Google Nexus 7 (2013) – Initial Impressions

Google Nexus 7 (2013)   Initial Impressions

The original Nexus 7 was something special, up until then small 7″ tablets had either been awful or stupidly expensive. The original Nexus 7 showed us that you could have a well specified device at a reasonable cost. It quickly became the most popular Android tablet ever, I imagine a good portion of people reading this will have owned one at some point.


With the inevitable sequal, Google and Asus had a choice, go cheaper, stay at the same price or bump the spec and increase the cost. They went with the latter and in my eyes they’ve done the right thing.

I’ve had the new Nexus 7 for about a day now and I’ve whipped up my initial impressions and a load of photos for your pleasure. So as usual let’s start with the good and bad points.

Good Points

  • Decent build quality
  • Gorgeous screen
  • Nice design
  • Wireless charging
  • Amazing sound quality with headphones
  • Stereo speakers

Bad Points

  • No expandable memory
  • No Tegra optimised games
  • A little bit long and thin
  • Edges feel a little pronounced, prolonged use is uncomfortable
  • Touchscreen seems a little random in its responses at times

Design

The new Nexus 7 has a pretty basic design, it is in my opinion dumbed down from last years model. The Nexus 7 just basically is the screen and the backplate, the front is a huge great slab of glass, which is elongated compared to last years model.

Around the device you get a variety of other bits and bobs, on the front is a front facing camera, a notification light, Micro USB port, the volume rocker, power button, headphone port and then on the back you get the stereo speakers, the rear camera and the Asus and Nexus logos.

The edges of the device are interesting, as the screen has a relatively small bezel, Asus have decided to make the edge of the device slightly pronounced, giving you something to grip rather than holding the screen. They have succeeded here but the edge after a while starts to jab me in the hand, making me want a case for the Nexus.

Check out these pictures of the new Nexus 7 and some comparisons shots with the old Nexus 7.

Hardware

The spec of the new Nexus 7 is as high end as you’d expect.

  • 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/n@2.4GHz/ 5GHz
  • Bluetooth V4.0
  • NFC
  • 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)
  • GPS
  • Wireless Charging
  • Dimensions – 114 x 200 x 8.65 mm (WxHxD)
  • Weight – WiFi: 290 g / LTE: 299 g

For me highlights of the spec are the HD screen, Wireless charging, the extra RAM and the stereo speakers.

Personally I would have preferred a Snapdragon 800 chip, not for any reason just me being greedy really, also a higher spec camera and a Micro SD slot would have been great, these additions would have bumped the price up though.

Software

The new Nexus 7 is like a breath of fresh air, possibly because my ageing original Nexus 7 and my Asus Transformer Prime are both showing signs of imminent death. But Android 4.3 on a brand new fresh device just feels great, having bought the 32GB version I felt a sense of freedom to install whatever I wanted, no funky internal memory partitions here.

I have found that the touchscreen registers a few phantom touches now and again, I guess this will be sorted in a future update, also I found that some apps haven’t yet updated to work with Android 4.3 or they just don’t appear in the Play Store, such as BBC iplayer and TVCatchup again it’s only a matter of time before they sort it.

I sideloaded the iPlayer APK and it worked perfectly, so it is just the BBC being a bit slow in updating their apps.

As the screen is higher resolution, reading books and magazines on the new Nexus 7 is a pleasure. Especially magazines which in the past I had to resort to text mode to read the text, now as the screen is so detailed I can read almost the whole magazine as it was intended.

Initial Conclusion

My initial conclusion is that the new Nexus 7 is a great device, compared to its predecessor it feels miles ahead. The only concern is the price, at £239 for the 32GB model you are dangerously close to iPad Mini pricing, with its premium build quality (and currently lower specs). Will Apple up their game to trump the new Nexus 7? if they lowered the price a bit Google and Asus would be in a difficult spot.

I’m impressed though, for me it offers everything that I need on a daily basis. I just need to figure out the HDMI out via the slimport next.

As this is just my initial impressions we’ll bring a more in depth review in the next few weeks, so if you have any questions please leave a comment below. Also if you want a specific app game or service testing again let us know below and we’ll do our best to help.

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  • “at £239 for the 32GB model you are dangerously close to iPad Mini pricing” — that’s not a concern at all, unless the (upcoming?) iPad mini with *proper* display would be priced just as the current mini, that is.

    • Monkeychops

      Apple hasn’t raised the prices for any other products when they have added retina displays. They usually reduce the price of the non-retina version actually. It’s a lot harder for Apple to put a retina display on the iPad Mini because the screen is quite a bit larger, over a third in fact. If they did it the mini would blow the Nexus 7 out of the water, the resolution would be 2058×1536 with a DPI of 324. Add in the huge ecosystem both in terms of apps and accessories and it’s worth handing over an extra 30 sheets.

      • tankslappa

        If they put a retina display in the mini it would be even less of a competitor to the Nexus 7, it’s just too big. Ipad owners have to walk round carrying their animated tea trays, my Nexus 7 fits into the back pocket of my trousers, it even squeezes into the inner pocket of my jacket, although I do have to relocate my wallet.

        These would be the accessories that no longer fit because they changed to the lightning connector?
        As for the apps, best you recount and stop parroting old news, iirc Android has now passed the apple store.
        The iPad mini was a panic step from apple. Pourly spec’ed and didn’t even beat the old nexus 7 in any meaningful comparison.

        If you’ve invested in Apple apps then you’re probably going to stay there, but if you are new to either eco system you’d be mad, or just poorly informed to go the fruity route.

        I’ve seen several previous Apple fan boys come blinking into the light, I’ve never seen one go the other way though…

  • Craig

    I didn’t think this was available yet? 28th?

    • James Pearce

      Ebuyer somehow got some.

      • William Topping

        Still not available until the 28th though

  • Qbancelli

    Worst initial impressions ever!

    Asking for a SD card slot in a Nexus device, really?

    • Craig

      That’s some Grade A trolling there :)

      SD Card expansion is something that many consumers would like…what’s wrong with saying that it’s an oversight?

      • James Pearce

        Definitely. I don’t care what the Nexus brand “used” to stand for. These days they are consumer devices available on the high street for normal people to buy. As such if I could improve it I would add a Micro SD card.

        That’s all.

        • William Topping

          You’d have to pay more for it to cover the ms fat32 patent.

          I have more media than can fit on any sd card going.

          So even if they included an sd card, I’d still be in same position.

          As would anyone else with a large media collection above 64gb

      • William Topping

        Blame Microsoft.
        If they put in an sd card reader, they would need to pay ms a crazy high patent fee for fat32

  • William Topping

    Why does the author think that the aluminium case is the reason why it’s dangerously close to the ipad mini, despite the rest of the ipad mini being far worse.

    It’s not dangerously close, the ipad mini is a third more expensive.

    Hardly dangerously close. Besides, why would I spend more money on a worse screen, let alone having to repurchase all my Android apps for ios.

  • cabs

    Got mine from Ebuyer,delivered, on the 23rd!!

  • tankslappa

    Every reviewer seems to have an incredibly short memory, but there hasn’t really been a price bump. At launch the original Nexus 7 16gig was exactly the same price as the new 16gig model. It only dropped later in life.

    I bought the original 16gig, and was very happy with it. The recent 4.3 update having brought the trim support and performance back to as new levels.
    I’ve also owned the new 32gig for a week now. The initial firmware had some GPS/Bluetooth issues I discovered when tethered, but I didn’t experience any of the multi touch issues oft mentioned. During the week there was an OTA which fixed the GPS/Bluetooth and I believe the other niggles I hadn’t seen.

    My 1 week long initial impression, superb! No complaints!

    The screen is awesome, sound very impressive, performance off the scale.
    The iPad mini update is not going to come anywhere close, the current model didn’t even beat the original nexus 7, and still came in expensive after having various useful things like the GPS chip removed for cost cutting!