After yesterday’s “New iPad” event, where Apple announced the retina-screen packing iPad 3 (or “New iPad”), the question on everyone’s lips is how it will stack up against the increasingly competitive Android tablet market. The ASUS Transformer Prime is our current Android tablet of choice here at TechFruit, and with a new version of it coming in the next few months, I thought it would be a good time to compare the two options.
The iPad 3 has a 9.7″ 2048 x 1536px LED-backlit IPS “retina display”, whilst the Transformer Infinity is going to come with a 10.1″ 1920 x 1200px Super IPS+ display. Both of these will be bright and downright beautiful to look at, with the pixels indistinguishable – with Apple offering a higher PPI, but ASUS claiming a brighter backlight (the plus in IPS+) for easier use outdoors in the sunlight. Let’s call this one a draw.
CPU / GPU
The iPad 3 is sporting a custom chip in the A5X that was designed by Apple and manufactured by Samsung, but is in effect a dual-core (estimated 1GHz) CPU making use of the ARM v7 instruction set but also coming with a powerful quad-core GPU built into the system on a chip (SOAC). The Transformer Infinity will come with either the quad-core 1.6GHz nVidia Tegra 3 (on Wi-Fi models) which also uses ARM’s v7 instruction set and should compete quite well with the iPad on most tasks, or the 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm S4 Krait (on 3G/4G models) which is making use of the latest ARM v15 instruction set offering much better performance with lower clockspeeds. The iPad may have the edge on graphics intensive tasks, but for overall speed and efficiency, this one goes to ASUS – although both will be very snappy in the hand.
Both the iPad 3 and Transformer Infinity comes with 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB options, but with the ability to add an extra 32GB to any of these with a simple SD card, here is a very definite win for ASUS.
I still think that anyone taking photos with a tablet will look like a numpty and the smartphone in your pocket may well take just as good or better snaps anyway, but anyway – the iPad 3 has a 5MP camera, and the Transformer Infinity an 8MP shooter. Both offer 1080p video, and whilst the Tranformer has a flash unlike the iPad and a slightly higher mega-pixel count, Apple cameras tend to shoot better pics than those of ASUS. We’ll call this a draw, with Apple winning in good sunlight, and ASUS winning in the dark.
Both devices come packing the latest and greatest connectivity with Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, 3G and blazing fast 4G LTE options. Another draw then.
The iPad 3 is a little thicker and heavier thn its predecessor due to the bigger battery fitted inside to power its extra CPU and GPU power – keeping the battery life at an impressive 10 hours on Wi-Fi or 9 hours on 3G/4G. Quite how, then, ASUS has managed to keep its device so light and thin, and offer a similar 10 hours for the tablet, and an extra 6 hours on top when connected to its keyboard dock is pretty much magic. If you only want to use the devices as a tablet, then this would be a draw, but as you can use the Transformer as a netbook and gain battery life there – then chalk this one up to ASUS
Android for tablets has come a very long way since the early tablets with Gingerbread, and Ice Cream Sandwich is a pleasure to use and with unbeatable customisation options. iOS has always been a dream to use on tablets and smartphones alike, and is utterly intuitive so that anyone can just pick up an iPad and use it. Everyone wants something different from their tablet, so I’m going to call the OS a draw.
iOS does, however, have notably better apps than those available to Android users. The most common apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Angry Birds, etc are much the same – but only the Apple device has such high end image, video, and music editing apps from specialist companies. A definite win to Apple here.
The original iPad was the first tablet to show people how they could benefit from such a device – it was beautiful then and it is beautiful now. Very little has changed in the last couple of years with its design, a big glossy screen and a metal back and it is still a delight to look at and hold.
You have to look at the ASUS Transformer in two parts – the tablet and the netbook. As a tablet, the ASUS is similar to the iPad in being mostly a big screen and then a metal plated back. It is slightly thinner and lighter than the iPad, but the classic design of the Apple device still probably just pips it as a tablet. But the ASUS can transform with its keyboard dock into a very swish looking high-end netbook or ultrabook – it is a complete two devices for the price of one and no 3rd party Apple case can match that. The versatility of the Transformer gives it the win.
Which to buy?
So the age old question of which to buy? Well neither is actually out yet, with the iPad 3 arriving in a week’s time (but taking pre-orders now) and the Transformer Infinity expected around April or May – but it comes down to the question of what you’re after. If you would like to be able to use your tablet as a mini laptop for productivity then the Transformer is the only device for you. If, however, you are just after a tablet then the question is a little harder – the Transformer beats out the iPad on spec, but the iPad has the better apps and a more intuitive OS (although this is pretty close). The iPad seamlessly interlinks with other Android gear you may have and its open license means interoperability is available for most other connected devices, whilst Apple only really integrates well with its own products or those it has directly licensed – but its integration is smoother and easier.
It’s a touch call.
If you’re in the market for a new tablet right now, why not take a look at our 2012 Best Tablet Guide?