Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs iPad Mini with Retina Display comparison: Design and build
Rather than the 10in of the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet, the Compact version has a smaller 8in display. Of course, that means that the Compact is smaller and lighter overall, at an impressive 6.4mm thick and 270g. That makes it a very thin and light tablet - perfect for holding and using on the move. The iPad mini with Retina Display is thicker and heavier - at 7.5mm and 331g, noticably so.
A great feature for the clumsy among us is the IP68 rating of the Z3 Tablet Compact, which means it's dust- and waterproof. This means you can watch a movie in the bath or even take photographs underwater. This is a feature that the iPad mini doesn't boast. But it is a very nicely put together tablet.
Subjectively, holding the iPad mini in one hand for long periods of reading really isn’t that difficult. Just bear in mind that it's wider than most mini tablets, so you might find that clamping it between your thumb and forefinger is the best way: the mini is intelligent enough to work out when you're doing this and ignores your thumb pressing against the screen.
Both of these tablets are well put together and well designed. But if we had to plump for one we'd take the Xperia Z3 Compact. See also thebest tablets of 2014.
Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs iPad Mini with Retina Display comparison: Display
The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact has a 1920x1200 resolution spread out over its larger, 8in display. This means the Sony tablet's pixel density is a decent but not outstanding 283ppi.
Sony's tablet also has the advantage of its TV tech such as Triluminos with Live colour LED to make its display look nicer.
The iPad mini with Retina Display has a resolution that matches the iPad Air (and other Retina iPads) at 2048x1536 pixels. That's a quadrupling of the original iPad mini's resolution, and as it's the same 7.9-inch size as before, that equates to a healthy - and Sony-beating - pixel density of 326ppi.
Whether you're looking at the home screen, a website, reading an ebook or running the Auto CAD app, there's simply loads more detail. Characters and lines are no longer fuzzy and everything looks even sharper. In short, it’s the best iPad screen we've seen to date. Colours are superb and with the extra resolution, photos look amazing.
Both of these tablets have great displays, but you have to go a long way to beat the iPad mini with Retina Display on this score.
Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs iPad Mini with Retina Display comparison: Specs & features
Inside the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz. That's paired with 3GB RAM to offer smooth and speedy performance. The iPad mini has an Apple A7 dual-core processor clocked at 1.3 GHz and paired with 1GB RAM. On the face of it that means the Sony will be faster - it is certainly more powerful. We haven't yet been able to objectively test performance of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, but the iPad mini 2 is no slouch and if it is faster it will be some tablet. We can safely say that both of these tablets feel very fast in use.
Sony only offers a 16GB model of its Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact but it does offer a microSD card slot for adding up to 128GB. The iPad mini with Retina Display comes in 16-, 32-, 64-, and 128 GB increments. But you cannot expand this storage with a memory card.
We've not yet been able to test the battery life of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, but Sony touts an impressive 15 hours video playback thanks to a 4500mAh battery. The iPad mini has a Li-Po 6470mAh battery - and with those less powerful specs you would expect better battry life (although the display will cost it some). Apple claims a 10-hour battery life in use.
When it comes to connectivity, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is available with 4G LTE support if you want it. It also offers 11ac WiFi, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 LE. And, you guessed it, the iPad mini with Retina Display matches these - with the exception of 802.11ac. The iPad tops out with wireless-N.
The camera on the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is an impressive one for a tablet, at 8.1Mp. The front-facing camera is also good at 2.2Mp. The iPad mini with Retina Display has 5Mp and 1.2Mp cameras. Generally speaking Sony cameras are excellent, but it is worth pointing out that megapixels aren't everything in the camera world.
Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs iPad Mini with Retina Display comparison: Software
The Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat. Sony does offer some additional apps and its slightly tweaked version of Android on its tablet, though. These include the Walkman app,
and also support for PS4 Remote Play which means you'll be able to play PS4 games on the tablet over WiFi with a DualShock 4 controller and optional GCM10 Game Control Mount.
The iPad mini with Retina Display comes with iOS 8. It also entitles you to download a selection of Apple’s apps, including iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand and Pages for free, which is a real bonus.
iOS vs Android is a big debate. Too big for this article. Suffice it to say that latter-period versions of Android are every bit as slick and user friendly as is iOS. And the Google Play store offers much the same experience as does Android in terms of apps and media.
iOS apps and iTunes media tend to be a little bit more expensive than Android equivalents, and Android gives you more customisation options. But remember that the data you create via your actions in Android will be used by Google to target ads at you when using other Google products.
You pays your money, you takes your choice.
Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs iPad Mini with Retina Display comparison: buying advice
Considering that it is last year's product, the iPad mini with Retina Display is hanging in there. We prefer the Sony, principally because it is more powerful, thinner and lighter, has a better camera and - glory be - it's cheaper. But the iPad mini remains a stunning device, and for those that prefer Apple it won't be a let down. Also see: 27 best Android tablets 2014.
Buying Advice Considering that it is last year's product, the iPad mini with Retina Display is hanging in there. We prefer the Sony, principally because it is more powerful, thinner and lighter, has a better camera and - glory be - it's cheaper. But the iPad mini remains a stunning device, and for those that prefer Apple it won't be a let down.