After the swathe of 10.1 and 9.7-inch tablets from just about every electrical company on the planet, we’re seeing a new trend in smaller tablets, generally falling between the 7-inch and 10-inch categories. Two fine examples of these are the Apple iPad Mini and the Galaxy Note 8.0 from Samsung.
Apple went first, launching the iPad Mini with a 7.9-inch display. It’s closest rival Samsung had already launched 7 and 8-inch tablets, but has just now launched a brand new rival in the Galaxy Note 8.0. Both look very different yet are in essence the same thing – a more portable tablet computer. Let’s see how they differ, and which is best at doing what.
iPad Mini – 200 x 134.7 x 7.2mm, weighs 312g
Note 8.0 – 210.8 x 135.9 x 8mm, weighs 338g
In terms of construction the two are very much different. Apple uses metal and glass for the iPad Mini whilst Samsung uses glossy white plastic. It’s clear that the iPad Mini offers the classier, more premium design, so for those wanting to show off it’s probably the best bet.
Despite using plastic instead of metal, the Note 8.0 is heavier and thicker than the iPad Mini. When you think that these tablets are smaller than the usual tablet to favour portability, thickness and bulk tend to defeat the object.
iPad Mini – 7.9-inch IPS panel, 162 pixels per inch
Note 8.0 – 8-inch TFT panel, 189 pixels per inch, S Pen stylus
The screen technology, asides from the operating system, is likely where most potential buyers will be divided. Both tablets offer virtually the same size touchscreen display with around the same sharpness, although technically the Note’s display is a touch sharper. However, the Note 8.0 has a special screen that works nicely with an included S Pen stylus. This allows for accurate sketching, handwriting, note taking and even controlling apps by hovering the stylus above the screen.
The iPad Mini can be operated with regular styli that can be bought additionally, but these tend to not offer such accuracy or functionality. The iPad Mini’s IPS display also gives it the edge when it comes to brightness and viewing angles.
iPad Mini – 16/32/64GB versions, 5GB free iCloud (expandable to 10, 20 or 50GB)
Note 8.0 – 16/32GB versions, micro SD up to 64GB
Thanks to a micro SD card slot the Note 8.0 offers the easiest and cheapest way to bump up the storage space to close to 100GB, depending on which model you have. With the idea of a tablet being portable and used on the move we feel that having all your music, photos and videos stored locally to save the hassle of cloud storage and finding an internet connection when out.
iPad Mini – Dual-core 1GHz A9 processor, 512MB of RAM
Note 8.0 – Quad-core 1.6GHz A9 processor, 2GB of RAM
On paper the Note 8.0 blows the iPad Mini out of the water. It offers four times the RAM and double the processing cores, which overall will make it a powerhouse tablet that’s ideal for gaming, multitasking and the toughest of tasks. Apple has placed enough in the iPad Mini to make it capable when it comes to games and such, but for something that you know will handle everything you can throw at it, the Note 8.0 is the better bet.
iPad Mini – 5 megapixel rear with 1080p video + 1.2 megapixel front with 720p video
Note 8.0 – 5 megapixel rear with 1080p video + 1.3 megapixel front with 720p video
We’re not huge fans of the idea of taking photos and videos on a tablet device – they’re just too unwieldy and difficult to hold when it comes to snaps when you’re out and about. Nevertheless both tablets offer mediocre camera experiences that’ll take a decent snap or record HD video if you need to. Both offer front-facing cameras that will give you HD video quality for video calls, too.
iPad Mini – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G/4G (optional), GPS, Lightning connection
Note 8.0 – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G/4G (optional), GPS, Micro USB with USB Host and MHL video out
Both tablets feature all the usual suspects when it comes to connectivity, except for NFC. Wi-Fi and cellular versions of each are available, with the option for blazing fast 4G connectivity if you so wish. You also get the latest Bluetooth technology which means low battery consumption, and also the speediest Wi-Fi.
However, we feel that, as with every iOS device, Apple’s proprietary connection lets it down in this category. Samsung’s tablet will happily accommodate a full-size USB memory stick, keyboard or gaming pad via a micro USB to USB host adapter, Apple’s will not. Outputting video from Samsung’s tablet will also be cheaper and easier, thanks to the use of micro USB.
For light usage and a tablet that looks good, Apple’s iPad Mini is going to be your best bet. It’s slick and premium design will catch the eye and it’s capable enough for email, web browsing, HD video calling, light gaming and apps.
However, if you want something that will handle everything you chuck at it, go for the Note 8.0. It’s superior processing power and generous 2GB of RAM will make it a multitasking monster and a beast when it comes to gaming. The S Pen stylus will suit creative and business types as it basically transforms the tablet into a digital notebook. When a moment of creative genius strikes you’ll be able to quickly and accurately sketch it out, or jot down your notes.
The iPad Mini is available now, whilst the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 looks set to go on sale soon.