Tablet Showdown: Google Nexus 7 vs Microsoft Surface vs Apple iPad 3

The launch of Nexus 7 by Google has set the tablet industry ablaze, not for producing a super cheap tablet, but for packing in a fully featured tablet for a small price tag of $199. So let’s see how well does it stacked up against the new iPad, the current undisputed king of the tablet world, and Microsoft’s own Surface, which was released just two weeks back.

Comparison: Google Nexus 7 vs Microsoft Surface vs Apple iPad 3Nexus 7 vs Microsoft Surface vs Apple iPad 3

SpecNexus 7Microsoft SurfaceNew iPad
Operating SystemAndroid 4.1 Jelly BeanWindows 8iOS 6
Display7” 1280×800 IPS Display10.6” ClearType HD Display9.7” 2048×1536 IPS Display
Camera1.2MP front camera

5MP rear and 0.3MP front camera

Memory1 GB RAM

Unknown

1 GB RAM

Storage8GB and 16GB32GB, 64GB for Surface RT and 64GB, 128GB for Surface Pro16GB, 32GB and 64GB
CPUQuad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor

Nvidia ARM processor on Surface RT and Intel iCore i5 on Surface Pro

1.0 Ghz Dual-core Apple A5X processor

Connectivity
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth
  • MicroUSB
  • NFC
  • GPS
Surface RT is WiFi Only while Surface Pro will be WiFi + 3G/4G LTE
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/a
  • Bluetooth
  • MicroUSB
  • HDMI
  • 3G/4G
Misc.
  • Google now
  • Play Music
  • Play Magazines
  • Play Books
  • Play Movies
  • Office
  • Touch Cover
  • Pen with Palm Block
  • Siri
  • Newstand
  • Game Center
  • Photo Booth
Dimensions198.5 x 120 x 10.45mmUnknown241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4 mm
Thickness10.45mmSurface RT – 9.3mm
Surface Pro – 13.5mm
9.5mm
Battery4325 mAh (Upto 8 hours of active use)Unknown11560 mAh (Upto 10 hours of active use)

Verdict

This ‘pure Google experience’ tablet has fragmented the tablet market into two sections — The premium section led by the iPad and the affordable section for which the Nexus 7 has been made for.

In the upcoming 6-7 months, I’m pretty sure that the Nexus 7 will cover a significant tablet market share by focusing sorely on the ‘Affordable’ section while iPad will undoubtedly remain the king of the ‘Premium’ section. The real challenge will certainly be felt by the Microsoft Surface, which will have a tough time trying to enter in a market that exists between these two sections.

iPhone 4S Used by a Windows Phone User: Screen

iPhone 4S

For an introduction and background to this series, please refer to my first post on the topic: New Series: iPhone 4S Used by a Windows Phone User.

After looking at the setup experience, the first thing I wanted to look at is the much talked about Retina display of the iPhone 4S. I had heard a lot about how fantastic it is, and read a lot about the technical stuff like pixel density on that screen, but hadn’t experienced it outside of using my friends’ phones for a few minutes. The few minutes I spent with my friends’ phones did not impress me much but I attributed it to the fact that I had spent so little time with the display.

So, having used it constantly for a few days, what was the verdict? Frankly, I don’t see what the big deal is. Yes, it is clear and crisp. It is very, very clear and crisp. However, the Super AMOLED screen of my Focus and the ClearBlack AMOLED on my Lumia are both equally clear and crisp. In fact, I love the deeper colors on the base Lumia screen much more than what the iPhone 4S produces. It could be a result of bigger tiles on my Lumia compared to the many folders (with tinier icons) on my iPhone, but in “real world” use, the Lumia comes off as being as clear and crisp as the iPhone and the colors richer/deeper than the iPhone.

 

IMG_0048Screen Capture (11)

 

Yes, I could zoom into a specific icon and see how there is virtually no pixelation, but I never zoom to that level with my normal eyesight. Under normal circumstances, I look at the Lumia screen (with the dark theme enabled), and I look at the iPhone 4S with the normal brightness, and I must say, the Lumia screen comes out looking better.

(Please excuse my screenshots – I tried to make sure the brightness levels on both the phones were similar, and also, it looks like screenshot tools on *both* the phones seem to be just average?)

The other area where the Retina display is supposed to do better is reading. The claim — web pages, books, etc. are much better to read on that display compared to the Lumia? Here too, I did not see a tremendous difference.

IMG_0049Screen Capture (12)

 

IMG_0053Screen Capture (15)

IMG_0051Screen Capture (14)

IMG_0050Screen Capture (13)

Perhaps my expectations were raised really high? Maybe. Perhaps I should have tested it with long periods of reading? Maybe, but I don’t read pages and pages of books on the phone. The most I read is a multi-page web article, some part of books/magazines, and of course emails. I have provided some samples of the same above, and the Retina does not come off as being vastly different from the Lumia.

I would like to state emphatically, the iPhone screen is fantastic. However, in comparison to the Lumia, it does not seem to be dramatically superior. The Lumia holds its own despite “lower specs” across the board. The ClearBlack AMOLED on the Lumia “pops” the colors very well and the text renders quite well too. Oh, and a completely personal takeaway: when I turn on the Lumia, there is an immediate “wow” factor; maybe because of the colors, the brightness, the curved glass screen, or a combination of these and other factors that I can’t really pinpoint. Whatever it is, it makes the Lumia screen feel better than the iPhone screen, to me. Some friends on Twitter said that I need to give the Retina display some time and I will realize the beauty of it. I have seen it is a good screen, but after 4-5 days of extensive use, I really don’t see a huge upside in that screen.

Also, since I promised to talk about size as well, let me say that strictly speaking, the Lumia 800 that I am using now and the iPhone are not too different in size. However, my previous phone, the Samsung Focus, was 4″ diagonally and I really, really like that size. When I started using the Lumia after the Focus, I felt that the Lumia itself was a bit small (it is 3.7″ diagonally) and the iPhone is even smaller. So, compared to my ideal screen size of 4″, the iPhone seems smaller. However, for this experiment, I will not bring it up since the Lumia 800 and the iPhone are comparable in size.

Do you have any feedback on this comparison? Have you seen something I did not? I would love to hear from you!

iPhone 4S Used by a Windows Phone User: Out Of the Box Experience, Setup

iPhone

For an introduction and background to this series, please refer to my first post on the topic: New Series: iPhone 4S Used by a Windows Phone User.

As someone who has switched (and reset) Windows Phones quite a bit, for one reason or the other, I know how painful it is to get the phone to “my state”. Yes, entering my Windows Live ID and setting up Facebook account sets up a ton of stuff automatically (Contacts, Calendars, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pictures) but there are still a lot of personalization items which I have to repeat every single time. Here is what I have to do every time I set up a new Windows Phone, after setting up my “accounts”:

  • Reinstall all my apps. It is a bit easier now with web marketplace and apps like Reinstaller, but I still have to manually reinstall each app.
  • Customize each app with login information, settings for the app, etc.
  • Set up my live tiles for various apps. Some apps offer secondary tiles (like “Sports News” in a newspaper app, for example), so these have to be manually set up.
  • De-dupe contacts across Windows Live, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. This seems like a bit of functionality which was left off for lack of time. On Windows Live website, these contacts are in fact de-duped, but on the phone, they are not. So I have to go in and clean up manually.
  • Create my People Groups and pin them to Start Screen. I like this feature a lot, so I do like to create three groups: immediate family, cousins, and close friends. That way, I see the updates from these groups bubble up over all the other noise. There’s no way to save these Groups in the cloud so they automatically come when I sign in.
  • Adjust system settings like letting Bing use location services, my Office username, etc.
  • I don’t play many games, but if I did, almost none of the games save their states in the cloud, so all game progress gets lost when moving phones.
  • Connect to PC to set up wireless sync (and check if there are any updates available for the phone).

As you can see, there is a lot of work to be done after signing into various accounts to set up a new phone. How does it go with iPhone? Read on!

New Series: iPhone 4S Used by a Windows Phone User

iPhone

Those who read my posts know that I have been a Windows Phone user since it launched in late-2010. I like the platform a lot, and do believe it is more efficient for the way I use a smartphone. Before I switched to Windows Phone, I used an iPhone 3GS. Since then, my exposure to iOS has been through my iPad (1 and 2) and my iPod Touch. However, those iOS devices are at most used for an hour a day, so it is not fair to use that to compare against the Windows Phone platform.

So, when I recently got an opportunity to get an AT&T iPhone 4S, I jumped on it. I decided to give it my full attention, use it as my primary(-ish) phone for some time, and compare and contrast iOS with Windows Phone after actually using it. I figured, rather than compare specs on paper, which anybody can, it would be better to compare usage. With that in mind, I present this new series, where I will talk about various aspects of using Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone vs. using an iPhone 4S. My intention is to look at the common tasks one performs with a smartphone and how they differ across these two platforms. This is not so much of a “competition” to determine who “wins”, it is more of a comparison to identify the tasks where one platform may excel and the other may not.

I plan to break the series into the following:

What I do not want to do is:

  • Look at hard specs like cores, PPI, version of bluetooth supported, etc. If any of these happen to make it more difficult for me to do normal things, I will point them out.
  • I am going in with the assumption that we are going to live in a heterogeneous world where I may have a Windows PC and related apps along with my iPhone or iPad. As a result, I will try to stay away from stuff that is clearly going to remain “Apple-only”. For example, iMessage or certain aspects of iCloud which do not carry over to say, a Windows Phone, like contacts and calendar sync. There are other platform-specific tie-ins with Windows Phone like Xbox LIVE Achievements, which again, I won’t go into.

I am genuinely excited, both, to try the iPhone 4S (it’s been about 2 years since I used an iPhone), as well as to compare that experience to how I do things on my Lumia. Is there anything specific you would like me to look at in this experiment? Let me know!

Samsung Galaxy S 2 vs HTC Sensation: Battle of the Droids

In my post about the Best Android Phones of 2011, the first two phones were the Samsung Galaxy S 2 and the HTC Sensation. While the Samsung Galaxy S 2 has been reviewed by many, the HTC Sensation is still relatively new. In the last few days though, some reviews of the HTC Sensation have been cropping up as well. The Galaxy S 2 has received awesome reviews so far, but the HTC Sensation also doesn’t seem to be far behind. It has also been recognized as an excellent device.

In this post, I will compare the HTC Sensation with the Samsung Galaxy S 2. Both the phones have similar hardware specifications and run Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread. Both of them have 8 MP cameras and come with a 4.3 inch display.

Samsung Galaxy S 2 vs HTC Sensation

Samsung Galaxy S 2 vs HTC Sensation: Comparison

Design

The Samsung Galaxy S 2 is the slimmest Android smartphone yet – with dimensions of 125.3 mm x 66.1 mm x 8.5 mm. The HTC Sensation is a bit thicker with dimensions of 126.1 mm x 65.4 mm x 11.3 mm. The Galaxy S 2 (116 gms) is also much lighter than the Sensation (148 gms).

Both the phones have a great design and excellent build quality.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy S 2 comes with a 4.3 inch SuperAMOLED Plus display which is probably the best mobile display ever, in terms of display quality, brightness, contrast etc. It has a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels.

The HTC Sensation has a 4.3 inch S-LCD display with a resolution of 540 x 960 pixels. It’s an excellent display, but relatively not as good as the SuperAMOLED Plus display of the Galaxy S 2. It does have a higher display resolution though, so it’s a tradeoff between resolution and the display quality.

User Interface

The Samsung Galaxy S 2 comes with Android 2.3 Gingerbread and the TouchWiz 4.0 interface, while the HTC Sensation comes with the same OS and the Sense 3.0 UI. While I personally prefer TouchWiz, I know many people who love the Sense UI, so this is very subjective.

Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy S 2 comes with a 1.2 GHz dual core Exynos processor and the very powerful Mali 400MP GPU. It has 1 GB RAM and comes with 16 GB internal storage.

The HTC Sensation comes with a 1.2 GHz dual core processor as well – the Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM 8260 – and the Adreno 220 GPU. It has 768 MB RAM and comes with 1 GB internal storage.

While both phones are almost equal in terms of processing and graphics, the Galaxy S 2 has more RAM and more internal storage. Most reviews also point that the Galaxy S 2 is marginally better in performance, and more responsive.

Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S 2 has an 8 MP camera with autofocus and LED flash, and a secondary 2 MP camera too. It offers brilliant image capture quality, and can also record 1080p videos at 30 FPS.

The HTC Sensation comes with an 8 MP camera too and it captures excellent images as well. It also has autofocus, dual LED flash with stereo sound recording, and can record 1080p videos at 30 FPS too.

You will have to wait for some time for a comprehensive camera comparison, but they are most likely equals in this case.

Connectivity

While both the devices offer all the basic connectivity options – EDGE, 3G HSDPA, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP and GPS with A-GPS, the Samsung Galaxy S 2 has one feature that the HTC Sensation doesn’t – NFC. With so many NFC based apps and services coming along, HTC shouldn’t have missed that one.

The Verdict

Both the Samsung Galaxy S 2 and the HTC Sensation are excellent smartphones. They are undoubtedly the best Android smartphones money can buy. The Samsung Galaxy S 2 will be launched in a couple of days (it has already been launched in some countries), while the HTC Sensation still has a couple of weeks to go.

I personally prefer the Samsung Galaxy S 2 – it is the best smartphone of all time – but even the HTC Sensation is a great device. Both the phones have received superb reviews, so it really boils down to two things:

1. Whether you can wait for the HTC Sensation, resisting the urge to buy the Galaxy S 2 when it launches.

2. Whether you prefer TouchWiz or Sense.

I’m going with the Samsung Galaxy S 2, BTW.