The Nexus 7 will drastically change the way I buy mobile phones

The Nexus 7 will drastically change the way I buy mobile phones

Summary: The Nexus 7 is fast and sized just right - All I use my phone for now is tethering and texting.

TOPICS: Google, Mobility, Verizon

I knew that I'd like the Nexus 7. As others on ZDNet have pointed out, this may finally be the 7-inch tablet that reminds people there is more to geek life than a 10-inch iPad. And given a choice between Android and iOS, no matter how much I like my New iPad, I'll pick Android, particularly its 4.x incarnations. What I didn't realize was how much I'd like it or how much I'd start ignoring my so-called "superphone".

My past 2 phones have been top-of-the-line Verizon Android "superphones". At least for the first 10 minutes until something fancier came out. Bigger screens, faster processors, and ridiculous price tags were the name of the game. Beginning with the HTC Incredible, I was more likely to reach for my phone than any laptop or tablet, including the New iPad. Despite crappy battery life, my Droid Razr was always in my pocket, always at hand; the iPad was usually nearby, but the 4.3-inch screen on the Razr was good enough for most tasks. Why reach for something else?

The Nexus 7, though, is small enough to also almost always be at hand. I only own one pair of shorts into which it doesn't fit and I've never liked those anyway. It's also big enough to make me realize that my aging, computer-baked eyes shouldn't spend hours reading, searching, or viewing on anything smaller. 

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Yesterday I did something that I haven't done in ages. Sitting through an interminable parade, waiting for two of my kids to emerge with their float at the very end of the line, my daughter contentedly asleep on my chest in the warm July afternoon, I just read. For pleasure. Go figure, right? My point is that I would have ordinarily grabbed 10 minutes reading on the Kindle app on my phone or, given an opportunity like yesterdays, would still not have broken out the iPad, instead thumbing through pages on the phone. Holding an iPad one-handed for an hour while the other keeps my kid from flopping over in her sleep would be an exercise in sheer torture for someone with carpal tunnels as abused as mine.

The Nexus 7, though, wrapped in the Tuff-Luv case I stole off my Kindle Fire with its handy elastic strap for one-handed reading, sat nicely in my hand the whole time.

The same goes for email, web surfing, note-taking, and anything else for which I would normally grab my phone. 7" fits in one hand or a pocket and works much better for all of those things than my phone, no matter how large its screen or how bright its display (never mind the fact that it cost me half again as much as the Nexus). Suddenly, my superphone is super-redundant and super-underutilized, relegated to tethering where I can't find WiFi for my new tablet or texting people who haven't switched my contact to use my Google Voice number.

All of which means that my next phone only needs one thing: 4G tethering. Quad core processors, giant screens, massive memory, and anything else that makes a smartphone "super" is just wasted money. I don't need any of those things to make phone calls (and who really talks on their smartphones anyway?), send texts, or hook into a mobile network. In fact, between Skype and Google voice, a decent Bluetooth headset will have me talking and texting on my Nexus more than I do on my phone.

How much of the high-end Android smartphone market has Google cannibalized with their awesome (and cheap) new tablet? And how much more would they eat up by just adding 4G? My guess is that plenty of folks will still buy the latest and greatest smartphones than Samsung, Motorola, and other players crank out. However, I'm also guessing that I'm not the only one who will be taking a different approach to smartphone buying when his current contract runs out.

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Topics: Google, Mobility, Verizon

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Pure Android

    Pure Google Android all the way.
    Some Internet Dude
    • Android!

      I just can't get enough of the pure Android fix. I need more! Feed me Google!
      Christopher Skaggs
      • Agreed

        Add Goflex, AirStash or Wi-drive along with Clear and a phone service Vonage. You pay 60 for unlimited everything in metro areas. you need rural coverage use a Walmart card and you be covered all bases.
  • 4G hotspot

    So why not just go out and buy one of those cute little hotspots from verizon?

    get rid of the phone, embrace tablet-only.
    • I have never been able to work it out

      because t-mobile does everything in its power to make a kind of a pain in the behind. They block their phone sims from receiving data when in a tablet and their tablet sims from calling. I like google voice but I would prefer to have a built in phone and sms service because Google voice does not always update in real time so sometimes it takes a while to get text messages.

      I would pay extra for a tablet that has a built in phone and sms. Like the article says, I never use my phone as a phone and when I do, it is almost always when the phone is connected to the car bluetooth.

      That said, I have preordered a Nexus 7 from Gamestop and I can't wait. I played with Jelly Bean on my nook tablet and it is the most state of the art mobile operating system available. I am not an Android fanboy but it has always been a much more PC like experience compared to iOS, the problem is that is didn't so much "work" as expected. Jelly Bean is much more stable and smooth. iOS has some catching up to do but I am sure Apple is up to the task.
  • Phone as phone

    Now if only someone could make a phone that is a phone first and foremost--good voice quality, ergonomic.

    I like your thesis, though. My S2 is a great piece of technology, but too big for a phone and too small for much of the other stuff I want to do; and the battery life is horrible, too. I'd be willing to carry a 7-inch and a great compact phone, too, especially of my phone was a hotspot.

    This'd be a great avenue for a second-tier player--T-Mobile or Sprint--to exploit. Especially Sprint as the only (?) provider of truly unlimited data-- a nice companion to streaming on your 7.
    • Just the opposite

      I use my "toys" in the following progression: PC > Tablet > Smartphone.
      I find I all to frequently will need to look up a document, email or other item while on a call. I may or may not be at my desk - hence the need for a smartphone. For my use, a tablet/phone would be an added complexity I'd want to avoid.
    • lol...

      [i]Sprint as the only (?) provider of truly unlimited data[/i].. yes, unless you actually use your service like it's truly unlimited... then you get truly unlimited, throttled data...
  • That is the beauty of Android...

    Lots of choice for those who want different things. If Apple comes out with the 7"iPad, there will still likely be compromises and I am fine with that. I think people should chose what they want, if that is Apple and what Apple offers then great. If Apple doesn't met someones needs OR if they just prefer a different experience than Apple, Android is there to meet other needs. Not sure if Windows 8 RT and Surface will get much traction in this environment. MS and it's partners are going to have differentiate their products (Office bundled ?) and price them aggressively FROM THE START to break into the tablet market in a significant way. Having a keyboard bundled from the start, may appeal to some who want to do work with the tablet.
  • Lovin the Nexus 7

    Really enjoying this device.
    I am finding the 7" form factor is very handy for most of my current tablet tasks. While using it this weekend, I am finding my use of the Transformer and iPad have dropped being replaced with the Nexus. No impact to PC or phone use.
    Added nicety was that all of my Android phone/tablet apps I wanted to install on the N7 work great excluding one game (Bejeweled).
  • Leave the smatphone?

    A 7" Nexus and a Jabra Bluetooth ought to let me make all the phone calls I need to make.
  • The 7" Form Factor

    I was convinced of the worth of the 7" form factor after only a couple of days after receiving my Blackberry Playbook (see: ). I think now with Google's reach and marketing muscle, not to mention this sweet new Android tablet, the 7" form is totally legitimized. While I enjoy the iPad, it's just not mobile friendly. I'm waiting for my Nexus 7.
  • but look at your scenario again...

    ...yes, you chose to use the 7 inch tablet when you were out... BUT... not when you were truly mobile... you were in a stationary position, and were going to be there for a good chunk of time.. would you have pulled it out if you were walking OR standing on a crowed bus or a train.. one handed when you're going to have to move at an indeterminate amount of time? answer is no... for truly mobile computing smartphones are still the device of choice... and that's not going to change even if your wardrobe is completely made up of big pocketed pants.. lol...
    • I have to agree...

      as I have the Google Galaxy Nexus. It fills up my pockets pretty nice (I am not a great big guy and don't wear extremely baggy pants so it fits reasonably well). I MIGHT be able to go with the Galaxy Note (at 5 inches), but have a hard time believing 7 is overly mobile (as Einstein said, "It's all relative" ;-). I think 7" is not a bad happy medium, especially for extended reading and if you have a pace and situation which lends itself to that size (I would think that a guy (or girl for that matter) out at a bar with a 7" tablet would be a bit out of place. Might be fine at Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, etc...
  • Me too

    Thinking of very similar things this past weekend. While reading I thought how really really nice it was to hold this 7" tablet instead of a 10" which was never all that comfortable to me when reading. I was always aware of the thing, its heft, weight and lack of weildiness. But the nexus 7 was like ahhhhhh and for the first time reading digitally it just felt right.

    And I too after spending an hour on the N7 realized my 4.6" Galaxy Nexus phone is too small. lol. There is obviously a whole mess of things that are redundant having a great phone and a great tablet. And I have to wonder how much I can be rid of. If tethering was fast and consistent without being a total battery drain (thats the key I think) I would be using the N7 most of the time. The thing is small enough that I have no qualms about carrying it with me to most places. The 10" tablet not so much. It always felt like a chore to carry it around.
  • No phone to fit the niche?

    So following this line of thought, the ideal phone becomes: 4G, small form factor, probably a good camera, and offers tethering.

    But no such phone is available!!

    4G means a smart phone. Which means a larger form factor. And a lot of bells and whistles not desired.

    Not to mention the cost!!
  • what if a 7" tablet could transform into 5" phone?

    7" is still too big to fit nicely for most pants, most will still need a bag or purse to carry it outside.
    My startup have a product design of a 7″ tablet that can transform into a 5″ sized phone, and we are looking for investors.
    Please spread the word if you think it’s a good idea.
    (Our page:
    • Lost with your explanation

      Don't quite understand where you're going with make a 5" phone but with a 7" screen, wouldn't that make it a 7" phone? Do you mean a 7" phone with a collapsible screen? I don't think you can have both without a flexible screen.
      • brain droppings

        What about a slide-away phone keypad that reveals the rest of the tablet-like screen, 'the other 2 inches' as it were?* It can hide under the screen, like those existing retractable mini-(aggravating)keyboards on some smartphones and PDAs.

        Or vice-versa: A tablet with a slide-up keypad for phone-functioning (buttons larger than on those mini-keyboards, because fewer, ie, 'just a phone keypad').

        But then why not just equip the tablet with a phone keypad *app*, akin to the calculator app (and, of course, adding-in the other necessary telephony hardware and software)??

        But if he's thinking "a smartphone doesn't have to look like a brick with a screen on it", he's really going/gone back to the drawing board -- Interesting idea, but my brain's fried just now: All I can think of are the soup-can videophones on the recent commercial!! ;)

        (*--Yes, I know: a-squared + b-squared = c-squared !)
        Teri W.
    • Transform Screens?

      "Transform" between 5 and 7" SCREEN?? Is stretchable screen tech that ready for prime time, or is this some variant on dual screens like the Sony P tablet (or Nintendo DS, for that matter)?