I’ve purchased the white, 32 GB, version of the Nexus 9 tablet, which will become my daily driver, replacing the Galaxy Note 8. The Nexus 9 will also replace the 2012 Nexus 7 that I have mainly to test updates to Android. I will be writing of my experience incorporating the Nexus 9 into my work flow.
The main reason why I bought the Nexus 9 is that my other tablets are approaching two years old or older and are getting long in the tooth in terms of processing power. I have also made the decision that going forward all of my devices will have at least 32 GB of storage after encountering problems upgrading to iOS 8 on my 16 GB iPad 3.
I waited until Apple’s iPad announcement before making a final decision on which tablet I was going to buy this year. So why did I choose the Nexus 9 over an iPad?
During this fall’s iPad announcement I decided to not buy the iPad Air 2 for two reasons: price and functionality. Apple is only selling 16 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB models of the iPad Air 2, and having determined 16 GB is too little storage, that pushes me to the 64 GB model that costs $599, which is more than I want to spend on a tablet that does not have LTE. I also decided that while the iPad Air 2 will run much faster than my iPad 3, it doesn’t really have any features that I consider “must-have.”
Of course, if price is my main hang up, there are lower price iPad options. I could buy last year’s 32 GB iPad Air for $449 or I could buy the 64 GB iPad Mini 3 for $499. While the iPad Air is a perfectly good device, at this point why would I spend nearly $500 for a device that is not the latest model? Frankly, it seems to me that the Nexus 9 is positioned to compete with the iPad Mini rather than the iPad Air, so I went through the mental exercise of comparing the two.
I decided on the Nexus 9 over the iPad Mini 3 for three reasons: screen size, ecosystem, and long-term viability.
Whichever tablet I picked is replacing the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 as my daily driver tablet. Having used the 8-inch screen on the Note 8 for some time, I have decided that I prefer a larger tablet screen. The iPad Mini’s screen is practically the same size as the Note 8, so it would provide no improvement on that front. I felt that the 8.9-inch screen that the Nexus 9 has could be hitting the sweet spot between the iPad Air and Nexus 7 and in just the brief time I have used the Nexus 9 I find this to be the case.
I know many will raise their eyebrows over the idea of one picking the Android ecosystem over iOS, but for me as someone who has been using Android tablets for several years, I’ve grown accustomed to the apps and functionality that Android provides. I prefer Android over iOS, even if it may not be the best tablet UI. My hope is that Lollipop makes Android a better tablet UI than previous generations of Android.
Finally, I have doubts about the long-term viability of the iPad Mini, and I think there is a good chance that the Mini 3 is the last in its line. I was shocked when Apple first announced the Mini because in my opinion Apple built it in response to the Nexus 7 and other 7-inch tablets. Steve Jobs basically said Apple would never make a 7-inch tablet, and I believe if he were still alive that would be the case. Under Steve Jobs Apple never responded to their competitors.
Now that Apple is selling the iPhone 6 Plus, I am skeptical whether people will continue to buy the iPad Mini. If one wants a smaller screen iOS device, the 6-inch iPhone 6 plus seems to be the way to go and eliminates the need to buy two devices. If you want a device with a screen larger than 6-inches, why would you pick the Mini over the Air? I think the iPad Mini is basically the equivalent of the iPod Mini, a product category that has a short term need but is eventually replaced by other Apple products.
By the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple released a 6 inch iPod Touch that replaces the current models and fills a price point need for a lower price iOS device.
So, now you see the reasons why I picked the Nexus 9 over the iPad Air and iPad Mini. I honestly did not even consider other Android tablets, particularly Samsung’s, because I still think there is value in owning a “Google” device, and I don’t expect the Play Edition versions of other vendor phones to be around much longer. In just the little time that I have had with the Nexus 9 and I can already say that I am very happy with the purchase.