New Nexus 7 Review – Running the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean

As expected, the new Nexus 7 is a 7-inch tablet running the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean operating system. The 16GB Wi-Fi-only version will be available for $229, with a 32GB Wi-Fi-only model coming for $269. A 32GB 4G LTE (unlocked) version will retail for $349.

Among the key features are an HD screen (with 1,920×1,200-pixel resolution); front and rear cameras (1.2- and 5.0-megapixel, respectively); Bluetooth 4.0; a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor; 2GB of RAM; NFC; and an Adreno 320 GPU (the same graphics chip used in the Samsung Galaxy S4). There’s also support for dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and wireless charging using any Qi-compatible charger.

The large top and bottom bezels from the first-generation Nexus 7 return.

The new Nexus 7 is the first device to support the latest version of OpenGL ES: 3.0. The new version includes support for higher-quality reflections and lens flares. Of course game developers will actually have to program these new features into games before you’ll see any notable difference. Hopefully, with support for the latest version of OpenGL, frame rates on the new Nexus 7 will be higher than on other devices using the same S4 processor, such as the Sony Xperia Tablet Z.

It’s not a slow processor by any means, but in my testing, the S4 comes nowhere near Qualcomm’s own Snapdragon 800 or Nvidia’s Tegra 4 in raw performance.

Still as comfy? (hands-on impressions)
Jessica Dolcourt got a few minutes to play around with the new tablet. What follows are her initial impressions.

The Nexus 7 is indeed a thinner device that will just about fit the width of smaller hands and should feel cozy in larger hands. There’s not much of a curve to it, so you might feel the corners a bit if you regularly hold the device in portrait mode. In landscape mode, the slimmer, lighter device will weigh your hands down a lot less if you plan to hold it for longer stretches while you watch movies or play games.

The new Nexus 7 is thinner than the original, if a bit bulbous in design.

I liked the rubbery, grippy backing of the original Nexus 7. This one, all black with a soft-touch finish, is decidedly less sporty, but it is grippable nonetheless. Button controls are black, plastic, oblong, and rise from the surface. They’re responsive and easy to find and press.

Android 4.3 looked and felt almost exactly the same as 4.2.2 on Google’s new Nexus 7. The camera app includes Photo Sphere, panorama mode, and video recording as on other Google Android devices.

No flash for you, but Photo Sphere is now a 7-inch tablet feature.

Although it has a full-HD display, you may not notice it immediately unless you’re comparing the screen with screens on other devices. Lettering looked clear and sharp, it was easy to read Web articles, and colors were vibrant and rich. The real value will come from gameplay and extended video viewing, and the difference will be most noticeable when holding the Nexus 7 side by side with the first-gen Nexus 7.

More to come
These specs point to a nice upgrade over the 2012 version of the Nexus 7, which lacked a full-HD screen and a rear camera. That said, you’re going to pay $20 to $30 more for the 2013 model at each storage capacity — and consumers aren’t much used to seeing year-over-year price increases in tech these days.

Definitely a Nexus product. The back texture isn’t quite as sporty as the original’s, however.

However, you are getting what will likely be the best-performing 7-inch tablet — at least for a while — with all the new features that Android 4.3 provides, including wireless charging. Still — admittedly not having had hands-on time with the device — I can’t help but see this as a much more incremental upgrade than I was expecting. The specs look nice, but there just aren’t many features here that have me truly excited.

The original Nexus 7 proved to be much more than the sum of its parts, so until I actually get my hands on the new one and get a sense for its comfort, its speed, and how useful its features are, I’ll of course hold off on giving a final opinion. Look for more impressions over the next few days.


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