News by Andrew Kameka on Monday August 12, 2013.
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The Nexus released by Google and ASUS in 2012 went from concept to reality in a few months. The short lead-time was all it took to craft a 7-inch tablet that hit the sweet spot for an attractive tablet with an even more alluring price tag. With the new Nexus 7, Google is out to recapture the magic that conjured up the best-selling standard Android tablet to date. It's still about portability and power, Asus is once again Google's co-pilot, and the price is slightly higher yet well within the budget of most consumers. This should be a sure winner based on previous history -- if history repeats itself.
Hardware and Design
The 2013 edition of the Google Nexus 7 is slimmer, taller, and thinner than the one that came before it, making the tablet even more comfortable to hold with one hand. It's also lighter at only 290g (10.23oz). The slender frame makes the Nexus 7 a tablet that can slide into a large jeans pocket. It's great to have this svelte frame, but the slimmed down proportions come at a cost. For one, the bezel is considerably thinner on the right and left sides, meaning that fingers are more likely to block the screen depending on thumb positioning. It also creates a disproportionate view because the top and lower borders are still very thick. The good news is holding the Nexus 7 in landscape provides an unobstructed view of the screen because of the thick border around it, and the small bezel creates only minor problems for people with thick fingers.
Another change is that the dimpled rubber material of the original Nexus 7 has been swapped for a smooth matte finish. The back is a flowing material that maintains a tiny bit of moisture but is otherwise comforting. I actually preferred the original Nexus 7 material and am sad to see it go; however, the new Nexus 7's matte back still feels good, and the curving edges add to the skinnier shape to make for an overall increase in comfort.
The power and volume buttons are discreetly put inside the curved frame. They do not stick out very far, so the plastic buttons must be firmly pressed in order to turn on the device or adjust volume. Menu, Back, and Multitasking buttons are much easier to reach because they are virtual. I much prefer virtual buttons because they are closer in any orientation and it simply looks better. Equal praise can be placed on the speakers, which have been placed at opposite ends of the Nexus 7 rather than a continuous bar on one side. The stereo speakers show advancements in design and have virtual surround sound provided by MP3 inventors Fraunhofer. Google's claims of a boost in sound quality are marginally accurate but noticeable. Compared to what other tablets output, the Nexus 7 sings a sweeter tune.
The 7.02-inch IPS display is unprecedented. It's the first 1080p HD tablet at this size and packs in 323 pixels per inch. Text looks so clean in the browser and reading apps that it's hard not to put the Nexus 7 next to another Android tablet and find it hard to go back to the other options. The dense display also makes for rich, illuminating colors without oversaturation or tint issues. With perfectly consistent viewing angles and high resolution, there isn't a tablet at this size that can match the Nexus display.
Performance and Key Specs
A Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro powers the Nexus 7. The 1.5 GHz quad-core chip pairs with 2GB of RAM, so there's a routine swiftness to base level aspects of the Nexus software. Apps load in a snap and zooming between the multitasking button is equally as quick. Responsiveness never felt like an issue in my time with the device. There never came a time where I felt the S4 Pro, though technically not as powerful as the Snapdragon 600 or 800 chipsets, failed to shield me from lag or buckling under the weight of activities.
The early days of the Nexus 7 have given me nothing to complain about, a feat that was short lived as I began to use it more often. The Nexus 7 has 16GB of internal storage and less than 12GB of that space is actually accessible to the user. As time passes and I approach maximum storage capacity - I'm already halfway there without even caching any music or videos to watch offline - the lack of a microSD slot will be devastating. If someone has the extra $50 to spend on the 32GB version of the Nexus 7, it would be wise to make the upgrade to avoid the woeful lack of storage options.
- 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, Adreno 320 GPU, 2GB of RAM
- 16GB of storage (11.94 accessible) or 32GB
- 7.02-inch, 1080p HD IPS display
- 114 x 200 x 8.65mm (4.49 x 7.87 x 0.34in)
- 290 grams (10.23 ounces)
- 3,950 mAh battery, Qi wireless charging
- NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz)
- 4G LTE or HSPA+ optional
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.