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Google Nexus 7 - Apps, Screen, Battery Life and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



Our Score:


Google Nexus 7 Games and Apps

The Google Nexus 7 tablet uses a quad-core Tegra 3 processor and has 1GB of RAM. It's the lower-cost version of the CPU, seen previously in the Asus Eee Pad Transformer 300, but it's nevertheless powerful.

What's the difference? There are three main versions of Tegra 3 at present, and this is the lowest-end of them. The others offer higher clock speed (up to 1.6GHz), a more powerful GPU (520Mhz instead of 416Mhz) and faster RAM. However, at present you'd be hard-pressed to notice much of a difference. Top-end 3D games like ShadowGun and Dark Meadow run perfectly - as cost-saving compromises go, the low-end Tegra 3 is one that's very easy to live with. In the Sunspider benchmark, it scored a respectable 1732ms, which isn't too much slower than the Transformer Prime with its non-low-end Tegra 3 chip.

Google Nexus 7 4

The one downer is that we found the Nexus 7 isn't compatible with everything yet - although this is to be expected of a new device that is not based on something similar. And, the standard caveat still applies: Apple's iPad offers a much better games selection.

Google Nexus 7 Video and Media

More notable is the lack of Google services that are supposed to be the backbone of the Nexus 7 tablet experience. In the US, Nexus 7 owners get to use Google Music to stream their music collections from the cloud, as well as the option to buy TV shows and magazines from the Google Play store.

Wanting to big-up these services is the main reason why Google decided not to include expandable memory - the less you can store, the more convenient streaming is - and so it's easy to label the Nexus 7 as borked tablet from the off. Of course, it isn't, though. With a few swipes and clicks, you can install Netflix, Spotify, BBC iPlayer and apps that'll stream movies and music from a home NAS box. If anyone's missing out, it's Google. Google Nexus 7 8

These Google services are expected to launch in the UK in the short-to-mid term, the delay caused by a lack of deals with record companies and movie studios here. At present, you can rent films for around £3.49 (£4.49 HD) and buy ebooks.

If you already have your own digital movie collection, you're unlikely to be impressed by the Google Nexus 7's native video playback skills. Almost all of our test files refused to play using the built-in media player, including a vanilla SD-quality Divx file. The one unexpected exception were our high bit-rate 1080p MKV files, which all played without a hitch

Patchy playback is far from a deal-breaking problem, though. With a decent third-party media player the Google Nexus 7 has enough power to play virtually anything at full pelt.

Google Nexus 7 Speaker Quality

Contrary to appearances, the Google Nexus 7 tablet uses multiple speaker drivers behind the single speaker grille. They're too close together to produce any sense of stereo and they don't produce quite as weighty a sound as an iPad. Maximum volume is decent given the tablet's size but louder material does start to sound a little strained when cranked. An acceptable performance for the Google tablet, but not a great one.

Google Nexus 7 Screen

The 7 inch screen of the Nexus 7 works in its favour too. It's an 800 x 1,280 pixel widescreen display, using an IPS panel. The raison d'etre of this screen type is to improve viewing angles far beyond what you get with most laptops or desktop screens - where the image all-but disappears when you turn the screen the wrong way.

Google Nexus 7 2

Display quality is good, with a sharp image and commendable (if not searing) top brightness. What we find most impressive about the Nexus 7's display is that is packs in as many pixels as last year's (and many of this year's) 10.1in tablets, resulting in 215 dpi pixel density. That's a bit less than the new iPad's 264dpi, but mighty impressive nevertheless.

There are a few minor quibbles, though. Colours are not super-vivid and the luminosity of the backlight becomes quite visible in dim rooms when the screen is held at angle, turning blacks a little grey-ish - AMOLED screens don't display this effect. They also offer better contrast than IPS displays like the Nexus 7's, but they have their own share of problems.

Google Nexus 7 Battery Life

Set to playing an SD-quality Divx file at full charge, and at 50 per cent brightness, the 4326mAh battery on the Google Nexus 7 lasts for over eight hours. This is fairly pedestrian among well-known tablets as a whole, but is impressive in such a small device. Many seven-inchers can't match it - the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 lasts for six and a half hours, for example. Like most tablets from big-name manufacturers, you're not given any access to the battery unit.

Google Nexus 7 Cameras

Google seems to agree with us - taking photos with a tablet just isn't all that attractive. The Nexus 7 has a user-facing camera, for video chat, but there's no sensor on the rear. There's also no dedicated camera app, further reinforcing that even the camera that's there isn't for taking photos with. Skype does come pre-installed, however.

Google Nexus 7 1

The front camera is a 1.2MP jobbie, and using a third-party camera app we found the shots it produces are packed with chromatic aberration, and lack any refinement or detail beyond the very basics. Do we need any more than this for a video call camera? Absolutely not.

Google Nexus 7 Value

We'll put our cards on the table - the Google Nexus 7 is fantastic value for money. This budget tablet suffers from none of the limitations usually associated with low-cost Android devices. The screen's good, the processor is great and there are no Google goodies left out.

Yes, the non-expandable memory and lack of a video output are disappointing, but we value the good parts here over the slightly increased flexibility of something like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. Google and Asus have come up with a winner, and both the rumoured Amazon Kindle Fire 2 and iPad mini will have to pull something pretty special out of the hat to keep pace at this price.

Google Nexus 7 10


The Google Nexus 7 tablet is one of the best tech bargains of the year. This 7 inch Android tablet is priced so aggressively that every low-cost tablet maker must be terrified. Just as important, it doesn't look or feel cheap either, thanks to the powerful quad-core processor and the texturing of the rear. It's not perfect, and that not all Google services are available in the UK yet is a shame, but this is undoubtedly the best sub-£200 tablet we've seen.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 8
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Screen Quality 9
  • Value 10


June 28, 2012, 4:22 pm

I know what you mean about £40 for what amounts to little more than an 8GB microSD, but the 8GB version would still be a steal at £199 so really have no problem with the 16GB being priced at that point. I think it's more a case of them pushing the price of the 8GB down as low as possible to undercut the Kindle Fire, rather than pushing the price of the 16GB up.


June 28, 2012, 7:05 pm

I've ordered the 8GB. This will be my coffee table browser, as I don't own a laptop. I've always needed something for casual browsing about the house, but wasn't willing to pay iPad prices for such a luxury. This fits the bill nicely.

Ala Miah

June 28, 2012, 8:47 pm

I'm really torn between the 8GB and the 16GB version because I really want to save that 40 quid. I don't really store a lot of content but I want that freedom should I want to! Argh!!

I'll be selling my blackberry playbook to buy this but I want to have a play it it before I do. Which retail shops will it be available from?


June 28, 2012, 9:33 pm

I get the feeling (especially from the early positive reviews) that a lot of people who haven't considered a tablet up till now, will be enticed by the Nexus 7. I'm certainly tempted. I'll probably use it as more of a fallback device though, for when I don't have access to my main PC. The one decision is whether to go for 8GB or 16GB - I'm leaning towards 8GB like you.


June 29, 2012, 3:15 am

Engadget just confirmed there is no MHL support: "We've now confirmed that the Nexus 7 does not support MHL, meaning there's no way to connect this over HDMI to get video output."

It's in an update to the review: http://www.engadget.com/201...


June 29, 2012, 4:12 am

and at least this will kill off all those cheap Androids that were really rubbish and poor value in reality.

Now I predict ASUS will bring out a Nexus Prime in August with an aluminium unibody - mini HDMI - SuperIPS+ screen rear camera - and of course a SIM card slot - Its coming you can be sure


June 29, 2012, 2:49 pm

I'm pleased to see this device. But Google should think carefully about bucking the trend regarding growing storage and expandability.

Yes I want the cloud. But no, I don't want to HAVE to use it all the time. If this had 64GB micro SD slot support, I could put my DVD rips (homemade thank you very much) on it, my ebooks, my photos, my camcorder videos, recorded TV (media portal ts files play nicely with mx video app on android) and a few emulator games. I could relax knowing there's a decent selection for going on holiday, and to keep the kids entertained without an internet connection.

Yes I know Google would like me to pay for Google Play movies, but I don't want to because I need them to work in my HTPC and other devices too. I could cope with cloud backup but not less than 50GB+ on board; enough for a good selection of media at any one time.

They shouldn't be copying Apple and charging for storage, but copying Windows as it used to be, i.e. giving choice and opening the OS.

Android OS is more successful than Chrome OS, isn't it? I think I'll just wait for the Galaxy Note 2. Or a cheaper Galaxy Tab (thanks to competition from this.)


June 29, 2012, 3:00 pm

On second thoughts the 8GB would be okay as a home device, but I'd be using my server instead of the cloud in combination with ES file explorer.

When out and about my android phone could use swiftp (ftp server) at same time as wifi via Mobile AP?

Shame about the odd pricing of the 16GB model.


June 29, 2012, 5:14 pm

the review suggests that storage can be accessed via the USB port. It would be interesting to know if this is in fact the case. Is this device a USB master or just a slave ?


June 29, 2012, 5:45 pm

It's not clear yet. USB OTG has been confirmed on the kernel, however there is a question of what voltage is being supplied. Some devices like the Kindle fire only supply 3.3V, but USB devices require 5V.

We'll should know once Google I/O ends.


June 29, 2012, 5:49 pm

I live in an area on SE London due to get fibre-optic broadband some time towards the end of 2013, currently on a 1.4Mbps maxed out connection.

So I'll take the 64GB storage option please to have all my content locally instead of cloud based. What's that? There's no option for that much storage? Oh. Oh dear. Never mind then! :o)


June 29, 2012, 7:30 pm

I meant "in" SE London, not "on", damn you TR for not having an edit option! ;o)


June 29, 2012, 9:02 pm

Have you actually tried plugging in a storage device to the Nexus 7 microUSB or is this all conjecture?

From what I can tell you'll need to at least root the tablet


June 29, 2012, 11:40 pm

Well it's just been confirmed that USB external storage is NOT supported:



June 30, 2012, 5:53 am

You can't connect external storage to the USB: http://www.anandtech.com/sh...


July 2, 2012, 12:55 am

USB OTG - is not supported [i]navitely.[/i]

It IS functional via Root and with third part app via Google Play. Fat32 Supported read & write from device to memory cards / USB thumbdrives, NTFS read only I think. Files generally need to be copied from the USB OTG memory card source to the actual device in order to be displayed.


This is very good news. It virtually guarantees that full USB OTG functionality will be available on this gadget via customs ROMs pretty soon. I suspect the modding & hacking communities will be well behind this.

Booo to you Google for putting such paltry amounts of memory in it, then deliberately crippling the native support for USB OTG. How very Applewellian in behaviour.

All variations should fully support USB OTG in Jelly Bean 4.1, natively, and they should also sell versions with 32 & 64 GB + MHL support too with an HDMI out and micro SDHC slot for an extra $50-100. A $300 version will at these features would sell like hotcakes too.

James Reckitt

July 19, 2012, 11:19 pm

I think the Nexus 7 is a marvellous product. The low profit margin (http://crave.cnet.co.uk/mob... means that this is fantastic value for money for a tablet of any description. This has certainly made me doubt the real value of an iPad, considering you can get more than 2 Nexus 7s for the same price.

The 'lack' of internal storage is a nothing criticism, in my opinion. I would never use a tablet or phone for music. That's what my iPod is for. For me, it would be an email machine and a portable web/facebook browser (plus perhaps Angry Birds and Flight Control) and for the price, I think you'd be hard pushed to find anything better. Therefore, for my purposes, 8GB is overkill.

To me the only oversight is the lack of mobile network connectivity - a 3G/4G edition (starting at £200) would make this a no-brainer for road-warriors.


July 20, 2012, 2:36 am

My Mum's just got her Nexus 7 through the post. I encouraged her to buy one after she found netbooks too large and clumsy for travel.

I've had a little play with it while setting it up for her, and I'm very impressed with the tablet as reflected in the review. I've only used an iPad tablet before and the Nexus 7 seems just as good, if not better.

I was afraid of stutters and the user-friendliness of the ui but Android 4.1 is great and project butter seems to have paid off. Just one tiny mistake in the review: iPlayer isn't currently available for the Nexus 7. Something to do with flash not being available. You can download an unofficial iPlayer APK though.

I thought a 7" tablet might be too small (as Steve Jobs once said: "they're only good for surfing the web in the bathroom") but I prefer it to the 10" iPad. It's easier for travelling, easier to hold for long periods and would probably make a good reading device (especially for bed-time use). I'm so impressed that I think I'll get one eventually.

Martin Daler

July 20, 2012, 12:41 pm

what do people use these things for? In view of the recent news that something like 50% of tablets gather dust in people's homes, I'm curious to know what use people envisage for their Nexus tablet, and whether they do actually end up using them in that way.

Do people use them to deliver audio/video? Or to browse the web from the sofa whilst watching TV? Or what?

I have to confess that when Apple launched the iPad I was one of the sceptics who thought it would never fly. And now, even though even I can see that clearly it has taken off, paradoxically I am even less clear as to what people actually do with them! I've had friends use them to subject me to their holiday snaps, I've seen them lying about on people's coffee tables, and Specsavers use them to show you a picture of yourself trying on their wares (a mirror does the same job...) but beyond that I am still mystefied.


July 20, 2012, 3:17 pm

Soon, my friend, soon. We're looking at implementing a new and significantly more usable commenting system soon.


July 20, 2012, 3:24 pm

I kindly donated my Nexus 7 as soon as I got it for this review so I haven't had a chance to see how easy it is to root and how well external storage works. I'm getting it back today and will investigate over the weekend and let you know the quickest and easiest way to get external storage working on it.


July 20, 2012, 5:58 pm

I just wasted 30 minutes of my life writing a mini review of my experiences over the last week using this device whilst travelling, only for TR's horrid website to hang forever after pressing the 'Post My Reply' with the message 'Please wait while we add your comment' like it often does. Neither posting anything nor allowing you to copy the text.

I will not be making that mistake again. [Img] Insert Angry Face Here [Img/]


July 20, 2012, 6:05 pm

Sorry to hear that ElectricSheep. We're looking into changing the comments system so hopefully such things will (one day) be a thing of the past.

We do value your comments!


July 21, 2012, 1:59 am

Ahh, no worries Andrew, I should have copied it. Thanks for the reply, it's good to hear that a modified comment system is in the mix. Loving my N7 after a week of depending on it abroad; hating the lack of Flash support (sideloaded flash apk with FireFox apk and phoney addon) and the lack of a 3G version makes little sense as this is a cloud device.

I have a perfect copy, no squeaks or rattles, loose screens or dodgy pixels. From Ebuyer's first cheeky batch. Great gadget, especially for the dosh.

Steve 12

July 22, 2012, 2:26 am

The netbook is dead - long live the netbook

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