The Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 are sure to be big sellers during this year’s holiday season. Both of these devices are listed among the biggest and best in their class for both hardware and software, and there aren’t many Android fans who would be disappointed to find one of these under the tree this year.
So how do they stack up? Is one a better deal than the other? Sure, they may exist in entirely different price and performance classes, but that doesn’t mean the Nexus 10 offers more bang for your buck. Is the Nexus 7 a little too “budget” to make die-hard Android fans happy?
Let’s compare the two and see.
Instead of trying to compare apples to oranges, let’s break down the hardware differences based on capabilities.
Screen Size and Clarity
The obvious difference between these two devices is the size of the screen. The 7″ screen on the Nexus 7 has a brilliant 1280 x 800 resolution, which pales in comparison to the Nexus 10’s notably more crisp 2560 x 1600 resolution with a pixel density of 300 ppi.
Text clarity is noticeably better on the Nexus 10, though with its smaller screen, the Nexus 7 really isn’t bad at all.
Comfort in Hands
The Nexus 7 feels great in either portrait or landscape mode. It’s small enough to pack in just about any bag, and light enough to hold for extended periods of time without any noticeable fatigue.
The Nexus 10, on the other hand, is really most comfortable in a landscape position. It feels odd being held in portrait mode. It’s also noticeably heavier than the Nexus 7. Not so much that it is uncomfortable, but it would create fatigue in the user after a while.
The material used on the back of these devices lends a lot to their comfort. The Nexus 7 has an excellent backing material. The indentions are perfect for being held in one or two hands, and it just feels good.
The Nexus 10’s back is made out of a type of plastic that seems to attract dust. You’ve provably seen plastics that have a slightly rubberized feel to them that seem to gather dirt and dust the second they are exposed to the elements. This is that type of plastic, and while it feels OK in the hand, it would drive someone with OCD crazy.
Battery life is an important consideration with tablets. Because they are so much more portable than a laptop, we don’t exactly tether them to a power source everywhere we go. The Nexus 10 comes out ahead in this area with ten hours of battery life against the Nexus 7’s eight.
Because of its large, high-resolution screen, the Nexus 10 does drain very quickly while playing a game or streaming 1080p video. For basic Web browsing and reading, either one of this tablets should get you through a day of normal use just fine.
The Nexus 10 has great speakers for a tablet. The decision to place them in a way that they face the user was a wise choice. The Nexus 7 doesn’t have great audio by contrast, but it’s still quite acceptable for a tablet in the budget range.
Which is Better?
The Nexus 7 is an excellent tablet for anyone on a budget with ~$200 to spend and a strong desire to use the most up-to-date Android operating system out there.
The Nexus 10 has a bigger screen, but this doesn’t translate well in terms of performance. The Nexus 7 is a slow tablet, but the Nexus 10 seems to do a little more struggling when it comes to displaying graphics on its larger and more pixel-dense display.
For the money, the Nexus 7 is an excellent value. It sits just above other $200 Android tablets in terms of performance and value, but it doesn’t compete well with larger and more powerful tablets out there.
In the End, It Comes Down to Personal Preference
If you have the budget to swing a Nexus 10 and really want the bigger screen, go for it. Its setbacks are largely due to lackluster software optimization and that could (possibly) change in the future. The Nexus 7 packs a lot of value into a small device, especially for the money.
Android tablets in general face an uphill battle in terms of app optimization. App developers in the Android space are developing apps for the smartphone and very few of these apps are well optimized for a tablet. When testing these two tablets, it was disappointing to see that Flipbook just didn’t work with the Nexus 10. It was passable on the Nexus 7, and that is mostly due to the smartphone-like resolution on the 7″ screen.