- Outstanding display
- Great performance
- Sleek design
- Good value
- Woeful camera
- No SD card slot
Nexus 7 review 2013
What is the Nexus 7 2?Google and Asus rocked the tablet world when they teamed up and released the Nexus 7 last year. Nexus 7's flew off the shelves at a reported million units per month, proving that people really wanted an affordable, small tablet. Amazon took note and released its own small, cheap tablet, the Kindle Fire HD, and Apple responded with the 8-inch iPad mini despite the rhetoric from some quarters that bigger was better. The Nexus 7 finally made Android a serious player in the tablet market.
So it’s fair to say that Google’s new Nexus 7 2013 edition has some big boots to fill, and with the added competition it’ll find it much harder than before. With the same processor that powers the impressive Nexus 4 and a claimed all day battery life, can the faster, sleeker, but more expensive, 7-inch Nexus 7 2 be anywhere near as successful as its predecessor? We put it through its paces to find out - starting with the slimmed down design.
Watch the video review:
Google Nexus 7 2 – DesignThe original Nexus 7 wasn’t the prettiest tablet in the world, but more problematic were the numerous quality control issues. Owners complained about creakiness, the screen separating from the back and general poor build quality. The speed with which Asus and Google developed and shipped the game-changing tablet always meant some niggles were likely, but with a year to get it right there can be no such excuses this time round.
Happily the Nexus 7 2 looks sleek and sexy 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 2 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.
While the screen size hasn’t changed, the dimensions of the Nexus 7 have. The Nexus 7 2 is a full 6mm narrower and almost 2mm thinner than before. It's a little taller, but the height of a 7-inch 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 Nexus 7 2 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 2 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.
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.
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 2 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 the 3.5mm headphone jack is at the top of the Nexus 7 2, while the microUSB charging socket is at the bottom. The speaker grills (yes 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 2 – a 5MP rear facing camera.
However, it’s the screen that can make or break a tablet: let’s see how it fares...
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