iPad Mini 2 vs. the Nabi 2S: Which Is Right for Your Child?

The matchup is close, but the iPad Mini 2 comes out ahead

Little boy using iPad
Steve McAlister/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

The Nabi 2S is an Android tablet aimed at kids. It comes with a child-safe bumper to protect the tablet and childproof controls built into the user interface. It has become one of the most popular tablets made specifically for kids.

The Nabi 2S tablet includes free apps, music, books, and the Wings educational system, and it undercuts the price of many Android-based tablets.

But how does it stack up against the latest iPad Mini 2?

Technical Specifications Winner: iPad Mini 2

It shouldn't come as any surprise that the iPad Mini 2 is a more powerful device. Its price is steeper than the Nabi 2S, but that price does buy a nice step up in hardware and specifications.

The iPad Mini 2 with retina display offers a 2048x1536 pixel resolution display, compared to the Nabi 2S at 1280x800. The higher resolution of the iPad Mini makes everything from text in ebooks to movies and games crisper and clearer.

The iPad Mini 2 also comes with a 5 megapixel (MP) back-facing camera and a 1.2 MP front-facing camera. While the Nabi 2S does feature a 2MP front-facing camera, the lack of a back-facing camera limits the ability for your kid to take pictures or record video and is one of the chief complaints about the device. 

The Nabi 2S does a better job of matching the original iPad Mini in terms of processing speed, but it still falls short in the display department. And the original has both front-facing and back-facing cameras. 

Child-Safe Winner: Nabi 2S

The Nabi 2s wins the child-safe category by a nose.

The iPad Mini 2 features a lot of great parental controls, including the ability to completely lock down the device, as well as the ability to remove the app store and prevent in-app purchases. The iPad's restrictions and parental controls offer fine-grain control over specific apps and functions. In fact, once fully childproofed, the iPad Mini 2 may have a slight edge over the Nabi.

The Nabi 2S comes with parental controls, too, that are set out-of-the-box, which means no fiddling around in the settings hoping you get everything right. You can still fine-tune control of apps and other restrictions, however, while also having a password protected "parent mode" for full access and the ability to create things like a chore list for your child.

The Nabi 2S includes a bumper around the device that will help protect it from the inevitable drops. While you can wrap the iPad Mini in a protective device that will put the Nabi's bumper to shame, it will cost you extra.

The App Winner: iPad Mini 2

While the Nabi 2S offers free apps, they are mostly "lite" versions of premium apps, free-to-play apps that will ask for money or ad-supported apps. They are also apps that are available on the Google Play store, and you can find many of them in the Apple App Store as well.

The one unique aspect of the Nabi 2S is the Wings learning system, which was built specifically for the tablet. This app allows kids to earn coins while playing educational games or completing activities and then use those coins to unlock more games or exercises. It will also report on your child's progress.

While this is a definite bonus, especially for younger kids, it doesn't quite match Apple's App Store. Android has many offerings in its app store, but the Apple App Store's options for kids nudges the iPad Mini 2 ahead in this matchup.

The Price Winner: Nabi 2S

This is where the Nabi 2S really stands out. If the price wasn't the issue, it would be easy to hand the iPad the crown. But for most of us, the price is a major factor.

The Nabi 2's retail price is much less and comes it with a protective case. It does offer a subscription service in the form of Spinlets TV, but you don't need to sign up for this service. Those who already subscribe to Netflix may want to pass on this offering. 

While the iPad Mini 2 is no longer available through Apple, you could find the devices second hand or get the newest iPad Mini or shop for a refurbished unit, but all will still probably be more expensive than the Nabi 2. There isn't an enormous difference in price, but if you're paying attention to cost, the difference is still significant.

Final Verdict: Nabi 2S or iPad Mini 2?

We'd love to say there is a clear-cut winner in this case, but it can depend on your budget which is the better choice. The Nabi 2S's price tag makes it an attractive alternative to the iPad Mini 2. 

The Nabi 2S markets itself as a tablet for ages 6 to 9. For the 2 to 5 age range, the Nabi 2S can be a good educational tool while also being a tablet your child won't grow out of right away.

The iPad Mini 2, however, offers more growing room for your child, making it a better choice.

Another key factor is how many kids are in your household. The Nabi 2S's price may make it easier to hand out more than one. We all know sharing isn't a strong point in kids, and if you have three or more children in the family, a single tablet might become more of a headache for you than its worth. 

If price isn't an issue, the iPad Mini 2 is an easy choice. It has the processing power to last several years before it starts showing its age, the App Store has a few more educational offerings than the Google Play store.

Finally, if you wrap the iPad Mini 2 in a good protective case designed for outdoor enthusiasts, even the most disruptive toddler won't easily damage it.

So, ultimately, the iPad Mini 2 is the slightly better choice if the higher cost is not a deal-breaker. It'll grow with your child longer while giving you excellent parental controls and access to the extensive inventory of apps available in the App Store. 

But definitely, invest in a protective case!