iPad Air vs Nexus 10 vs Xperia Tablet Z vs Kindle Fire HDX 8.9
23rd Oct 2013 | 23:46
Which full sized tablet will reign supreme?
Forget the iPad 5, it's called the iPad Air and it's been shoved out of the rumor mill and onto the mainstage. Apple has shaved millimeters off its 10-inch tablet's frame, dropped its weight, given it some new free apps and styled it in space grey like an iPhone 5S. Most importantly, its given it a 64-bit processor described as "eight times faster" than last gen's chip.
So it blows away the iPad from 2010, but how does it stack up next to its biggest competitors? It's a battle of the 10-inchers as we give you the blow-by-blow and spec-by-spec of the iPad Air against the Nexus 10, Xperia Tablet Z and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.
Designed by Google, built by Samsung, the Nexus 10 may be a stock Android golden child, but it has the disadvantage of being the oldest tablet on this list. Released in November 2012, it's practically ancient in tablet terms. Google fans in need of a 10-incher may want to wait for the refresh.
The Xperia Tablet Z is Sony's offering. While it's a bit lower res than the other guys, it has two aces up its sleeve: microSD and a waterproof build. That's right, spill away on this slate.
- Read more: iPad Air: iPad mini 2 with Retina vs Nexus 7 vs Kindle Fire HDX 7 vs LG G Pad 8.3
Finally, the Kindle Fire HDX is Amazon's portal to its world of stuff. It'll hook you into one-click purchases, music and photos in the cloud plus a library of streaming videos and free ebooks for Prime members.
Remember, this is just an early view. Keep checking back for our exhaustive review of the iPad Air, as well as the iPad Mini with Retina Display, coming soon.
iPad Air vs Nexus 10 vs Xperia Tablet Z vs Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: display
A tablet has to have a gorgeous screen, right? You're going to stare at it for movies, fill it with your pictures, poke at it for games and web browsing, and then wipe off those smudgy fingerprints. Goodness, what grease.
Surprise, surprise, the iPad Air has a Retina display. Retina still seems to be Apple's standard. It didn't give any specific during the announcement, so we're assuming it's the same 2048 × 1536 resolution as the last iPad, with a pixel density of 264 ppi.
While it's hard for the human eye to actually tell, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and Nexus 10 are both Retina beating on paper, each with a lovely resolution of 2560 x 1600, with a ppi of 339 and 300, respectively.
The loser here is the Tablet Z, which comes in at 1920 x 1200, 224 ppi. Do remember that while the HDX is most dense display, it's also the smallest, 8.9-inches while the other guys are both 10.1.
iPad Air vs Nexus 10 vs Xperia Tablet Z vs Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: storage
How many pictures, games, movies and apps can you cram on the new iPad? 16GB, 32GB, 64GB or even 128GB worth, depending on how much cash you'll part with.
This is where the Xperia Tablet Z review needs to be highlighted. While you can get it in either 16GB or 32GB, you can add up to 64GB with microSD. Of the four compared here, only Sony chose to include microSD in its tablet.
Meanwhile, the pure Android Nexus 10 comes in 16 or 32GB, and Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX goes from 16GB to 32GB, all the way 64GB.
Don't forget about formatted storage. Your tablet's operating system will take up several gigabytes of space, so that 16GB you're eyeing could get pretty slim. Check for the formatted (available) storage before you buy, and consider sizing up to a 32GB if you can.
iPad Air vs Nexus 10 vs Xperia Tablet Z vs Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: dimensions and weight
Like a MacBook Air, an iPad Air is super svelte Apple product. It weighs just one pound, and measure a skinny 9.4 inches x 6.6 inches x 0.29 inch (240 mm x 169.5 mm x 7.5 mm). It's not the thinnest tablet out there though.
That title belongs to the Xperia Tablet Z, which measures 10.47 x 6.77 x 0.27 inches (266 x 172 x 6.9 mm). It beats the Air only by a hair's breadth, but it's probably why Apple didn't claim to be the thinnest tablet on the market. It is a tiny bit heavier though, weighing 1.09 lbs.
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 measures 9.09 x 6.22 x 0.31 inches (231 x 158 x 7.8 mm), and the Nexus 10 comes in as the chunkiest at 10.39 x 6.99 x 0.35 inches (263.9 x 177.6 x 8.9 mm). The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is actually lighter than the iPad Air, weighing 0.84 lbs, but since it's a few inches smaller, so it's apples to oranges.
The Nexus 10 is the chunker here, tipping the scales at 1.3 lbs. Hit the gym, Nexus!
iPad Air vs Nexus 10 vs Xperia Tablet Z vs Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: operating system
Apple's iPad is in the exclusive iOS club, coming preloaded with iOS 7. If follows the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C as the third device launched with Jony Ive's new spit shined OS. They don't let the upgrade devices sit at the same lunch table.
The Nexus 10 and the Xperia Tablet Z are both Android devices, but Sony has added a layer of its own software to the Xperia. It brings a lot of media features, including an in-depth equalizer and the ability to use the tablet as TV remote. There's also a bit bloatware.
The Nexus 10 is stock Android, just how the way Google makes it. It'll get the very latest Android updates, right when they're released, in fact it already has Android 4.3, the latest version of Jelly Bean.
You'd hardly know by looking but the Kindle Fire HDX runs Android 4.2.2, but the Fire OS 3.0 UI Amazon put on top hides it well. It also uses Amazon's ecosystem, not Google Play, making it a whole different animal.
iPad Air vs Nexus 10 vs Xperia Tablet Z vs Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: ecosystem
You'll be making all your iPad purchases through Apple's App Store, which is full of apps optimized for the tablet's Retina display. You won't want for music either, with the iTunes Store and the all new iTunes Radio, as well as books and magazines. Of course, everything you buy will locked in Apple's walled garden, which won't be an issue if you've gotten plenty of Cupertino products.
What's more, Apple has made iPhoto, Pages, Garageband and all of iWork are now free, on all iOS and Mac OS X devices.
While Google Play will be your source for apps on the Xperia Tablet Z, it has media stores from Google as well as Sony, although buyers will be better served by Google's Store, which is spread across far more devices. The Nexus 7, the vanilla Android experience, is primarily a Google Play device, but there are third party sellers if you feel the need to shop around.
The Kindle Fire HDX, however, has no Google Play access, despite being Android at heart. It gets everything from Amazon, and while its selection is hardly lacking, you won't be able to access any Google Play purchases you may have.
iPad Air vs Nexus 10 vs Xperia Tablet Z vs Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: connectivity
Apple is claiming to have doubled WiFi speeds on this new iPad Air, thanks to MIMO WiFi with 802.11n support. If this hold true in testing, it could be the biggest improvement the Air offers over its predecessor, the iPad 4.
As is always the case, Apple will be offering a choice of cellular connected or WiFi only iPads from various carriers. In the US, LTE is available, while it's HSPA+ in the UK.
Direct from Sony you can get an unlocked LTE Xperia tablet Z. In the US, it's GSM, so it'll work on AT&T or T-Mobile. Amazon gives US customers a choice between Verizon or AT&T, in the UK it's Vodafone. The Nexus 10 is the odd man out here, with no cellular connection. Surely that'll come in the refresh.
iPad Air vs Nexus 10 vs Xperia Tablet Z vs Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: Processor
The iPad Air is the first tablet with a 64-bit processor. It packs the A7 chip, the same found in the iPhone 5S, which Apple says is eight times faster than its previous processor.
As the only dual-core, the Nexus 10 is showing it's age here. It packs a 1.7 GHz dual-core Cortex-A15. As we've said, a refresh is most certainly coming (the Nexus 7 just got bumped to quad-core), and Android updates direct from Google help the Nexus 10 from bogging down too much.
The Xperia Z has 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor, and the Fire HDX has a slightly faster 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core.
iPad Air vs Nexus 10 vs Xperia Tablet Z vs Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: Price
Apple goodness does not come cheap. For 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB WiFi versions of the iPad Air, you'll pay $499 (£399, AU$598), $599 (£479, AU$699), $699 (£559, AU$799) and $799 (£639, AU$899). For cellular enabled models it breaks down thusly: $629 (£499, AU$749), $729 (£579, AU$849), $829 (£659, AU$949), $929 (£739, AU$1,049).
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 comes in as the cheapest, thanks to "special offers" from Amazon. If you let Amazon display an ad or two on your lock screen, it'll sell you a tablet for about $20 less. Its WiFi only, "special offers" models cost $379 (£329), $429 (£369), $479 (£409) for 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. The LTE versions cost $479.00 (£399) $529 (£439) and $579 (£479)
The Nexus 10 is the next most affordable, with the 16GB and 32GB guys going for $399 (£319) and $499 (£389). Remember, these are WiFi models, no cellular options here. The Xperia Z is $499 (£399) and $599 (£449.00) for 16GB and 32GB WiFi models, $629 (£499.00) for a 16GB LTE version. Sorry for the lack of Australian pricing, it's not always easy to find.