Google Nexus 7 Review

Key Features:

    • 7in, 1920 x 1200 resolution display
    • 8.7mm thin; weighs 290g
    • Android 4.3
    • 16GB storage; 2GB RAM
    • Price as Reviewed: £199

Google Nexus 7 Review

What do you get when you take a great product and make it better? The 2013 edition of the Nexus 7, that's what.

The original Nexus 7, which was launched in 2012, was the first in a wave of low-cost 7in tablets running Android, which was soon followed by the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, the Barnes and Noble Nook HD and - at a slightly higher price bracket - the iPad mini.

It was a major success and even saw its price drop from a low £179, to a ridiculously low £159 before the launch of the revamped Nexus 7 earlier this year.

While the new Nexus 7 is not a revolutionary change by any means, and it is questionable if anyone who owns the 2012 version should upgrade, the new tablet is better in pretty much every way - except, that is, for price.

At £199 the new Nexus 7 is not expensive but that £20 price bump may put off those people thinking about selling last year's model and upgrading to the new model.

Nexus 7: Look and feel

The first thing you will notice about the new tablet is the change in design. It is thinner, lighter, narrower and taller than the original, all of which makes it much more comfortable to hold in one hand - whether in portrait or landscape mode.

While the construction is primarily plastic, this is plastic done right. It feels premium - or at least more premium than most 7in tablets on the market, with the matte black rear feeling soft and natural in my hand. The screen and casing join flawlessly and the build quality is excellent.

The sides of the tablet slope away sharply to the rear, making the tablet feel even thinner than its 8.7mm, but it also makes the power and volume buttons on the right-hand edge more awkward to reach and push. It's a small niggle, but one which can frustrate if you are turning the tablet on and off all the time.

Nexus 7: Screen

The biggest upgrade in the new model is definitely the screen. Replacing the decent 800 x 1280 pixel resolution panel in last year's model is a phenomenal 1200 x 1920 pixel display this time round.

It is nothing short of superb. It is pin sharp, with a pixel density of 323 pixels per inch (compared to 216ppi last year) making it impossible to identify individual pixels.

Colour reproduction is also excellent, with a neutral colour temperature throughout. Thanks to the IPS technology being used, viewing angles are faultless and there is little to no backlight bleed.

All in all, this is as good a tablet screen as I have ever seen.

Nexus 7: Performance and battery life

While the new Nexus is powered by a powerful quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor running at 1.5GHz, it's excellent performance in my opinion is as much attributable to the fact it is optimised for native Android as anything else.

The purpose of the Nexus programme is to show off Android at its best, and without any of the clutter other manufacturers put on top of Google's software (Samsung I'm looking at you) or indeed the complete forking of the software (Amazon), Android 4.3 shines through on the new Nexus 7.

HD video playback, 3D gaming, multi-tabbed web browsing and audio and video streaming are all performed without a glitch. During intense use the Nexus 7 does become slightly warm to the touch, but not so much as would make you need to put it down.

In terms of storage you still only get 16GB and 32GB options, which is a pity as there is no microSD card slot meaning you are limited to the amount of video, photos, music, apps or books you can store on the device. Of course there are numerous cloud storage options available now, including Google's own cloud, but for some the lack of expandable memory could be an issue.

The Nexus 7 comes with the usual combination of Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 4.0 for wireless connectivity and it even supports the Qi standard for wireless charging. There will also be a cellular version available soon which now supports 4G networks, including all those in operation in the UK.

Looking at the specs, it would seem like battery life was going to take a hit as the battery's capacity has gone from 4325mAh in last year's model to 3950mAh. But, thanks to the battery-saving tricks of Android 4.3, you actually get more use from the battery than the original.

This is thanks to the way Android 4.3 handles sleep mode, meaning it properly switches off when you hit the screen lock button, but is still able to pop back to life instantly when needed.

Another update over last year is the addition of a rear camera. There is a five megapixel sensor here and while you can get relatively decent results in well-lit situations, in general this camera should only be used in emergencies, as the camera on your phone is likely much better.

Finally in terms of hardware, Asus has improved the speakers on the tablet, with the stereo speakers located on the top and bottom of the rear cover. Of course when the tablet is held in landscape mode - when you are watching a film for example - the stereo speakers are to the right and left of the screen.

While the sound from the speakers themselves is OK, the location of the speakers is not great. You 'll find yourself putting you hand over one or both of them while holding the tablet, and the simple fact they are on the rear and not the front means you lose a lot of the sound quality.

Nexus 7: Android 4.3

As I've said already, this is a pure version of Android, and while 4.3 didn't bring too much in the way of obvious improvements over Android 4.2 the operating system is much more stable and fluid than it was just a couple of years ago.

The biggest problem for Android on tablets remains the lack of a tablet-specific app catalogue. While it is improving and Google is making a big push for developers to focus on it, the selection of apps which take full advantage of a bigger screen are limited.

One of the areas where it has improved however is with games. Android 4.3 saw the launch of the Play Games app which is much like iOS' Gamer Center, allowing you to post scores to leaderboards or challenge friends to play games with you.

The Nexus 7 is able to handle any of the games avaialble and with the extra screen space the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Real Racing 3 or Rayman Legends really shine.

Nexus 7: Verdict

A slimmer, light, narrower, taller version of a great tablet with a phenomenal screen, better battery life and excellent performance means the new Nexus 7 is the best 7in tablet on the market and Google and Asus should be congratulated on making a great tablet even better.


    • Screen: 9/10
    • Design: 8/10
    • Operating System: 7/10
    • Build Quality: 9/10
    • Value: 9/10
    • Overall: 9/10

The Good

    • Excellent value
    • Great design
    • Phenomenal screen
    • Android 4.3

The Bad

    • No expandable memory
    • Limited Android tablet-optimised apps