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Google Nexus 7

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: N/A, WiFi only
Manufacturer: Google/Asus
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What's hot: Very fast, excellent IPS display, lovely design.

What's not: No microSD card slot or rear camera.


Reviewed August 3, 2012 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Editor's Note, Aug. 2013: Read our review of the 2013 Google Nexus 7 that replaces this model.

Update Oct. 2012: The Nexus 7 is now available in a 32 gig capacity and there's also a 3G option.

Google's first Android tablet is here, and the Nexus 7 is hard to beat if you're looking for a budget 7 inch tablet that doesn't skimp on important features. The 8 gig model is $199 and the 16 gig model is $249, and that gets you a sharp 1280 x 800 7 inch IPS display and a fast quad core 1.2GHz Tegra 3 CPU with GeForce graphics. It's slim and good looking too, with curved sides, a rubbery back and a clean design.

Nexus 7

Though Google prices the Asus-made Nexus 7 to compete with the Amazon Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, they're really going after buyers who were going to "settle" for an eReader focused tablet to suit their budgets even though they wanted a general purpose tablet. If you want a convenient way to consume all of Amazon's services, this isn't it. But if you want a tablet that requires no hacking to access the Google Play Store and the full suite of Google Android apps, this is it.

Note that you won't get Adobe Flash from the Google Play Store (nor is it pre-loaded) because Adobe stopped Android Flash development with Android 4.0 ICS. You can side load Adobe Flash 11, but we've found its performance erratic in Firefox and Dolphin HD, and you must load an older version of Dolphin HD because the app has been updated to remove Flash support under Jelly Bean. The usual Android web browser is gone, and it's been replaced by the HTML5 (but not Flash) compliant Chrome web browser.

Since this is a Nexus, you get the latest and greatest OS, Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. In fact, you'll be the first to get new OS updates since there's no middleman between your device and Google as there is with manufacturer-branded products and carrier controlled smartphones and tablets. Jelly Bean is indeed quick thanks to Project Butter, and the UI improvements are good stuff.

Nexus 7

With a price this low, you won't get everything you'd find in a more expensive tablet. While there's single band WiFi, Bluetooth and a GPS, there's no rear camera, no haptic feedback and no Gorilla Glass. In fact, there's no HDMI port and the micro USB port doesn't work with MHL adapters. If you want USB host for mass storage devices like flash drives and USB hard drives, you'll have to root the Nexus 7 and install a mass storage utility. Of course, this is a Nexus, and it's made for those of you who love to root and tinker with your Android devices. The single rear speaker grille provides anemic audio, but sound is quite good through headphones and Bluetooth speakers.

Design and Ergonomics

This is a good looking device, and it feels like a quality piece. We're impressed at what Asus came up with given Google's pricing guidelines. The stippled, rubberized back feels great in hand and doesn't look in the least cheap. The tablet is slim and the tapered edges make it look slimmer than it is (it's nearly the same thickness as the chunkier looking straight-sided Kindle Fire). A slim metal strip covers the sides and the front is dominated by the 7" display.

Nexus 7

Since this is a pure Google experience device it uses three on-screen buttons for Home, Multitasking and Apps rather than capacitive or mechanical buttons. Controls and ports are at a minimum with a power button and volume controls on the upper right side. The micro USB port and headphone jack are on the bottom edge. The video chat camera is centered above the display (in portrait orientation) and there is no rear camera. Unlike most other Android tablets, the home screen and apps drawer work in portrait orientation only. The tablet has an accelerometer that handles automatic rotation elsewhere and it has an ambient light sensor.


Deals and Shopping:


Nexus 7 Video Review


Nexus 7 vs. Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 Comparison Smackdown

Here's Looking at You, IPS Display

While there's been some discussion of quality issues with early batches like poorly attached displays, our 8 gig model purchased from the Google Play Store has no hardware issues. The display looks good and it's properly attached. The 1280 x 800 display is very sharp and has good brightness (350 nits max brightness). That's a high resolution for a 7" tablet (it's the standard resolution for 10.1" Android tablets, and it's only found on higher end 7" tablets) and the result is high pixel density (216 ppi) and razor sharp text. Web page and eBook text are sharper than the lower resolution Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, though we give the Fire credit for its gentle backlighting and neutral whites that are perfect for extended reading. The newer 7" Kindle Fire HD matches the Nexus 7's resolution and has an even better IPS display with not just sharp text but very good color calibration and gamut. The Nexus 7's poor calibration reduces the saturation of brighter images and bring down the display a notch.

Videos look crisp with plenty of detail, and it has good black levels with decent color saturation. The tablet's fast CPU-GPU combo can handle HD video easily, though 1080p is somewhat pointless since it exceeds the panel resolution and there's no HDMI out. There's no dLNA app pre-installed for wireless streaming to HD TVs, since this is something that manufacturers provide with branded tablets. You can try the dLNA apps on the Google Play Store if wireless streaming is something you must have.

Small but Speedy

The Toshiba Excite 7.7, a significantly more expensive tablet with an AMOLED display was the first 7" Tegra 3 quad core Android tablet. For half the price you'll give up a few of the Excite's creature comforts like expandable storage and a rear camera, but you do get the same impressive performance and support for Tegra 3-enhanced TegraZone games. The 1.2GHz Nexus 7 is very quick, and the optimizations in Jelly Bean make it quicker. It benchmarks very well, though not quite as fast as the 10" Android Tegra 3 tablets (especially the pack leading 1.6GHz Transformer Pad Infinity TF700). Experientially, it's one of the fastest Android products we've tested, and we chalk that up to the "Project Butter" speed optimizations in Android 4.1.1. Apps launch quickly, and UI elements like the app drawer, home screens and menus are iPad quick. The tablet has 1 gig of RAM.

While the Nexus 7's speed, future-ready quad core CPU with 12 core GeForce graphics tickle us pink, the lack of expandable storage doesn't. It's pretty darned unusual to see an Android tablet without an SD card slot, and that sets the Nexus 7 apart in a not good way. Thus we recommend you buy the 16 gig model if you can afford it, unless you rarely load movies, don't plan on carrying a healthy music collection or will be in WiFi range often enough that you can rely on streaming media services for this kind of content.


  Quadrant GLBenchmark 2.1Egypt Offscreen AnTuTu Sunspider JavaScript Test
Nexus 7 3638 64 fps 10,456 1720
Kindle Fire HD 7" 2174 33 fps 6749 1787 (Silk), 1605 (Chrome)
Toshiba Excite 7.7 3996 61 fps 9559 2002
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 3545 49 fps 7050 2003
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 2705 28 fps 4841 2288


The tablet has single band WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth and a GPS with digital compass. WiFi throughput and range were good in our tests and streaming audio to Bluetooth speakers while watching a video worked fine. The GPS works even when WiFi is turned off, though you will need to pre-load maps if you'll be away from WiFi or a mobile hotspot when navigating. There is no 3G/4G option.

For those who want to use Google Wallet for mobile payments, the Nexus 7 has NFC and the Wallet app. That means you can pay for items at a variety of stores simply by touching your Nexus to the payment terminal and consenting to the purchase. Now a smartphone might be more nimble for such things, but a 7" tablet is mobile enough that we're happy to see Google Wallet on board.

Battery Life

With a very fast CPU and a bright display, you might expect battery life to be less than stellar. Happily, battery life is actually excellent. Google and Asus claim up to 9.5 hours of use on a charge, and the 16Wh, 4325 mAh Lithium battery has lasted us an average of 8.5 hours in a mix of use with WiFi on and brightness set to 33%. We noted that turning WiFi off increased battery life by an hour even with brightness set to 50%.

Charging times are reasonably quick at 3 hours to charge a fully drained Nexus 7. The tablet ships with a 5v 2 amp charger (same spec as the iPad charger) that connects to the micro USB port. Like most tablets, the Nexus 7's battery is sealed inside.


Is the Google Nexus 7 tablet the best 7" tablet on the market? No, but for the price it can't be beat. For the cost of a hybrid eReader-tablet you get a full set of tablet features including access to the Google Play Store, a GPS, fully functional Bluetooth and front camera. This is the first device to ship with Android OS 4.1 Jelly Bean and it will be among the first to get OS updates in the future. What are you giving up by not buying the more expensive Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 or Toshiba Excite 7.7? You won't get a microSD card slot, a rear camera or the more exotic tablet AMOLED display. And Google's product support, beyond handling returns, is notoriously weak (trust me, I've suffered through testing their support). But for those who don't need software or OS support and are Android enthusiasts this is an excellent tablet with a top notch CPU, a lovely IPS display and an attractive design.

Price: $199 for 8 gig model, $249 for 16 gig model $199 for 16 gig, $249 for 32 gig



Nexus 7


Nexus 7


Nexus 7


Nexus 7


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Display: 7" IPS capacitive touch screen. Resolution: 1280 x 800 (216 ppi, 350 nits brightness), supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer. Has an ambient light sensor and gyro.

Battery: 16 Wh, 4325 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.

Performance: 1.2GHz nVidia Tegra 3 T30L quad core CPU with GeForce graphics. 1 gig RAM and 8 or 16 gigs internal storage.

Size: 7.81 x 4.72 x 0.41 inches. Weight: 12 ounces (0.75 pounds).

GPS: Has GPS and digital compass.

Camera: 1.2MP front camera, no rear camera.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Single band (2.4GHz) WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0. Has NFC with Google Wallet.

Software: Android OS 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. Standard suite of Google Android applications including Chrome web browser, email, gmail, YouTube, Maps, Navigation, Gtalk, Google Plus, Google Now, Search and the Android Market.

Expansion: None.


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