Nine months ago Google released the Nexus 7 and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say it changed the tablet landscape forever.
Before the Nexus 7, tablet owners had two choices: buy a rather expensive third party Android tablet made by Sony, Samsung or Asus, or buy Apple’s rather expensive iPad.
The whole concept of Nexus first started with smartphones, it’s where Google makes Android devices alongside a manufacturer of its choice – but crucially Google calls the shots.
Google’s masterstroke was to create a new line of Nexus tablets that would be sold a slight loss. The thought being they could recoup the money via Android users buying content from the search engine’s Play Store, and 9 months on it has been a massive success.
The second generation Nexus 7 has been made alongside Asus again – so does it still offer the most bang for your buck when it comes to a pure Android tablet experience?
Well in a word: yes. Somehow Google and Asus have managed to improve the Nexus 7 in every single area without compromising on price or build quality.
The main headline-grabbing change comes in the form of the new IPS screen. Whilst the previous Nexus had a 1280×800 screen running a ppi of 216, the second-generation Nexus 7 is sporting a 1900×1200 screen running a gargantuan 326 ppi, just for some perspective the current 4th generation iPad has a ppi of 264.
As well as the screen getting a major bump in specs, the Nexus 7 has ditched the Tegra processor is now sporting a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, and it has also seen a significant increase in onboard RAM, which has now jumped from 1GB to 2GB.
The Nexus 7 comes in two variants: 16 and 32GB, but unfortunately memory cannot be supplemented via microSD cards.
There’s obviously support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 (including Bluetooth Smart support), and a GPS. Additionally you’ll find a gyroscope, accelerometer, and a digital compass too.
Interestingly the battery on the new Nexus 7 has actually been decreased from 4325mAh to 3950mAh, but is said to last longer due to software optimisations made in Android 4.3, and should last you up to 9 hours of HD playback and 10 hours of web browsing or e-reading.
“Pound for pound, the Nexus 7 is the best small tablet you can buy […] It houses a ridiculously sharp, bright screen, its gaming performance is second only to the fourth-generation iPad, and as a Google-branded tablet it will always see the latest version of Android before any other tablet brand.” – Cnet
“The new model trades up to a sleek, classy, all-black body that very clearly means business. […] The matte black back no longer looks or feels like Steve McQueen’s leathery driving gloves, but it’s still soft to the touch and much nicer to hold than some of the glossy, plastic backs on devices like the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0. At 8.65 mm thick, it’s slightly slimmer than the last model, and at 0.64 pounds slightly lighter as well. It’s also about a credit card thicker than the iPad mini, and almost exactly as tall. Google shaved a quarter of an inch off the bezels on either side of the display, which makes the device fit much more easily into my hand as well. I can grasp it like a phone, holding the tablet in my palm and tapping on the screen with my thumb — the iPad mini requires two hands, one to hold the device and the other to use it.” – The Verge
“Under the hood, the 2013 Nexus matches the original’s in total internal storage. […] When you flip over the Nexus, the first thing you’ll notice — aside from the lack of dimples, of course — is that ASUS added a 5-megapixel camera in the top left corner (sorry, no LED flash). There are also three machine-drilled speaker grilles: a long one up top and two shorter ones on the bottom. That means you’ll benefit from stereo sound, a nice step up from the mono setup on the original.” – Engadget
“Based on specs alone the iPad mini has some work to do […] the Nexus 7 is the first device in the Google Nexus family to use Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, an incremental software update with features like support for OpenGL ES 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0 LE support, and the ability to restrict certain user accounts. That last capability might come in handy if you plan to buy this tablet for yourself and your family. There aren’t many tablet-optimized applications available for Android yet, but Google is changing the way it showcases those particular apps, to make them easier to find.” – Tech Hive
Pound for pound, the second-gen Nexus 7 is easily the best small tablet you can buy at the moment. Google and its hardware manufacturer, Asus, have managed to do the impossible and improve upon an already proven recipe in every single area.
If Apple is going to quash the Nexus 7’s ever increasing dominance of the budget tablet market with its next iteration of the iPad mini, it’s got a lot of catching up to do as the Nexus 7 is almost the perfect tablet.