After almost a year, the previous tablet and on the back of success of that previous version, the Google and Asus partnership has released an upgraded version to that tablet. The first gen Nexus 7 was launched a year ago with good features and also packed latest OS at that time and still available for a reasonable price (which is quite a sensation at that time and still is popular). Now second gen Nexus 7 raises the bar even higher and brings a whole new set of premium features to the table but still available at an affordable price. Google and Asus have taken great care in every aspect to make an impressive upgraded version. They made it lighter, thinner, quicker and overall brought an excellent device to the market. Before going into further details, to simply say – it is a great device. It has few shortcomings but on the whole its premium features completely compensate (affordable price does also help the cause) for those few downsides. Now let's have a look at its features.
Design and Build
The new Nexus 7 or Nexus 7 (2013) has great and good looking quality build. At the first instance it may look similar to the Nexus 7 (2012), but there are some changes made to it. The metal frame which surrounded the first gen N7 is done away with in the second gen model. The front panel is made of Corning Gorilla Glass and there is a secondary camera placed on top-right of the screen.
Coming to the back, ASUS ignored the textured rubberized back in the first gen N7 and opted a soft touch plastic back with matte finish. There are 'nexus' and 'ASUS' logos on the back panel. The 'nexus' logo is placed at the centre vertically which is different from last year's horizontal placement and the 'ASUS' logo is placed at the bottom perpendicular to it.
Apart from this there is a 5 MP camera placed on the top-left (at the corner) which is not present in Nexus 7 (2012). Another significant change from the original Nexus 7 is the presence of stereo speakers. There are three speaker grilles – big one and two small ones. The big grille is place at the top of the back cover and the small ones are placed at the bottom on either side of the micro USB SlimPort. The power on/off button along with the volume control key is placed on the right side of the device and the 3.5mm audio jack port is placed at the top.
The bezel size has been increased a little (compared to first gen model) on the top and bottom while cutting it down on the sides (making it even more comfortable to hold the tablet in landscape mode). The dimensions of the upgraded version are 200 x 114 x 8.7 mm as against the previous model dimensions of 198.5 x 120 x 10.5 mm. It weighs about 290 grams for the Wi-Fi version and 299 grams for the LTE version (making it easier to hold in one hand for a long time) and it is 50 (41 for LTE) grams lighter when compared to its predecessor.
This is the area where more attention is focused at after its announcement. Last year's model has a display resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels (which is acceptable for a 7 inch tablet), but still Google and Asus has made some changes to the display screen and brought a significantly sharper one to the market.
Once you power on the device, Nexus 7 (2013) welcomes you with a high quality and gorgeous 7 inch IPS LCD capacitive multi touch (up to 10 fingers) screen amounting to an impressive pixel density of 323ppi and its aspect ratio is 16:10. The density of 323ppi makes new Nexus 7, the tablet with the highest pixel density. The display resolution is 1920 x 1200 pixels, which is the highest resolution in a tablet of smaller (7 inches or 8 inches) size. The new display unit has improved colour accuracy, supports more colours (30% more than original Nexus 7) and wide viewing angles. The display is also bright enough to make it visible under direct sunlight. With a high quality display screen, new Nexus 7 provides a rich viewing experience while watching HD videos and photos, reading eBooks and playing games. This is an impressive improvement over the original model and the fact that they fit it into an inexpensive (or say affordable) device makes it even more remarkable.
Processor and RAM
Powering that high resolution display to ensure good performance does require a good processor and good amount of RAM. Original Nexus 7 was packed with a NVIDIA processor (Tegra 3 1.2GHz Quad-core Cortex A9). But this time Google and Asus chose Qualcomm in place of NVIDIA (considered may be due to slimness).
Nexus 7 (2013) is packed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 pro (APQ8064) which is powered by quad-core krait 300 cores clocked at 1.5GHz and it is equally backed up by 2 GB of RAM. When you look at the graphics department, it is powered by Adreno 320 GPU (last year it was ULP GeForce) which is clocked at 400MHz. Nexus 7 (2013) comes with an improved graphics performance supporting 3D games and HD movies without any lag. If you're into gaming then you will definitely enjoy the experience on new N7. With a powerful quad-core processor coupled with 2 GB RAM, Nexus 7 (2013) has everything in it to provide a smooth and lag-free user interface.
OS and Memory
Being an exclusive Google device has its advantages. The Android OS will be more responsive and smooth (stock android experience) because there won't be any third party changes made to it. And apart from that you will be receiving timely updates whenever they are available (Jelly Bean v4.3 update is available to the last year Nexus 7). Google introduces latest version of Android OS with a Nexus device and Nexus 7 (2013) is no exception.
Straight out of the box, the new Nexus 7 comes with Jelly Bean v4.3 OS (last year tablet came with Jelly Bean v4.1; latest at that time) which is the latest version of Android OS and new N7 is first tablet to have this OS. Google introduced this version for the first time by making simple changes and adding more features (multi-user support, restricted profiles, faster user switching, dial pad auto complete, additional language support, improved notifications feature, and few other tweaks) to the previous accomplished version. The user controls will provide the option to restrict the access to various in-app features and various other OS features.
Nexus 7 (2013) is available in three versions – 16 GB (Wi-Fi) version, 32 GB (Wi-Fi) version and 32 GB (Wi-Fi, LTE, HSPA+) . Like last year, even this time there is no microSD slot available for expansion of memory which is a bit surprising provided everything Google and ASUS built in to this device.
Camera and Multimedia
Another improvement over the last year is addition of rear camera. The new N7 is packed with 5 MP auto focus rear camera which helps to take images with a resolution up to 2592 x 1944 pixels. It supports 1080p high quality HD video shooting at 30fps. There is another nice feature which helps you to switch to 720p recording, if you don't want high quality video files to eat up the storage. The camera be not be great, but it will cater for your mobile-capturing needs. You can't ask for more because tablets are not really known as great image capturing devices. In my view, the front-camera is more important than the rear camera in tablets. The front-facing camera with auto focus is a 1.2 MP shooter which enables video calling.
As said earlier, the new N7 comes with dual stereo speakers. So the audio quality has improved drastically over the last year's model and it's great. Google joined hands with Fraunhofer to 5.1 virtual surround sound to the speakers, with or without the headphones. The only problem with the speakers is their placement. They are placed at the extreme top and extreme bottom on the backside of the device. There is no problem when holding in portrait mode. But when holding in landscape mode, the hands will fall over the speakers reducing the sound quality. Apart from that there is no problem with the audio. There is enough support for the audio and video playing, thanks to the apps in the playstore.
Battery, Connectivity, GPS and Sensors
As the device got slimmer, it is clear that Google and Asus opted for a smaller battery than the one used in last year's device. Last year the device was equipped with a battery which has a capacity of 4325mAh. But the new Nexus 7 is packed with a non-replaceable/non-removable Lithium-Ion battery with a capacity of 3950mAh. At the first instance, the question comes to mind is – Is it enough to power the device for a long time considering extra pixels, higher frame rates and high resolution display? But you don't have to worry about it because there are some considerable changes made to the device like – reducing idle power (compared to last year model) and improving performance. These changes made sure that the battery capacity is more than enough to power the device for a considerable amount of time. The new N7 supports wireless charging based on the Qi wireless charging standard.
It has support for GSM (850/900/1800/1900), WCDMA (3G) (850/1900/2100) and LTE (4G). There is also support for OpenGL ES 3.0 (industry standard for realistic and high performance graphics), Bluetooth 4.0 (Bluetooth Smart and Low Energy mode). It also supports NFC and dual band Wi-Fi. The device has GPS support and comes with the sensors like - G-Sensor, E-compass, Ambient Light Sensor, Gyroscope and Hall Sensor.
Pros and Cons
So, we have looked at the features of the device. Now let's take a look at its strengths and weaknesses.
•Thinner and lighter build
•Bright, sharp, crisp and HD display
•Blazing fast performance
•Stock Android Experience
•Loud audio with stereo sound
•Lack of microSD slot for the expansion of storage
•Placement of the speakers
As we can see here that new N7's strengths far outweigh its weaknesses.
As said earlier, new N7 comes in two memory variants – 16 GB and 32 GB. The Wi-Fi versions of 16 GB and 32 GB are launched and available in the regions of North America and Europe. The prices for the 16 GB and 32 GB Wi-Fi versions are $229 (Rs 15,000 approx.) and $ 269 (Rs 17,000 approx.) respectively (and very well priced indeed). The LTE version (32 GB) was announced at a price of $349 (Rs 22,000 approx.) which is still to be released. The device is not launched in India but it is expected to be launched in September, 2013 (Q3).
There is no shortage for smaller screen tablets in the market. So how will the new Nexus 7 holds up against them? Let's have a look. First when we compare it to the smaller screen (7-8 inch class) tablets in the android space, it is the best possible device available out there considering its premium features and competitive price.
Now let's compare it to the iPad mini. It may not have that aluminium finish like the iPad mini but still its finish is not cheap. Another major factor when we compare Android with iOS is the availability of ecosystem of apps (tablet optimization apps). But the Android is slowly improving its selection of optimized apps (I agree it has some catching up to do) and there are necessary apps out there that can adapt to the tablet screen. Considering that the iPad mini is worth $100 (apart from a less resolution screen compared to new N7) over the new Nexus 7, the nexus is a better device which offers great amount of value for its price.
Google and Asus together have started making tablets last year. This is only the second tablet from the partnership of Google and Asus. But the tablet has everything you look for in a 7-inch device and still it is available at a reasonable price. It has impressive build quality, great screen, quad-core processor, good battery (along with wireless charging) and on top of it; it comes with Jelly Bean v4.3 OS – Neat. Who would have thought one year back that a premium quality tablet will be available at a very affordable price? We may expect such type of changes in the tablet market in the months to come. But for now, ASUS Google Nexus 7 (2013) is the best small (7 - 8 inch class) tablet in the market.
Read Google Nexus 360 concept: an innovative smartphone that slips around the wrist