It's the battle of the tablets, and Apple and Google are going head to head. Each company recently unveiled a new tablet, fit for iOS and Android fans, respectively — and making the decision harder than ever for those who remain undecided.
For Apple, it's the highly anticipated iPad Air 2, a slimmer, lighter, more powerful version of last year's iPad Air. For Google, it's the high-performance, HTC-designed Nexus 9, the first Nexus tablet to come out in nearly two years.
Both devices are now available for pre-orders, but how does the new iPad Air 2 compare with the Nexus 9? And which is better for your business? Read on to find out. [Best Tablets for Business 2014 (and Why We Love Them)]
1. Design and display
iPad Air 2
Apple calls the iPad Air 2 its thinnest and lightest iPad to date. The device weighs just under a pound, at .96 lbs. (.44 kilograms), and measures an ultraslim 6.1mm (.24 inches) thin. It features a 9.7-inch (25 centimeters), 2,048 × 1,536-resolution Retina display that offers richer colors, enhanced contrast and share, and more-vivid images than its iPad Air predecessor. The iPad Air 2 also comes with a "custom-designed anti-reflective coating," which Apple says decreases glare by 56 percent to make the screen clearer and more readable indoors and out.
Like previous iPads, the iPad Air 2 is built with an aluminum unibody and comes in Silver and Space Gray. A new Gold metallic finish will also be available. Apple also keeps it green; the iPad Air 2 is made of environmentally friendly materials, such as a mercury- and arsenic-free display and recyclable aluminum.
Many call the Nexus 9 the Android version of the iPad Air, and for good reason. Both lightweight and ultrathin, the Nexus 9 is "fit for your hand" for both work and play, Google says. The device weighs slightly less than the iPad Air 2, at .93 lbs. (.42 kg), but is thicker, at 7.8mm (.31 inches). It also comes with a smaller, 8.9-inch (22.6 cm) LCD screen, but has the same resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels.
Unlike the iPad Air 2, however, the Nexus 9 lacks an all-aluminum body and only has brushed metal sides. It comes in three colors: white, black and tan.
2. Power and performance
iPad Air 2
The iPad Air 2 is all about power and performance. It ships with Apple's new 64-bit A8X chip, which the company says "delivers speed and graphics that rival many personal computers." Compared to the iPad Air, the iPad Air 2 has a 40 percent faster CPU and 180 times faster graphics performance. Whether you're working on business apps, browsing the Web, or editing photos and graphics-heavy videos, the iPad Air 2 won't suffer in responsiveness or speed. This architecture is also power-efficient, giving you a 10-hour battery life on a single charge.
Just like the iPad Air 2, the Nexus 9 brings desktop-class computing to a tablet. Inside, the device pairs a 2.3 GHz 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 with a 192-core Kepler processor, and comes with 2GB of RAM. This combination delivers high performance and unbridled productivity, letting you easily multitask and run many apps simultaneously, without compromising speed or fluidity. It also comes with a 6,700-mAh battery for an estimated nine hours of battery life on a single charge.
iPad Air 2
The iPad Air 2 is powered by iOS 8, giving users access to a vast collection of productivity apps at the Apple App Store. Out of the box, the iPad Air 2 already comes equipped with iWork, Apple's suite of productivity apps. This package gives you the Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheet editor and Keynote presentation maker. These apps also work with their Microsoft Office counterparts — Word, Excel and PowerPoint — so you don't have to worry about compatibility issues or being stuck using one platform.
If you prefer to strictly use Microsoft Office, you have the option of using Office for iPad, a touch-friendly version of the cloud-based Office 365. Office for iPad lets you view Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, but you'll need an Office 365 subscription to create and edit those files.
Nexus 9 runs on the brand new Android 5.0 Lollipop, which fully integrates Google Apps, including Gmail, cloud storage and collaboration service Drive, word processing app Docs, spreadsheet editor Sheets, and presentation creator Slides. Office 365 for Android is also available, which consists of Office Mobile — for viewing and editing Word, Excel and PowerPoint files — as well as collaboration tool OneNote, cloud storage service OneDrive for Business and mobile instant messaging solution Lync.
Lollipop also aims to deliver seamless multitasking across apps and devices. In addition to letting you work on multiple apps at once, Lollipop makes it easy to switch devices without losing your place. You can start working on a Nexus smartphone, then switch to the Nexus 9 and pick up right where you left off.
iPad Air 2
Like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the iPad Air 2 now comes with Apple's Touch ID functionality. Using fingerprint-capturing technology, Touch ID allows you to instantly unlock the device with just one touch of your finger on the home button. Touch ID also helps you make convenient, secure purchases in iTunes, iBooks, the App Store and Apple Pay, as well as sign into and authorize actions on Touch ID-enabled apps.
Although the Nexus 9 doesn't have fingerprint-scanning technology, it does use a different form of biometrics: your face. The tablet is equipped with Android Smart Lock, which lets you unlock the tablet using facial expressions, as well as by pairing the slate with trusted devices like wearables and even your car. The Nexus 9 also comes with automatic data encryption and Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux), which systematically enforces security measures to protect against malware and other vulnerabilities.
The iPad Air 2 costs $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 64GB model and $699 for the 128GB model. Cellular-enabled versions of those models cost $629, $729 and $829, respectively.
If cost is a big deal-breaker for you, the Nexus 9 is the cheaper option, at $399 for the 16GB model, $479 for the 32GB version and $599 for the LTE-enabled 32GB edition.