Google Nexus 7 Review [PHOTOS & VIDEO]
I’ve had the Nexus 7 for about two weeks now, so I think it’s about time I told you all in depth how I feel about it. I’ve also posted a video which you can find below this post if you don’t feel like reading through all this.
The Nexus 7 became available to the public a few weeks after Google unveiled it at the Google I/O back in June. At the same price as the Kindle Fire, comparisons are unavoidable but this is undeniably the best $200 tablet available right now.
I have the 8GB version in black, there’s a 16GB version available and it also comes in white. I haven’t seen the white one on sale anywhere but it was given to those who attended the Google I/O.
Here’s our review, but if you’re looking for something specific you can just skip to whatever it is you want to learn more about:
- The Specs Summarized
- Setup and Unboxing
- Android 4.1
- Apps and Media
- Battery Life
- Final Thoughts
- Video Review
The Google Nexus is a 7 inch tablet, 10.45mm thin and lightweight at 0.7 lbs. It’s screen is 1280 x 800, made with Gorilla glass and is scratch resistant. It has a 1.2 megapixel front facing camera specifically for video calling (more on that later). It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on a quad core NVidia Tegra 3 processor. It is Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC ready, which is good because you can use Google Wallet. You can’t put a SIM card in it so it’s not 3G or 4G ready. It does have a Micro USB port for charging and data transfer.
Setup and Unboxing
The Nexus 7 came in a nice box with not much to it, just the tablet itself, a Micro USB cable. a quick start guide and charging port if you ever wanted to plug it to a wall. I got the Nexus 7 on Google Play while signed in to my Google account, so it wasn’t hard to setup at all. It knew my name and had my Gmail, Google+ and YouTube set up already, all I had to do was agree to terms, connect to a WiFi network and carry on with it. No stress at all.
It is lightweight and portable so it’s really nice especially for those of us always on the go. I get a good grip as it’s back is leather-like and it’s slightly curved, so even though it’s really thin it doesn’t slip out of my hands often. It has a Micro USB port at the bottom, a front facing camera on top and the volume and power off keys located at the side. Took me a short while to figure that out because I’m used to it being on top.
The display is really sharp and precise, you notice it better when reading magazines, books or watching movies. It’s default brightness setting is automatic so it works well in all sorts of lighting. I don’t recommend you change this to save battery because it will frustrate you. But overall it’s good. Precise as it may be, it isn’t retina display.
It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean which is everything it’s said to be. This is my first experience with an Android device so I may not be familiar with every single upgrade from previous versions but the most significant of all to me is Google Now which was introduced at the Google I/O as well. Google Now is supposed to give you information before you even ask. When you get up in the morning it tells you the weather, the traffic to school/work, if you’re away it tells you the time back home etc. It pretty much figures out your daily routine and works around that so you don’t have to keep searching for the same thing over everyday. This was both a plus and a no-no for me because it was convenient but made me feel violated at the same time. You can get more on that in our video at the bottom of the post.
In addition to that Google Voice blew me away in the sense that it picks up about 85 percent of what I say (even in a Nigerian accent). I’m not so used to it yet, so typing gets to me. As of now, I’d much rather input text by talking than by typing. It’s faster with much less typos.
Search is seamless on the Nexus 7; that’s expected because it is of course, a Google tablet. A search bar at the top of the home screen lets you search your device and the web simultaneously. You can also search with voice and if you ask a question, you get an answer instead of a bunch of links. It’s pretty much like Apple’s Siri.
Apps and Media
It’s a Google device so most of the apps are Google the standard Google apps: Gmail, Chrome, Google+, Maps, YouTube, Google Earth, GTalk and Currents. I love how Chrome works and I love that you can request for desktop sites when you’re directed to the mobile version of the site. I don’t use Google Chrome on my computer but you can sync bookmarks et al with Chrome on your computer if you do, you can also resume browsing sessions from another device on your Nexus. These features are so tempting, they make me want to switch because of how convenient it is. You can download lots of apps at the Google Play store. I did run into a problem with the apps, after about a week, I stopped getting email and Twitter notifications. All my setttings are intact but I had to download another app like Tweetdeck to get them. (I could restore factory settings, but I don’t feel up to it).
The Nexus 7 comes preloaded with $25 Google Play credit, a few books, magazines, music and Transformers: Dark of the Moon in HD. They aren’t stored on your device per se until you stream/read them. Reading books on it is a really good experience as you can reduce/increase text size and you can choose between “day” and “night” to make the brightness suit your preferences. As for magazines, they look good. Most of the magazines in the Google Play store aren’t interactive, just a select few. I read Glamour and Esquire, it wasn’t a bad experience and you can read lengthy articles and skip pages of ads in “Text Mode” which lets you view them as plain text with images. Something like Instapaper.
If anything, my least favourite experience was the music. The audio is fine, but when you put songs on shuffle, it seems to just play the songs you listen to the most in rotation which can be a good thing, but one can get tired of that. Also, when you download songs from Google Play, it doesn’t actually save it on your device unless you stream it first. Which means if you buy a song and you go where there’s no WiFi, you can’t listen to it.
This has to be the biggest pro and con for me. Battery life is really impressive on the Nexus 7. After a full charge, you can go without charging for about two days with apps running in the background, reading, social networking in general and music play. I absolutely love this about it. The con comes in when the battery is about 20% or less. It starts acting pretty erratic by shutting down and restarting by itself or showing static white noise for about two seconds and dying. The first time this happened to me, I panicked because I thought I did something. But a Google search showed I wasn’t the only user with this problem. Perhaps they need to do a recall or something because that’s going to take a lot of getting used to.
The Nexus 7 comes with a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera made specifically for video calling and as I mentioned earlier, there’s no camera app. You can take pictures in apps like Instagram and there’s a Camera Launcher for Nexus 7 app if you’re big on using a tablet to take pictures. I had no problem with this because I’m not really into taking pictures with a tablet.
I liked the Nexus 7, it’s not the best tablet but it’s the best $200 can buy in my opinion. It does everything I’d need a tablet to do for less than half the price and I’m not exactly missing out on anything. But if someone offered me an iPad 3, I’ll take it without second thoughts. If you have the money and you’re constantly within range of a WiFi network, then this tablet is right for you. I say this because it wouldn’t make sense to get this if you only get WiFi every other day. It wouldn’t be of much use to you, unless you kill data and download all you need to at a go. All in all, I like it.
Here’s our video review and as a bonus, if you have it here are 30 tips and tricks