The time has come for Nexus 7 tablet to get his heir. It’s been a year since this model was presented, and it’s still very competitive, due to the choice of hardware, and the price that keeps going down. Alas, the times have changed, there are new standards for resolution and raw processing power, so it was to be expected that there will be a brand new Nexus 7. We didn’t expect for name to stay the same, so the new Nexus 7 is still just Nexus 7. In order to give a clear idea which one is which, it will be called Nexus 7 2013 or just new Nexus 7. But, if the name didn’t change, what did?
Previous Nexus 7 wasn’t a beautiful piece of machinery with fantastic finishing touches and use of metal, but had one characteristic that set it apart from the competition – back cover made out of soft material that ensured a firm grip. New Nexus 7 doesn’t have that distinctive back cover, which is now made out of the usual plastic, including the only hardware buttons on the right side – power button and volume control. Buttons are small and of average quality, in accordance with the design and final processing of the whole tablet. Back cover is sturdy and well-fitted, and has a slightly matte finish in order to secure a firmer grip. During use there are no noises and crackling and it’s all fitted beautifully. There’s also a camera on the back side, and the whole surface is covered in Nexus logo.
On the lower side, there’s the standard micro USB port for charging and data transfer, and there’s an audio jack on the upper side. Screen takes up the most of the front surface, but there’s a lot of space on both the upper and the lower side, which we didn’t like too much. Precisely because of that, this tablet is a bit longer than its predecessor, but at the same time a lot thinner and lighter, although the battery is also of smaller capacity. In the area beneath the screen there’s a LED indicator, visible only when tablet is turned on, and above the screen there’s the front camera lens and ambient lighting and distance sensors.
The packaging is sparse – it contains short user manual, the tablet and charger, along with the accompanying micro USB cable, which can also be used for data transfer. We didn’t mind it, especially because that’s one more thing that determines the price. We liked the fact that the charger is quite powerful, capable of delivering up to 1.35 A and charge the tablet quickly.
New Nexus 7 has an unexpectedly good hardware. A good screen that its predecessor had is replaced with a new and far better one, which has a resolution of 19200x1200 pixels. Thanks to that, images and text are extremely sharp and clear and it’s a real pleasure to use it for prolonged period of time. As it was to be expected, it’s protected with Corning Gorilla glass, and backlighting is good enough for normal use under all conditions except under direct sunlight. As for the color reproduction, professionals will perhaps find a few flaws, because sometimes some pictures can appear slightly blurry. For an average user, something like that is unnoticeable, but excellent viewing angles are easily noticeable, as well as great contrast. On all accounts, quality of the screen has set a high bar for the competition, in this price range.
The tablet has a quad-core processor, but unlike the last year’s NVIDIA Tegra 3 platform, this time it’s the proven S4 Pro version from Qualcomm that works on higher frequency and it’s a lot faster. We were especially impressed by the video card, because new Nexus 7 uses GPU the same as with Galaxy S4 device, which is a lot more powerful than predecessor’s. That’s been confirmed in synthetic tests, so in 3D Mark that measures raw power, new Nexus 7 is up to four times faster than the previous one. Of course, this power is necessary due to drastic increase in screen resolution. We’re glad to say that combination is great, because there were no lagging even with the most demanding applications/games. That’s largely due to the decision to implement 2 GB of RAM, which in light of further upgrades of OS, demanding applications and comfortable multi-tasking, is a great thing.
Internal memory still can’t be upgraded with micro SD cards, because Google wants to direct its users to use stream services (theirs, preferably). That’s not a good thing because Android OS, as well as applications grow and expand with each version, among other things. At least there are no versions with only 8 GB of internal memory, the only options are 16 and 32 GB models, where the latter costs about 20 euros more, so in case you’re considering to buy it, take the 32 GB model. If you’re thinking about the cheaper model, bear in mind that out of the declared capacity, you will have only about 10 GB, which is no small amount, but still demands a certain dose of discipline concerning multimedia content.
Otherwise, reproduction of the afore-mentioned multimedia content is great. High-resolution video files look incredibly sharp and good. The sound is also improved, so instead of one, now there are two stereo speakers on shorter sides, which give loud and quality sound. Headphones audio out is also excellent, without noise and is of decent volume. If paired with high quality headphones, you’ll have a really pleasant experience, whether you’re playing games or enjoying multimedia content. We liked the fact that in case of receiving a notification while listening to something, the sound is automatically turned down, and sound notification is clearly heard over it.
Unlike the previous version, new Nexus 7 has both front and back camera. The front camera is enough for Skype calls and similar programs. There’s not much to tell about the back camera; it has relatively low resolution, the images are of average quality, but decent enough for occasional taking of photos and publishing them on social networks. The lack of ambient light and weaker reproduction of colors are the standard issues of this type of camera, for which there is no cure. Video recordings are in Full HD with very satisfactory FPS, so even though it lacks advanced functions such as continual focus, the end result is very good. When we heard that battery is of lower capacity and declared with shorter time period than with the predecessor, we were a bit worried. Higher resolution screen, faster and stronger CPU and video card, more memory – all of them are high power consumers. But, when we managed to keep it on for more than eight hours while constantly using it, as well as play a video that lasted 10 hours, it’s clear that we had no reason to fear – new Nexus 7 has great battery autonomy.
|ASUS Google Nexus 7|
|Processor||Quad core Qualcomm S4 Pro@1.5 GHz|
|Memory||2 GB RAM, 32 GB internal, 26 GB available|
|Battery||Integrated, 3950 mAh|
|Display||7", 1920x1200 pix, capacitive IPS Corning glass protected|
|Interfaces||microUSB, WiFi n, WiFi direct, Bluetooth 3.0 GPS, NFC|
|Camera||Back 5 MP; Front 1.2 MP|
|OS||Android OS 4.3|
|User interface||Jelly Bean UI|
New Android OS
As always, new member of the Nexus series comes with the newest version of Android OS, which in this case, is 4.3, which isn’t present in any other device on the market. But, the thrill we’ve had with previous versions of OS is missing this time. Simply put, since presenting OS 4.0 and further versions, the upgrades are far less than was the case between, for example, 2.2 and 2.3 versions. Some improvements are noticeable, such as differently organized Notifications part, which is split into two segments, the left one for notifications, and the right one for system settings. We liked the fact that choice of wallpapers is finally expanded, so we have better choices when compared to previous two versions of Android OS.
The tablet has standard user interface, with three software navigation buttons, implemented on the screen. The interface is quite sparse, especially when compared to Samsung TouchWiz or HTC Sense interfaces, but many users will appreciate this unassuming freedom to adapt it to their own needs. OS is optimized excellently, so everything works extremely fast and fluid and transitions are smooth.
Pre-installed applications are only those connected to Google services (but not all of them), so the users is free to install them at their leisure. We’ve installed audio and video players right away and few more things (about 40 applications), but new Nexus 7 didn’t have any problems, everything continued to work as fast as before. A fact that should not be overlooked, that is important to many enthusiasts is that new Nexus 7 will, same as the rest of devices from the series, continue to get upgrades to newer versions of OS. That means that, in time, it will get Android 5.0, which should be a significant step forward, and something that probably no other tablet on the market has.
If we disregard the confusion with the name, new Nexus 7 made a great impression on us. We would have liked for it to have a better design and to be made out of better materials and for its price to be the same as the predecessor’s at the time of presenting, but everything else is more than excellent. Great screen, excellent hardware, a lot of internal memory, light, thin and with an exemplary battery, it’s hard to find flaws. Simply put, if you want to buy a tablet with a screen diagonal of this size, look no further, price/quality/capabilities ratio is so good, that it’s hard to recommend anything else. Of course, if you want to pay less, there are plenty of other choices, but for more expensive devices in this class, such as iPad mini, it’s hard to find justification, so the new Nexus 7 completely deserves the Editor’s Choice award.