Introduction and Specifications
Google made a brilliant decision last year to take the bull by the horns and deliver its own brand Android tablet to the masses. Built by ASUS to Google's specifications, the original Nexus 7 awarded a patient (and eager) audience with a stock Android experience wrapped in an affordable package that was high on value and low on feature concessions. It was precisely the kind of tablet the Android camp had been clamoring for, because for whatever reason, most third-party manufacturers were tying to push larger, overpriced slates onto an audience that simply wanted a solid tablet without paying a premium. Up until the Nexus 7 arrived, the only viable alternatives, other than cheap off-brands with questionable build quality, were Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet, a fine pair of slates for their intended purposes, but also deeply rooted in each company's own ecosystem.
A year later, Google isn't taking a breather and is once again showing the competition how to deliver an Android tablet that caters to consumer demand. The new model Nexus 7 is a worthy successor to the original, boasting an improved design both internally and externally. It's thinner and lighter for improved portability, has a faster processor to handle a new crop of games and applications, and wields a higher resolution display that allows viewers to watch Full HD 1080p movies as they're intended to be viewed.It's not just a hardware upgrade, either. Like before, the new Nexus 7 introduces a new version of Android, though the software upgrade isn't as dramatic this time around. Android 4.3, which makes its debut on the 2013 model Nexus 7, is still labeled Jelly Bean, presumably because Key Lime Pie (Android 5.0) still has some baking to do. In the meantime, Android 4.3 brings some new features to the table, including support for OpenGL ES 3.0, location detection through Wi-Fi, virtual surround sound, and more.
Let's take a quick look at the new Nexus 7 before moving on:
Google's challenge the first time around was fitting enough features into an affordable tablet to draw a significant crowd. Certain sacrifices had to be made, for instance the lack of a rear-facing camera. The challenge Google faces this time is in justifying the price upgrade over the original. This year's model sees a price bump to $229 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, $269 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model, and $349 for the upcoming 32GB LTE model.
||Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean)
||7.02 inches 1920x1200 HD IPS display (323 ppi)
Scratch-resistant Corning glass
||1.5GHz Quad Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro; 400MHz Adreno 320 GPU
||2 GB RAM
||16 GB or 32 GB
||Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4G/5G) 802.11 a/b/g/n
NFC (Android Beam)
Optional 4G LTE
||1.2MP front-facing camera; 5MP rear-facing camera w/ auto focus
||200 x 114 x 8.65mm
Up to 9 hours active use
Wireless charging built-in (Qi compatible)
Quick Start Guide
Opening the box won't yield any immediate surprises. Like last time, the Nexus 7 comes with a microUSB cable and charger (slimmed down from the original), a Quick Start guide, warranty papers, and of course the tablet itself. We'd like to see a scratch-free microfiber cloth included to wipe away inevitable finger smudges, but it's not part of the bundle.
We already pointed out that the 2013 Nexus 7 is thinner, lighter, and faster than the original with an upgraded display, but in terms of comparing the two spec sheets, it also has twice as much RAM, wireless charging support, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, HDMI output (via microUSB with optional adapter), and a 5MP rear-facing camera.