The third-generation iPad is expected to get a smaller 7.85-inch brother on Tuesday. Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired
The iPad may not have been the first tablet computer, but it was the device that established the category and set the bar for the onslaught of full-sized tablets that followed.
Things are different with the iPad mini, the 7.85-inch tablet we’re expecting Apple to unveil on Tuesday at the company’s San Jose media event. Apple is jumping into a space already populated with a number of options, some of them quite good. Can Apple trounce these existing players like it did with pre-iPad era tablets?
We’ve compared the specs of four of the leading mid-sized (7- to 8-inch) tablets on the market: the Kindle Fire HD, the Acer Iconia Tab A110, the Google Asus Nexus 7, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7. The full chart is below.
Although we’re expecting Apple to position this smaller iPad largely for the education space (it reportedly houses similar specs to the iPad 2, rather than the higher-end components in the third-generation iPad), the company can still outdo its competitors in a number of regards. For one, there’s choice. Although a few of the options below, like the Kindle Fire HD, are available at multiple storage levels and price points — for example, $250 will get you a 32GB Kindle Fire HD — most are not. Apple traditionally offers its models of the iPhone and iPad with three different storage capacities. Expectations are that the iPad mini will come in 8-, 16-, and 32GB versions. Potential buyers will also likely be able choose between black or white, as with current iPhones and iPads.
On the display front, Apple could blow other 7-inchers away with a vibrant 7.85-inch Retina screen, but this doesn’t look to be the case. The iPad mini is expected to have a 1024 x 768, 163 ppi display. That’s actually lower than all the other options we’ve listed.
Battery life, too, could give Apple an edge over competitors. If it can last a solid 12 hours, it’d blow these other small tablets out of the water. At 8 to 12 hours, it would still be a solid competitor. The third-generation iPad gets 5 to 6 hours of battery life; the iPad 2 averages closer to 7.5.