When Google launched the original Nexus 7 in mid 2012, it threw down the gauntlet to its rivals by providing a high-performance yet affordable compact tablet. The Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7-inch and the Apple iPad mini soon followed with their own unique features, but now Google has rung the bell for the start of the second round.
The second generation Google Nexus 7 has been revealed, and it's a formidable package indeed. In fact, on paper it would appear to leave both of the aforementioned rival devices in the dust. Here's how.
New Nexus 7 vs iPad mini vs Kindle Fire HD 7-inch: release date
Of course, the new Google Nexus 7 won't be available until July 30 in the U.S. and at an unspecified time over the coming weeks in other key territories - including the U.K. Meanwhile, you can pick up an iPad mini or an Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7-inch in shops or online right now.
New Nexus 7 vs iPad mini vs Kindle Fire HD 7-inch: price
Google has bumped up the price a little for its new Nexus 7, with the entry-level 16GB model set to cost $229 and the 32GB Wi-Fi model $269. The top of the range 4G model will set U.S. customers back $349.
Still, it remains significantly cheaper than the iPad mini, which starts at $329 (£269 here in the UK) for the 16GB Wi-Fi model. That's $100 more expensive than the equivalent Nexus 7 model.
The 32GB iPad mini costs $459 (£449) and the 64GB model a whopping $529 (£429). The 32GB 4G model, which is equivalent to the top of the range Nexus 7, costs $559 (£449).
Amazon's Kindle Fire HD 7-inch undercuts them both, with the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi model costing just $199 (£159) and the 32GB costing $249 (£179).
New Nexus 7 vs iPad mini vs Kindle Fire HD 7-inch: processor and memory
The new Nexus 7 comes with a meaty 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 CPU, which compares favorably to the iPad mini's dual-core Apple A5 processor running at an estimated 1GHz. The Kindle Fire HD 7-inch brings up the processor performance rear with a dual-core TI OMAP4 4460 clocked at 1.2GHz.
All three tablets utilize very different RAM setups. The new Nexus 7 leads the way with 2GB of RAM, while the Kindle Fire HD 7-inch has half that at 1GB. Bringing up the rear by some way is the iPad mini with 512MB of RAM, though it's worth mentioning that the Android OS running on the other two tablets is far more of a memory hog than iOS.
New Nexus 7 vs iPad mini vs Kindle Fire HD 7-inch: battery life
All three tablets boast similar levels of stamina. Google claims the new Nexus 7 can withstand nine hours of continuous usage, while Apple pins the iPad mini at 10 hours. The Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7-inch would appear to win this round at 11 hours, but in truth all three last more than long enough in between charges.
New Nexus 7 vs iPad mini vs Kindle Fire HD 7-inch: operating system
The new Google Nexus 7 will ship with Android 4.3: Jelly Bean, the very latest version of the Android OS. It's pretty much the same as Android 4.2: Jelly Bean, but with a couple of extra tweaks like restricted profile options and OpenGL ES 3.0 advanced graphics support. Apple's iPad mini runs on the latest version of iOS, which at the time of writing is iOS 6. Expect iOS 7 to be a real game changer.
Finally, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7-inch runs on a heavily modified version of Android: 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich - so heavily, in fact, that you wouldn't recognize it simply by looking at it. Amazon's own Silk UI has been layered on top, which simplifies navigation, pushes media content to the fore, and utilizes Amazon's vast server network to boost certain tasks through the cloud. Suffice to say, it's the worst OS experience of the three as result of such tinkering.
New Nexus 7 vs iPad mini vs Kindle Fire HD 7-inch: display
Google's new Nexus 7 would appear to win this round hands down. Its display is massively sharper than the other two, with a 1920 x 1200 resolution resulting in a staggering 323 pixels per inch (ppi). It's by far the sharpest 7-inch tablet yet.
While the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7-inch contains an identically sized 7-inch display, it can only produce a 1280 x 800 resolution and a pixel density of 216 ppi.
It might surprise you to learn that the iPad mini's display is even less sharp. A combination of it being bigger (7.9-inches) and lower res (1024 x 768) results in a pixel density of just 163 ppi - roughly half that of the new Nexus 7. Still, it remains a clear, crisp and responsive display in its own right.
New Nexus 7 vs iPad mini vs Kindle Fire HD 7-inch: storage
As we've already mentioned in the pricing category, all three tablets come in 16GB and 32GB models. Only the iPad mini differs by also offering a 64GB version - at quite a premium, it has to be said.
This is especially important as none of these devices comes with a microSD slot, so you can't expand the default storage amounts post-purchase.
All three manufacturers have attempted to mitigate the issue of storage through their own cloud storage initiatives. Google's is arguably the most fully formed and tightly integrated, with services such as Google Drive, Google+ and its extensive online media library all reducing the need to store quite so much data locally.
Amazon's cloud offering is also quite robust, and as mentioned its Silk UI is built around the cloud-based Amazon media ecosystem. Apple's iCloud arguable brings up the rear, although it stores your photos and documents reasonably efficiently.
New Nexus 7 vs iPad mini vs Kindle Fire HD 7-inch: camera and speakers
Both the new Google Nexus 7 and the Apple iPad mini contain 5-megapixel rear cameras for taking pictures and 1080p video, while the Amazon Kindle Fire HD has none.
It also loses out when it comes to its front-facing camera, which is merely listed as "HD." The Nexus 7 and the iPad mini equivalents are both 1.2-megapixel units, which will result in sharper video calls.
New Nexus 7 vs iPad mini vs Kindle Fire HD 7-inch: connectivity
The new Nexus 7 supports dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, as well as Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI out (via an adaptor) and NFC. There's also an LTE model that will enable you to use 4G networks if available in your country.
For its part, the iPad mini also supports dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and HDMI out (again, via an adapter). Apple has yet to jump aboard the NFC bandwagon just yet, though. It too supports 4G networks, including the U.K.'s first next-gen network on EE.
The Kindle Fire HD is Wi-Fi only, but again it supports 802.11a/b/g/n standards. Its dual MIMO Wi-Fi antennae (which the iPad Mini also has) ensures speedy and stable wireless download performance. Bluetooth 3.0 is featured, which is a lesser standard than on the other two devices.
New Nexus 7 vs iPad mini vs Kindle Fire HD 7-inch: dimensions and weight
Google claims that the new Nexus 7 will be a whopping 50 grams lighter than the previous model, which by our calculations will make it weigh just 290 grams. That compares favorably to the 395 gram Kindle Fire HD and even the 312 gram iPad mini.
The Nexus 7 isn't as skinny as Apple's super-svelte tablet, though. While the new iteration is said to be almost 2mm thinner than the first Nexus 7 - so around 10.4mm - it's still some way fatter than the 7.2mm iPad mini.
Meanwhile, the Kindle Fire HD also appears to be marginally slimmer than the new Nexus 7 at 10.3mm.
However, where the new Nexus 7 really stands apart is in its narrowness. With 6mm shaved off of the original's side bezels it's now a mere 114mm wide, which will make it extremely easy to grip one-handed or slip into a mid-sized pocket. The iPad mini by contrast is 134mm wide, and the Kindle Fire HD a relatively chunky 137mm.