Google has been making massive strides into the tablet market since it released the first Nexus 7 in 2012. Offering top-end performance traditionally seen on £500-plus tablets but costing a low £199, the Nexus 7 proved a hit with customers and encouraged Google to release a larger Samsung-built Nexus 10 tablet months later.
Google's Nexus 10 proved equally successful with buyers. It's commonly believed to have been the cause of a dent in 2012 sales of Apple iPads. So Apple has come out swinging in 2013, releasing the iPad Air, one of its most innovative tablets to date.
Design and build
For the past few years Apple has chosen to not radically change the design of its iPad. This meant that when it was first released, the Nexus 10 was a breath of fresh air design-wise. This was because the slightly curved, entirely black 10in tablet was intentionally made to look as different as possible to the glossy white or black and metal iPad.
Looking to update a design that was becoming slightly stale, Apple went back to the drawing board with the iPad Air, designing it from the ground up to be as "light and alluring" as its Air series of laptops. This means that, despite packing a similarly sized display to the Nexus 10, the iPad Air is smaller, lighter and thinner, measuring in at 240x170x7.5mm and weighing a modest 469g. The measurements make the 264x177x8.9mm and 603g Nexus feel a little tubby. Although the Nexus 10 is still comfortable to hold, and still feels like a top end device.
We also found that the Nexus 10's slightly rubberised chassis is slightly more scratch and mark resistant than the iPad Air's metal backplate, which has a tendency to pick up scratches and is a magnet for fingerprints. But overall the Air's thin and light design has to take the round.
Winner: The iPad Air
Next: Display, operating system and software