We compare the iPad mini 3 with the Nexus 9 for price, specifications, features and more. If you’re wondering which one will suit you best, read on. You'll also like: Which iPad should I buy?, 20 Best Tablets of 2015 and The 13 best Android tablets of 2015
iPad mini 3 vs Nexus 9: UK Price
Let’s take a look at how much you are going to spend for those tablets.
Nexus 9 is available from Amazon at £255 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version. The 32GB is a lot more expensive at £374. Oddly, it’s cheaper (at the time of writing) to buy the 32GB 4G version which is £359.
For the iPad mini 3, it’s £319 for the 16GB version, £64 more expensive than the Google equivalent. Apple offers also a version with cellular connectivity, that Google doesn’t, but it’s £419.
There is no 32GB iPad mini 3; Apple jumps directly to 64GB models, priced at £399 for the Wi-Fi version and £499 for cellular.
If you need 128GB you have to opt for the iPad mini 3 at £479 for the Wi-Fi version and a whopping £579 for cellular.
Most people won’t use 128GB of storage. However, it’s wise to get as much storage as possible (if you can afford it, of course); you don’t want to end up having to delete stuff from your tablet to install new apps, or take more photos.
The iPad mini 3 is more expensive than the equivalent Nexus 9, but Apple gives you more storage options.
iPad mini 3 vs Nexus 9: Design
Apple wins for design. The iPad’s aluminium chassis has shiny rounded edges when it meets the screen. The rear is elegant and minimalist and easy to grip and hold.
HTC, which makes the Nexus 9 for Google has come up with a subtle and minimalist tablet. Its matte plastic back is soft and rubbery which helps you to grip it. The whole back cover is firmly wrapped into a metal frame.
However, despite the soft-touch texture, Nexus9’s back cover feels overall like plastic. This is why the iPad mini 3 feels like a more premium tablet.
The iPad comes in Gold, Silver and Space Grey. On the other hand, Google offers more neutral colours. Nexus 9 is available in: Lunar White, Tan-Colored Sand, Fingerprint-Attracting Black and Dubbed Indigo Black.
Size-wise, the iPad mini 3 is smaller and lighter than Nexus 9. That should be obvious, since the iPad has a smaller screen.
The Nexus weights 425g and it is easy to hold. However a tablet with an 8.9in display should be lighter, especially compared with the 9.7in iPad Air 2, that weights almost the same. The iPad mini 3 has a 7.9in display and a weight of 331g for the W-Fi only model.
There is also a slight difference in terms of thickness; Nexus 9 is 7.8mm thick, while the iPad mini 3 is 7.5 mm thick.
If you are looking for a device easy to carry around, iPad mini 3 will suit you better than Nexus 9. With its 200x134.7x7.5 mm dimensions, it should even fit in your jacket pocket.
iPad mini 3 vs Nexus 9: Hardware
Let’s start by taking a look at the screen resolution: the Nexus 9 offers a 2048x1536-pixel IPS LCD screen. Considering its 8.9 inch display, this is 281ppi. That means that Nexus 9 isn't as crisp as the iPad mini 3. Apple gives you the same 2048x1536 resolution at 7.9 inches, iPad mini 3 has a pixel density of 324ppi.
Images and videos look great on the iPad, partially thanks to its 839:1 contrast ratio. This makes the iPad mini perfect for watching movies and TV programmes. Videos look colourful and detailed. Its small dimensions make it particularly useful for watching shows on your way for home or on the train.
On the other hand, Nexus 9 is has average colour reproduction and contrast. But, it does have better speakers (see below).
Processor and memory
In terms of performance and memory, there is no winner to be crowned.
The Nexus 9 uses an impressive 64-bit, dual-core Nvidia Tegra K1 chip, running at 2.3GHz, and a 192-core Kepler DX1 GPU, accompanied by 2GB of RAM. Android runs extremely smooth and fast.
The iPad mini 3 is also a very speedy device. With its A7 chipset and 64-bit processor, Apple has devised a fast and powerful tablet. iPad mini 3 also features a M7 motion co-processor, that saves power and can be used with certain apps.
Both these tablets are speed champions and delay- free devices. You would find both of them fast and powerful.
Google offers fewer options compared to Apple, with Nexus 9 available only in 16- and 32GB capacities; while iPad mini 3 comes in 16-, 64- and 128GB. Both lack a microSD card slot.
The main difference here is that with Apple you can get more storage than with Google. The price obviously rises with Apple, but it might save you from deleting pictures and other data from your tablet.
Let’s take a look at cameras. Neither the iPad mini 3 nor Nexus 9 score highly in terms of camera quality, but still you can get pretty decent shots.
The iPad mini 3’s photo and video quality isn’t outstanding, but it’s good enough if you really want to use your tablet as a camera. It has a rear-facing 5Mp iSight camera with f/2.4 aperture and it is HDR supported; this can allow you to get slightly improved pictures when there’s high contrast.
Colours are well reproduced and details are quite sharp; exposure is overall good.
Apple gives you a high resolution Panorama and the possibility to take time-lapse videos. However, it is quite hard to avoid movements with the iPad when taking time-lapse videos and the result isn’t that great.
The Nexus 9’s camera is also pretty good, without being outstanding. It has a rear-facing 8Mp camera with f/2.4 aperture. Pictures tend to be a bit dark, but mostly crisp. It has an LED flash and it offers panoramic captures like the iPad mini 3.
Both Apple and Google provide you with front-facing cameras. The results are poorer compared to the rear-facing cameras, but acceptable overall.
iPad mini 3 gives you a 1.2 megapixel camera, able to capture 720p video; whereas, Nexus 9 has a 1.6 megapixel camera that can take 1080p video.
Here, both tablet perform mostly the same and neither of them will give you outstanding results.
In terms of speakers, Nexus 9 beats the iPad mini 3.
HTC has designed a Nexus tablet with BoomSound speakers that produce sound on the right direction and with high volume; you can enjoy movies and TV programmes with no need for headphones.
The Nexus’ stereo speakers are located at the edge of the screen, where it meets the metal band that runs around the perimeter of the tablet. One speaker is at the very top of the device, while the other is at the very bottom.
You might be worried that you could block the sound when holding the tablet; however, HTC engineers have solved this problem. Thanks to the internal design, even when blocking the stereo speaker, the sound won’t be reduced.
Apple has designed both the speakers at the bottom of the screen and if you block them when holding the iPad, you will reduce the sound. The iPad mini 3‘s speakers are also too close, so there is no separation between the stereo sounds produced.
Here Apple focused too much on design than on quality.
What makes these tablets stand out from the crowd? The iPad has one trick: Touch ID technology.
We are talking about a biometric sensor that allows you to unlock your iPad by holding your fingerprint on the Home button, which has the sensor built into it. Also, now that Apple Pay is available in the UK, you can use Touch ID on the mini 3 to checkout in certain apps.
The Touch ID can be easily set up and it is a huge time saver, you won’t have to enter the passcode each time. You can also register multiple fingerprints or opt for the passcode option.
The Nexus 9 doesn’t have anything equivalent, but there’s an official keyboard which turns the Nexus 9 into an arguably better productivity device than the iPad mini 3
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iPad mini 3 vs Nexus 9: Software
Google and Apple have fast and easy to use software.
Nexus 9 was the first device to launch with Android 5.0 Lollipop. This was one of Android’s biggest updates, bringing a new and modern design and plenty of new features.
Recently it has been updated to Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. When swiping through apps and multiple home screens, you will be amazed by the speed and responsiveness. Apps launch extremely quickly and you can customise your notifications. An interesting feature is the ability to double tap the screen which will wake up the tablet.
iPad mini 3 runs Apple’s iOS 8, but it will be also compatible with iOS 9 when it will become available later this year.
iOS 8 is smooth and easy to use with its familiar layout. The notification bar has been updated with useful features on the Today section.
Being able to use elements of Apple Pay is good, but the iPad mini 3 lacks NFC, so you won’t be able to use it for contactless payment in actual shops, but you will be able to do online shopping in stores that support Apple Pay.
Both are great operating systems.
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The Nexus 9 is a great tablet. The software and speakers are impressive but the average-quality screen lets it down somewhat. It’s not a bad screen, but when compared the iPad mini 3, which has the benefit of Touch ID and a better screen, those speakers aren’t enough to make it a better buy overall. Apple gives you more storage options (it is always good to have more storage availability), security, and better build quality. It’s a bit more expensive, but if we had to choose between these two tablets, we’d plump for the iPad.