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Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display: Which should I buy?

We’ve played with Sony’s 8-inch mini-tab and reckon it could give the iPad Mini with Retina display some serious competition. Check out our full comparison review.

Sony has just launched its first dinky Xperia tablet, the 8-inch Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, and it’s basically Sony’s answer to the Apple iPad Mini. With its light, easy-to-clutch design and HD screen, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact looks to be a brilliant travel and commuter companion. But is it better value than Apple’s iPad Mini with Retina display, and which awkwardly-titled tablet is best for you?

Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display vs or Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact comparison review

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display: Design and portability

Both the Sony and the Apple tablet are impressively light and portable, perfect for keeping you entertained on your daily commute. Unless you drive of course. Because that would just be stupid.

Although the iPad Mini is beautifully light and slim, at 7.5mm and 331g, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is even more portable thanks to its supremely slender 6.4mm body and 270g weight.

Of course, it’s all just numbers really. Truth is, there’s no difference at all between these tablets when it comes to ease of use. Both are thin enough to comfortably clutch in one hand while you use your other to swipe and tap. They’re also both easy to slip inside a bag.

Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display vs or Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact comparison review

As for looks, we love both the iPad’s iconic don’t-fix-what-isn’t-broken design and the glossy finish of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. While we haven’t had a chance to lug around Sony’s tablet on a daily basis, the hard-wearing surface seems to be resistant to dinks and scratches. However, we can vouch one hundred percent for the iPad’s hardiness. That silver backing never gets scratched up and the worst we’ve had is a tiny mark on the screen, caused by dropping the tablet from a terrifying height.

Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display vs or Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact comparison review

One advantage the Sony tablet has is its water and dust-resistant design, which means you can happily enjoy an ebook or film in the bath or on the beach, without worrying about accidental damage.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display: Media

The 7.9-inch iPad Mini screen is just a nano-speck smaller than the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact’s 8-inch display, so there’s no real difference in terms of viewing space. However, the iPad wins out on pure visuals.

Not only is the display sharper (324 pixels-per-inch compared with the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact’s 283 pixels-per-inch) but the iPad also boasts stronger brightness levels, handy if you’re using it outside with all that pesky glare. So if you’re after a movie machine, the iPad is still our choice.

Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display vs or Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact comparison review

However, if you’re hoping to carry around a huge selection of shows and films, you’ll have to splash out on one of Apple’s models with more storage space – and that ain’t cheap. On the other hand, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact has a micro SD memory card slot, so you can carry around a whopping 128GB of media.

High-res audio support is another benefit of Sony’s baby tab, great news if you’re a music buff who wants better-sounding tunes on the go. The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact will even upscale your old MP3s so they sound crisper.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display: Performance and battery life

We haven’t fully reviewed the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact yet, but our hands-on session proved that the quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor comfortably handles games and multi-tasking, as you’d expect. The iPad Mini also performs beautifully under pressure, with practically no chugging even when playing processor-pounding games such as GTA: San Andreas.

Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display vs or Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact comparison review

As for battery life, we haven’t had the chance to punish the Sony tablet but we’re hoping that the 4500mAh battery will give a good few hours of movie playback per charge. It’s going to have its work cut out to equal the iPad Mini’s superb longevity, however. That 6470mAh battery gives a ridiculous ten hours of movie streaming, matched recently only by Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display: Camera

If you really must take photos with a tablet, at least these two are easy to clutch with one hand and won’t make you look too ridiculous, unlike snapping shots with a full-on ten-incher.

Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display vs or Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact comparison review

The iPad Mini with Retina display has a 5-megapixel rear camera without a flash, while the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact rocks an 8.1-megapixel effort, also without flash. You can shoot 1080p video using either, but while the iPad Mini goes for a simple, streamlined interface, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact packs in tons of features.

If you’ve got kids, they’ll definitely get more of a kick from the Sony tablet, thanks to its AR modes. These allow you to scribble on the screen, throw bombs and fire arrows at people, and even turn yourself into Spiderman. Sony’s Superior Auto mode is also great for shooting clean, bright photos in almost any condition.

Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display vs or Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact comparison review Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display vs or Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact comparison review

The iPad Mini’s front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera is just as decent for Skype chats and selfies as the 2.2-megapixel Sony camera, although the Sony can shoot 1080p video while the Apple tablet can only do 720p.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display: Verdict

Both mini tablets are ideal travel companions, thanks to their slim and light bodies which can easily be clutched in one hand. However, the iPad Mini with Retina display has the sharper, brighter screen for enjoying movies and we reckon it’ll last loanger on the move too.

That said, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact has plenty of great features, including its water-resistant design and high-res audio support, plus the bonus camera features will make your kids poo themselves with delight.

Check out our full Apple iPad Mini with Retina display review and our hands-on with the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact.

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