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Asus challenges the iPad Mini with the less-pricey ZenPad Z8

Asus challenges the iPad Mini with the less-pricey ZenPad Z8

Asus' ZenPad Z8 tablet is priced at $249.99 and available exclusively through Verizon Wireless

At $249.99, Asus' new Android-based ZenPad Z8 tablet could make you ponder why you should buy Apple's iPad Mini 4, which starts at $399.

The Asus tablet will be available exclusively through Verizon Wireless, and will ship starting on June 23. It is ready for Verizon's LTE network in the U.S, and can be ordered online.

The cellular-ready ZenPad Z8 will come with the latest Android version, Android M OS. A cellular-ready version of the iPad Mini 4 starts at $529.

From a pure hardware standpoint, the Android tablet is comparable, and in some respects, offers more than than the iPad Mini 4. It ultimately comes down to whether you want Android or iOS on this sort of device.

The 7.9-inch screen on the ZenPad Z8 displays images at a 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution, the same as the iPad Mini 4.

A particularly nice feature in the ZenPad Z8 is the USB Type-C port, which can connect the tablet to external storage, monitors and other peripherals. The USB-C port also charges the tablet, and is emerging as the connector of choice for PCs and mobile devices. Apple's iPad Mini 4 has the proprietary Lightning connector.

The six-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor in the ZenPad Z8 could be considered one of the faster mobile chips. It's hard to compare the Snapdragon to Apple's A-series chips as the iPad software is tuned specifically to the processor.

Integrated inside the Snapdragon 650 chip is the Adreno 510 graphics processor, which is powerful enough to process 4K video. The GPU also supports Vulkan, meaning you'll be able to play the latest games written using that API (application programming interface).

The ZenPad Z8 has 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 16GB of storage and a micro-SD card slot for expandable storage. The rear camera is 8 megapixels and front camera is 2 megapixels. A SIM card is preinstalled.

The Asus tablet weighs around 320 grams, while the iPad Mini 4 cellular model is lighter, at 304 grams. The ZenPad Z8 has 13 hours of battery life, Verizon claims.

Asus didn't respond to questions about whether variants of the tablet would be available outside the U.S.

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