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Home > Android Tablet Reviews > 2013 Google Nexus 7

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Google Nexus 7 (2013)

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Manufacturer: Google & Asus
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What's Hot: Relatively affordable tablet with very good core specs including an excellent full HD IPS display, fast CPU, full wireless radios and dual cameras. Will get Android OS updates first.

What's Not: Newbies might find vanilla Android bare bones, display color balance and saturation not as impressive as resolution.

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Reviewed August 6, 2013 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

The Nexus 7 is Google's second generation 7 inch Android tablet, and it sells for just a little bit more than the first generation model. Like the first Nexus, it's still reasonably priced given the very good hardware, and the WiFi 16 gig version is $229, while the 32 gig model is $269. Google says an unlocked $359 4G LTE model will follow later that's compatible with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile 4G LTE. The tablet's full HD IPS display is the centerpiece in terms of hardware and the pure Android Jelly Bean 4.3 OS that will get updates first is the software highlight. When the first Nexus 7 shipped, we were impressed with its display and speed--amazing how quickly technology moves. Now its resolution is just average and it's not the speediest tablet on the block, though Google's frequent OS updates often didn't sit well with the elder Nexus 7 and caused some of its performance issues (not the norm, usually OS updates make Nexus products even better).

Nexus 7

The 2013 Nexus 7 isn't a flashy looking tablet, in fact its minimalist design won't offend anyone, but I doubt it will excite anyone either. The black plastic back has a matte finish that's not as grippy or interesting as the stippled soft touch material covering the first Nexus 7, but it's still not likely to slip out of your hand. It's also easier to hold since it's narrower than the first Nexus 7, and you won't feel like you're palming a basketball when you hold it with one hand. The slim tablet is well made and doesn't look cheap. Asus manufacturers the new model, and they made the last generation Nexus 7. The controls are in the same location with power and volume on the upper right and the micro USB / SlimPort at the bottom and the headphone jack up top. There is no SD card slot.

Nexus 7

The stereo speakers on the back are a significant improvement over the first Nexus 7 that was weak and timid sounding. The new Nexus' speakers get quite loud for a 7" tablet and they're reasonably full. Asus and Google placed the speakers at the sides (relative to landscape mode) for better stereo separation. Again like the last Nexus, some amenities were axed in the name of affordability, so there's no haptic feedback but the new Nexus 7 does gain a notification LED. They've gone with the newer SlimPort standard for display output via wire, just when you were getting used to MHL. That means you'll need to hunt down a still hard to find SlimPort display adapter to connect the 2013 Nexus to your TV via HDMI.

 

Deals and Shopping:

 

Nexus 7 Video Review

Nexus 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Comparison

 

The Nexus 7 second gen performs well on benchmarks, and it gets a graphics performance boost from Android 4.3's added support for OpenGL ES 3.0. It has 2 gigs of RAM and 16 or 32 gigs of storage. Google detests removable storage and thus like previous Nexus tablets, it has no microSD card slot. In fact, it doesn't even support mass storage devices like flash drives via a micro USB to USB host OTG adapter, though the app Nexus Media Importer (available on the Google Play Store, no root required) gets mass storage devices working. The tablet runs on a 1.5GHz quad core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU, much like last year's high end Android phones and the Sony Xperia Tablet Z. It uses the QCT APQ8064 FLO with Adreno 320 graphics, which is a bit tweaked from last year's smartphone offerings and it has updated cores and uses the faster DDR3L RAM rather than DDR2. Does it feel fast and responsive? Yes it does, and the stock Android UI no doubt helps. Will it be the fastest tablet of 2013? No, but it will likely be one of the faster 7" models of 2013. Honestly, today's top Android tablets have more horsepower than most users will ever need, and Android is mired in the same speeds and feeds quagmire as Windows PCs where specs bloom purely for competition's sake.

Benchmarks

  Quadrant GLBenchmark 2.7 Egypt Offscreen AnTuTu 3D Mark Ice Storm Sunspider JavaScript Test
Google Nexus 7 (2013) 5339 41 fps 19,981 7304 (Extreme test) 1058
1st gen Nexus 7 3381 31 fps (GLBench 2.5) 10,456 n/a 1720
LG G Pad 8.3 11,913 n/a 22,644 6480 (extreme) 982
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7" 20,382 n/a n/a 16,657 (Extreme test) 572
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 23,355 n/a 34,890 13,785 (unlimited) 396
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 7054 18 fps 16,214 3299 1024
Sony Xperia Tablet Z 7450 31 fps 20,517 10,101 (Extreme test) 1501
Google Nexus 10 4959 28 fps 13,658 n/a 1308
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 5349 101 fps (GLBench 2.1, easier test) 12,777 n/a 1206
Asus MeMO Pad Smart 10 3309 34 fps (GLBench 2.5) 12,421 n/a 1320

GeekBench 2

Tablet Score
Google Nexus 7 (2013) 2711
1st gen Nexus 7 1419
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 2133
Sony Xperia Tablet Z 1890
Nexus 10 2292
iPad with Retina Display 1766
iPad 3 757
Asus MeMO Pad 10 1261

Display

The full HD 1920 x 1200 IPS display is the 2013 Nexus 7's claim to fame. It is indeed extremely sharp and even small text is easy to read. It's also bright, but color balance and saturation are just average among IPS tablet displays, as are black levels. The display has a cool blue-green bias that you likely won't notice unless you place it next to a display that has more neutral colors. While some folks think that pixel density is everything, I'd argue that brightness, color saturation and balance are also very important and the Nexus 7 does an average job of handling colors and blacks. It does have very wide viewing angles and is very, very bright. And yes, it's hard to argue with the highest resolution 7" tablet and it's 323 ppi pixel density, especially if you use the tablet primarily for reading. Even magazines from Zinio and the Google Play Store are readable thanks to the high pixel density and apparent sharpness--I generally find it difficult to read magazines on anything less than a 10" tablet.

Pure Android, Quick OS Updates

You probably know the drill by now: Nexus products get OS updates first since they're Google's own devices. Nexus tablets and smartphones don't run custom UIs like Samsung's TouchWiz or HTC's Sense, so there's less to get in the way of quick updates or slow down your device. Community development is always strong for Nexus products since they're easily rootable and you can unlock the bootloader to install custom ROMs. For those who don't know root from boot, this means less. Once upon a time Nexus products were meant for Android developers and hackers (the good kind), but now they've become retail products that are readily available in stores, and for you regular guys and gals a custom UI and manufacturer added apps might actually be a selling point over vanilla Android. For example, Google's camera UI continues to baffle us with poor usability, there's no Office suite pre-installed nor the nifty bells and whistles that you'll find on other tablets like IR remotes to control your TV or software enhancements to put some controls closer to your fingertips. While you can't add hardware features like the TV remote, you can buy and download an MS Office compatible suite from the Google Play Store, and you'll find alternate camera apps there too.

Camera

Finally, a rear camera on a Nexus 7! And it's not half bad either, though at 5 megapixels it won't overpower your high end Android smartphone's shooter. That said, it autofocuses quickly, does a decent job of exposure and colors are pleasing. We didn't see any of the Asus Transformer camera problems (they have a tendency to mismanage high contrast and bright outdoor shots) and the images are certainly good enough for your Facebook page. The rear camera can shoot 1080p video that's reasonably smooth with natural colors if lighting is good and our only complaint is Google's camera UI with the evil pop-up arc of settings that's as ever hard to control. What's wrong with a simple control strip along the side of the viewfinder, Google? For video chat and selfies, the 1.2MP front camera manages reasonable exposure and fast focus times.

Battery Life

The new Nexus 7 has a 3,950 mAH battery and it ships with a 5.2v, 1.35 amp compact charger. It's less picky about chargers than the original Nexus 7, and we were able to charge it with a Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 8.0 charger, an HTC One charger and our iPad charger. It also supports Qi wireless charging and there's no need to buy an optional back or accessory other than the Qi charging unit. We tested it with our Energizer Qi charger and it charged properly. For those not familiar with wireless charging, there are a few competing standards, but Qi is fairly popular and you'll find it on devices like the Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 1020 (with optional charging back) and Nexus 4. Google claims the battery will last up to 9 hours of actual use time on a charge (screen-on time) and we found it averaged closer to 8 hours. In a mix of tasking including lots of web browsing, reading an ebook, watching an hour of Downton Abbey streamed via Netflix and playing music via headphones, it lasted 7 hours and 44 minutes of actual screen on time. If you use the tablet for GPS navigation, play 3D games or stream hours of HD video, expect shorter runtimes.

Conclusion

Once again, Google and Asus have made an excellent Android tablet that's relatively affordable but doesn't skimp on important features like display quality, CPU, wireless radios or build quality. The Nexus 7 2013 edition has a superb high resolution display that's extremely sharp, performance for everyday use and demanding 3D games is excellent and you've got dual band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, a GPS and NFC as well as dual cameras that combine to put the Amazon Kindle Fire HD to shame. Granted, Amazon's fall 2013 Kindle Fire HD refresh may pack some impressive improvements, but it will almost assuredly run Amazon's walled garden version of Android without access to Google Play. And at just $30 more than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0, you're getting a faster tablet with a significantly higher resolution display.

Price: $229 for 16 gig model, $269 for 32 gig WiFi model, $369 for 32 gigs with 3G/4G LTE

Website: play.google.com

Related:

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7" Review

LG G Pad 8.3 Review

1st generation Nexus 7 Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Review

Dell Venue 8 Pro Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Review

iPad mini Review

iPad mini with Retina Display Review

 

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The first and second gen Nexus 7 tablets.

 

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Specs:

Display: 7" IPS display. Resolution: 1920 x 1200 (323 ppi). Has ambient light sensor and accelerometer. Corning scratch resistant glass.

Battery: 3950 mAh Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.

Performance: 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad core CPU (updated version with Krait 300 cores) with Adreno 320 graphics, 2 gigs DDR3 RAM and 16 or 32 gigs internal storage.

Size: 7.87 x 4.49 x 0.34 inches. Weight: 0.64 pounds.

GPS: Has GPS.

Cellular: (LTE model only) quad band GSM (all regions).
US version: HSPA+: 850/900/1900/2100/AWS (1700/2100) MHz (Bands: 1/2/4/5/8). LTE: 700/850/1700/1800/1900/2100 MHZ (Bands: 1/2/3/4/5/13/17).
Europe version: HSPA+: 850/900/1900/2100/AWS (1700/2100) MHz (Bands: 1/2/4/5/8). LTE: 800/850/1700/1800/1900/2100/2600 MHz (Bands: 1/2/3/4/5/7/20).

Camera: 1.2MP front camera and 5MP rear camera that can shoot 1080p video.

Audio: Built in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard combo mic-stereo headphone jack. Has virtual surround sound by Fraunhofer.

Networking: Integrated dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0.

Software: Android OS 4.3 Jelly Bean. Standard suite of Google Android applications including web browser, email, gmail, YouTube, Maps, Navigation, Google Plus, Search and the Google Play Store.

Memory Card Slot: None.

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