Bigger Mini Meets Smaller Big Rivals (Part 1) : iPad Mini VS 7In Rivals, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

3/13/2013 6:12:00 PM

The iPad Mini lives! But how will Apple’s scaled-down 7.9in tab fare against an onslaught of dinky but dangerous Android rivals?

What’s new?

Steve Jobs famously labeled 7in tablets “tweeners”, claiming they were too small for great apps. With a host of Android tabs proving otherwise, Apple has now launched its own iPad Mini. So is small beautiful?

What We Tested…

Apple iPad Mini

Price: $4,380(16GB)

Apple may be playing catch-up with its 7in peers, but with the App Store’s riches and the biggest screen on test, it’s still got victory in its sights.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

Price: $3,900(8GB)

As Slick as you’d expect from Samsung with a great screen, microSD storage and a rear cam, Will it do for tablets what the Galaxy S III has for smartphones?

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Price: $3,296(16GB)

Amazon’s HD tablet is a bargain media machine running an unrecognizable version of Android that focuses on shopping, eBooks, movies and music.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Google Nexus 7

Price: $3,600(16GB)

Google’s super-cheap slate has been the champion of 7in tablets for months now thanks to its Tegra 3 heart and Jelly Bean brain. It’s still the one to beat.

Versus Touchpad 7

Price: $1,589(8GB)

Seriously strapped for cash? No fear: the Touchpad 7 serves up Google Play, web browsing and games in a sub-$400 package. Sounds great-What’s the catch?

What to look for


Although iOS still has the biggest selection, Android is catching up. Be aware, though, that the Kindle Fire restricts access to the Google Play store and the Versus 7 lacks the power for the latest games.


Resolution isn’t everything: being usable outdoors and having good viewing angles can be just as important.


None of these tabs come with much onboard storage, but bigger versions are available. A cheaper option is to use a microSD card (if possible) or cloud storage.


The tabs in this test range from quad-core beasts to single-core weaklings. If you’re a big gamer or watch lots of HD films, you’ll want one of the faster models.

iPad Mini VS 7In Rivals

Apple iPad Mini

Price: $4,380 (16GB Wi-Fi)


Whisper it, but the 7.9in iPad Mini might be the prettiest tablet Apple has built. What’s more, that stunning satin aluminum finish and those diamond-cut edges house a tablet that’s supremely portable at a feathery 308g and just 7.2mm thick.

First impressions when you turn it on aren’t quite so good: with a resolution of 1024x768, the same as the iPad 2’s, it’s no Retina device. Still, its 163PPI is none-too-shabby, colors are bright yet natural and whites are Persil-pure. Plus, at 7.9in it’s comfortably the biggest on test, and that extra screen space offers plenty of room for app fun.

Plus, at 7.9in it’s comfortably the biggest on test, and that extra screen space offers plenty of room for app fun.

Plus, at 7.9in it’s comfortably the biggest on test, and that extra screen space offers plenty of room for app fun.

Software-wise it runs iOS 6, complete with Facebook integration and the infamous Apple Maps. There are no live widgets and the notifications center doesn’t rival Google Now, but for apps it’s still way out in front. And with the same aspect ratio as its big brothers, your existing apps will work fine on it. Performance is impressive (it also inherits the iPad 2’s A5 chip), and the Mini loads pages and streams faster than the Nexus.

Frankly, we love it. The extra screen space it has over its rivals makes it far better for creative apps and much more than a mere media consumption device. If it wasn’t so expensive, it would be our winner.

That downsized screen may call for slightly more precise finger work, but not by much. Even button-filled synthesizer apps work with only the occasional hitch.

The Mini’s slender bezels make your thumb more likely to stray on-screen. Apple’s thumb detection tech (also on the iPad 4) avoids unwanted swipes.

If you were expecting useful ports on the Mini, you were a fool. You get the new Lightning docking/charging setup and a 3.5mm socket. MicroSD? Still just a dream.

Tech Specs

·         Display 7.9in IPS LCD,

·         1024x768 (163PPI)

·         OS Apple iOS 6

·         CPU Dual-core A5 @ 1GHz

·         Camera 5MP,

·         1080p@30fps (rear);

·         1.2MP, 720p (front)

·         Connectivity Wi-Fi, 3.5mm,

·         Lightning, Bluetooth 4.0

·         Battery 10 hours

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

Price: $3,900 (8GB)


Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 felt on top of the 7in world this summer and then Google came along. And frankly, beyond Sammy’s useful custom apps, a handy microSD slot and a 3MP rear camera, not much sets it ahead of the Nexus 7.

For starters, it’s got a 1GHz dual-core processor running the show, so it’s no surprise that it’s a step or two behind Google’s quad-core effort. It’s also running Ice Cream Sandwich, and while it’s in line for a Jelly Bean update soon, it’s always likely to lag behind Google’s own tablet in this regard.

That’s not to say it’s all bad. The 1024x600 display is better than the specs suggest, with good viewing angles and a picture that’s often punchier than the Nexus 7’s, although smaller text on web pages can be jagged and hard to read.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 felt on top of the 7in world this summer – and then Google came along.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 felt on top of the 7in world this summer and then Google came along.

The Tab 2’s speakers are also good – on a par with the Fire HD’s, as long as they aren’t cranked up too loud and Samsung’s mini pop-apps are useful additions. A microSD slot is a major bonus, particularly since a plethora of unnecessary hubs and apps clog up your storage space.

The Tab 2 is a solid choice, but it can’t compete with the speedier performance and sturdier design of Apple or Google’s offerings.

Despite the Tab 2’s slightly low-res display, vivid colors mean hi-res photos and HD movies look the part. We still prefer the screens on the Nexus and Fire HD though.

We’re big fans of Sammy’s mini apps, such as the music player and email. Also seen on the Galaxy Note II, they pop up from the bottom of the screen with notifications.

It could be aluminum from a distance, but the Tab 2 7.0’s chassis is in fact made from plastic. It’s no iPad Mini, but the Tab 2 still manages to look like a grown-up slate.

Tech Specs

·         Display 7in PLS LCD,

·         1024x600 (170PPI)

·         OS Android 4.0 ICS

·         CPU Dual-core OMAP

·         4430 @ 1GHz

·         Camera3MP, 720p@30fps

·         (rear); VGA (front)

·         Connectivity Wi-Fi, 3.5mm,

·         microUSB, SD, Bluetooth

·         Battery 7 hours

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