After more than two weeks of playing around with the Nexus 7 and making it my primary tablet, I’v already forgotten where I placed my iPad 3. Check out why on our full review of the Google Nexus 7.
The Nexus 7 is Google’s very first collaboration to create a bleeding-edge Android tablet. It comes with the latest version of their Android OS, codenamed Jellybean, to showcase the optimizations and new features introduced with the update.
Design and Build
As a 7-inch tablet, the Nexus 7 is pretty portable and usable even with just one hand although we feel it’s is a little thick at 10.5mm. It’s got that matte finish and the rubbery back panel feels soft and those small dimples are hardly noticeable (still gives you a good, non-slippery grip nonetheless).
Aside from the power button and the volume controls on the left side of the device, the only other ports are the 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB port — both of which are found at the bottom end of the tablet.
The device feels solid and firm but we found a QA issue with our review unit — the screen separation issue which is widely reported by other users. It’s a bit of a nagging issue especially when you hold the tablet with your left hand. Everything else looked okay and just fine.
There have been a lot of 7-inch tablets around and the Nexus 7 is just one of many. With a 720p resolution, the Nexus 7 has a relatively good display quality when paired with an IPS LCD.
While we think the image quality looked crisp and clear, the maximum brightness of the display doesn’t really bring out the best from the device.
The pixel density of 216ppi is enough to give the display a decent image rendering (better than the pixel density of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and the same as the Huawei MediaPad). We’ve seen 10-inch tablets with 720p HD display but it looks way better on a smaller 7-inch screen.
The screen gets into a lot of problems with glare when used in the outdoors but this is an issue that many other tablets are also prone to.
OS, UI and Apps
What’s good with the Nexus line of devices is that they use the latest version of Google Android. In this case, the Nexus 7 runs on Android 4.1.1 Jellybean with the stock UI we’re all familiar with.
Initially, there were a number of Android apps that would not install or run on Jellybean but later updates have fixed this already. For a full overview of Android Jellybean, you can read our previous article about it here.
A few notable features include Android Beam which allows for sharing of information or transferring files just by tapping two devices (uses NFC for pairing).
The other one is Google Now which is basically a voice assisted information center, much like Siri on the iPhone and S Voice on the Galaxy S3, only that Google Now does not follow commands but more like providing search-related information.
Multimedia and Camera
The volume of the speakers at the back seem to be a bit under-powered. The max volume isn’t too good that we’d always end up hooking the device to an external speaker.
Unfortunately, the Nexus 7 does not have any rear camera. Instead, Google sacrificed it to keep the cost down and focused on the front-facing camera for video calls (Google Hangout).
The Nexus 7 comes with Google Chrome as the default browser. It’s way better than the default Android browser that’s been around for so long. There’s no Flash player pre-installed into Chrome but we have a fix for it here.
Other content such as music and videos are not also available in the Philippines but that’s one thing that’s shared by all other Android devices used locally.
Performance and Benchmarks
We ran a couple of benchmarks and the results are pretty much expected (since we already tested a similar specs on other Tegra 3 devices). Quadrant score is 3,641 and Nenamark 2 is 55.7fps. After a quick firmware update, we finally managed to download and install and got a score of 10,752.
The scores are almost the same ones we got on the Asus Transformer TF201 so we’re pretty impressed. Google did really good with the Jellybean update. The over-all experience is so smooth it’s very close to iOS. You will experience the occasional lags but in our experience, we rarely notice it.
We managed to get the tablet to last just over 3 days with casual use. However, when subjected to heavy usage the battery can only last us around 7 hours (continuously watching videos). It’s not as good as the 10 solid hours we got from the BlackBerry Playbook.
Nevertheless, we’re pretty satisfied with the battery performance — it’s not exceptional but fairly acceptable for our daily use.
Google made a lot of cost-cutting on the Nexus 7 and may have rushed Asus to manufacture the tablet which resulted into some poor quality control. However, this type of hardware in a price category that’s not been heard of in any other branded tablet manufacturer, the Google Nexus 7 has made a huge step forward. One is to bring really good performing tablets to a much lower price category (it’s normally in the 20k+ range) and, two, it has addressed one of the biggest issues that has been plaguing Android devices (laggy performance).
So yes, we can definitely say that the Google Nexus 7 is the best tablet in its price category. It’s a powerful tablet on a budget. It’s got its fair share of shortcomings and it’s not perfect but it’s a good example that many other manufacturers can follow. Now that’s where the excitement really is.
Google Nexus 7 specs:
7.0″ IPS LCD @ 720p 1280×800 pixels, 216ppi
NVidia Tegra 3 1.3GHz quad-core processor
8GB internal storage
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
VGA front-facing camera
Android 4.1.1 Jellybean
4,325mAh Li-Polymer battery
The Google Nexus 7 is not yet officially released in the Philippines. It’s been slated to be launched locally this August but due to high demand in other markets (specifically the US where it was first released), the Philippine release by Asus looks like it’s going to be delayed. The US retail price is $199 for the 8GB and $249 for the 16GB model. This does not include US state taxes though.
In the Philippines, we’re seeing the grey market prices to be in the Php13k to Php16k, respectively.
What we liked about the Google Nexus 7:
* Great performance
* Very affordable price
* Updated with the latest Android OS
What we did not like:
* Low internal storage
* No expandable storage
* No rear camera
* Weak speakers
* QA issues
Disclosure: We bought our own review unit of the Google Nexus 7 in the United States with a total landed cost of around Php12k (included taxes, shipping and customs).