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Google Nexus 7 review

Andrew Williams




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  • Best 16GB Nexus 7 deal


Our Score:



  • Good screen
  • Speedy performance
  • Handy form
  • Textured rear avoids plasticky feel


  • Still no Google Music in UK
  • Non-expandable memory
  • Native video support limited

Key Features

  • 7in 1280 x 800 IPS screen with Corning glass protection
  • Tegra 3 quad-core SoC, 1GB RAM
  • 8GB/16GB of storage
  • NFC, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi N, USB
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Manufacturer: Google
  • Review Price: £159.00

The Google Nexus 7 has been around for a year now. It revolutionised the way people thought about tablets and the size they should be. Dominated by 10-inch tablets, and specifically Apple's iPad, the tablet market was littered with poor quality Android tablets made by companies you've never heard of, or some rather expensive offerings from some you had.

The Nexus 7 changed the tablet landscape entirely. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean provided a great user experience and the device itself packed a quality screen with good build quality at an astonishing price. An 8GB Nexus 7 cost just £159 while the 16GB model cost £199. A year has passed and you can now get the 16GB model for £159, while a 32GB Nexus 7 has also become available costing £199.

It was also the device that kickstarted the smaller tablet revolution. 7 inch tablets had not done well. The BlackBerry PlayBook flopped. HTC Flyer? Disaster. Acer Iconia A100? No-one's even heard of the thing. The Nexus 7 managed to shift people's opinions of what a 7-inch tablet should be. It also threatened Apple enough to get it to created its smaller version of the iPad, the iPad mini.

We were so impressed by the Asus-built Nexus 7 that it won TrustedReviews "Product of the Year 2012" award, voted for by the public and our panel of experts.

Let's find out what makes the Nexus 7 a cut above.

Google Nexus 7 Video Review

Want to see more of the Google Nexus 7? Sit back and watch our video.

Google Nexus 7 Design and Specs

The Google Nexus 7 tablet reportedly only took four months to get from original concept to final design. You can bet the iPad mini has had a lot more man hours pumped into it, but this tablet does not feel like a rush job.

Google Nexus 7 10

Made by Asus, the Nexus 7 takes a few pointers from the company's Transformer range of tablets. In particular, the brown/black rear and its textured rubberised plastic finish wouldn't look at all out of place as part of that series.

Splashed with the Nexus and Asus logos, the Google Nexus 7 tablet is not quite an Apple-grade thing of beauty, but the dotted rear makes it feel almost leather-bound, rather than encased in plastic, as it actually is. The front is topped with Gorilla Glass.

Google Nexus 7 12

One of the best things about a smaller tablet like the Nexus 7 is that you can hold it out in public, in one hand or two, standing or seated, without feeling as ridiculous as you would holding a larger dinner plate. We've always felt a little ridiculous wielding a 10.1 inch Android tablet on the train. A comparatively petite, elongated paperback in shape, the Google Nexus 7 tablet is the perfect size for the purpose. It's slim too - 10.5mm

Google Nexus 7 9

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (left) and the Google Nexus 7

At 325g, the Google Nexus 7 tablet is a little lighter than some of its current 7 inch rivals, such as the 425g BlackBerry PlayBook and 344g Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. This sort of weight makes it possible to use comfortably one-handed, but if you're used to the feather-light body of a Kindle, it will feel a little heavy.

So far, so what, right? The Google Nexus 7 is a portable tablet made to a similar standard as we've seen in the past. However, what's special about this tab is that it packs-in specs that just a few months ago you'd have seen in devices twice the price. It offers a quad-core 1.3GHz Tegra processor, the 800 x 1,280 pixel resolution that was until recently the standard for larger 10.1in tablets, and all the Google software bells and whistles that are often left out of budget tablets. What's not to like?

Google Nexus 7 Connectivity

Aside from lacking the cool-feeling metal finish of Apple's tablets and iPods, we have no complaints about the Google Nexus 7's build. However, its connectivity is pretty limited.

Google Nexus 7 11

On its bottom edge are the microUSB slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack. That's your lot, in terms of sockets. Memory is non-expandable, with 8GB (£159) and 16GB (£199) versions available at present. There's also no access to the battery.

Not being able to jam in a memory card is one win the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 can claim over the Nexus 7, but using a microUSB for both charging and data transfer earns the Google tablet back some points. Most Android tablets from big names use proprietary connectors. Plug the Nexus 7 tablet into a computer using a standard microUSB cable and it'll start charging and its internal memory will show up as a media device, allowing drag and drop copying of files. However, it's not an MHL-compliant port, so the microUSB won't double as a video output.

The Google Nexus 7 has already caught a lot of flak among long-term Android fans for its lack of expandable memory, but it retains much of the versatility of any other Android device. You can still install programmes downloaded from here, there and everywhere and you're not tied to an iTunes-like piece of software to get media onto the tablet. Using a simple (we'll keep you posted with step by step instructions on how to do this) root and app-based workaround you can use the microUSB to connect to powered external hard drives too - although it's not a standard feature as it is in some other Android tabs. You can plug in keyboards and mice without rooting, though.

The one other notable Google Nexus 7 omission is a rear camera. Although many other Google Android tablets offer one, it's no great loss when they tend to be of low quality, and half-decent smartphones are much better-suited to the task anyway.

Wireless connectivity fares much better than the cabled kind. Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and NFC all feature. The latter in particular is a rarity in tablets. There's no 3G model available as yet, but adding it would also bump-up the price significantly.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Some say the Google Nexus 7 tablet is here to combat the iPad mini. Others say it's to fend-off competition from the Amazon Kindle Fire 2. However, either way it is also here to showcase Android 4.1 Jelly Bean - this is to be the only Google tablet to officially use the OS for the next few months.

Unlike its predecessor Ice Cream Sandwich, version 4.1 Jelly Bean is not an earth-shattering change for the three-year-old operating system, but there are some significant improvements. The most important is what Google calls "project butter". This is intended to finally get Android up to speed - previous versions have been laggier and buggier than the comparable platforms from Apple and Microsoft, iOS and Windows Phone. Google Nexus 7 3

V-sync is now employed in the OS, and it's designed to run at a solid 60fps. With a quad-core Tegra 3 1.3GHz processor to call upon, the Google Nexus 7 makes every other tablet at the price look slow. Flicking around the system's menus at top speed, you have to try pretty hard to make the tablet drop frames.

Aside from the speed increase, Android Jelly Bean looks and feels similar to Ice Cream Sandwich. A simplified three-icon nav bar sits at the bottom of the screen, home to Back, Home and Recent Apps buttons, and a seven-icon app shortcut dock sits just above. A neat notifications bar is dragged from the top of screen and the discreet universal search bar sits at the top of each home screen. Type or talk a search term and the Google Nexus 7 tablet will search through your contacts, apps and - if necessary - the web to find results.

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The Google Nexus 7's take on Siri

Voice recognition has also been updated on Google's tablet to make it far more powerful than before, to compete with Apple's Siri.

Voice search uses the Wi-Fi connection to pipe anything you say over to the Google servers for analysis. Without 3G connectivity, this makes the feature largely useless when out and about, but with a connection to call upon, it's impressively accurate.

Web browsing

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean changes the default system browser from stock Android to Chrome, which was previously an optional download from the Google Play app store. It's not the prettiest browser interface in the world, but it skilfully minimises the intrusion of its UI elements, giving over maximum screen real estate to the webpage in question.

Google Nexus 7 6

Other neat features include integration of voice search into the standard search bar and a deep-rooted "incognito" mode. HTML5 support is good too, although there's little recognition of when a keyboard is needed in HTML5 games. Some work is left to be done, but it's getting there.


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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