The reported iPad Mini 2 supply constraint was not even denied by Apple CEO Tim Cook. He allowed that the number units to become available for Q4 2013 will fall short of the expectations, considering that among the millions of holiday shoppers, the Retina-toting Mini 2 is on top of the list.
Analysts are blaming the looming stock outs to LG and Sharp, which were tapped by Apple to supply the high-resolution LCD display panel that the 7.9-inch Mini 2 is using. The two Asian firms will not be able to deliver on time.
It was also suggested that Samsung is coming to Apple's rescue but the rush could be too late as ramp up production of Retina panels for the Mini 2 will not be achieved too quick. Realistically, normal shipment levels will likely be reached by January 2014 at the earliest.
To be sure, a late November 2013 release date for the iPad Mini 2 is happening but Apple cannot guarantee that all buyers will have something to take home come D-Day.
But fret not as those itching to unbox a small tablet for the holidays can consider instead the list below. Note that while the iPad Mini 2 price tag starts at $400, these Android alternatives are priced much lower and there'll be heftier price cuts to come in the lead up to the 2013 Black Friday sales deals.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0
Earlier builds of the Galaxy Tab lines hardly gained praises from tech reviewers but when the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 was unwrapped by Samsung, the tone suddenly changed. Gradually, Apple's South Korean rival is getting it right in the ongoing tablet wars and this new Android-based slate best represents that view.
The device is packed with modest specs but definitely overpowers the first iPad Mini in all respects, except of course in the ecosystem department. At $300 or less, the Tab 3 8.0 is one good reason not to hold out any further for the Retina iPad Mini 2.
Nexus 7 2013 edition
Easily, this 7-inch tablet is the darling of the Android crowd. In partnership with Asus, Google serves three variants with the basic 16GB and Wi-Fi only model asking only $230 in exchange. But the best buy, according to experts, is the 32GB with LTE connectivity, which at $350 is cheaper than the Retina iPad Mini 16GB and Wi-Fi only at $400.
LG G Pad 8.3
Reviewers called the small LG Android tablet, running on Jelly Bean 4.3, a beautifully cut device with the right mix of power under the hood. The powerhouse firing up the toy is a quad-core Snapdragon 600 chip, giving it enough muscle to slug it out with the Minis and Android foes.
However, the $350 price point should prompt buyers to think twice before taking the plunge. Perhaps they can wait out a bit more for Black Friday on Nov 29, by which time the G Pad is expected to flash a more attractive price mark.
The Kindle Fire HDX series
Online retail giant is selling its top-notch 2013 Kindle Fire line up, billing them as the new HDX series, which highlighted the high-resolution displays of both the 7-inch and 8.9-inch builds. The former boasts of a 1080p resolution while the latter virtually matches the Mini 2's Retina screen attribution at 2560 x 1600.
Price for the Snapdragon 800-fueled devices begins at $230, which ought to be compelling enough for many holiday shoppers.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
This is last on the list as the current price point, at $400, seems not a solid reason for many to opt out of the iPad Mini 2 with Retina. The specs would also be outdated when pitted with the new Mini (though it remains overwhelming when the enemy is the first iPad Mini).
It could be that the strongest selling point of the Galaxy Note 8.0 is it part of Samsung's Note family, hence it comes with the popular S-Pen. And unlike the two iPad Minis, the Note 8.0 behaves too as a giant smartphone - it accommodates incoming and outgoing calls. This part, however, is not really appreciated by all tablet users.
So when the wait to satisfy your small tablet craving via the Retina iPad Mini 2 will prove too long this Christmas season, the list above should remind that Apple is not alone on the field.
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