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Nexus 7 2013 review

evan kypreos

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  • Recommended by TR

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Nexus 7 2013
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  • Nexus 7 2013
  • Nexus 7 2013
  • Nexus 7 2013
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  • Nexus 7 2013
  • Nexus 7 2013
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  • Nexus 7 2013
  • Nexus 7 2013

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Pros

  • Outstanding display
  • Great performance
  • Sleek design
  • Good value

Cons

  • Woeful camera
  • No SD card slot

Key Features

  • 1920 x 1200 IPS screen; Snapdragon S4Pro processor at 1.5GHz; 2GB RAM; 5MP rear camera
  • Manufacturer: Google
  • Review Price: £199.00

What is the Nexus 7?

Nexus 7 originally reviewed 12/08/2013

Following in the footsteps of the original Nexus 7, the tablet that brought Android to the masses, Google’s second-generation Nexus 7 has a lot to live up to. Google has now released its new lead tablet, the Nexus 9, though at £319 it’s not the market-defining bargain that the early Nexus models were.

The original Nexus 7 helped repair the damage done by the reams of rubbish Android tablets that came before it, finally making Google’s OS a serious player in the tablet market. It flew off the shelves, proving that people craved an affordable, pocketable tablet. Amazon soon followed suit, releasing its own small, cheap tablet, the Kindle Fire HD, and the revamped Kindle Fire HDX, while Apple responded with one of the most desirable 8-inch tablets on the market, the iPad mini.

So Google’s second-generation Nexus 7 has a lot to live up to, and there’s also a shedload of additional competition from the likes of the Tesco Hudl 2. With the same processor that powers the impressive Nexus 4, a Full HD screen and a claimed all-day battery life, can the faster, sleeker, more expensive Nexus 7 become as successful as its predecessor? It should do, as the new Nexus 7 offers one of the best Android tablet experiences out there.

Watch the Nexus 7 video review:

Nexus 7: What users say

The Nexus 7 has been on sale from more than a year now so we carefully read through more than 300 confirmed purchase user reviews from Reevoo to find out what Nexus 7 owners like and don't like about the tablet.

In general the Nexus 7 scores very well for screen and performance, which tallies with our testing and long term experience with the tablet. Owners also like how much cheaper it is than the comparable iPad mini 2.

On the downside users complain about the lack of microSD card slot and the location of the power button - an issue we also regularly experience.

Average battery life seems to be one of the biggest complaints. It's not terrible, it just doesn't quite reach the levels other tablets do, including the previous version of the Nexus 7.

Not sure what to buy? Then read our Tablet Buying Guide

Nexus 7: Design

The original Nexus 7 was funtional rather than pretty, more worrying were the numerous quality control issues. Owners complained about creakiness, the screen separating from the back and general poor build quality.

Happily the Nexus 7 2 looks and feels sleek and makes its predecessor appear more dated than it truly is. Its silky soft-touch black plastic feels great in hand, while the thin hard plastic seam between the screen and the back is far less pronounced than psuedo-metallic join on the original.

The new Nexus 7 still doesn’t quite have the cache of the iPad mini’s aluminium back, but the plastic is far warmer and easier to keep hold of than the cool metal of its main rival, and is streets ahead of the shiny plastic Samsung favours. Its grippiness is particularly apparent when you rest the Nexus 7 2 on your lap, it seems to clutch at cloth where other tablets just slide off.

Surprisingly, the back isn’t the grease magnet we’ve come to expect from previous experience with soft-touch plastic. It is remarkably resistant to dirt and oil.

Nexus 7 2 11

While the screen size hasn’t changed, the dimensions of the Nexus 7 have. It is a full 6mm narrower and almost 2mm thinner than before. It's a little taller, but the height of a tablet doesn’t matter too much: it’s all about the width and thickness. And here it trumps most other tablets comfortably. It's a considerable 20mm narrower than the iPad mini for example, which means the new Nexus 7 fits comfortably into a back pocket or inside a jacket and is easier to hold.

The change in size isn’t the only thing that’s made it a comfortable tablet. The Nexus 7 has been put on a strict diet and the 50g it has lost makes it far easier to use and handle for longer periods of time, particularly one-handed. The soft edges that run all the way around the Nexus 7 make it an ergonomic tablet, and are a welcome change from its sharp-edged predecessor. All good news if you want to use it for prolonged reading sessions.

SEE ALSO: Best Cheap Tablets

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There are a few design aspects that could have done with a little more refinement, however.

We always thought the power and volume rocker buttons on the original Nexus 7 are a bit too close together for comfort, making it easy to accidentally hit the power button when you’re actually aiming for the volume up. Asus seems to have taken note and moved them a little further apart, but not far enough by our reckoning. You still, invariably, end up hitting the wrong button and turning off the screen without wanting to.

These buttons are tucked away under the curve of the right hand edge of the screen. This has the benefit of ensuring they’re not accidentally triggered when you have the Nexus 7 resting on its side, when watching a movie for example. Unfortunately, it also means the buttons are rarely in an easily accessible position. It’s a minor issue, but one that annoys us regularly during use.

As is the norm on tablets the 3.5mm headphone jack is at the top of the Nexus 7, while the microUSB charging socket is at the bottom. The speaker grilles (there’s more than one this time, but more on that later) adorn the back, one at the top and one at the bottom, while there’s one major new addition to the Nexus 7 – a 5MP rear facing camera.

However, it’s the screen that can make or break a tablet and, on paper, the Nexus 7 has a corker.

Peter

August 12, 2013, 7:35 pm

MX Player is working... When did you checked it, the first day android 4.3 came out and there was no update in player for it ? And you are surprised ? LOL

MattMe

August 13, 2013, 8:04 am

Value 8/10? Are you serious?

Trevor Totten

August 13, 2013, 8:30 am

How can you have 'no SD card slot' as a con? Would you have that as a con if you were reviewing an iPad? No, I thought not. Nexus devices don't have SD card slots; this is nothing new. Think it's a bit harsh to use that as a negative.

The overall score of 8/10 seems harsh also. You say it's "better in almost every single way than its predecessor"... which got 9/10! There is no small tablet that can match even the original Nexus 7, never mind an improved one.

And who cares about the camera really? Does anyone really want to be taking photographs with a tablet? Seeing someone in a crowd taking photos with an iPad, for example, just leaves me thinking they're a bit of a... well, you know. Personally, I think they should have left the camera out.

Most disappointing thing for me would be the price increase, which I don't think is warranted for what is a relatively minor upgrade, albeit minor upgrades to almost every aspect of the device.

L4lefty

August 13, 2013, 9:45 am

Haptic feedback this time around?

RoboJ1M

August 13, 2013, 10:18 am

So, same spec as the Nexus 4 + uber screen + all day battery - £80 = 8/10.
Right.
What more could you really want in a tablet?
I'm a media junky. And I just stream everything from home using Plex.
Don't even use half the space on my 16gb N4.
Best thing I ever did was get a phone with no SD card slot, eye opening.

Evan

August 13, 2013, 11:16 am

Hi Peter I've downloaded the beta for MX Player on 4.3. It worked for a few hours and then stopped working again. I'm not surprised by it not working what I'm saying is that if Google provided developers with more information they can ensure it works when the next version is released, not weeks after.

Evan

August 13, 2013, 11:25 am

If you commute a lot or go on holiday abroad you'll want your media stored locally. The performance is great but the N4 is a phone - you're comparing apples and oranges. The 8/10 Recommended was because it lost marks on battery life, camera, hike in price and lack of SD slot.

Evan

August 13, 2013, 11:28 am

We do use lack of external storage as a negative on the iPad http://www.trustedreviews.com/.... The original Nexus 7 got a 9/10 but it was cheaper and there was no real competition in the smaller tablet market. 8/10 Recommended is as close to 9 as possible and it's not a bad score at all.

Peter

August 13, 2013, 11:42 am

Thank you for reply, now it's all clear. Yet I'm still surprised that you had such a problem at all, I already used MX Player on my new Nexus 7 tab for more than 8h and never had such problem. Also checked forums and no one really get such problem... some codecs problems yes, but not with suddenly stops.

Peter

August 13, 2013, 11:51 am

I'm confused here too... how long did you use this tablet ? I managed to use more than 9h permanent use of internet at auto brightness, let me remind you that previous nexus managed only six and a half of hour !! This is big improvement !! Also had about 7h 30 min while watching wideos, which is not so bad compared to previous nexus 8.30.... As for regular use (a bit of everything), my Nexus 7 last for 3 days without any charging ! I think you havent checked battery well enough and you opinion is based mostly on video player performance. I strongly believe that battery should be minimum 8/10 as it perform really good (as for 7 inch tablet). Yet... it's only my oppinion and no one need to agree with it, but after almost 2 weeks of playing with it I think I know a bit about the performance.

I also agree with MattMe that whole value should be bigger than 8/10... one point up would be satisfying.

MattMe

August 13, 2013, 1:03 pm

Hi Evan, thanks for replying to the comments. I totally and wholeheartedly agree with the external storage fiasco. There's no reason not to include micro SD outside of making more profit from the larger storage device. We have Apple to thank for that.
I don't believe anyone who uses their phone or tablet on the move, or without a ridiculously expensive data plan, can claim they don't need external storage. Not unless they have very little data. My music library alone would not fit on a 64GB device, never mind 16GB.
Also, funnily enough, I'm not always near a wi-fi hot-spot; sometimes I even travel by train, plane and even car, where data signals are poor at the best of time. I don't know if you've gone outside (outernet) in the countryside anywhere recently - you ain't getting no data there, my friend.

I agree with all of that, however it does seem to be becoming the norm, unfortunately for us consumers.

I really liked the review and agree with the score on the whole, apart from, as I already mentioned, the value aspect. Despite everything I said above, taking everything into consideration this is a remarkably cheap device. I would have expected the value to be 9 if not 10.
Cheers.

aditya

August 13, 2013, 7:33 pm

does the NEXUS MEDIA IMPORTER app bought(paid app) in US play store work in other countries like INDIA

Evan

August 14, 2013, 11:04 am

Hi Peter

I used the tablet constantly for 3-4 days while writing the review. The auto-brightness makes the screen far too dark so I had it set to 50%. In general use (60% browsing/emailing and 40% listening to music, watching video, gaming, taking pictures) I found it lasted about 8 hours. While playing games the battery lasted around 4 hours and while I was testing I needed to charge it every evening.

I ran two video tests - one with the speakers on full blast where I got less than 5 hours, and one with no sound where I got 6 hours of video playtime.

However you dice it it's less than the previous model.

Value was a tricky one as there are so many decent low priced options out there - none with the specs of the Nexus 7 2 granted - but tablets that will serve some people just as well. If it launched at the £169 price point as the last one it would have been a 10. The £30 extra dropped it a couple of points. If we hadn't just reviewed the http://www.trustedreviews.com/... it would have got a 9.

I'd just like to add that the 8 Recommended overall is a very good score - there's just a few things that knocked it done a little and we had a long office debate about whether it should be an 8 or 9.

Evan

August 14, 2013, 11:05 am

I'm afraid not.

Evan

August 14, 2013, 11:09 am

I will plug away at it a little more and see what the root cause is. I have seen a few forum posts about it so I'm not alone. It's clearly a 4.3 issue rather than anything to do with the tablet but I thought it worth mentioning.

matt c

August 15, 2013, 3:08 am

Your reviw is just that. Yours. And it's perfectly okay to see it differently than other reviewers. You expected more. People on the comments are being terribly rude, yet you still respond to them nicely. That takes a lot.

Evan

August 15, 2013, 11:11 am

Thanks Matt! We try and be as impartial as possible and also take everyone's usage habits into account. I spent half a day reading user reviews on the original nexus 7 and two of the main complaints were lack of additional storage and lack of rear camera.

I never use the rear camera on a tablet but many people do.

Yes the review is written by an individual, but we do have team discussions about big products like this, and more than one person spends time with the product to make sure the review is balanced.

Leslie Anne

August 16, 2013, 7:09 pm

Pity the poor reviewer! If his opinions hit a nerve with anyone he gets bad marks! I don't have any doubt that Evan is being as impartial as he can be, although I think the constant comparisons to the iPad Mini are inappropriate. Comparisons to a range of other tablets, maybe. We need the facts about the tablet in question. If I wanted a mini-review of the iPad Mini I'd find one.

Evan

August 23, 2013, 2:45 pm

Thanks Leslie. I get your point. The main reason for the iPad mini is that many people want the frame of reference and it may well be a choice between the new Nexus 7 or iPad mini for most. Both these tablets are streets ahead of most of the other 7 inch competition in terms of design (for the ipad) and screen (for the Nexus 7) so it made sense to me to compare them. Putting the rear camera on the Nexus 7 also made it more of a direct comparison as most other 7 inch tablets don't bother.

Leslie Anne

August 23, 2013, 3:15 pm

Thanks for your balanced and courteous reply Evan. I own both the original Nexus 7 and the 2013 version (and the original Motorola Xoom). I'm very impressed with both after a year on the first and a month on the second. I've only ever owned one Apple mobile device, the 2nd generation iPod Touch. Not all the apps were first class - the upgraded calendar cost $10 and took fully 5 minutes to update itself every time I opened it! That cured me for life of iDevices.

As soon as Android phones became available in Canada I bought the "Dream" phone and have never looked back. For my money it's a far superior combination of hardware and software. The App Store apps may be a little prettier in some cases but the Google Play Store is far easier to work with, has more apps than I could ever look through (I know Apple has a few more) and installing over the air to phone and tablet directly from a PC is fantastic.

Keep up the good work!

RobertS

August 26, 2013, 7:38 am

You don't mention whether the browser can play flash video. On my original Nexus 7 I have to use Firefox with a plug in, which works but is not ideal as I would rather use Chrome, as I'm sure Google would too! Any news or updates from Google?

BenSinger

August 29, 2013, 9:37 am

Sounds like you bought a crappy calendar app. For me, one bad app would not be sufficient to discount an entire ecosystem or OS.

Leslie Anne

August 29, 2013, 3:22 pm

Quite right. However as I recall (it was 7 years ago!) there were very few choices for upgrading the appointment book in the App Store of the day, and it was the most expensive. I chose what I hoped would be the best and was hugely disappointed. $10 wasted.

My reasoning was that if Apple approved this "bad apple" app I wanted something better. I was also disappointed to find that my iPod Touch, which didn't have Bluetooth, actually had the hardware from the beginning. Apple just kept it a secret. Then they sold everyone a new updated operating system which enabled Bluetooth. It wouldn't work with my Phillips Bluetooth headset, until another update came along. At least one was this was free.

You are right. One bad app shouldn't cause me to discount an entire ecosystem. It didn't. But when a company that boasted that they were the best messed up this way, repeatedly, (there were other issues too, remember Antennagate?) I looked elsewhere.

Matthew Bunton

August 31, 2013, 1:37 am

Nice review Evan. I wish the video reviews were longer and more in depth though.

I'm pleased that they updated the screen as for me that was the original Nexus 7's weak point.

Shame the haven't offered a storage expansion slot or even a 64 GB version. 32 Gb fills up very quickly.

PK

October 6, 2013, 1:03 pm

Sorry to sound ignorant, but is there some visual way of distinguishing a Nexus 7 2 from the previous model - I see that it's sometimes not even referred to as a '2', but just as '2013'. I don't want to be clipped by a smartie.

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