There’s a lot of competition in the “tweener” tablet category, from iPad mini and Kindle Fire to Samsung Galaxy Tab and Google Nexus 7. To the untrained eye they can all look the same, but not all tablets are created equal. Whether you’re buying your family’s first tablet or adding to your arsenal, we’ll help you determine which is best for your family’s needs.

This week, we’ll start by comparing Apple’s new iPad Mini to Google’s Nexus 7.

The iPad mini’s display is 7.9” wide, compared to 7” for the Nexus. The Nexus has a higher screen resolution and is a bit sharper than the iPad mini, making it the better option for kids who play graphics-heavy games and HD video.

The iPad mini has access to over 700,000 apps (275,000 iPad-optimized) via the Apple app store. Nexus 7 has over 600,000 apps available through Google Play, with an unspecified number of those tablet-optimized.

Both the iPad mini and the Nexus 7 include 1.2 MP front-facing cameras. The mini also includes a 5MP rear-facing camera for snapping photos.

iPad mini lists all apps on the homescreen, which can feel disorganized and cluttered. Nexus 7 has five individual homescreens and users can customize the apps displayed on each. This feature is great for families with multiple children. You can customize a homescreen for each of your children (or better yet- let them customize their own) with their favorite and most-used apps. Or, separate apps by topic: math, spelling, books, puzzles and games.

The iPad mini’s customization options are limited to wallpapers and notification sounds. The Nexus does this, and allows for even more kid-friendly customization. If your child is learning to read, you can increase the device’s font size. If your child is learning to tell time, there’s an option switch from a digital to an analog-style clock. The Nexus also allows you to add widgets to your homescreen, so users can access information quickly without having to launch an app or browser. Add Dictionary.com for help with reading or writing assignments, or ESPN ScoreCenter for the sports fans in your house.

Additional Nexus customization is available in locking functions. iPad mini allows users to set a passcode, but Nexus users have the option of setting a PIN, password, pattern, or even face unlock. The latter can be handy if you want to limit usage to only one child or a few family members, and cut down on sibling competition.

Both have screens with oil-resistant coating that will repel smudges (aka kid fingers). However, the iPad mini’s sleek aluminum back easily attracts fingerprints and can feel slippery. If you’re considering a mini for a younger child, we’d advise buying a case or cover for protection and better grip. The Nexus 7 has textured back, making it more finger-print resistant and easier to grip- no cover necessary.

The iPad mini starts at $329, Nexus at $199. The iPad is a great option for those with careful kids who don’t mind paying a bit more for Apple’s sleek design and quality app store. The Nexus has a hit-or-miss app store, but with better graphics, customization and 40% cheaper price, you’ll be less hesitant to turn it over to your little ones. In other words, the Nexus wins when just considering your child and their apps.

Most families aren’t purchasing a tablet for just one family member, however, and for all around use we’d still have to recommend the iPad Mini. The iPad Mini integrates seamlessly with the other devices in the Apple family, giving it an especially strong advantage in families that already own Apple hardware and the slightly larger screen is a boon for older eyes.

iPad mini Specs
– 7.9” display
– 1024 x 768px resolution with 163 ppi
– Dimensions: 200 x 134.7 x 7.2mm
– Weight: 308g
– 10 hour battery life
– Operating system: iOS 6
– Front-facing camera: 1.2MP
– Rear-facing camera: 5MP
– 1080p HD video recording
– 16, 32, or 64GB
– Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + cellular LTE

Google Nexus 7 Specs
– 7” display
– 1280 x 800px resolution with 216ppi
– Dimensions: 198.5 x 120 x 10.5mm
– Weight: 340g
– 10 hour battery life
– Operating system: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
– Front-facing camera: 1.2MP
– 16 or 32GB

Photos courtesy of: eddale, vernieman

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2 Responses to iPad Mini versus Google Nexus 7: Which is better for your family?

  1. Newhce says:

    You miss one of the key points of the Nexus 7. With Android 4.2 you can create multiple profiles AND password protect at the app level (like for email). That seems like it would make it a natural choice in a family environment.

    • iPadKids says:

      Thank you for that! I can see how that would be appealing for multiple users on the same iPad. There are a ton of factors to keep in mind and it just goes to show that every family has to weigh the pros and cons for their specific household.