Google released their first tablet last year, the Nexus 7. That 2012 Nexus 7 was made in partnership with ASUS and it was a fantastic tablet for its price. It may not have compared to the iPad or iPad Mini in terms of quality but you got what you paid for - it was only £159.
This year Google and ASUS have partnered up again to release a new Nexus 7. It's not the same price as last years model, now at £199, but it is still well below the competition.
Specs are meaning less and less these days as quality and user experience are becoming more important, but it's still good to know how powerful a device is and what you're getting for your money.
- 7-inch 1920x1200 (Full HD) display. 323PPI.
- 5-megapixel rear camera. 1.2-megapixel front facing camera.
- 8.65mm thick
- 3950mAh battery - equaling around 9 constant use
- Wireless charging (Qi compability)
- Stereo speakers with 'Surround Sound' effects
- 1.5Ghz quad-core processor
- 16GB/32Gb storage
- 2GB RAM
Design & Hardware
The first thing that you'll notice is how well built the device is. Compared to last years model, this new Nexus 7 is superior in every way.
The front is of course made mainly from glass. It is made from scratch resistant Corning glass so it'll handle scratches very well. The glass meets the edge of the device perfectly, you just know that Google and ASUS didn't want to skimp on quality this time round. The edge of the device has a polished black piano finish, much like what you see on the iPhone 5 or iPad Mini. It's a gorgeous touch that does add a premium feel.
The back is made from plastic but in no way does it feel cheap like last years model. It has a lovely matt texture that provides a great grip - something that is needed when it comes to a device this big. The back sides, top and bottom have a very curved design - it makes the device feel much thinner than it really is.
There are now stereo speakers to provide a much richer audio experience. But they're not placed very well. They're facing backwards and they can easily be covered by your hands when you're holding the device. Nonetheless they do provide a great audio experience, obviously you'll still be much better off with a good set of headphones.
Every 7-inch tablet might as well give up and go home right now. The display on the Nexus 7 is what makes this device. The 1920x1200 display means you get a full HD viewing experience.
With a 323 PPI it's nearly impossible to see individual pixels. The clarity is just phenomenal. Reading on the Nexus 7 provides a great experience with text being super sharp. It's better than your average newspaper that prints at 300 PPI.
With it being full HD, you can now watch full 1080p movies in their pixel perfect glory. Colours are gorgeous and I'd say the saturation is spot on.
Performance & Battery
With a quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM you don't have to worry about performance in anyway whatsoever. The Nexus 7 will handle basically everything you throw at it right now. Most apps in the Google Play Store haven't even taken advantage of the power available in this device as it's pretty far ahead of the competition. That should mean it'll still handle apps perfectly in a year or two.
It's running Android 4.3 - the latest version of Android available right now. It handles Android 4.3 like a pro. You will not find any sort of lag anywhere. The only bottlenecks will be how fast you can use the device and how fast your internet is. It's smooth in every way and can even be sped up by making the animations a tad faster.
Battery life is brilliant as expected and can easily last you a day or two with average use. It lasts nine hours with constant usage but I don't know anyone who uses their tablet for nine hours straight.
There isn't really much to say about Android 4.3 Jellybean as it's now a huge upgrade compared to Android 4.2. Most of the changes are minor tweaks and features here and there that build upon the OS.
Android is still a very capable OS and is arguably the most powerful mobile OS available right now. There is so much you can do with it compared to its competitors - it's just much more versatile.
However one major problem I still have is the quality of apps. Sure Android now has an app for basically everything and anything, but quality in terms of UI and UX just doesn't seem to be on par with iOS. The best example of this would be Google's own apps.
Here is just one example. This is Google's own official YouTube app. On the left is the Nexus 7 which has a 1920x1200 display. On the right is the iPad Mini which has a 1024x768 display. Even though the Nexus 7 has a display that annihilates the iPad in terms of pixels, it doesn't take advantage of them and the screen estate available. The menu items are larger than on the Nexus 7 even though they could be much smaller and fit more items. You can only see two thumbnails at one time on the Nexus 7, whereas on the iPad you can see four.
This is Google's own app and device, yet they make their apps better on iOS - the major competitor to Android. Google aren't the only ones, it's very difficult finding quality tablet first apps for Android tablets.
I am being pretty picky when it comes to something like the YouTube app, but with me being a designer too, things like this bother me - they may not bother the average user.
If you're looking for an iPad Mini alternative and for something cheaper you just can't go wrong with the Nexus 7. Forget any other seven inch tablets. That full HD display is down right fantastic. The Nexus 7 is coming straight from Google which means you'll get software updates before anyone else. The quality of device all round is brilliant and is well worth the £199 price tag.
If you can put up with it not having the same quality of apps compared to the iPad you should go pick one up now. It's a perfect for device for the media-consumption type person, the person who wants to read, listen to music and watch movies on the go.