The 7-inch tablet segment is currently dominated by two products that come from different worlds: Apple’s iPad Mini and Google’s Nexus 7.
But the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 announcement at MWC 2013 comes to give a boost to this market segment with a product with high-end technical specifications and an 8-inch display, specifically aiming at Apple’s iPad Mini.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 basically comes to join the Galaxy Note family that debuted in 2011, after the N7000, the 5.3-inch smartphone, was officially introduced. Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the second tablet of the Note tribe, following it’s bigger brother, the Note 10.1, which was officially announced in August 2012.
But are these changes enough for Samsung to be capable of competing on par with the likes of iPad Mini and Nexus 7.
Let’s have a look at the technical specifications of the tablets that go head to head in the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs iPad Mini vs Nexus 7 battle.
The new-guy, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 packs an 8-inch 1,280 x 800 pixels display, Exynos 4 Quad chipset based on four Cortex A9 cores clocked at 1.6 GHz, Mali 400MP GPU, and 2 GB of RAM. Galaxy Note 8 also comes with 16 or 32 GB of internal storage, WiFi, 3G and 4G (market dependant), plus a 4,600 mAh battery.
The new Samsung 8-inch tablet runs android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean out of the box, is only 7.95 mm thick, and weighs in 338 grams.
Apple’s iPad Mini comes with a 7.9-inch display with a resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels, dual-core 1 GHz A5 processor, 512 MB of RAM, and 16/32/64 GB of internal storage. The connectivity features include WiFi, 3G, and 4G, and the iPad Mini measures 200×134.7×7.2 mm and has a weight of 312 grams.
The Apple tablet runs iOS 6 out of the box, but it’s upgradable to iOS 6.1.
Nexus 7 is the first tablet of the Mountain View-based giant, being co-developed by Google and LG. Nexus 7 is based on Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 3 platform at 1.2 GHz, has 1 GB of RAM, 16/32 GB of internal storage, WiFi, 3G, and a 4,325 mAh battery. Nexus 7 is 10.45 mm thick, weighs in 340 grams, and comes pre-loaded with Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean, upgradable to Android 4.2.2.
The new-comer of the segment, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, keeps the classic design of the Note line-up with round edges, also keeping the plastic back lid that received a lot of negative reviews. On the other hand the Nexus 7 is superior to the Notoe 8, bringing an elegant design and a textured back for the best grip, while Apple’s iPad Mini excels with its premium-looking body and its solid construction.
It’s probably harder to keep the Apple tablet in one hand because of the 4:3 aspect ration (compared to Note 8’s 16:9), but the iPad Mini is thinner, lighter and more compact, which might compensate the disadvantages. Surprisingly enough, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is about 2.5 mm thinner than Nexus 7, and some customers might take this into consideration.
Galaxy Note 8 is the tablet with the biggest display in the comparison, betting on an 8-inch screen, slightly bigger than iPad Mini’s 7.9-inch display. Even though it has the same 1,280 x 800 pixels resolution as the Nexus 7, the South Korean tablet losses the pixel density battle 189 to 216 ppi, as the Google tablet manufactured by ASUS has a diagonal of only 7 inches.
iPad Mini is the less impressive of the three: it has a display resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels, which results into a pixel density of 162 ppi.
Still, the big problem of the Galaxy Note 2 when it comes to displays is that iPad Mini and Nexsus 7 come with IPS displays which provide more natural colors and significantly better viewing angles than the TFT panel of the 8-inch tablet. Therefore, those who want a quality display should be careful about this aspect.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the Apple iPad Mini, and the Google Nexus 7 are pretty close when it comes to displays.
Being the latest tablet in the comparison Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has the most powerful hardware platform of the three. All three tablets are based on ARM Cortex A9 processors, but each solution is wrapped in different shapes on different chipsets.
Galaxy Note 8 bets on Samsung’s proprietary Exynos 4 Quad chipset based on four Cortex A9 cores at 1.6 GHz and 2 GB of RAM, while Nexus 7 comes with a quad-core 1.2 GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset, plus 1 GB of RAM.
Meanwhile the iPad Mini comes with a lazy dual-core 1 GHz A5 processor and only 512 MB of RAM.
Even though, on paper the iPad Mini is losing the specs battle, we shouldn’t forget that the iOS runs pretty smooth on less impressive hardware platforms, especially because it doesn’t come with true multitasking and because it lacks many of Android’s features.
The Galaxy Note 8, iPad Mini, and Nexus 7 come in a variety of variants, from WiFi-only to 3G and 4G connectivity. The Nexus 7 is the only tablet that doesn’t come with 4G support, but on certain markets where the LTE networks are not available this aspect would matter less.
Probably the biggest difference between the three tablets is the software platform. iPad Mini comes with Apple’s proprietary iOS 6.1, it’s main advantage being the app ecosistem optimized for tablets.
Meanwhile Nexus 7 comes with the clean, stock Android, dubbed Vanilla, and it’s one of the few gadgets in the world that is upgradable to Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.
Even though it won’t hit the stores until April, Galaxy Note 8 will run Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, despite the fact that Android 4.2 was officially announced last fall.
But the Samsung tablets has its aces up the sleeve in the software battle against Nexus 7 and iPad Mini: the optimized apps for the S Pen stylus, which allow you to easily draw or edit photos in Photoshop Touch, and which come with handwriting support.
Morover, Samsung TouchWiz UI integrates a lot of features that made terminals like Samsung Galaxy S3 or Note 2 so popular: Pop up Play, Smart Stay, or a one year subscription for Awesome Note. As well, the Galaxy Note 8 can be used as a remotecontrol via the Smart Remote app and there’s a setting for the display that allows you to read e-books with ease.
The three tablets should come pretty close together when it comes to battery life. Nexus 7 and iPad Mini provide an autonomy of 9-10 hours for watching videos, and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 should not be an exception.
Yes, Galaxy Note 8 has a 4,600 mAh battery, a bit bigger than the 4,325 mAh unit underpinning the Nexus 7, but we should also consider that it also comes with a bigger display that will drain a bit more battery.
Availability and Price
The Nexus 7 is undoubtedly the most affordable tablet in our comparison: the 16 GB WiFi-only model has a price of only $199, while the WiFi+3G and 32 GB of storage variant costs only $299.
The cheapest iPad Mini, the WiFi-only 16 GB model has a price of $329, while the WiFi+cellular variant, packing 32 GB of storage has a price of $559.
Unfortunately, Samsung didn’t announce the price of the Galaxy Note 8, but we’re expecting it to hit the stores to a price closer to iPad Mini’s than of Nexus 7’s.
The reasons why a customer would choose the Galaxy Note 8 over the iPad Mini would probably be less related to the price, design or specs, but more about the display and the S Pen-optimized apps.
With the help of Galaxy Note 8, Samsung will definitely get stronger on the compact tablet segment, with a product capable of competing against Apple’s iPad Mini, with better display resolution and technical specs.
Still, it’s worth mentioning that in 2013 Google and Apple will reportedly upgrade their compact tablets, and the rumor mill speculated about a full HD display for the next-gen Nexus 7 and a Retina Display for iPad Mini 2.
Therefore, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 might lose it’s shine starting this fall, but until then it remains an important competitor in the compact tablet segment.
But what about you? Which of the three tablets is more attractive to you? Please let us know in the comments section below.