What can be said about the Nexus devices that hasn’t already been said? What once stood for a developer orientated device is now a high street brand that you can pick up in your local branch of PC World. Which isn’t a bad thing, it means more people can buy them and Google will be inclined to keep the program running. It also means that I get to buy a nice new tablet every year.
The first Nexus 7 took the world by storm, it totally shook up the tablet market, that until then had been dominated by large expensive offerings from the likes of Asus or Apple. It showed the world that you didn’t have to spend a fortune on a tablet to have a good time. I’ve had the Nexus 7 (2013 edition) for a good few weeks now and now it’s time for the full review, what can it do? What can’t it do? How would I improve it? Read on to find out.
To start us off here are my amended good and bad points.
- Feels fast at everything you make it do
- Stock Android 4.3
- Ongoing support
- Glorious detailed screen
- Slimport video out
- Wireless charging
- Screen is an absolute fingerprint magnet
- Angled edges hurts after holding for extended periods
- Multitouch issues effects gaming
- Really mushy buttons
The new Nexus 7 is a really nice looking device, better than the previous generation in my opinion. Holding the two side by side the new Nexus looks and feels better.
The back panel is now made of a soft grip rubbery plastic, which gets fingerprints on it, especially if you’re a bit greasy. The back also has the camera and two awkwardly placed logos, maybe it’s just my slight OCD kicking in here, but I just don’t like it.
The edge detailing of the new Nexus are angled out, giving you something to hold onto, but if you hold onto for ages the edges really start to dig in, I quickly bought a case for my Nexus to protect my fingers. The sides also play host to the power button, the volume buttons, a microphone, the headphone socket and the Micro USB / Slimport slot. Which juts out a little, so when the device is held in portrait without a case again it hurts your hand.
The buttons are a bit odd, needing quite a lot of pushing when turned off to get an initial response, the power button needing the most work. Once powered on things improve, it’s just getting to that stage that’s a struggle.
The front of the device is basically just the screen, oh what a screen, the colours, the detail, the viewing angles and the fingerprints, I long for the days of oleophobic screen coatings. My Galaxy Nexus never seemed to have this problem. Oh well. The front of the device also hosts the front facing camera and the various sensors.
The spec of the new Nexus 7 is pretty good, a few corners have been cut to keep the costs down, with the CPU choice being the most obvious. Asus and Google decided to go with the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro. In use this hasn’t noticeably affected anything, although if you’re a fan of Tegra optimised games you’re going to have to miss out on ultra realistic water effects.
The rest of the specs are as follows:
- Operating System – Android 4.3
- Display – 7″ LED Backlight, WUXGA (1920×1200) Screen, IPS Panel, 10 finger multi-touch support
- CPU – Qualcomm® Snapdragon S4 Pro 8064 Quad-Core, 1.5 GHz
- Memory – 2GB RAM
- Storage – 16GB/32GB
- WLAN 802.11 a/b/g/[email protected]/ 5GHz
- Bluetooth V4.0
- Camera – 1.2 MP Front Camera with Auto focus – 5 MP Rear Camera with Auto focus, large f2.4 aperture. (rear camera)
- Stereo Speakers
- Interfaces – SlimPort, headphone socket
- Sensors – G-Sensor, E-compass, Ambient Light Sensor, Gyroscope, Hall Sensor
- Battery – 10 hours; 15Wh Li-polymer Battery (3950 mAh)
- Wireless Charging
- Dimensions – 114 x 200 x 8.65 mm (WxHxD)
- Weight – WiFi: 290 g / LTE: 299 g
The great thing about Nexus devices is software updates, unless it’s a really old Nexus then you’re stuck. Running Android 4.3 the new Nexus 7 benefits from all of the latest software features. I’m happy in the knowledge that when Kit Kat comes out I will get the update soon after. No fuss, it WILL arrive, END OF.
One thing I like about 7″ tablets is that they can run phone apps without the app looking horrendous, which is good because true tablet apps are few and far between. Don’t get me wrong here, the situation has improved a bit in the last year, but when apps like Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter and Love Film are basically only phone apps you realise that things aren’t great. But as I said on a 7″ tablet it really doesn’t matter, especially as most phone apps are designed with 5.5″+ 1080p phones in mind. Here are a selection of screenshots showing my most often used apps, Feedly, Google+, Instagram and Twitter and they all work perfectly, with no wasted space like on a 10″ tablet.
The new Nexus 7 runs stock Android 4.3 so you get the basics out of the box, leaving you to set it up however you want. Which I like, recently I’ve been using a Galaxy Note 3 and the sheer amount of software included is an absolute minefield trying to set it up the way you want.
You want a multimedia device, the Nexus 7 will do that easily. The Play Store offers thousands of songs and films which combined with the dual speakers make for an ideal device, sound quality with headphones is really quite good as well. The large internal memory (32GB) is handy for storing media as well, although saying that most of my music is streamed these days anyhow.
You want a gaming device, again the Nexus 7 will do that easily. There are literally thousands and thousands of games to choose from on the Play Store. You can pick a game from something as easy as Solitaire right through to a complex first person shooter like Modern Combat. Again the storage space really lends itself to storing a load of games on.
You want a reading device, well the Nexus 7 will blow you away. The glorious 1080p screen really lends itself to reading books and magazines. There are no end of options to get books onto your device, with umpteen different vendors having stores available for Android, the Play Store itself also offering a wide range of books and magazines. I also like to read saved web pages using Pocket as well.
If you just want a device to do everything then the Nexus 7 will again easily cope, the LTE model will make that even easier as you could take it out and about with you. I’ve really yet to find something that the new Nexus 7 can’t do.
Initially there were a few apps that didn’t work on Android 4.3, but since then developers have caught up and recently I’ve not seen any apps with issues.
There are a few issues though with the software, lack of social media integration into the contacts app and the gallery app always is a shame. A bug in the touchscreen driver also means that sometimes multi touches on the screen aren’t registered correctly, which has created a few high speed car crashes whilst gaming. No doubt it will get fixed in future firmware releases.
Other notable stuff
The camera is a pretty basic unit, without a flash. So don’t go out with it expecting miraculous results. In low light it struggles a bit, but nowhere near as bad as a budget phone camera would.
The battery in the Nexus 7 seems to last longer than its predecessor being 3950 mAh it’s not going to last forever. I have found using for a few hours each day I can get about a week out of it. Heavily using it for gaming or something will kill it in a few hours, but for my usage where I’ll just grab it for a quick scan through the news it seems really quite good.
Thanks to the Qualcomm S4 Pro chipset the Nexus 7 comes out on a par with some of last years flagship devices, things like the Xperia Z and the Nexus 10.
The new Nexus 7 is Qi compatible so any Qi charging plates can charge the Nexus 7. The normal USB charger charges at 2A and using a wireless charger which charges at normally about 1A or less. So the outcome of charging the 3950 mAh battery is a bit slow, especially compared to USB charging. But wireless charging isn’t about speed it’s about convenience and as such it makes it easy to charge your Nexus 7.
In conclusion the Nexus 7 (2013) is a great device, it feels more refined than last year’s model, if feels better quality and it certainly feels faster. The software just seems to work that little bit better on the newer hardware.
Bar a few issues with dodgy button mountings and rather harsh angled edging the Nexus 7 (2013) is a great device, it will undoubtedly push other manufacturers like Samsung and Acer to increase the specs and lower the prices of their equivalent products, which is always a good thing.
The interesting thing will be to see if Apple increase the resolution of the iPad Mini to match or beat the Nexus 7 because at the moment the Nexus 7 is a more attractive option.
As to whether or not I’d get a new Nexus 7 over an old one, yes, get one the extra money is worth it for the screen and the build quality. I haven’t had to take the back off my new Nexus 7 and screw the screen back on yet, so I’m well impressed.