Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2

Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Introduction


The holidays are just right around the corner, so consumers will no doubt be in full force shopping for the best of the best for their loved loves. In the tablet space, we’ve been fortunate to see the arrival of two spectacular offerings very recently – the iPad Air 2 and the Nexus 9. When it comes to performance and usefulness in accomplishing all sorts of tasks, there’s no arguing that these two come racing to the scene with a whole lot of goodies to make us all drool. At the end of the day, though, which of the two proves to be the stronger, more profound selection?

Design

Metal meets plastic

Apple’s design with the iPad Air 2 is a meticulous one, since it employs favorable, premium materials that help to deliver a package that’s sophisticated and elegant in design. Quite simply, its aluminum body feels significantly sturdier than the matte plastic finish of the Nexus 9. Even though the two are relatively easy to handle with comfort and ease, we can’t overlook the engineering marvel of the iPad Air 2’s incredibly thin 0.24-inch profile – it makes the 0.31-inch thinness of the Nexus 9 look thick by comparison!

Neither tablet is outfitted with an extraordinary set of hardware features, as they mostly offer the usual essentials around their trims – like their power buttons, 3.5mm headset jacks, volume controls, and charging ports. However, we will point out the iPad Air 2’s Touch ID finger print sensor, which offers us another option of securing the tablet. Meanwhile, the Nexus 9’s front-firing dual speakers are appreciated, as they project audio towards us, instead of against.

 

View As One Page »
View As Slideshow »

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.



Display

Two gorgeous tablet screens make it difficult to side with just one of them

Having a fully-laminated display, the iPad Air 2’s 9.7-inch 1536 x 2048 Retina Display sheds some layers in the process to maintain its impressive thinness – one that’s truly commendable. However, the Nexus 9’s smaller, 8.9-inch 1536 x 2048 IPS LCD display actually holds up equally well in most departments, allowing it to match Apple's proposition.All in all, there aren’t major differences in terms of detail with their display, thanks to their sky-high resolutions. Things are considerably more interesting when we look at their color reproduction, as both exhibit slight inaccuracies and imperfections that makes comparing them kind of fun. Color temperature is around 7000 K with both devices, meaning their blues are slightly more accentuated than their reds, but this kind of deviation is more than tolerable. However, the Nexus 9's white point has a noticeable shift towards the purple hues, which can be easily seen in the display benchmark charts below. Meanwhile, the iPad Air 2 manages to hold on to a more natural-looking white. When all is said and done, neither IPS screen is flawless, but they are both a joy to view.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Google Nexus 9 453
(Good)
10
(Average)
1:1178
(Good)
6942
(Excellent)
2.17
3.79
(Good)
4.56
(Average)
Apple iPad Air 2 410
(Good)
4
(Excellent)
1:1063
(Good)
7001
(Good)
2.22
4.23
(Average)
2.72
(Good)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Google Nexus 9 70.6%
70%
76.3%
8.2%
2.3%
2.1%
7.5%
Apple iPad Air 2 78.3%
75%
65.6%
11.8%
2.7%
11.1%
11%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all

Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2

Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Introduction


The holidays are just right around the corner, so consumers will no doubt be in full force shopping for the best of the best for their loved loves. In the tablet space, we’ve been fortunate to see the arrival of two spectacular offerings very recently – the iPad Air 2 and the Nexus 9. When it comes to performance and usefulness in accomplishing all sorts of tasks, there’s no arguing that these two come racing to the scene with a whole lot of goodies to make us all drool. At the end of the day, though, which of the two proves to be the stronger, more profound selection?

Design

Metal meets plastic

Apple’s design with the iPad Air 2 is a meticulous one, since it employs favorable, premium materials that help to deliver a package that’s sophisticated and elegant in design. Quite simply, its aluminum body feels significantly sturdier than the matte plastic finish of the Nexus 9. Even though the two are relatively easy to handle with comfort and ease, we can’t overlook the engineering marvel of the iPad Air 2’s incredibly thin 0.24-inch profile – it makes the 0.31-inch thinness of the Nexus 9 look thick by comparison!

Neither tablet is outfitted with an extraordinary set of hardware features, as they mostly offer the usual essentials around their trims – like their power buttons, 3.5mm headset jacks, volume controls, and charging ports. However, we will point out the iPad Air 2’s Touch ID finger print sensor, which offers us another option of securing the tablet. Meanwhile, the Nexus 9’s front-firing dual speakers are appreciated, as they project audio towards us, instead of against.



Display

Two gorgeous tablet screens make it difficult to side with just one of them

Having a fully-laminated display, the iPad Air 2’s 9.7-inch 1536 x 2048 Retina Display sheds some layers in the process to maintain its impressive thinness – one that’s truly commendable. However, the Nexus 9’s smaller, 8.9-inch 1536 x 2048 IPS LCD display actually holds up equally well in most departments, allowing it to match Apple's proposition.All in all, there aren’t major differences in terms of detail with their display, thanks to their sky-high resolutions. Things are considerably more interesting when we look at their color reproduction, as both exhibit slight inaccuracies and imperfections that makes comparing them kind of fun. Color temperature is around 7000 K with both devices, meaning their blues are slightly more accentuated than their reds, but this kind of deviation is more than tolerable. However, the Nexus 9's white point has a noticeable shift towards the purple hues, which can be easily seen in the display benchmark charts below. Meanwhile, the iPad Air 2 manages to hold on to a more natural-looking white. When all is said and done, neither IPS screen is flawless, but they are both a joy to view.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Google Nexus 9 453
(Good)
10
(Average)
1:1178
(Good)
6942
(Excellent)
2.17
3.79
(Good)
4.56
(Average)
Apple iPad Air 2 410
(Good)
4
(Excellent)
1:1063
(Good)
7001
(Good)
2.22
4.23
(Average)
2.72
(Good)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Google Nexus 9 70.6%
70%
76.3%
8.2%
2.3%
2.1%
7.5%
Apple iPad Air 2 78.3%
75%
65.6%
11.8%
2.7%
11.1%
11%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all

Interface and Functionality

iOS 8.1 brings forth several Android-like qualities, while Lollipop takes Android to a more refined level.

When we look at the big picture, we can certainly agree that iOS 8 brings forth some welcome features to its package, which in hindsight, guarantees it a competitive level of versatility. For all of the new features, like its support for third-party keyboards, discrete interaction with notifications, and an enhanced spotlight feature, iOS 8 still continues to adhere to the principles set forth by Apple – that, of course, is simplicity and ease of use.Meanwhile, it's good to see that Android 5.0 Lollipop introduces a fresh visual update to the platform. First and foremost, there’s the matter with the platform’s Material Design, which brings a playful, dynamic look. The fun doesn’t stop there, seeing that the most up-to-date version of Android is filled with several secondary features that deepen its experience even further, with features such as support for multiple users, prioritized notifications, and more.If we compare the core propositions of both plaforms, Android 5.0 Lollipop proves to have some more depth and customizability to it, which is something that we truly appreciate. Looking at the software ecosystem aspect of the equation, though, it appears that developers are paying much more attention to Apple's tablet, than those running on Android. The sheer number and impressive quality of iPad-optimized applications easily overshadows what could be found out there for Android-powered tabs.

The Android 5.0 UI of the Google Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Android 5.0 UI of the Google Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Android 5.0 UI of the Google Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Android 5.0 UI of the Google Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Android 5.0 UI of the Google Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Android 5.0 UI of the Google Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Android 5.0 UI of the Google Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Android 5.0 UI of the Google Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2

The Android 5.0 UI of the Google Nexus 9

The Apple iPad Air 2 runs iOS 8 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Apple iPad Air 2 runs iOS 8 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Apple iPad Air 2 runs iOS 8 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Apple iPad Air 2 runs iOS 8 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Apple iPad Air 2 runs iOS 8 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Apple iPad Air 2 runs iOS 8 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Apple iPad Air 2 runs iOS 8 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The Apple iPad Air 2 runs iOS 8 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2

The Apple iPad Air 2 runs iOS 8


Processor and Memory

Games seem to run more fluidly on the iPad Air 2, but everything else is nearly identical.

Impressively, the two tablets here don’t disappoint with their performances, as they achieve the same level of finesse with basic tasks. The iPad Air 2 is greeted with a triple-core 1.5GHz Apple A8X chip based on 64-bit architecture and coupled with 2GB of RAM, while the Nexus 9 is powered by an equally formidable dual-core 2.3GHz NVIDIA Tegra K1 64-bit processor with 2GB of RAM. Even though they effortlessly perform basic tasks, the iPad Air 2’s GPU goes into higher gear when it comes to running today’s 3D intensive gaming titles.

Sorry folks, neither tablet offers expandable storage – so we’re left to relying on their internal capacities. Specifically, the iPad Air 2 is available in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB configurations, whereas the Nexus 9 is only sold in 16GB or 32GB.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 62856
Google Nexus 9 56836
Sunspider
Lower is better
Apple iPad Air 2 303.3
Google Nexus 9 956.8
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 52.2
Google Nexus 9 41
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 24.1
Google Nexus 9 22
Geekbench 3 single-core
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 1811
Google Nexus 9 1903
Geekbench 3 multi-core
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 4488
Google Nexus 9 3166
View all

Internet and Connectivity


Surfing the web is a task that’s easily accomplished by the two, as they offer speedy page loads, sharp screens, and buttery navigational controls – the hallmarks of any high-end device. Knowing that, there’s not one we’re greatly using more for the occasion than the other.

Google Nexus 9 - Web browsers - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Apple iPad Air 2 - Web browsers - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Web browsers - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Web browsers - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2

Google Nexus 9

Apple iPad Air 2

   

Web browsers


Obviously, they’re available as Wi-Fi-only options, but as an alternative, they can also be bought with LTE connectivity – for those who require wider connectivity, naturally. Moreover, they boast nearly the same set of connectivity features, such as aGPS and Bluetooth 4.0. However, the Nexus 9 comes with NFC.

Camera

Seriously, you won’t be disappointed by the quality produced by their cameras – they’re almost evenly matched.

Simplicity – this is one of the main principles that the two tablets abide by – and we see it exactly with their respective camera apps. So much so that the major focus of their interfaces is the viewfinder, with a relatively small emphasis being put on manual controls or different shooting modes. Armed with 8-megapixel rear cameras, it would seem that there’s not going to be a huge disparity between their qualities. 

Well, that’s certainly true with the exception of exposure – where the iPad Air 2 seems to do a slightly better job at it, as the Nexus 9’s shots sometimes appear over-exposed. Details are pretty much identical in all sorts of lighting conditions, which means that there’s not a significant winner in this category. Meanwhile, the images of the iPad Air 2 tend to look a tad livelier compared to those produced by its opponent.

Taking photos on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Taking photos on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Taking photos on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Taking photos on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Taking photos on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Taking photos on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Taking photos on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Taking photos on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2

Taking photos on the Nexus 9

The camera UI of the iPad Air 2 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The camera UI of the iPad Air 2 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The camera UI of the iPad Air 2 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
The camera UI of the iPad Air 2 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2

The camera UI of the iPad Air 2


Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 2.5
3
No data
No data
Google Nexus 9 6.3
No data
486
333
View all
Even though it’s mostly draw when it comes to still images, it’s the iPad Air 2 that records the better looking 1080p video – thanks in part to its sharper looks, proper exposure, and more natural looking colors. In contrast, the Nexus 9 continues to be plagued by an overly warm color reproduction, and it has a tougher time maintaining focus.

Multimedia

Those front-firing speakers of the Nexus 9 make plenty of sense, which complements the multimedia experience.

We really don’t find one music player as being greatly better than the other, just because they offer the same basic functions. Carrying along a signature HTC characteristic, the dual front-firing speakers of the Nexus 9 do a better job of projecting audio towards us – albeit, it’s a little echoey at times. Don’t count out the iPad Air 2’s speakers just yet, mainly because its output is just as loud, if not stronger, than its rival.

Naturally, the video watching experience is pleasant one thanks to their spacious and high-resolution displays. Playback is smooth, with no evidence of any delayed movements. Again, the front-firing speakers of the Nexus 9 are more ideal in complementing the experience.

Multimedia on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia on the Nexus 9 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2

Multimedia on the Nexus 9

Multimedia apps on the Apple iPad Air 2 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia apps on the Apple iPad Air 2 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia apps on the Apple iPad Air 2 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia apps on the Apple iPad Air 2 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia apps on the Apple iPad Air 2 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia apps on the Apple iPad Air 2 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia apps on the Apple iPad Air 2 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
Multimedia apps on the Apple iPad Air 2 - Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2

Multimedia apps on the Apple iPad Air 2

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 0.97
Google Nexus 9 0.808
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 77.9
Google Nexus 9 70.1
View all

Battery

It’s hard to proclaim a winner with our real world experience, but our battery benchmark reveals longer battery life with the Nexus 9.

Google Nexus 9 vs Apple iPad Air 2
You’d think that the iPad Air 2 would be the one with the lower capacity battery after looking at its incredibly thin construction, but in fact, it’s packing along the larger one. To be precise, inside sits a 7340 mAh battery – whereas with the Nexus 9, it carries along a lower capacity 6700 mAh one. In our real world experience, the two are more than capable of lasting us through a solid one-day of normal usage, but our battery benchmark tests reveal something else. Despite its lower capacity, it’s the Nexus 9 that achieves a longer time with our test – 9 hours and 24 minutes to be precise. It’s a mark that beats the iPad Air 2’s time of 7 hours and 27 minutes.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Google Nexus 9 9h 24 min (Excellent)
Apple iPad Air 2 7h 27 min (Excellent)
View all

Conclusion


These two couldn’t be any more different on the outside, as one impressively stands out for its premium design and svelte construction – while the other follows a more humble and modest path. Mainly due to that disparity, it makes perfect sense why the iPad Air 2 costs $500, versus the $400 price tag of the Nexus 9. Obviously, the difference in that chunk of change is profound, one that favors Apple’s achievement in producing its tablet.

Eliminating their looks and specs, these two tablets rival one another in a variety of key categories. For examples, they have stunningly detailed screens, they snap sharp looking photos with their cameras, and they even perform swimmingly with barely a hint of slowdown or lag. However, there’s the matter regarding their platform experiences – where the Android 5.0 Lollipop experience of the Nexus 9 proves to be more versatile and customizable when it comes to its core experience, the iOS's polished UI takes advantage of a richer app ecosystem that considerably widens its productivity and entertainment capabilities.

All told, if you’re looking for an excellent all-around tablet that has a stunning design to match its prowess, then stick with the iPad Air 2 – more so if cost isn’t a factor for you. Conversely, go with the Nexus 9 if you’re looking for a slightly cheaper tablet that’ll be used more in the home by multiple members, in addition to yourself.