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iPad Air 2 v Nexus 9: Battle of the Premium Tablets!

Apple iPad Air 2Nexus 9

Is a new tablet on your Christmas list? If so, Google and Apple are going head to head in an attempt to win you over.

Apple’s contender is the iPad Air 2 - essentially a sleeker, lighter and quicker version of last year’s top-end iPad. For Google, out goes last year’s Nexus 7 – and in comes the Nexus 9; an 8.9-inch device promising a premium Android experience.

Early indications are that these two tablets are pretty evenly matched in terms of specs and performance. Here, we take a closer look…

Look and feel

So far as design is concerned, with the iPad Air 2, it’s a matter of taking a winning formula and tweaking it. The screen size is the same as its predecessor (9.7-inches) – but the original 7.5mm body has been slimmed down by a further millimetre and the weight is reduced by around 21 grams. The seamless all-aluminium bodywork of the original remains intact.

To build the Nexus 9, Google turned to HTC – and the end result is a device with a decidedly top-end feel - featuring a rubberised rear and a smart metallic rim. The difference in weight between the iPad Air 2 and Nexus 9 (437g and 425g respectively), is almost too slight to be noticeable.

Looking at both devices side by side, the other big difference is the physical home button on the iPad Air 2 – a feature that also incorporates Apple’s touch ID sensor. There is no physical home button on the Nexus.

Quality of display

There is a marked difference in screen size between these two tablets. The iPad offers what has now become a familiar viewing format – just shy of 10-inches. The Nexus sits more or less halfway between the iPad Mini and the full fat iPad. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is of course a matter of what suit you better – size or portability.

Discussing display quality brings us on to the sometimes tricky issue of pixel count – i.e. those tiny dots that come together to form the whole display. Pixel count is an important element in determining the quality of display – but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all. Both the iPad Air 2 and the Nexus 9 have the same resolution (2048 x 1536). However, because of the difference in size, the pixel per inch ratio is higher for the Nexus (287ppi) compared to 264ppi for the new iPad. This seems to suggest Nexus might have the upper hand (albeit only very slightly). There’s something else to add to the mix however: present on the iPad – and not on the Nexus 9 is an anti-reflective layer – something that may make a difference if you are viewing in daylight conditions.

Essentially both of these devices offer a stunning LED display that’s unlikely to give you cause for complaint whether you’re gaming or watching movies.

Ease of use

Predictably, each tablet comes with the hot-off-the development-board operating systems from their respective stables. Most iPhone owners will already have iOS8 (if you haven’t upgraded yet, here’s a how-to guide from MacWorld).

The Nexus 9 will appeal to anyone who desires an open, unskinned Android experience with the option of being able to customise their interface – and the Lollipop update promises some useful new notification and sharing capabilities.

Which eco-system is ‘better’ is a matter of personal preference.


The iPad Air 2 is the second generation 64-bit tablet from Apple. The Nexus 9 will be the first 64-bit Android tablet. In basic terms, this means a big leap forward in a tablet’s ability to do lots of things at once, bringing the promise of slicker games and more complex software. This is all good news for anyone who wants a like-for-like replacement for a laptop (or even a desktop). Again, the chances are there will be little between these two devices in terms of performance. However, given Apple already has a head start in this area, there are likely to be richer pickings from the Apple Store in terms of apps that really make the most out of this technology.


The Nexus range (e.g. the Nexus 5 phone and Nexus 7 tablet) used to offer near-top-end specs at remarkably low prices (you could pick up the Nexus 7 for just less than £200).

With the new generation, the ‘bargain’ element is less of a selling point. For instance, the basic 16GB Wi-Fi only Nexus 9 will cost you £319 – only £80 less than the equivalent iPad Air 2. The Nexus 9 may be a fantastic tablet – but it’s no longer a phenomenal deal, price wise.

The display and bodywork of any tablet soon loses its shine if it’s not handled with care! Mobile Madhouse tablet cases are the essential stocking filler. Check out our range of iPad Air 2 cases and Nexus 9 cases and make sure yours is in safe hands!

Apple iPad Air 2Nexus 9

Is a new tablet on your Christmas list? If so, G