Apple iPad 2 vs. the Mororola Xoom: And Fight!

Motorola recently announced the availability and features of their new Xoom tablet, causing many commentators to say that this was the first tablet device to in many respects surpass Apple’s hit iPad.  Of course the unwritten subtext of all those reports was “…but we all know that the iPad 2 will be announced any day now”.  Well today that long-rumored announcement occurred.   So, did Apple leapfrog its new competitor or merely play catch-up? 

 The answer is mixed:

Feature Apple iPad2 Motorola Xoom Winner
Processor Apple A5 dual core 1ghz NVIDIA Tegra 2 1ghz dual core Tie
Screen Size 9.7 inch 10.1 inch Xoom
Screen Resolution 1024×768 1280×800 Xoom
Screen Proportions 4:3 16:10 Xoom.  If you watch a typical widescreen movie on the iPad there will be larger top and bottom black bars
Size 7.31×9.5x.35 (24.3 6.6×9.8x.5 (32.34 cu. In.) IPad 2.  Even counting the extra screen size of the Xoom Apple’s thin profile wins.
Weight 1.3 lbs 1.6 lbs iPad2
Battery Life ’10 hours’ ’10 hours’ Tie
Cameras 0.3 mp front, 5 mp rear 2 mp front, 5 mp rear, including dual LED flash Xoom wins on having both a way better front camera and rear flash
Carriers at Launch Verizon, AT&T Verizon iPad2.  However you must decide which carrier at purchase time.  You cannot change later without buying a new iPad.
Network 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth. 3G, 4G free upgrade, WiFi, Bluetooth. Xoom for included 4G upgrade.
Storage 16,32, or 64 gb. 32gb plus SD card expansion. Xoom.  The ability to support SD cards means unlimited capacity plus the easy ability to transfer data from other SD card devices like cameras and other phones.
Tablet-Specific Apps 60,000+ 100+ IPad2 (note 1)
Price (note 2) $729 $799 iPad2
Multivendor Platform No Yes Xoom
Flash Support No Yes with software update Xoom

(note 1) Since the Xoom is the very first Android Honeycomb tablet expecting a large number of apps for a devices not yet available for retail sale is unrealistic.  While the number of Android Honeycomb apps will likely expand rapidly in the next few months Apple is likely to have a numerical advantage for a long time.  However having thousands of apps is not as important as having the ones that you need.  In other words the number of apps is nowhere near as important as evaluating your specific needs.

(note 2) The most equivalent comparison configuration is 3G systems with 32 gb of memory and no data contract.  Verizon is offering the Xoom for $600 with a one year data contract.  In addition one could most likely find a 32 gb SD card for a price that would allow you to have a 64 gb Xoom for less than the price of a 64 gb iPad.  Finally Apple offers the option for less-expensive WiFi only iPads while Xoom tablets do not have WiFi only models.

I guess you could call the match as a split decision.

Ultimately I do not think that many iPad users will be switching to the Xoom tablet.  Apple users have been outstandingly loyal and the iPad 2 certainly delivers enough improvements to have them happily upgrading.  On the other hand even with the improvements in the iPad 2 someone could buy the Xoom without having to feel like they are settling for second best (although their iPad-carrying friends will undoubtedly tell them otherwise).

For those thinking of buying their first tablet I would offer this consideration.  Just as those who bought the iPad 1 last year now have just the iPad 2 as their only upgrade choice (while keeping their data and apps) so will those who buy the iPad 2.  On the other hand those who buy the Xoom are likely a year from now be able to select from any of several Android Honeycomb tablets in any number of configurations, manufacturers, and prices.  You should decide how important having that degree of flexibility in future purchases is to you.

Other than that it is good to see some real competition in tablets finally.

Motorola has announced a wifi-only version of the Xoom.  The price is exactly the same as the 32gb wifi only iPad 2, which can hardly be a coincidence.

The comparable lines from the above chart for the wifi only version would be:

Feature Apple iPad2 Motorola Xoom Winner
Network WiFi, Bluetooth. WiFi, Bluetooth. Tie
Price $599 $599 Tie

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  1. […] Those simply looking for a non-Apple solution might want to look at our similar comparison of the Motorola Xoom. […]

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