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7 inch Google Android tablet reviews

Google Nexus 7 (2013) Review  January 14, 2016 – 12:15 pm
Like most other 7-inch tablets, the Nexus 7 is designed to be held in portrait mode, and its thinner dimensions make it easier to do so with just one hand. As before, this ASUS-made tablet has a soft-touch plastic back, but the dimples from the original Nexus 7 are gone, which isn't a great loss.

In this orientation, the Nexus 7's 1.2-MP front camera is on the top bezel, but offset a little to the right. On top is a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the power button and volume rocker sit on the upper right side. The backward-sloping sides of the tablet hide these buttons from view, but were fairly easy to press. On the bottom is a microUSB port for charging the device.

As before, there's no microSD card slot for adding storage, so you'll have to make due with the 26.11GB of available space on the 32GB model. The $229 version comes with 16GB of storage.


The new Nexus 7 is the first 7-inch tablet to sport a 1920 x 1200 display, and the difference shows. The highest resolution to this point on a 7-inch tablet has been 1280 x 800, such as on the MeMO Pad HD 7 and the Kindle Fire HD.

Donald Sutherland's white beard and eye wrinkles were sharp and defined as we watched a 1080p trailer for "The Hunger Games." While these details were also fairly sharp on the MeMO Pad HD 7, we noticed that they weren't as crisp, and there was a lot more visual noise in the gray wall behind Sutherland than on the Nexus 7.

When looking at a 1920 x 1200 image of a black cat on the new Nexus 7 and the MeMO Pad, there was much greater definition in its face on the Nexus 7, and the Nexus 7 did a better job of showing the nuances where the light bounced off the cat's black fur. Also, there was virtually no pixelation in the white whiskers, whereas they appeared more pixelated on the MeMO Pad.

The IPS panel made everything viewable even from oblique angles, and the Gorilla Glass helps protect the Nexus 7 against accidental falls. It's also very bright: At 531 lux, the Nexus 7's display was nearly 200 points higher than the tablet average (360 lux), and outshone the iPad mini (457 lux) and the Kindle Fire HD (436 lux).


For its second 7-inch tablet, Google added a second speaker, and it makes a world of difference. Where the original single-speaker Nexus sounded a bit tinny, the stereo speakers on the new Nexus 7 belted out loud and crisp audio.

The guitar in The Lumineers "Charlie Boy" strummed out plaintively, and high and midtones were well-balanced. Still, you can't get decent bass on something so thin. Low ends, such as the bass line on Jay Z's "On to the Next One, " were barely audible.

Like the Kindle Fire HD 7, the Nexus 7's speakers are on the long ends, so things sound best when you're holding the tablet in landscape mode. Don't grip it too tight, though, or you'll risk covering the speakers.

Android 4.3

The Nexus 7 is the first device to run Android 4.3, the latest version of Google's tablet and phone-based operating system. Instead of being a wholesale change, this new version of the OS tweaks a few things here and there.

You're still presented with the same lock screen as Jelly Bean 4.2, which means you can unlock the Nexus 7 to the home screen or directly to Google Now, but not the camera or app of your choice.

While Multi user support was available on Android 4.2, this feature now includes the ability to set specific limitations for each profile. So, for example, when we created a restricted profile for little Bobby, we could specify which apps he could access. By default, all are turned off. Some apps, such as Email and Gmail, are not supported in this mode.

This is a good step toward enabling parental controls, but the Kindle Fire HD is better. Using Amazon's FreeTime feature, you can not only set what apps a child can use, but also specify the amount of time he or she can use the tablet, and what kind of content they can view.

Android 4.3 also has a new modular DRM framework, enabling developers to integrate digital rights management into their streaming protocols. The first app to take advantage of this is Netflix, whose app now supports streaming 1080p content.


Although it's running Android 4.3, Nexus 7's keyboard layout remains unchanged. In portrait and landscape mode, users get a full QWERTY keyboard with gray letters on a black background. What's different now is that the keyboard supports Swype-style Gesture Typing. We appreciate that floating previews appear above where you're swiping. We also like the current-word completion capability and next-word suggestions.

Go into the Language & Input control panel, though, and you can enable the new Emoji keyboard, of which there are hundreds to choose from. It's not a critical improvement, but it's nice to have.


Packing a 1.5-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB of RAM and a 400-MHz Adreno 320 GPU, the new Nexus 7 simply blew away the competition in our benchmark tests.

On Quadrant, which measures overall performance, the new Nexus 7's score of 4, 949 was about 1, 500 points higher than average (3, 449), as well as the MeMO Pad HD 7 (3, 414). The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 came close, at 4, 603.

The Nexus 7 really shone when it came to graphics performance. On 3DMark11 Ice Storm, the new Nexus 7 racked up a score of 11, 580, nearly triple the category average of 4, 140, as well as the original Nexus 7 (3, 408), the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 (3, 117) and even more expensive tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 (3, 069).

What does all that extra horsepower mean? It took just 7 seconds to launch "Riptide GP 2" on the Nexus 7. By comparison, the MeMO Pad HD 7 took an excruciating 44 seconds. Within the game itself, scenes were much faster to load on the Nexus 7, too.

One of the benefits of Android 4.3 is support for OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics, which will allow for greater detail and effects within games. At launch, the "Riptide GP 2" Jet Ski racing game was the only one available that supported this technology. On the Nexus 7, water seemed much more realistic and immersive than on the MeMO Pad HD 7, and appeared to flow much more naturally around our racer.


Where the original Nexus 7 only had a front-facing camera, the new Nexus 7 has a rear 5-MP shooter to go along with the front 1.2-MP camera.

Outdoor shots taken with the rear camera were generally very good. The tablet was able to pick up fairly fine detail in pink and purple flowers, and didn't blow out white petals too much. Inside a dim cathedral, the Nexus 7's camera struggled a bit, as we saw a good deal of visual noise in the gray columns.

A 1080p video we shot of a passing cable car looked colorful, crisp and smooth, and the Nexus 7's microphone clearly recorded the conductor ringing the bell.


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