Google Nexus 9 full review

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9: What's the best Android Lollipop tablet?

Nokia yesterday announced its N1 Android Lollipop tablet, but how does it compare to that other high-end Android Lollipop tablet, the Nexus 9? Here we compare the Nokia N1 and Nexus 9 spec for spec to see which offers the better deal on paper. 

Also see our Nexus 9 review.

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 comparison: Price and UK availability 

Google's Nexus 9 is available to buy now. Prices start at £319 for the 16GB model; it's also available in a 32GB version for £399 and a 32GB + 4G LTE model for £459. Also see: Best tablets and Best Android tablets 

Nokia's N1 is not yet available to buy in the UK. It will roll out in China in February, followed by Russia and EU markets. The Nokia N1 will command a $249 price; a straight conversion to Sterling is £158, but don't expect to get it quite so cheap in the UK. Our money is on £200- to £250. Also see: Tablets buying advice 

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9: What's the best Android Lollipop tablet?  

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 comparison: Design and build 

Nokia's N1 is a smaller tablet than the Nexus 9, with a 7.9in rather than 8.9in screen (both with a 4:3 aspect ratio) and slimmer bezels. The Nexus 9 is not surprisingly thicker (8mm versus the N1's 6.9mm, although the tapered edge makes it feel thinner than it is) and heavier (425g versus 318g). You could hold either tablet in a single hand, but the N1 is more suited to this. Also see: Tablet Advisor  

The Nokia N1 also looks better than the Nexus 9, at least in our opinion. The N1 features a unibody sandblasted aluminium chassis, with a zero air gap laminated display, while the Nexus 9 has brushed-metal sides but a soft plastic rear. While the Nexus 9 is available in black, white or sand, Nokia's N1 is either natural aluminium or lava grey. 

Both tablets are fitted with IPS panels, which offer sharp images, vibrant colours and good viewing angles. A 2048x1536 resolution is provided by each tablet; stretched across a smaller screen the Nokia has a higher pixel density of 324ppi against the Nexus 9's 287ppi. 

But while the Nokia may have the sharper screen, the Nexus' larger display is perhaps better suited to work. This is backed up by an optional (£110) Keyboard Folio case, which snaps to the Nexus 9 via magnets and lets you alter the typing position, turning this tablet into a makeshift laptop.  

Stereo speakers are built into each tablet, although the Nexus 9's are better. Made by HTC, the Nexus 9 offers BoomSound front-facing speakers for immersive, distortion-free sound. Meanwhile, the Nokia N1's twin 0.5W speakers are visible on the bottom edge of the device.

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9: What's the best Android Lollipop tablet?  

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 comparison: Hardware and performance 

Both these tablets feature 2.3GHz 64-bit quad-core chips and 2GB of RAM, but the Tegra K1 found in the Nexus 9 outclasses the Nokia N1's Intel Atom Z3580. With nVidia's graphics history, it should also be a better tablet for games than the Nokia, with its 533MHz PowerVR G6430 chip. 

Of course, that's just our guess. Until we've got the Nokia N1 into our lab we can't properly assess its performance. 

In our tests the Nexus 9 scored 1904- and 3352 points in Geekbench 3 single-core and multicore respectively, 22- and 48fps in GFXBench 3.0's Manhattan and T-Rex tests, and 955ms in SunSpider. 

Runtime from the 6700mAh battery was very good - we played a video on loop at 50 percent brightness for just over 11 hours. The Nexus 9 then took around four hours to recharge. 

Nokia claims the N1 will last 9 hours, which isn't surprising given its smaller-capacity 5300mAh battery. 

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 comparison: Storage 

Whereas the Nexus 9 comes in 16- and 32GB storage options, the Nokia N1 comes with 32GB as standard, making its lower price even more attractive. Neither tablet features a microSD slot for adding more, although you will be able to take advantage of Google Drive and third-party cloud-storage services.

 Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9: What's the best Android Lollipop tablet?

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 comparison: Connectivity 

The Nexus 9 is the clear winner in terms of connectivity. While both offer dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO and Bluetooth 4.0 (okay, 4.1 for the Nexus 9), the Nokia N1 can't match the Nexus' NFC and optional mobile connectivity. 

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 comparison: Cameras 

We're still not convinced that snapping photos on a tablet will ever truly take off, but if it does it will happen first with smaller tablets such as the N1. So it makes sense that the N1 has the better spec here. 

While both feature 8Mp rear cameras capable of 1080p video, the Nokia N1 bests the Nexus 9's 1.6Mp front camera with a 5Mp selfie camera. Just don't expect it to be a camera of PureView quality, now that Microsoft has bought Nokia's mobile phone business. 

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9: What's the best Android Lollipop tablet?

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 comparison: Software 

The Nexus 9 and Nokia N1 both run Android Lollipop out of the box. But while the Nexus 9 has a vanilla implementation of Lollipop, Nokia adds its Z Launcher. You can switch this off if you prefer, which means there will be no difference in the software running on each of these tablets. 

Z Launcher is unlike other launchers in that it strips back Android to reveal only the basics, such as the time, date, an upcoming calendar event, a few apps, web pages and contacts - it will learn to display those you use most frequently. At the bottom are shortcuts to the dialler, Hangouts, Google Maps, Chrome and the apps menu. 

Z Launcher also features Scribble, which lets you scribble letters on the launcher to quickly open an app - for example, T for Twitter.  

For now it looks as though the Nokia N1 therefore has the better deal on software, but remember that being a Nexus device the 9 will always be first to get any updates to Android. 

Nokia N1 vs Nexus 9 comparison: Verdict 

Looking at the specs alone it is very difficult to tell which of these tablets offers the better deal. While the Nokia N1 is cheaper, with a better screen and front camera, and more storage as standard, the Nexus 9 is straight out of Google's stable and will get all the associated benefits. It's probably faster, and it has a larger - if not sharper - screen, plus better speakers. The Nexus 9 is also available, and we've held it in our hands. Which makes it difficult to recommend the Nokia N1 over the Nexus 9, especially bearing in mind that this is no longer the same Nokia that makes great phones, and that this is not a Windows Phone but an Android tablet. 

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Google Nexus 9: Specs

  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • 8.9in IPS LCD (2048 x 1536)
  • nVidia Tegra K1 2.3GHz 64-bit
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16/32GB storage
  • 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi (2x2 MIMO)
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • NFC
  • GPS
  • optional 4G LTE
  • HTC BoomSound stereo speakers
  • 8Mp rear camera with LED flash
  • 1.6Mp front camera
  • 6700mAh battery
  • 7.95mm
  • 425g
  • Black,white,sand

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