Nexus 7 review (2013 model)


new-nexus-7-screen

The new Nexus 7 pulls the exact same trick as its predecessor, offering buyers top-end performance at a low-end £200 cost. Featuring a powerful quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, stellar battery life and wonderfully crisp and bright 7in display, we can’t recommend the Nexus 2013 model highly enough to new tablet buyers interested in an Android tablet.
Pros:
Great display, excellent performance, low cost, decent battery, guaranteed to get future Android updates early

Cons:
Camera is good for price but not great

Overall Rating:
5 Star Rating: Recommended
Price: £199
Processor: Quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4
Display: 7in 1920x1200 1080p HD 323ppi
Storage: 16GB or 32GB internal storage options, 2GB RAM
Battery: 3,950 mAh battery, quoted as nine hours of active use
Camera: 5MP rear-facing and 1.2MP front-facing cameras
Connectivity: WiFi connectivity, 4G model available from O2
Operating system: Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
Dimensions:  200x114x8.65mm
Weight: 290g


Review

Google originally entered the tablet market in earnest in 2012, releasing its original Nexus 7 Android tablet. Its arrival came during a dark period for Android tablets, with other devices, like Samsung's original Galaxy Tab range and Motorola and HTC's ill-fated Xoom and Flyer respective tablets failing to gain any real traction.

For this reason, when first announced many people were all too ready to dismiss the Nexus 7, feeling Apple had already secured control of the tablet market with its popular range of iPad devices. However, to everyone's surprise the Nexus 7 proved a hit, winning over many new tablet buyers with its combination of top-end specs and affordable sub-£200 price tag.
Now one year on, Google's looked to pull the same trick with its new Nexus 7 and has once again partnered with Taiwanese tech firm Asus to release a radically upgraded version of its first own brand tablet.

Design and build

While we were fans of the first Nexus 7's design, it's no secret it didn't look as top end or luxurious as its Apple competition, which features a more robust feeling metal chassis, and black and white colour options.
Aware of this, Google and Asus have completely redesigned the new Nexus 7, working to make it smaller and lighter, with it measuring in at a modest 200x114x8.65mm and weighing 290g. This makes it over 2mm thinner and a massive 50g lighter than the first 197x120x10.5mm, 340g Nexus 7.
One of the chief ways Google and Asus have achieved this feat is by decreasing the new Nexus 7's bezel size. While nowhere near edge-to-edge, there is far less dead space around the Nexus 7 display's sides. This is a welcome boost as the decreased dimensions and weight make the tablet actually usable one handed for certain tasks, like reading on the tube - which outside of people with bear claws for hands wasn't possible on the original Nexus tablet.new-nexus-7
In terms of button and port placement the new Nexus 7 is all but identical to the original, with its power and volume controls lining its top right-hand side and single MicroUSB charge and connection port sitting neatly at its bottom.

Outside of its button placements, the new Nexus 7's design is very different. The new Nexus has a single, smooth finish chassis that wraps around its Gorilla Glass front face. This is a marked departure from the three piece design of the original Nexus 7, which had a glued on textured plastic backplate, smooth grey polycarbonate sides and Gorilla Glass front. Using the Nexus 7 2013 we found the move from a three-layer design to a two part a pleasant one, with it making the tablet feel a little less bolted together and far more pleasant in hand.

The move is also a boon in terms of build quality as, while fairly solid, the old Nexus 7's grey sides are prone to picking up chips and marks. Testing the new Nexus 7 we found the single-colour and one-piece chassis is far more robustly built, being able to survive an accidental spill onto our flat's hardwood floor, issue free.

Display                           new-nexus-7-home-screen
Google made a huge song and dance about the Nexus 7 2013's 7in 1920x1200 1080p HD 323ppi display when it unveiled the device, going so far as to claim it is the most advanced display ever seen on a tablet.
Having had a thorough go with the new Nexus 7 we have to say there is a lot of truth to this claim. Text displayed at the full 1080 HD screen is among the crispest we've ever seen. So much so that while using the new Nexus we found we were even able to read tiny text on sites we were forced to display in the main desktop mode - something we've been unable to do on anything but the larger 10in Nexus 10 and Apple iPad.

The screen also featured wonderfully wide viewing angles that allowed us to watch movies playing on the screen and read text even when sitting at an awkward angle. This is handy in the corporate world, so you can actually get people to crowd round the screen to show them the specific Powerpoint slide or article you're talking about rather than awkwardly passing it person to person at your next business meeting.
Colours and brightness levels are also stellar and are much more vibrant and rich than those on the original Nexus 7, which could at times look a little dull.

Software

The Nexus 7 2013 we got came with Android 4.2.2 pre-installed, though it requested we upgraded to the latest Android 4.3 Jelly Bean version the moment we powered it up.
The original Jelly Bean was a milestone moment for the OS, adding a host of new features like multiple account support, Google Now and Project Butter. One year on, Google's chosen not to rework the wheel with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, releasing an update designed to refine and fix services on older Jelly Bean versions rather than adding anything significantly new.

However, even though the additions aren't as exciting as those debuted on the original Jelly Bean there is still plenty for business users to like on 4.3. One key addition is Android 4.3's new Restrictive Access powers. The feature is designed to build on the multiple account support added on the first Jelly Bean to let the Nexus 7's owner create separate user accounts with tailored rights. For example, the owner can make it so the public work account doesn't let employees do things like install applications from third-party marketplaces or enact certain actions, like in-app purchases.

Considering the number of Trojan apps and malwares targeting Android and the high cost of some security vendors' mobile management services, we're thinking Restrictive Access could be very useful for small businesses on the hunt for a shared tablet.


One other key addition is Bluetooth Smart. Apple loaded Bluetooth Smart onto iOS at the start of 2012 and as a result, since then it has been a key feature missing from Android. Bluetooth Smart allows the new Nexus 7 to connect with next-generation, power-efficient Bluetooth accessories, like remote speakers, fitness equipment and other smart devices.
The connection is significantly less power demanding than traditional Bluetooth connections and makes it so pairing with accessories won't drain the Nexus 7's battery. Past the power-saving tech Google's also added Bluetooth AVRCP 1.3 support to the 4.3. The feature means the new Nexus 7 can now send metadata, like a music or movie file's title, to Bluetooth controllers.

Outside of these however, changes on 4.3 are fairly minor, amounting to little more than tweeks to the camera app's user interface. The only other notable addition, OpenGL ES 3.0 support runs completely under the hood. The tech is designed to entice developers to create bespoke Android tablet apps, offering them a means to create better looking textures and 3D graphics. However, having just arrived mere weeks ago the benefits of the addition are yet to appear.

Performance

The new Nexus 7 does away with the Nvidia chip used on the 2012 tablet, replacing it with a Qualcomm 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and doubling its memory to 2GB of RAM.new-nexus-7-scores
Benchmarking the new Nexus 7 using Antutu we found the upgraded specs performed significantly better and the tablet smoked its predecessor scoring a robust 18,244. The first Nexus 7 by comparison scored an, at its time reasonable, 13,634. This makes the Nexus 7 one of the fastest 7in tablets available, easily beating competitors like the dual-core HP Slate 7, which scored a less impressive 10,520.

Actually using the Nexus 7 2013 we found the device matched its on paper performance and in general had zero issue with its speeds. The new Nexus opened applications within seconds and managed to run demanding 3D games like Shadowgun, GTA 3 and Max Payne chug free. We also found it could run multiple videos from various webpages in the Chrome browser - a feat beyond the first Nexus.

Next: Camera, storage and connectivity | V3
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About Doru Somcutean

Hello, my name is Somcutean Doru and I'm from Romania.

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