For the first time the Nexus 9 is more than capable of taking on the best Apple has to offer. The Nexus 9 is an 8.9-inch no compromise flagship tablet with specs that match, if not surpass the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2. As for the iPad Mini 3, that’s basically last year’s tablet rebranded, it doesn’t hold a candle to the HTC built Nexus 9. The Nexus 9 is no longer a mere developer reference device or a budget alternative to mainstream flagships, it is THE Android flagships when it comes to tablets. The Nexus 9 is the device every OEM should take their cue from, a real no compromise flagship.
Nexus 9 vs. iPad Air 2 Display
For starters the Nexus 9 display compares favorably with the famous Retina display of the iPad Air 2. With an 8.9-inch IPS LCD QXGA (2048 x 1536) Gorilla Glass 3 display with a 4:3 aspect ration the Nexus 9 matches the 9.7-inch IPS 2048 x 1536 display 264ppi on the iPad Air 2. Due to the smaller screen on the Nexus 9, the pixel density is likely also higher. In terms of display, both devices are very much equals.
Nexus 9 vs. iPad Air 2 Design
One area Apple tablets have always surpassed many Android devices is design, Apple makes slim, attractive tablets with high-quality aluminum builds. That’s something Google has never really attempted to match in the Nexus 10 or the Nexus 7 (2013), choosing to offer a budget device instead. Until now. If anyone can build a high-quality device, it is HTC and the Nexus 9 sure lives up to expectations.
The Nexus 9 has dimensions of 153.68mm x 228.25 mm x 7.95 mm and a weight of 425g for the Wi-Fi version and 436g for the LTE version, making it light weight and slim. The Nexus 9 features a brushed aluminum frame along the edge of the device, dual front facing HTC BoomSound speakers and a soft touch back. The Nexus 9 comes in three different colors, Indigo Black, Lunar White and Sand.
The iPad Air 2 is the thinnest Apple tablet to date, with dimensions of 240mm x 169.5mm x 6.1mm and a weight of 437g for the Wi-Fi and 444g for LTE, the iPad Air is slimmer than and almost as light as the Nexus 9 despite its larger size. The iPad Air 2 has its customary attractive aluminum build. There’s no doubt that’s impressive and something Apple has always excelled at, however for the first time a Nexus device is closer in design and quality to an Apple tablet than it has ever been before.
Nexus 9 vs. iPad Air 2 Specs
When it comes to specs and hardware, both the Nexus 9 and the iPad Air 2 have become close rivals. The Nexus 9 boasts a 64-bit Nvidia Tegra K1 Dual Denver processor clocked at 2.3GHz with a 192-core Kepler GPU and 2GB of RAM with 16GB and 32GB storage options. The Nexus 9 has a 8-megapixel rear camera with a f/2.4 aperture, auto-focus and LED flash with a 1.6-megapixel front facing camera with a f/2.4 aperture. With its 6700mAh battery the Nexus 9 is capable of Wi-Fi and LTE browsing of almost 10 hours and a standby time of 30 days.
The iPad Air 2 matches the specs of the Nexus 9 in many of these areas, for once that includes the processor. The iPad Air 2 has the new A8X 64-bit chip and M8 motion coprocessor. It boasts a rear facing 8-megapixel f/2.4 aperture iSight camera and a front facing 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera, more or less placing both devices on equal footing. Like the Nexus 9, the iPad Air 2 is capable of up to nine or 10 hours of Wi-Fi and LTE browsing.
Nexus 9 vs. iPad Air 2 Features
The Nexus 9 will ship with Android 5.0 Lollipop which boasts the new Material Design look and contains improvements like Project Volta. With its 64-bit processor Google fully intends for the Nexus 9to be capable of productive functions such as Google docs, in addition to entertainment. For that purpose the Nexus 9 has an official magnetic keyboard attachment accessory to allow typing and increase productivity. The Nexus 9 also includes notification changes, “For fewer worries and disruptions, adjust your settings so only certain people and notifications get through. When it’s important, respond to messages directly from your lockscreen.”
The iPad Air 2 has its fair share of features as well. It has Touch ID, the home button fingerprint unlock and logging that has now been integrated into Apple Pay. The iPad Air 2 will get the new iOS 8.1 update, which should bring back camera roll and add iCloud photo library and should contain bugfixes to resolve iOS 8.1 issues.
Nexus 9 vs. iPad Air 2 Release Date
The Nexus 9 pre-orders begin Oct. 17, with the devices hitting shelves on Nov. 3. The LTE version of the Nexus 9 should be available on Nov. 12. iPad Air 2 pre-orders have been started since Oct. 17 with the devices to ship at the end of next week. There’s no doubt that Google timed its announcement of the Nexus 9 to coincide with Apple’s launch of the iPad Air 2.
Nexus 9 vs. iPad Air 2 Price
When it comes to specs, design and features it might seem like the iPad Air 2 and the Nexus 9 are almost equally matched. The price is where the two devices distinguish themselves. The Nexus 9 16GB Wi-Fi model costs $399, a $32GB model costs $479 and the 4G LTE 32GB model costs $599. The Nexus 9 will be available for sale on the Google Play Store, Amazon, Best Buy, Staples, Walmart as well as T-Mobile and other carriers and retailers for the LTE version.
The iPad Air 2 is considerably more costly. The 16GB Wi-Fi iPad Air 2 costs $499, the 64GB $599, the 128GB $699. The LTE iPad Air 2 has an even more expensive, starting point, $629 for the 16GB model, $729 for the 64GB model,$829 for the 128GB model. This makes the 16GB Wi-Fi version of the Nexus 9, $100 less than the 16GB Wi-Fi version of the iPad Air 2.
Nexus 9 vs. iPad Air 2 Final Word
It is this considerable price difference that sets the two devices apart. The Nexus 9 and the iPad Air 2 both have slim and attractive designs with a high quality build, they both boast powerful specs with 64-bit processors and come with a stable OS and a solid set of features backing them. With the Nexus 9 now highly capable and with the added benefit of multitasking and productivity apps, Google seems to have won this round in the tablet battle. The Nexus 9 presents a fantastic no compromise Android tablet alternative to the costly iPad Air 2.