Google Nexus 7 review

Google Nexus 7 review

Summary: The Nexus 7 offers an appealing combination of 7-inch form factor, quad-core processor, Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) OS, pleasing design and solid build quality. Affordable pricing ensures that Google has a winner on its hands.

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  • Editors' rating:
    8.5
  • User rating:
    6.8
  • RRP:
    £165.83

Pros

  • Excellent hardware design
  • Quad-core processor
  • Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) OS
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • No storage expansion
  • No mobile broadband
  • Front-facing camera only
  • No HDMI
  • No DLNA

Google makes the Android operating system, and it sells Android hardware. So why wouldn't Google attempt to produce the best hardware possible, with the most up-to-date features, and then sell it at a price that does both Google and Android a favour?

We can't think of a reason why not. Partnering with Asus in the production of the Nexus 7, Google has given every budget Android tablet maker a jolt — and perhaps also upset Amazon's Kindle Fire ambitions too. Even so, despite the Nexus 7's manifold plus points, Google hasn't got everything right.

Design
The Nexus 7 is a 7-inch tablet, and as such is something of a rarity. Tablets outside the budget sector have standardised on 10.1in. screens (Apple's iPad has a slightly smaller 9.7in. display, but still counts as a larger-format device).

nexus7-angle
The Asus-manufactured Nexus 7 is easier to manipulate than larger-format tablets, and weighs just 340g.

The 7-inch design has its merits. It is smaller, lighter and thus easier to carry and hold than 10.1in. tablets, and while its screen might not be as good for video watching, for example, it's fine for many tasks. And perhaps significantly for Google, it's a good size for e-book reading.

We note this because, with Google's Play e-book reader on-board and clients for Kindle and other reading platforms available, the Nexus 7 could rival similarly sized dedicated e-readers — most particularly those from Amazon. Google's battery life quotes even include a specific one for e-reading time, confirming that the search giant is well aware of this potential market.

As it happens, the Nexus 7's dimensions are similar to those of a standard paperback book, at 198.5mm wide by 120mm by 10.45mm thick. It weighs just 340g, which makes it very easy to pop into a pocket or backpack without thinking twice.

The 7in. LED-backlit IPS screen has a resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels, or 216 pixels per inch (ppi). That doesn't approach the iPad Retina display's 264ppi, but images are still sharp and clear. Reading e-books is slightly harder on the eye than it is with e-ink displays, though.

More generally the screen suffers a little outdoors, coping poorly with bright direct sunlight, and is also a little too reflective for our tastes. These criticisms can be levelled at plenty of other tablets, though.

The Nexus 7's build quality is astonishing for a sub-£200 (inc. VAT) device, and it outclasses any other budget Android tablet on the market in this respect. The Gorilla Glass front and soft-touch, easy-to-grip, stippled back are joined together by a silver metal frame running around the edges of the chassis. These features, along with rounded corners, subtle Nexus and Asus branding on the back, and the absence of front buttons all combine to deliver a high-quality look and feel.

The buttons are all hidden on the edges, which curve slightly backwards in the same way as those on the iPad. This makes finding the power button and volume rocker on the right-hand side a little bit challenging at first, although they are quite tactile as they sit a little proud of their surroundings. There are two connectors on the bottom edge — Micro-USB and a headphone jack.

Features
There are two versions of the Nexus 7 available: one with 8GB of internal storage for £159.99 (inc. VAT; £132.50 ex. VAT) and one with 16GB for £199 (inc. VAT; £165.83 ex. VAT). Our 16GB review sample had just 13GB available, so we'd imagine there's rather less than 8GB free on the entry-level model. With that in mind it's frustrating that there's no microSD slot for storage expansion (and although USB On The Go is supported on the Nexus 7, you can't mount USB storage devices via the Micro-USB port unless you root the OS).

What you do get is an extremely smooth and fast user experience, thanks to the Nexus 7's quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM.

The Nexus 7 has hit the headlines in part thanks to being the first device we've seen to run Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). This is an evolutionary development from Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) rather than a major step up, and Jelly Bean's many tweaks are aimed at making the Android experience smoother and sleeker rather than at adding any standout new features.

Still, there are some novel features — notably Google Now, which attempts to second-guess what you might be searching for. Results are displayed on-screen as cards. Early on you'll probably just get local weather reports, but as you use the Nexus 7 more and more it will deliver additional information relevant to your location and, maybe, even relevant to what you actually want to know at the time.

The Nexus 7 has Bluetooth and GPS capability, along with NFC. There's a front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera, but no rear camera. We can live with the lack of a rear camera, but it's a pity there's no HDMI port. Another notable absence is integrated mobile broadband: this is a Wi-Fi-only (802.11b/g/n) device. On the subject of Wi-Fi, there's no DLNA client, which seems odd — unless it's part of a Google strategy to get people to store more of their data in the cloud and stream it over Wi-Fi from remote rather than local locations.

For those who like to use Flash-enabled websites that are not yet compliant with Adobe Air and HTML5, the lack of support for Flash in Android 4.1 will irritate. On the plus side, Chrome — now the browser of choice for Android — delivered a smooth browsing experience.

Google doesn't add third-party applications to the Nexus 7 as other hardware manufacturers do, but that's hardly a problem as you can browse Google Play yourself and select the most useful apps.

Performance & battery life
We've already noted that the Nexus 7's combination of a quad-core Tegra 3 CPU, 1GB of RAM and Android 4.1 delivers a fast, smooth user experience. To quantify that somewhat, we ran the Sunspider (0.9.1) JavaScript benchmark on the Nexus 7 and on Fujitsu's 10.1in. Stylistic M532, which also has a Tegra 3 and 1GB of RAM but runs the previous-generation Android 4.0. The Nexus 7 delivered a score of 1,714ms compared to the Stylistic M532's 2,169ms (smaller numbers are better), a 26.5 percent difference.

Battery life is good too. The Nexus 7 has a 4,325mAh battery that Google claims is good for 9 hours of video playback, 10 hours of web browsing, 10 hours of e-book reading and 300 hours on standby.

We managed a day of general use easily during testing, and suspect that many people will be able to use the device for a weekend without requiring a recharge. Thankfully the Nexus 7 charges via a Micro-USB connection rather than the proprietary port favoured by some tablet manufacturers — many users will routinely carry a Micro-USB cable for charging their smartphone.

Conclusion
Although it has some notable omissions, the Nexus 7's 7-inch form factor, quad-core processor and Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) OS are considerable draws. The hardware design and build quality are excellent thanks to the involvement of Asus. On top of all that is the game-changing price: any hardware manufacturer aiming at the sub-£200 end of the tablet market has got a big problem on its hands.

Specifications

General
Manufacturer's specification http://www.google.co.uk/nexus/#/7/specs
Dimensions (W x H x D) 198.5x10.45x120 mm
Weight 340 g
OS & software
Software included Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
Processor & memory
Clock speed 1.3 GHz
Processor model Nvidia Tegra 3
RAM 1024 MB
Storage
Internal 16000 MB
Display
Display technology TFT touch-screen (active matrix)
Display size 7 in
Native resolution 1280x800 pixels
Connections
Ports Micro-USB 2.0
Wireless
Wi-Fi 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n
Short range Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
GPS technology
Antenna built in
GPS receiver yes
Input devices
Touchscreen Yes
Camera
Main camera front
Main camera resolution 1.2 megapixels
Power
Removable battery No
Battery capacity 4325 mAh
Claimed battery life 10 h
Number of batteries 1
Miscellaneous
Accessories AC adapter
Expand

Prices

There are currently no prices available for this product.

Topics: Tablets, Android, Mobility, Reviews

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57 comments
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  • The only real con is a single camera.

    No broadband is actually better, as you don't pay twice for it. Just use your phones hot spot!

    Removable storage can easily be used with third party device that runs
    Uralbas
    • Rear Camera Use

      9.0

      Just curious...
      How often and for what would you use a tablet rear camera for?
      Have one on my iPad2 and after a year have used it at most a couple of times - mostly just as a "try" - the camera on the iPad is bloody awful.
      rhonin
      • Video chat

        I use the rear camera when in a FaceTime video chat. i will admit that the camera on the new iPad is much better for this than that on the iPad 2.
        rbgaynor
        • Re: Video chat

          Trouble is, video chat with a tablet's rear-facing character means holding the tablet up in front of your face to aim the camera--doesn't sound like a very comfortable position.

          A rear camera seems more practical on a phone, somehow.
          ldo17
          • Re: Video chat

            I am thinking the trouble with video chat using a rear-facing camera is they can see you, but you can't see them - since you're looking at the BACK of the device. Kind of defeats the purpose.
            Heck if I Know
    • Great tablet! Sold my iPad 1 and bought this!

      9.0

      I've been sporting an iPad 1 for the last few years, it finally was deemed no longer supported by apple and rather then forking out another $500-$750 for a new one I opted to go the route of the Nexus 7. The reason? I switched from an iphone to android a while back and rather then buying apps in 2 locations figured it would make more sense to stick with one eco-system, even if apple is trying to kill it off.

      The tablet arrived after shipping quickly. Was delivered by UPS and left at my front door, something Apple would never allow which was great because I had to work that day and didn't have to take the day off to be home to sign for it. When I got home I opened it up, unboxed it and fired it up. The Nexus 7 had 50% battery charge out of the box and when I signed into it I received the $25 play store credit, it synced up my email and everything else and I was good to go.

      Initial impressions. This thing is the perfect size. I was a bit worried a 7" tablet would be too small but it turns out it feels great to hold in one hand, it's not heavy and the round corners make it feel lighter. The build quality of my Nexus 7 doesn't have the issues others report. I used it for several hours after getting it and the screen never stopped working once.

      I fired up the copy of transformers that came with the tablet and it started playing, the sound was loud and unexpected. I half thought it would be muffled and too quiet but that was not the case. One question I had was could I get movies from the play store and save them locally for offline watching, the answer is yes! Just hit the little pin button that pops up and it downloads the movie.

      The tablet overall is great, I won't review google now and everything else as far too many others have. Just search for those reviews. What I will say is everything is working perfectly. I haven't had any issues and this tablet is working great. I love it fits into my back pocket of my jeans, even my Dockers dress pants, sure it sticks up a bit but that's not a problem for me. It's portable and I like that.

      I would recommend getting one of these if you have a first gen ipad as it blows it out of the water. I can't comment on the 2nd or 3rd gen ipads but frankly it is a matter of preference. For me I like android and I like this tablet so it's a home run for me.

      For best deal of this tablet, I suggest you have to check at: Tabletsbestprice.blogspot.com/p/google-nexus-7.html

      Good luck!
      NJHancock
    • Nope

      Typically you can not connect mobile device to another mobile device hotspot because it is Ad-Hoc instead Access Point (AP). So you are tied to open WLAN networks or your home network.

      Of course if this is different case for Nexus 7, it is good.
      Fri13
  • I'll wait...

    No removable storage isn't perforce a dealbreaker, but only if a 32Gb model comes onboard. If I can't load a half-dozen movies on my device, along with all my apps, then I won't be satisfied with the tablet. So I'll be waiting for a 32Gb model.

    It would be nice if it had some sort of video-out, too.
    dsf3g
    • Miracast

      Well, nVidia has signed up with the Miracast project so wireless video out might be possible since this is initially going to be for the Tegra 3 chipset with certain televisions in the future.
      DonRupertBitByte
    • USB

      Not the greatest solution, SD card would have been much better... But if you don't mind rooting your device, you can use USB drives with an OTG cable and the Stickmount app. **Disclaimer: I haven't actually played a movie on mine over USB; so I don't know how well that works. But worst case, as long as you have room for one movie on the tablet, you can copy from the USB and then play it. Again, it's not the greatest solution but it is a solution.
      kb5ynf
      • USB

        9.0

        Forgot to vote! :)
        kb5ynf
      • USB

        Video over USB works great, just so everyone knows :)
        iamtheteam
  • Thank you, much better.

    9.0

    The last review from this website was done by a cretin by all accounts. If I remember correctly they said all it needed was an Apple logo on the back.

    Thank you for actually doing a review without resorting to that puerile behaviour.
    Bozzer
  • Nexus 7 is a bargain vs iPad

    7.0

    The iPad has no external SD card storage either. Nor does it justify a $300 increase over a Nexus 7. Yes, the Nexus 7 lacks some features like a rear camera but for many of us its a reasonable compromise considering the price. I do not need 3G or 4G as I have a Myfi device which probablyworks as well if not better then a built in one. I can run 5 devices on that vs having cellular data on a iPad. makes more sense to do what I am doing. As for storage I think much of the argument is mute considering how much the cloud in working on both a iPad and the Nexus 7.
    Tablets were not designed for huge storage requirements. Its a weak argument by Apple fans to say the slightly higher capacity of storage on a iPad justifies its $300 increase
    jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
    • 32" Flat-screen TVs are a bargain over 60" Flat-screen TV.

      Not sure why consumers pay hundreds more for a larger screen TV when all they ever really needed was a smaller 32".

      /s
      dave95.
      • Re: 32" Flat-screen TVs are a bargain over 60" Flat-screen TV.

        They are, if the 60-incher only lets you watch content from the TV maker, and what's worse, it's all in SD anyway.
        ldo17
      • Eyesight

        My mother owns a 60 in because she is 91 and has very poor eyesight. She likes to read the banners scrolling on the bottom of the news channels and can't with a 32 in.
        hayneiii@...
  • Not running Windows8 is a deal breaker. google could sell 1000x as

    many of these if they offer a W8 version.
    Johnny Vegas
    • mustn't feed...

      ... the troll.
      Darn, I just did
      keithc
    • I'm going lo laugh

      I'm going to laugh 1 year from now when Win RT sales make WebOS look like an unstoppable juggernaut in comparison.
      dsf3g