You may have thought that the Nokia brand was no more because of Microsoft’s decision to use its own brand on all new smartphones. But Nokia lives on as a separate company, and has unveiled the N1 tablet which runs Android rather than Windows 8. Here we compare the Nokia N1 with the iPad mini 3 as both have the same 7.9in screen.
This comparison is based on what we know of the Nokia N1 from Nokia, and our first-hand experience of the iPad mini 3.
The N1 is expected to go on sale at $249 plus tax, first in China next February, with Europe to follow. There’s no official UK price, but we expect it will be at least £199 including VAT. Storage is fixed at 32GB (there’s no microSD slot).
The iPad mini 3 is already on sale, of course, starting from $276 for the 32GB version. Prices range right up to $299 for the 128GB Wi-Fi plus cellular model.
Buy iPad Mini 3 from China
It’s interesting that Nokia’s website for the N1 looks very Apple-esque as well as the fact that the N1 itself has curved edges which look a lot like the iPhone 6’s. Viewed from the bottom, as in the photo above, it looks like an iPad at first glance thanks to the symmetrical speaker grilles and reversible USB connector (officially called USB Type C).
Those aren’t bad things by any means: the N1 tablet looks great, and it’s thinner than the iPad at 6.9mm. It weighs a little less than the iPad mini 3 at 318g. The Wi-Fi-only iPad mini 3 weighs 331g, and it’s roughly 10g extra for the cellular version.
Because it has a 4:3 screen, which we’ll come to in a moment, the N1’s dimensions are also similar to the iPad mini 3:
- Nokia N1: 200.7 x 138.6 x 6.9mm, 318g
- iPad mini 3: 200 x 134.7 x 7.5mm, 331g (341g Wi-Fi + cellular)
The two tablets look similar when viewed from the front, too, with thin side bezels and a centrally mounted webcam at the top. Even their power buttons, volume buttons and headphone sockets are in the same place. The main difference is the lack of a physical Home button on the N1, since it relies on Android’s trio of on-screen buttons.
Both tablets employ an aluminium ‘unibody’ into which the screen is stuck, so there are no seams or other joins. If build quality is the same as the iPad, the N1 will feel solid in the hand. Note that Nokia is operating like Google on the hardware front: it’s working with a partner to build the N1 – it won’t manufacture the devices itself.
The iPad mini is available in silver, space grey and gold, with only the space grey version having a black screen bezel.
The Nokia N1 will come in natural aluminium or lava grey, which correspond almost exactly to Apple’s first two offerings. The screen bezel will be black on both models.
The similarities don’t end there. The N1’s resolution might sound familiar: 2048×1536 is the same as the iPad mini 3, and because they’re the same size, their pixel densities are also the same at 326ppi.
The N1 benefits from a fully laminated IPS panel (like the iPad Air 2) while the iPad mini 3 has an air gap between the glass and the actual LCD panel.
In theory, the N1 should have a better screen than the iPad mini 3 because of this, but until we can test them side by side, we won’t know for sure.
PROCESSOR AND HARDWARE
The iPad mini 3 is really an iPad mini 2 with Touch ID, so the internal hardware comprises the Apple A7 processor (and M7 co-processor) and 1GB of DDR3 RAM. It’s a dual-core processor running at 1.3GHz.
The Nokia N1 has a quad-core 64-bit processor – an Intel Atom Z3580 – running at 2.3GHz, and 2GB of DDR3 RAM.
Graphics-wise, the N1 has a PowerVR G6430 GPU, and the iPad mini 3 has exactly the same chip.
Elsewhere, the iPad has 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4. The N1 – surprise, surprise – has the same configuration.
The Wi-Fi-only iPad mini 3 has no GPS, and neither does the Nokia N1. There’s currently no cellular option with the N1, but if you buy an iPad mini 3 with LTE, you’ll also get a GPS receiver.
The iPad has a three-axis gyroscope plus accelerometer, while the N1 has a six-axis gyro and an accelerometer.
For those interested in cameras, both tablets are capable of shooting 1080p video, but the iPad mini has fewer megapixels: 5Mp vs 8Mp on the N1. Can you tell which is which above? (Clue: only the iPad has a mute/rotation switch). Of course, we’ll have to wait until we’ve tested the Nokia N1 to find out how its photo and video quality compares to the iPad.
Around the front, the N1 wins on paper by sporting a 5Mp selfie camera, while the iPad has a 1.2Mp FaceTime camera which can shoot only 720p footage compared to the Nokia’s 1080p.
The N1 is fitted with an 18.5Wh battery (5300mAh) which is considerably less capacity than the iPad’s which is rated at 24.3Wh or 6470mAh.
Which will last longer between charges? We’ll have to wait and see what our tests reveal, because although the N1 has a faster (on paper) processor, the Atom processor should be pretty efficient, and we already know that Android Lollipop is more efficient than KitKat.
The iPad mini lasts for roughly 10 hours of web browsing, or 9 hours of watching video.
Which is better, iOS 8 or Android Lollipop? That’s a huge debate, but it’s mostly down to personal preference. Objectively, both are great mobile operating systems and each has its advantages.
The good news for Android fans is that it looks like Nokia is leaving the interface untouched apart from its new Z Launcher. This is a clever system which lets you trace a couple of letters with your finger on the screen to search for apps.
You can do something similar on the iPad by dragging down in the middle of the screen to bring up the Spotlight bar, but Z Launcher goes further.
It learns which apps you like to use at particular times of the day, so will automatically display the ones it thinks you want, so you might not even need to search. If you always check the weather, your email and the train times first thing in the morning, you’ll see those apps when you turn on the N1. You can already download the Z Launcher for an Android smartphone for free from the Play Store. We’ll be trying it out over the next week or two to see just how effective this is.
Nokia says that the N1 will come with an exclusive version of the Z Launcher.
If the N1 does come to the UK for less than £200, it should be a very tempting deal. It’s eerily similar to the iPad in terms of design and specifications, but has a smaller-capacity battery and potentially faster CPU.
The iPad is a bit thicker and heavier, but not noticeably so. It has a fingerprint scanner which the N1 lacks, but its cameras are both lower resolution.
Possibly the most important difference is price: the iPad costs a chunk more than the N1, yet has half the storage.
We’ll have a definitive verdict for you when we’ve tested the N1. As it isn’t going to land in the UK for a good 3-4 months, anyone wanting to buy an 8in tablet right now would do well to avoid the iPad mini 3 and opt for the cheaper iPad mini 2. See our iPad mini 3 vs mini 2 comparison review.