Apple reinvented tablets with their iPad a while ago and ever since the iPad has been the most popular slate in stores.
2012 is the year of the iPad 3, but Android tablet manufacturers are trying harder than ever to undermine its authority. The Asus Transformer Infinity TF700 is these days perhaps the best Android slate on the market and in this post we’ll put it side by side with the latest Apple iPad 3, just to see which one is better and why.
Of course, comparing two very different devices ain’t easy and one might actually argue that there are so many things setting the two apart that we shouldn’t even compare them. But for the potential tablet buyer looking for the best device out there, budget aside, the comparison between the Asus Infinity (read the full review for that one here) and the new iPad is just imminent.
First, let’s see how the two face each other in terms of simply the specs sheet.
|Asus Transformer Pad Infinity||Apple iPad 3 2012
|Screen||10.1 inch, 1920 x 1200 px, 16:10, IPS+, with Gorilla Glass||9.7 inch, 2048 x 1536 px, 4:3, IPS. no Gorilla Glass|
|Hardware||Nvidia Tegra 3 T33 1.7 GHz quad-core CPU, 12-Core GPU||Apple A5X dual-core CPU, 4-Core GPU|
|Memory||1 GB RAM||1 GB RAM|
||Wireless N, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G/4G-LTE (some versions)||Wireless N, Bluetooth, 3G/4G-LTE (some versions)|
|Sensors||accelerometer, compass, gyroscop, light sensor||accelerometer, compass, gyroscop, light sensor|
|Ports||micro-HDMI, proprietary docking port, microSD card reader, 3.5 mm jack||proprietary docking port, 3.5 mm jack|
|Cameras||8 MPx back camera with Flash, 2 MPx front camera||5 MPx back camera without Flash, VGA front camera|
|Battery||25 Wh||42.5 Wh|
|OS||Android 4.0 IceCream Sandwich||Apple iOS 5.1|
|Size||263 × 180.8 × 8.5 mm (10.35 x 7.12 x 0.33 inches)||241 × 186 × 9.4 mm (9.5 x 7.3 x 0.37 inches)|
|Weight||586 g (1.3 pounds)||652 g (1.44 pounds)|
|Others||Asus SonicMaster speaker; available in two colors; optional docking station with keyboard, USB, SD card||available with a white or black bezel|
The video comparison will take you through most of the important aspects of these two tablets and allow you to see them in action side by side, but you should read the rest of the post for some extra details that were not included in the clip.
Exterior and design
From starters, you’ll notice that the two tablets are conceptually different. While the iPad is built around a 4:3 aspect ration display, the Asus is wider and shorter, as it features a 16:10 aspect ratio screen. This makes the iPad more comfortable to use in Portrait mode, while the Asus is a Landscape designed slate.
Besides this, the two tablets are both solid built, with aluminum, glass and a bit of plastic across their bodies. For the iPad you get the classic silver aluminum unibody with the plastic Apple logo, while the Asus comes with an aluminum back available in Amethyst Gray or Champagne Gold, with a plastic strap on top that covers the WiFi and GPS antennas.
The iPad is slightly thicker and heavier than the Asus, but you’ll hardly feel the difference during daily use. Still, the Asus Infinity is the sleeker tablets of the two.
The front face is completely covered in glass in both cases, and while the Asus is only available with a black bezel, the iPad also offers a white version.
Ports and connectivity options
Both tablets offer proprietary charging connectors and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The Asus also brings a microSD and a microHDMI port. On the iPad, you can get access to various other ports, including HDMI, USB or an SD card reader via some external adapters that you’ll connect to the 30 pin slot. But you’ll only be able to use one adapter at a time and you’ll have to buy them separately (and they are not cheap).
For the Asus Transformer Infinity TF700 you can also buy the matching docking station, that offers an USB port, a SD card-reader, a keyboard/trackpad and an extra battery. All these for about $150.
As for connectivity options and sensors, both tablets offers all the things you’ll need, with Wireless, Bluetooth, gyroscope, accelerometer, G-sensor, compass and light-sensor. The two antennas inside the Asus tablet are however capable of better dealing with “difficult” WiFi networks (50+ feet away from the router, with 5+ walls between the devices), while the tablets are pretty much on par when in close proximity to the WiFi router.
There’s one thing you’ll get on the Asus Infinity TF700 and not on the iPad and that’s GPS. The latter only offers GPS-like positioning via cellular networks, but only on their 4G/LTE versions. Speaking of that, the Asus Infinity will be available with 4G/LTE as well later this year.
The new iPad offers a 4:3 9.7 inch Retina Display, with 2048 x 1536 px resolution. That’s in fact 4 times better than what we had on the previous iPad 2. The screen also offers good brightness, contrast and excellent color reproduction, covering a wide color gamut, as tests have proven.
The Asus Infinity features a 10.1 inch 16:10 display with 1920 x 1200 px resolution on an IPS+ panel. That makes the screen slightly brighter than the one on the iPad, while keeping contrast and colors excellent. Now, i don’t have the proper tools to actually measure those, so we’ll have to wait for more conclusive tests.
All in all, both these screens are very very good and I’m confident that all tablets will offer Higher Resolution displays in the near future. Yes, it will take time for the apps to actually catch on with the resolution (and that’s a big issue right now for the Android camp), but once this happens, there would be no reason not to go for one of these displays. Except for the higher price, of course.
The screen on the Asus is protected by Gorilla Glass, while the screen on the iPad is only covered by a layer of hardened glass. In real life, both should be as prone-less to scratches though. Also, both tablets are usable outside, in direct light, with a small plus towards the display on the Asus Infinity, which is slightly brighter and less reflective.
Hardware and performances
While both tablets are very powerful, they are also very different in terms of internals and hardware platforms.
The Asus is built on a more modern Nvidia Tegra 3 T33 platform, with a quad-core processor. The iPad 3 is built on an older and less energy efficient Apple A5X architecture, with a dual-core processor.
Apple claim that their approach is faster and that might actually be the case in some of the benchmarks we ran. But those results are not really conclusive, what matters a lot more is how the two perform during everyday average use.
And here’s where Android and iOS get into the picture.
Everyday experience – iOS 5.1 vs Android 4.0
My iPad 3 is running iOS 5.1 while the tested Asus Transformer Pad Infinity runs Android 4.0.3, but since the unit I got to test is a pre-release sample, it does not feature final software. Hence, I encountered hiccups when using it daily, sluggishness and delays when trying to open certain apps and occasionally the apps were just consistently crashing and you had to restart the tablet to make them work.
This of course does not happen on the iPad, as iOS is simpler and built to be snappy and smooth, reacting to the user’s input as fast as possible. Yes, apps do crash on the iPad as well, from time to time, but while that’s a fact for Android, it’s only an occasional singularity for iOS.
That doesn’t mean Android does not have plenty of strong points. I love the notification system, the bundled Google and Asus apps, the widgets and customizable home-screens, the multitasking. But in the end, it all comes to the everyday experience, and I do feel it’s just more consistent on the iPad.
I consider the Asus Infinity a slightly better multimedia option, mostly because of the wider display and the ease of adding and playing video content on it (can play even 1080p .mkvs). The iPad will get better third party streaming apps and more games, although for the Asus you still have the titles in Nvidia’a TegraZzone. One thing though: while for the iPad you can find a bunch of retina optimized titles, that’s not really the case for the Asus. At least not right now.
And then there are the third party apps and the Markets. On Google’s Play Store, it’s impossible to tell for sure which app will look good on the bigger screen tablets, unless you install it. On Apple’s App store, apps are just divided in “made for iPad or for iPhone”, so there’s less confusion. Plus, on iOS you get way more useful app and games that actually look excellent on the 9.7 inch screen and quite a bunch of them are optimized for the Retina Display as well. On Android, you’re not even getting basic good apps for an HD ready screen, not to mention for the Full HD display on the Asus Infinity.
There’s one more thing I should add. Both tablets will get warm on their underbelly when used for gaming or other intensive apps, especially when you’ll set the screen’s brightness towards higher levels. But that was expected, as both devices pack powerful hardware and energy hungry displays in such compact bodies.
Both tablets feature Front and Back cameras. The rear camera on the Asus Transformer Infinity comes with a slightly larger f2.2 aperture, an 8 MPx sensor and LED Flash, while the one on the new iPad only features a 5 Mpx sensor and f2.4 aperture. So on paper, the cameras on the Asus should be better.
In practice though… you should decide. Below you can find some similar shots taken with the Asus Transformer’s and the Apple iPad’s cameras.
First, here’s what you can get with the Asus.
And then, this is what you should expect from the new iPad.
– to be added later –
Both tablets can also shoot 1080p 30fps video.
There’s a significantly smaller battery on the Asus Transformer Infinity Pad than on the iPad 3. We get a 25 Wh one on the first and a 42.5 Wh battery on the later. That’s actually why the iPad is bulkier and heavier, as most of the interior is occupied by this huge battery.
The battery on the iPad actually takes longer to charge, about 5+ hours, than the one on the Asus, but that was to be expected, since it’s bigger.
Both manufacturers claim up to 10 hours of life for their tablets and in real life they are actually on par, at about 7-8 hours of daily use and close to 10 hours of 720p video playing, as long as you dim the screen towards minimum. And that’s because the Tegra 3 platform inside the Asus is built on a more recent micro-architecture and is more energy efficient than the Apple A5X platform inside the new iPad.
Prices and availability
For the last year or so, Android slates had the price on their side when competing with Apple’s iPads. That’s not the case here, as both the new iPad and the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 start at $499, although that’s for the 16 GB version of the iPad and the the 32 GB Infinity, both Wi-Fi only versions. Asus won’t offer a 16 GB Infinity as well and that’s too bad.
Both tablets are also offered with 64 GBs of internal storage as well, at $599 for the Asus and $699 for the iPad.
The LTE iPad 3 options start at $629, while the prices for the LTE Infinities haven’t been released yet.
In the end, these are the best tablets of the moment. The Asus Transformer Infinity TF700 is the top Android slate and the iPad 3 is, well, just the best iPad. So if money are not and issue, you should choose your next 10 inch(ish) slate between the two.
They each have their pros and cons and most of them have to deal with choosing iOS or Android ecosystems and environments. Cause hardware wise, the two are close, with a slight advantage towards the Asus Infinity, which is sleeker and more compact, plus features more ports and better cameras.
However, the everyday experience is more important than any of those. And iOS is just simpler, easier to understand and more consistent (reacts faster, encounters less error and hiccups) than Android, at least in my eyes. And then there are the apps.
Thus, for the average tablet user, I believe the iPad is overall the better pick. As for the more advanced and tech savvy users and those looking for anything else except an iPad, the Asus Transformer Infinity Pad TF700 is an excellent solution.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide. I’ve put the Apple iPad 3 and the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700 side by side and showed you their similarities and differences. Thus if you enjoyed this post, perhaps you could share it to your friends, that would be much appreciated. And if you have any questions, just post them below and I’ll answer as soon as possible.