iPad Air 2 vs. Google Nexus 9: A Feature-by-Feature Comparison

iPad Air 2 vs. Google Nexus 9: A Feature-by-Feature Comparison
Some Design Differences Stand Out
The Processor Battle Is in Full Swing
The OS Is a Fundamental Choice
Do You Prefer Google or Apple Services?
Storage Options Are Not Created Equal
Camera Quality Is a Toss-Up
The Little Extras Can Help Tip the Scale
Don't Forget Screen Size
Both Devices Have Great App Support
Pricing Always a Big Issue
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iPad Air 2 vs. Google Nexus 9: A Feature-by-Feature Comparison

By Don Reisinger

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Some Design Differences Stand Out

The first thing customers will notice, of course, is that the design differences between the iPad Air 2 and Nexus 9 are stark. The Nexus 9 has a larger bezel on either side of the screen and comes with a matte finish on the back and brushed metal on the sides. The iPad Air 2, meanwhile, has a slimmer bezel and an extremely thin profile. Plus, the colors on both devices are slightly different.

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The Processor Battle Is in Full Swing

Both Google and Apple claim their devices can deliver high-powered performance to customers seeking that. The iPad Air 2 comes with the new A8X processor, featuring 64-bit architecture. The Nexus 9 has a 64-bit Nvidia Tegra K1 processor with a clock speed of 2.3GHz. Both have performed admirably in benchmark tests.

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The OS Is a Fundamental Choice

Customers deciding between the iPad Air 2 and Nexus 9 will ultimately need to determine what OS they prefer. Apple's product comes with iOS 8, the latest version of the company's mobile operating system. The Nexus 9 is one of the few devices that will come with a standard build of Android 5.0 (Lollipop). Unlike third-party products that have their manufacturer's skin laid atop Android, the Nexus brand comes with the standard Google OS. Picking between the two may be easy or difficult, depending on a person's experience with Android and iOS.

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Do You Prefer Google or Apple Services?

It's important for customers deciding between the iPad Air 2 and Nexus 9 to determine whether they have a greater affinity for Google or Apple services. The Nexus 9 comes with the full gamut of Google services, including Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive and more. The iPad Air 2 comes with Apple's Mail, Safari and iCloud Drive, among others.

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Storage Options Are Not Created Equal

One might argue that Google's Nexus 9 falls short in the area of storage. The device comes in 16GB and 32GB variants. The iPad Air 2, meanwhile, has a 16GB version, but jumps to 64GB and 128GB in other models. Those who prefer boatloads of local storage might find some more value in what Apple offers.

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Camera Quality Is a Toss-Up

From a camera perspective, it's hard to find too many differences between the iPad Air 2 and the Nexus 9. Google's Nexus 9 has an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.6-megapixel front-facing camera. The iPad Air 2, meanwhile, has an 8-megapixel iSight camera that is complemented on the front by a 1.2-megapixel lens. Those looking for better picture-taking might find a more suitable solution elsewhere.

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The Little Extras Can Help Tip the Scale

Although both devices come with several hardware-based features that customers might like, Google seems most intent on pushing the fact that its device supports a detachable physical keyboard. The keyboard, which is sold separately, supports many different angles, depending on customer comfort. Arguably the biggest hardware addition to the iPad Air 2 has been Touch ID, which allows not only for more security to get into the device's software, but also adds support for Apple's mobile payment service, Apple Pay.

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Don't Forget Screen Size

There is a slight difference in screen size that might prompt customers to choose one device over another. As with previous iPads, Apple has stuck with the 9.7-inch screen in the iPad Air 2. The Nexus 9 comes with an 8.9-inch screen. The difference isn't major, but it should be taken into consideration.

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Both Devices Have Great App Support

It's hard to pick a winner when it comes to app support for either device. Apple's App Store and the Google Play Marketplace have both become destinations for app developers around the world, and it's hard to find many apps available in only one of the marketplaces. As of this writing, both the App Store and Google Play offer 1.3 million apps to customers.

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Pricing Always a Big Issue

Pricing is ultimately a deciding factor in determining whether to get a new tablet. The iPad Air 2 is the more expensive option, starting at $499 for the 16GB, WiFi-only model. Its most-expensive version tips the register at $829. The Nexus 9 is markedly cheaper, coming in at just $399 for the 16GB model with WiFi. Those who want 32GB of storage will pay $479.

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