverse is just as true. Jelly Bean scrolls much smoother between screens, pop-ups, etc. The searching is better than iOS, and the voice recognition on both is pretty good. Live Tiles are really neat and fun to play with on the home screen, but I honestly don’t miss them on the Mini either.
Apps: Wow, Android is a lot better than last time I really sat down and played with it. I could only find one app that I use everyday on my iPhone and/or iPad that I couldn’t find on the N7 was Simpsons: Tapped Out which is a dumb game that isn’t a deal breaker for a device. But that being said, the iOS versions of the apps that I use tend to be more polished, easier to use, and much less laggy than the Android counterparts. Several apps that I launched (including Chrome, the built in browser) just appear to hang, not responding to swipes, scrolls, etc for several seconds at a time (more than 2, and very noticeable ) As an iOS user, this is the most infuriating user experience when trying to use an Android device, the lack of feedback when things are happening. The Kindle app rocks on both devices and is almost identical (and is probably the second most used app on my iPad 3, behind the Video app.)
Media: This is going to be hard to be impartial. I’ve been using a iOS device for over 4 years now, and have everything configured to run through iTunes, iTunes Match, handbrake converted videos ready to go on the iPad, etc. I haven’t loaded video on the Mini yet, but last night loaded a few on the N7. Best thing about the N7 is that since you have access to the file system you can just copy files to it, even over the wireless network. So while my ecosystem is iOS centric, I was at least able to load a video on the N7 and it looked great. I’m not a huge fan of iTunes but I’ve much time configuring it, writing helper apps that talk to the iTunesLib directly to convert video put in specific folders, running them through handbrake, adding them to specific playlists that will sync to my iOS device next time I do a sync and that type of stuff. I’m 100% sure that a geek like me could do ALL of that for an Android device so that it was just as automatic and possibly more so. I’m not going to spend the time doing it, though, unless I were to ever switch full time. And there might be better ways to get personal video, music, etc on an Android device than I have.
2 Days later Chris posted this followup:
So after using it for a few nights, I found myself always reaching for the Mini first. I don’t know if this is just because I prefer iOS to Android (and I do) or if it’s just because it’s so familiar, but I just enjoyed using the Mini more than then N7. I’m amazed by how Apple produced a device this thin and light that doesn’t feel compromised when using it.
If you like Android better, or you’re deeply embedded int he Google ecosystem, the N7 is a great device. I do like it quite a bit and I think it’s great that there are really good tablets at really good prices for users that prefer Android. But if you’re like me and are already in the iOS ecosystem, the Mini makes more sense, I think.
The biggest question I have left is if the Mini makes sense for me at all. I already have an iPad, I’m not sure if I need the Mini too. It’s nice that it’s smaller, but that’s a downside too because the screen is smaller. It’s easier to type on the full sized iPad (if I was using it for taking notes) and videos are nicer on the full sized iPad because they’re bigger. And I have my phone on me all the time for when I need to check something on the go. If you want an iPad and you wanted to save a little bit of money, the Mini is a great choice. If you think the smaller form factor is nice for your application, the Mini is a great choice. Maybe my mind will change over the next few weeks, but for right now I’m not sure if I’ll really use the Mini, especially when I have the choice between it and the full sized iPad.
Thanks for reading, if Chris continues any further followup I’ll post that too.