It’s no accident that Apple announced its new iPad Air 2 and Google its new Nexus 9 the same week. Both are flagship tablets running the latest and greatest software these tech titans can make.
So, the question on everyone’s mind is which one should you ask Santa for this holiday season. Well, I’m about to tell you.
But first, I have a special announcement to make. A while back, I surveyed my audience to learn what’s most important to you in a tablet: Mobility, convenience, ease of use, size and weight, and price.
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With that shameless sales pitch out of the way, let’s get back to the iPad Air 2 and Nexus 9. Before the battle commences, let’s meet the contenders.
IPAD AIR 2
Apple’s iPad Air 2 is a nice bump up from the original iPad Air. At 6.1 mm, it’s thinner than a pencil.
However, it has a 10-hour battery life, a 64-bit A8X processor that’s 40% faster than the old iPad Air, M8 coprocessor for fitness gadgets and fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi that can easily stream HD movies.
The new 9.7-inch screen is laminated, which means the glass, touch sensor and LCD display are bonded into one layer. It makes for a clearer image and more accurate touching.
Apple also made a big deal about the camera. It’s an 8 megapixel sensor and can do all sorts of tricks like measure objects on the screen, create 43 megapixel panoramas, has burst mode, time-lapse and slo-mo. And thanks to the fast processor, you can do some pretty cool photo editing tricks without needing a computer.
It starts at $499 for the 16 gigabyte Wi-Fi version. However, you can get storage sizes up to 128 gigabytes and LTE cellular. You can order it starting October 17 and ships a week later. Oh, and like the iPhone, it now comes in your choice of Silver, Space Gray and Gold.
The Nexus 9 is an HTC-made tablet that replaces the Nexus 7 and 10 tablets. It has an 8.9-inch screen with a 2048 x 1536 resolution.
The screen is a 4:3 ratio like an iPad instead of the typical 16:9 of an Android tablet, which means movies are going to have black bars at the top and bottom. However, for Web surfing and looking at photos, it should be nice to use.
The internal hardware is high-end with a 64-bit dual-core processor, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 8MP rear camera and 9.5 hours of battery life. Storage is a little light at 16GB and 32GB, and there’s no microSD slot for expanding that. So, if you’re the type who hauls around a library of movies, you need to stream them online or buy something else.
For working, you can get an add-on magnetic keyboard, similar to the one Microsoft makes for the Surface tablet. In other words, the Nexus 9 is taking the best bits of its competitors and trying to do it better.
It costs $399 for the base Wi-Fi version and you can get it in Indigo Black, Lunar White and Sand. Pre-ordering starts October 17 and it will ship sometime in November.
Now that we know the contenders, who wins the fight?
READY … FIGHT!
Both tablets have the same screen resolution, but the Nexus 9 has a smaller screen, which means slightly better clarity. However, the iPad Air 2’s laminated screen might give it the edge.
Winner: iPad Air 2
The iPad Air 2 has a claimed battery life of 10 hours to the Nexus 9’s 9.5 hours. In actual use Apple products tend to do better on battery life, but the Nexus 9 is running Android 5.0. Android 5.0 has been shown to boost battery life in existing hardware, so it should be an even matchup.
Both tablets have 64-bit processors and run their programs smoothly. The iPad Air 2 does have the M8 co-processor for fitness add-ons and other tasks. However, the Nexus 9 has its own dedicated systems for waking up when touched or always listening for voice commands.
The Nexus 9 tops out at 32GB with no options for expansion. The iPad Air 2 has options for 16GB, 64GB and 128GB.
Winner: iPad Air 2
Both tablets have super-fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and – for the cellular version – high-end LTE that works just about anywhere.
On paper, both cameras look about even, but the iPad has some software tricks that should put it ahead – including a 43MP panorama mode. However, Android 5.0 has a revamped camera app and is opening up the camera hardware to app developers like never before. Expect to see a lot of competition in this space.
The iPad is usually the winner in beauty contests, but I have to say the Nexus 9 is no slouch. As far as case colors go, however, I have to say that Gold beats Sand any day.
Winner: It’s up to you, but I’m leaning toward the iPad
The iPad Air 2 is thinner and comparatively lighter than the Nexus 9, which should make using it for long periods easier.
Winner: iPad Air 2
Hardware is well and good, but it’s just an impressive hunk of sand without software. So, how do iOS 8 and Android 5.0 stack up? That could be an entire tip in itself.
Suffice it to say that both are very capable, although Android 5.0 is taking some bolder steps forward in terms of design and usability, along with fixing battery life problems. Also, iOS 8 hasn’t had the smoothest start.
Of course Android 5.0 hasn’t actually been released yet, so it’s not clear what problems it will have at first. And it won’t be arriving on most Android phones, so many people will have to buy new hardware to get it.
Winner: It’s a wash for now.
Here’s the big one. The iPad Air 2 starts at $499 for 16GB Wi-Fi, while the Nexus 9 starts at $399 for 16GB Wi-Fi. $100 is no small potatoes.
Granted, the Nexus 9 has a smaller screen, which accounts for some of it. However, if you’re buying to a budget, the Nexus 9 has the edge.
Winner: Nexus 9
Honorable Mention: The original iPad Air. It’s now priced at $399 as well. If you’re an Apple fan on a budget looking for a large screen, that’s going to be your best bet.
AND THE WINNER IS…
Well, the strict winner based on the comparison above is the iPad Air 2 by a hair. However, a lot of that comes down to personal preference and how you weight each category.
If price is more important that storage space, for example, then the Nexus 9 is the winner. So, you’ll have to decide for yourself.
If you’re on the fence, I recommend going to some stores and trying them out for yourself. You might find that one is more to your liking in feel, look or features.
Either way, I already know die-hard Apple fans aren’t going to get a Nexus 9 and hardcore Android fans aren’t going to get an iPad Air 2.
I also know some of you who are going to comment that I should have included a Microsoft Surface or Amazon Fire. I probably will do a comparison involving those as well in the future, but for space and clarity I decided to stick with the two tablets that just got released.
Source: Kim Komando
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