Tablet Wars: Android vs. iPad

The world has become an interesting place since Apple launched its iPad in 2010; but it wasn’t the first of its kind available at that time. The device shows some resemblance to the already existing iPhone. In 2011, the iPad 2 was released and received more positive feedback than the iPad. Many people complained that the original iPad didn’t have a built-in camera, so naturally, the iPad 2 did. It was only a matter of time before competition caught up (e.g. Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, etc.), but the iPad has always been a bit more expensive than any Android tablet. With the iPad 3 to be released in March, the choice gets slightly more interesting for some. Are you also having troubles making a choice between the two? Here’s a simple description of the capabilities of both.

Although they differ in a couple of ways, the tablets share some similarities as well. Both use a touch-screen interface and both allow the purchases of apps that can be downloaded to the device. The difference in app moderation lies in the fact that Apple has to approve each app before it goes on sale in the Apple App Store whereas Android allows programmers to release apps without any approval. Some popular apps (e.g. Angry Birds or Plants vs. Zombies) are available for both operating systems, but may differ in design.

The iPad
Why buy an iPad? There is a major reason why some people prefer the iPad over an Android device: the Apple App Store. The App Store currently has over 140,000 apps available, which gives the iPad an immediate benefit compared to Android. Google doesn’t reveal actual numbers of Android apps for tablets, but there were about 232 apps for Android tablet in March 2011, according to a New York Times blog. I suppose this number has increased by now, but until Google releases Android tablet app statistics, all you can do is guess. Aside from the app availability, there’s another important factor that most tablet users can agree on: the iPad has a longer battery life than an Android tablet. One of the best things about tablets is the fact that they’re portable, so a long battery life would be a very welcome benefit to have.

MakeUseOf stated that the iPad is quicker than an Android tablet (which is powered by Tegra 2) and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the advantage there—the quicker the better.

As precious as the iPad 2 may be, it doesn’t have a USB port or an SD card slot. This is a huge inconvenience for many people because it’s easy to use a USB stick or an SD card to transfer files. For now, you would have to additionally buy the connector kit if you want to transfer (for example) photos using your camera’s USB cable or an SD card. Apple isn’t too clear about the justification for this decision, but it hasn’t influenced the iPad 2’s sales.

Android tablets
Why do people choose an Android device? For starters, Android uses a better video resolution than the iPad does: 1,280 x 800 pixels whereas the iPad 2 uses 1,024 x 768 pixels. In this regard, another great benefit of an Android tablet is its flash support, which basically allows users to view flash content. Because Android doesn’t require approval for apps, you can download third-party apps directly to the tablet. There are even apps that allow you to download files straight from the Internet and save them to the tablet. Android also enables tabbed browsing; something that definitely sounds appealing to multi-tasking Internet users. And if you’re a Google fan, you will love the integrations of Google services (e.g. Gmail and Google Maps).

However, according to ZDNet’s Michael Krigsman, Android (Motorola’s Xoom, in his case) also has some weaknesses: the screen isn’t as sharp as an iPad’s and the browser gets buggy if you use an external keyboard via Bluetooth.

You really have to weigh your options here: overall, it just depends on your priorities and personal preferences. If you value video resolution and other Android benefits mentioned earlier, you should go for an Android. If apps are your priority, the iPad is your tablet!

Tablets are here to stay and are constantly developing; I bet Apple still has some tablet features up its sleeve, so there’s no need for them to worry about sales of the next iPad. What kind of tablet do you use and why? I would love to read it in the comments!