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Apple iPad Air vs Nexus 10 vs Microsoft Surface 2 specs comparison

Apple iPad Air vs Nexus 10 vs Microsoft Surface 2 specs comparison
The fifth-generation Apple iPad is here and it is the first time Apple’s 9.7-inch tablet has gotten a huge redesign going more compact and modern to deserve a brand new name - the iPad Air. The big change have come to the outside, but there’s a lot improved under the hood as well, so let’s take a look.

Apple has traditionally held the upper hand in tablet graphics and the iPad Air ups the ante in both CPU and GPU power with the Apple A7 chip. That looks to be the same chip Apple is using in the iPhone 5s, a somewhat strange decision since we’ve been accustomed to getting an Ax version of Apple’s chips with more graphical oomph in iPads. Not this time probably.

In terms of the performance gain, Apple put it simple and clear: the new iPad Air has up to 8x faster CPU performance and 72x faster graphics performance in comparison to the original. The company is usually pretty spot on with those numbers, so we have no reason to distrust them.

The new iPad Air is also 2x faster opening files and supports Wi-Fi n (not the latest 802.11ac Apple bragged about including in the new Macbook Pros).

Most importantly, at all this Apple manages to keep the 10-hour battery life. However how will this all stack up against the big competitors, the Google Nexus 10 and the Microsoft Surface 2? Take a look at the spec comparison right below.

Apple iPad Air vs Google Nexus 10 vs Microsoft Surface 2

OSiOS (10.x, 9.x, 8.x, 7.x)Android (5.1, 5.0, 4.4.4, 4.4.2, 4.4, 4.3, 4.2.2, 4.2.1, 4.2)Windows (RT 8.1)
Dimensions9.45 x 6.67 x 0.30 inches (240 x 169.5 x 7.5 mm)10.39 x 6.99 x 0.35 inches (263.9 x 177.6 x 8.9 mm)10.81 x 6.79 x 0.35 inches (275 x 172 x 9 mm)
Weight16.86 oz (478 g)
the average is 16.9 oz (482 g)
21.27 oz (603 g)
the average is 16.9 oz (482 g)
23.84 oz (676 g)
the average is 16.9 oz (482 g)
MaterialsMain body: Aluminum  
Physical size9.7 inches10.1 inches10.6 inches
Resolution2048 x 1536 pixels2560 x 1600 pixels1920 x 1080 pixels
Pixel density

Pixel density - The pixel density of a display represents the number of pixels over an area of one inch. It’s measured in “pixels per inch”, or ppi. The higher the number, the more detailed and good-looking the display is.

264 ppi300 ppi208 ppi

Technology - There are two main screen technologies currently used in phones and tablets: LCD and AMOLED. The former usually features a light source and liquid crystals, while the latter is based on organic light-emitting diodes. Newer LCD variations like IPS-LCD and Super-LCD allow for very accurate color reproduction and very wide viewing angles, where no significant image quality loss is observed. Current AMOLED screens differ in such a way that they can exhibit much more saturated colors (sometimes too much) and incredibly high contrast levels, which is due to black color being completely black in AMOLED displays.

Screen-to-body ratio

Screen-to-body ratio - Shows what part of the frontal area of a phone its screen occupies.

71.65 %62.50 %65.41 %
Colors16 777 21616 777 216 
Camera5 megapixels5 megapixels5 megapixels
Flash LED 
Aperture size

Aperture size - The aperture of a camera is the opening through which light travels before it reaches the camera sensor. The smaller the number is, the bigger this opening is, allowing for more light to pass.

Focal length (35mm equivalent)33 mm  
Hardware FeaturesAutofocus, Back-illuminated sensor (BSI)AutofocusAutofocus
Software FeaturesDigital image stabilization, Touch to focus, Face detection, Self-timer, Digital zoom, Geo taggingDigital zoom, Geo tagging 
Camcorder1920x1080 (1080p HD) (30 fps)1920x1080 (1080p HD) (30 fps)1920x1080 (1080p HD)
Recording formatH.264, MOV  
FeaturesTime-lapse video, Digital image stabilization, Video calling  
Front-facing camera1.2 megapixels1.9 megapixels3.5 megapixels
Video capture1280x720 (720p HD) (30 fps)  
System chip

System chip - Most modern handsets use an advanced chip that includes many of the device’s hardware modules like the processor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and sometimes even the wireless radio. This field shows what particular system chip (or System-on-a-Chip) is used in the phone.

Apple A7Samsung Exynos 5NVIDIA Tegra 4 (T40)

Processor - The processor is the main computing component of a phone and is a major factor when it comes to the overall speed of the device. Some more powerful smartphones use dual-core and quad-core processors designed to deliver greater performance.

Dual-core, 1400 MHz, Cyclone, 64-bitDual-core, 1700 MHz, ARM Cortex-A15Quad-core, 1700 MHz, ARM Cortex-A15
Graphics processor

Graphics processor - The graphics processor is important for the smooth operation of the system and especially in games and other applications that may involve complex graphics and animations.

PowerVR G6430ARM Mali-T604Yes
System memory

System memory - System memory, or RAM memory is the type of memory that the device uses to temporarily store data from the OS or currently-running apps. The more RAM available to the device, the better the performance will be when multiple or heavier programs are running.

1 GB RAM / LPDDR32 GB RAM (Dual-channel)2 GB RAM (Dual-channel) / LPDDR3
Built-in storage

Built-in storage - Bigger storage capacity allows you to keep more content saved onto your device, such as more applications, photos or video. Games and video content typically take up the biggest amount of storage space.

128 GB32 GB32 GB
Storage expansion

Storage expansion - Some handsets allow you to expand their storage capacity by using a memory expansion card – most often microSD. Expansion memory is mostly suitable for media storage, such as photo, video or music content.

  microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC

Capacity - The bigger, the better! However, battery capacity is not the only factor that has an effect on battery life. Those include the chipset in use, the software running on the device, as well as the consumer's unique usage pattern.

8820 mAh9000 mAh 
Stand-by time 20.8 days (500 hours)
the average is 25 days (600 h)
15.0 days (360 hours)
the average is 25 days (600 h)
Music playback 90.00 hours 
Video playback 9.00 hours10.00 hours
Screen mirroringTV-outDLNA, TV-outTV-out

CDMA - Code Division Multiple Access. A technique of multiplexing, also called spread spectrum, in which analog signals are converted into digital form for transmission. For each communication channel, the signals are encoded in a sequence known to the transmitter and the receiver for that channel. The foremost application is digital cellular phone technology from QUALCOMM that operates in the 800MHz band and 1.9GHz PCS band. CDMA phones are noted for their excellent call quality and long battery life.

800, 1900 MHz  
GSM850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz  
UMTS850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz  
LTE (FDD)Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26  
Shopping information
MSRP price$ 929$ 499$ 449

  • Options

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:11 11

1. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

iPad Air > Surface 2 > Nexus 10.

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:15 4

2. loyals (Posts: 129; Member since: 10 Nov 2012)

apple did doom the nokia tablets...

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:19 1

4. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

2520 isn't anything special. It's basically DOA.

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:24

8. buccob (Posts: 2714; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)

hey Papa what do you think about Tablet Z? It should be next to those... (though kind of small battery)

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:27 3

10. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

Tablet Z shouldn't isn't worth mentioning anymore. iPad Air puts it to shame completely.

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 20:52 2

19. PBXtech (Posts: 1032; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)

Disagree. Z is still an outstanding tablet if you want Android. Thin, super light weight, smooth, and great build quality makes this a great tablet to get.

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:15 1

3. harvardale (Posts: 48; Member since: 22 Jul 2011)

True. But an unfair comparison as the new Nexus 10 will be announced next week.

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:19 3

5. squallz506 (banned) (Posts: 1075; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)

The new nexus 10 will be the best tablet once released. But, At least the iPad air will be best for 10 days, good job apple.

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:20 1

6. Santi_Santi (unregistered)

why is the Nexus 10 on that comparison?

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 16:21

17. 1113douglas (Posts: 198; Member since: 04 Jul 2013)

its to good for it

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:23

7. buccob (Posts: 2714; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)

Why isn't this compared to Sony Tablet Z which is thinner... and a bit better specs...

PA just want to make the iPad look better in comparisson..

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:28 4

11. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

Google's flagship vs. Microsoft's flagship vs. Apple's flagship.

There you go.

posted on 23 Oct 2013, 01:06

21. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)

Tablet Z has worst specs than the Nexus 10.....people these days.

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:25

9. loyals (Posts: 129; Member since: 10 Nov 2012)

nexus 10 was a big flop. Apps n game quality is no where near ipad. nexus 10 is absolute waste of money , if u wanted to use it for apps n stuff . no app is decent. all upscaled ones.

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:29 6

12. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

I can tell you never used a Nexus 10 before.

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:43 1

15. Santi_Santi (unregistered)

+1 for you, there

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:33

13. erikiksaz (Posts: 170; Member since: 22 Apr 2010)

Plus the nexus 10 has been selling for mid 300s new for months now.

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 14:38 2

14. ady_lad (Posts: 82; Member since: 17 Jul 2013)

So wait, you are comparing a 1 year old tablet (Nexus 10) with a brand new one, and another one that is yet to be launched? And by the way...why not the full Windows 8 Surface since most of the people do this comparisson when buying a tablet? Sure...this is a fair comparisson PA.

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 15:06 2

16. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)

They should have waited for the new Nexus 10 to be released (which should be any day now), but they were right to use the Surface 2 and not the Surface Pro. The Surface Pro is a full laptop replacement with Intel's Haswell processor and 4+ GB of RAM, and full Windows 8.1. Plus it's $1000 for the base model, which is MUCH higher than these tablets. The Surface 2 is closer in price and OS practicality.

posted on 22 Oct 2013, 16:21

18. 1113douglas (Posts: 198; Member since: 04 Jul 2013)

IS EVERYONE FORGETTING ABOUT THE NOTE 10.1! Best tablet on the market by longshot!

posted on 23 Oct 2013, 01:05

20. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)

The Nexus 10 was so ahead of its time that its crazy. Best tablet I have used by far and I would still put it ahead based on the PPI.

posted on 23 Oct 2013, 05:04

22. kimnurseboi (Posts: 2; Member since: 14 Sep 2013)

Nokia 2520 is much sexier and much more innovative! ....

posted on 23 Oct 2013, 09:44

23. junkerbunk (Posts: 2; Member since: 23 Oct 2013)

HOW IS THE AIR BETTER THAN THE NEXUS 10??? Sure, the Air is 5 ounces lighter. I am not complaining about 5 ounces of extra weight when I have 330PPI display, 1.7GHZ Processor, and 20 Hours of up time with a ONE YEAR OLD DEVICE! While the NEW Air only has 264PPI, 1.3 GHZ processor, and only 10 hours of battery life? I can deal with 5 ounces to have a much faster processor, twice as long battery life, and much more rich/higher quality display. Especially when my tablet is one year old and this is Apple's latest and greatest. This just shows you how people are so easily succeptible to marketing that these basic facts are overlooked.

posted on 24 Oct 2013, 22:11

24. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)

First, the Nexus 10 has a 300 ppi display, not 330 ppi. Second, despite being clocked 400 MHz lower, the A7 in the iPad Air MAJORLY outclasses the Exynos 5250, in both CPU and GPU power. The A7 even beats the Exynos 5420, Samsung's current flagship SoC, and it has 2 more A15 cores than the 5250 at a higher clock speed (1.8 GHz). It's not always about cores and clock speeds, it's about architecture, and the dual Cyclone cores + PowerVR G6430 GPU in the A7 either beats or matches everything on the market right now, whether it be quad core 1.8 GHz Cortex A15 or quad core 2.3 GHz Krait 400.

Here's a link to benchmarks of the iPhone 5S, which has the same 1.3 Ghz A7;


And here's a link to the Nexus 10 benchmarks;


If you don't want to look through them, here's a simple run down;

Mozilla Kraken benchmark in ms, the lower the better;
iPhone 5S - 5,904.9 ms
Nexus 10 - 11,146 ms

Google Octane v1, the higher the better;
iPhone 5S - 5,500
Nexus 10 - 2,748

The iPhone 5S and the new iPads have essentially twice the CPU performance of the Nexus 10. In GPU, it's the same story.

"This just shows you how people are so easily susceptible* to marketing that these basic facts are overlooked."

By only looking at the basic facts, you made some very bold statements that were entirely false. This just shows you how manufacturers gain people's bias by just playing the numbers game with cores and clock speeds, and you're a perfect example.

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 07:40

25. junkerbunk (Posts: 2; Member since: 23 Oct 2013)

Wow great post Berzerk000. I see there is much more to consider beyond the stated specs to determine performance. Thanks for the revealing post. I learned something today.

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