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Google’s Nexus 7 has proved to be a popular budget alternative to Apple’s all-conquering iPad. But it’s hard to escape the notion that that’s all it really is: a budget attempt at taking on a premium device.

That kind of approach can only take Google so far, but with the forthcoming Google Nexus 10, Mountain View could finally have a device that can take Android’s tablet business to the next level.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus 10 tab mock up

The tablet, which had been slated to be officially unveiled today (October 29th) until Hurricane Sandy scuppered Google’s plans, has been leaked extensively over the last week.

Manuals and spy shots, as well as detailed specs, suggest this will be an all-out assault on Apple’s newly updated full-sized iPad.

We’re talking a screen that outdoes Cupertino’s Retina Display, an aluminium design that at last puts Google’s tablets somewhere close to Apple’s stunning work and added NFC, which should give it the edge in the burgeoning world of contactless solutions.

What’s especially interesting is Google’s insistence on only offering a 16GB version, presumably in an attempt to push its cloud services harder.

google android event

This is certainly novel and hasn’t exactly worked wonders with its laptop-style Chromebooks.

But with a more mobile-centric device, which can access the likes of Spotify and Google Drive, there’s every reason to believe it could work with the Nexus 10. What’s telling is that Google now realises that it cannot simply take on Apple with a cheaper slate and win.

In the same way Apple has used the iPad Mini to bring itself down to the more budget end of the spectrum, so Google is using the Nexus 10 to pull its devices level with Apple’s premium effort.

This can, and will, only be good for competition.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Wi-Fi, 16GB)

Where the custom skins of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (and its smaller cousins) can be off putting, the stock Android experience offers a far neater and more controlled approach, one which millions of phone users around the world will be familiar with.

It’s unlikely that Google will sell the same number of tablets that Apple has managed in recent months (14 million in the last quarter alone). But that’s not necessarily the point.

With the Nexus 10, we’re finally looking at a device directly from Apple’s main rival, one which could help ramp up the pace of innovation and ensure that there’s plenty of strong competition in the tablet space in 2013 and beyond.

The only shame is we’re not going to catch an official glimpse until Sandy blows herself out and Google can get round to reorganising its much-anticipated shindig.

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