Apple pretty much created the tablet market in 2010 when it launched its first iPad and since then it's been pretty much universally acknowledged as owning the top end of the market, with every iPad since easily outselling its Android competition.
However, this changed in 2012 when Amazon and Google undercut the iPad, creating their respective ultra-affordable and smaller Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 models. The cheaper tablets proved a hit with buyers and racked up masses of sales, leading Apple to rethink its tablet strategy and launch its own, cheaper iPad Mini.
Things heated up even more when Microsoft finally decided to get involved, announcing its Surface Pro Windows 8 tablet, and then when Google launched its first premier Android tablet, the Nexus 10. Apple responded by releasing a host of semi-upgraded versions of its latest iPad, making 2013's battle for tablet sales one of the most interesting so far. However with interest in Microsoft's Windows 8 OS dwindling and Google's flagship Nexus 10 beginning to show its age, we couldn't resist the chance to check whether Apple really needs to be concerned about its new-found competition.
Design and Build
Apple devices have long been renowned for their high-end design and finish, so any tablet maker attempting to take on the iPad 4 is going to have a tough time competing with the Californian firm's high standards. However, it's apparent that both Microsoft and Samsung have gone to great lengths to ensure that the appearance of their respective devices can compete with the iPad.
Comparing looks alone, it's evident that each tablet has its very own unique style, with each appearing different, despite boasting very similar screen sizes.
The Nexus 10 has rounded corners and a slightly curved back that makes it look similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. However, unlike the Note 10.1, the Nexus doesn't feature a metal trim. Instead the Nexus 10's chassis is entirely made of polycarbonate, which doesn't feel as nice to hold as either the Surface Pro or iPad 4, which are predominantly made of a metal construction.
Saying that, the Nexus 10 still feels solid and well built despite its plastic casing, it's just not in the same league in terms of finish quality as the Surface Pro or the iPad 4.
Microsoft has produced a device that not only has a stylish edge with its "dark titanium" brushed metal chassis, but also feels very strong with robust build quality. The Surface also has something the iPad and the Nexus don't, a kickstand, so that you can use it at a desk with a keyboard, without the need to buy an additional stand.
However, the iPad's satin effect anodised aluminium casing not only feels strong but looks and feels elegant and it isn't until you hold each of the three tablets side-by-side that it becomes clear that its competitors just aren't in the same league as Apple in terms of both build quality and design.