Google Nexus 7 (2013) review
|Review: September 2013|
In a nutshell: The 2013 version of the Google Nexus 7 is a superslim and lightweight 7 inch tablet that won't break the bank. But don't let that deceive you - it has an outstanding 1080 HD screen, an ultrafast processor and comes in a choice of 16GB or 32GB with a 4G option too. Just watch out for the battery life.
Design & looks
Why change a name if it still sounds good? That's clearly Google's philosophy. So farewell Google Nexus 7 and hello Google Nexus 7.
As well as having the same name, the new Nexus 7 (manufactured for Google by Asus) looks very much like the old one. It's thinner and lighter, but looks very similar. Did we say lighter? We meant to say that this is the lightest tablet we've ever tested - even lighter than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. And thinner? It's really very slim, at just 8.65mm in depth. It's small enough to be truly portable.
The design is quite plain - you could say understated - with a matte black casing and a thin bezel surrounding the screen. It's comfortable to hold and pleasant to use.
The screen has changed for the better - not that the old one was bad. It was already a 720p HD resolution IPS display. The new incarnation of the Nexus 7 packs a 1920 x 1200 display,making it the sharpest display on any 7 inch tablet, with 323 ppi resolution. That gives it the ability to display 1080p HD content in its full glory. The IPS screen is bright and clearly visible in daylight, with excellent viewing angles - much appreciated when sharing the tablet, or tilting it frantically in all directions while playing Temple Run! Corning Glass protects the screen from scratches.
Android & apps
The Nexus 7 runs Android Jelly Bean, with its highly customisable user interface and wealth of apps. Google Play is muscling in on iTunes, with more and more Android apps optimized for tablets, and an ever-increasing selection of music, video, ebooks and games.
The tablet is ideal for sharing by a family, as each person can create their own login experience with personalised homescreens, wallpaper and content. There are parental controls for managing apps and content for different members of the family.
The Nexus 7 is keen to demonstrate its gaming potential, with the new Play Games app that helps you play online against other gamers and track your achievements.
Power & performance
The original Nexus 7 was a powerful device with a quad-core processor. The new version has an even faster 1.5GHz quadcore SnapDragon S4 Pro processor. An Adreno 320 GPU, running at 400MHz lends 3D graphics support. There's no doubt about it - this is one of the fastest tablets on the market. It seriously out-muscles the iPad Mini.
It also has 4 times the amount of RAM - a full 2GB - which is enough for the most demanding tablet apps.
The device comes equipped with dual stereo speakers and surround sound.
In addition to the front-facing 1.2 megapixel fixed-focus camera for making video calls, the new Nexus 7 also has a rear facing camera. This is a respectable 5 megapixel autofocus camera capable of capturing decent images in good light conditions.
In order to make the tablet thinner, Asus has slimmed down the battery size for this new version of the tablet. Google is claiming the same battery performance figures despite this downsizing - 9 hours of active use - but the fact remains that this is the smallest battery you'll find on any mainstream tablet. It's got to be a worry.
On a more positive note, the new tablet is compatible with wireless charging.
The Wi-Fi version of the Nexus 7 uses fast dual-band Wi-Fi for data munching, and also includes an NFC chip and Bluetooth 4.0. You'll also find a microUSB connector and a 3.5mm audio headphone jack.
A version with support for 4G LTE and 3G HSPA+ will be available soon.
One tablet, three versions
The Nexus 7 comes in three different versions - 16GB and 32GB Wi-Fi versions, and a 4G-enabled version with 32GB.
Conclusion - same name, different experience
In a way, it's a shame that Google didn't choose a new name for the Nexus 7. For while this looks very much like the original Nexus 7 tablet and costs about the same, it's a much more capable device.
The first Nexus 7 managed to deliver an impressive tablet for the price, but there were compromises everywhere - from the inadequate memory to the low resolution screen to the uninspired design. This new Nexus 7 puts all that right. The 1080p+ display is amazing, the superslim and lightweight design lovely to handle and the quadcore processor superfast.
It's not a perfect tablet. The memory is still smaller than we'd like, and the battery size is a compromise, but for the price it's an outstanding product. A 7 inch tablet is starting to feel cramped now that smartphones are up to 5 inches, but nevertheless, we'd rate it as one of the very top tablets available in 2013.
Google Nexus 7 (2013) features include:
- Operating system: Android Jelly Bean
- Display: 7 inch back-lit IPS display with 1920 x 1200 pixels, scratch-resistant Corning glass
- 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera with Google Talk
- 5 megapixel rear camera with autofocus
- Music player
- Stereo speakers, surround sound
- Gmail, Google+
- aGPS with Google Maps
- Chrome web browser, YouTube HD
- Processor: Quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
- Memory: 8GB or 16GB plus 2GB RAM
- Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0, micro USB, NFC, 3.5mm audio jack, optional LTE
- Size: 200 x 114 x 8.65 mm
- Weight: 340g
- Battery: 3950mAh
- 9 hours of HD video playback
- 10 hours of web browsing or e-reading
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