27
Jul
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Gone is the "Steve McQueen" racing-glove inspired backing. Side bezels are slimmer, speakers better, pixels denser. The new Nexus 7 bears little resemblance to its older brother, other than its svelte form factor and exactingly curved and angled edges, but that may be a good thing.

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Like many, I got my new Nexus 7 yesterday after the surprise announcement that the "street date" had been moved up. Since then, I've been getting a feel for Google's latest seven-inch offering, and thought it'd be worth while to extrapolate on my very first impressions of the device.

So, what's the first thing you'll notice about the Nexus 7 out of the box? Its form factor.

As with the rest of the Nexus family, the front is just black. There's a visible front-facing camera up top, and a sensor above that if you look at just the right angle. Oh, and the new Nexus 7 has a notification light! This is something I loved about the N4 and N10, so it's a welcome addition to the new seven-incher.

The edges have the same curve-angle-angle design of the original N7, but thinner and more subtle. No more silver band around the outside.

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Around back, there's a horizontal "nexus" logo (because you'll be playing lots of games and watching lots of movies, right?) with an ASUS logo perpendicular to it (just because), a rear-facing camera that blends in pretty well, and the power/volume keys. Oh, and the dual speakers, but we'll get there soon enough.

What's striking about the back, though, is that it doesn't share the same almost leathery quality of the original – it's much more soft touch, less grippy. Like a really dry Nexus 10. This isn't a bad thing, as the overall body feels much more solid than the original, and the tablet fits perfectly in one hand, but I will miss the decided grippiness of the old N7.

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There were a number of things Google was sure to emphasize during their breakfast event – the display, the sound, and the form factor are three at the top of the list, and they're the first things I noticed about the device. With the form factor out of the way, let's move on to the display.

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With a pixel density of about 323, the new Nexus 7 has an even more tightly pixel-packed screen than the Nexus 10 (~300), which is one of the most beautiful mobile displays I've ever seen. My eyes can't perceive the distinction in any meaningful way, but comparing the display of the new Nexus 7 and the original, there's no contest.

Where the old Nexus 7's display was strangely washed, not too bright, and only of decent resolution, the new Nexus 7's display is super bright, notably more vivid, and carrying a 1200x1920 resolution that'll blow you away. We'll take a closer look at the display in the full review, but suffice to say it's great. Really great.

So what about sound? The new Nexus 7 has dual speakers that are positioned somewhere between the middle of the edge curve and the back of the device, letting out sound through tons of tiny micro-drilled holes. The speakers, along with the Google/Fraunhofer digital processing sorcery, actually sound really great, and get fairly loud. I'm no audiophile, but the speakers here are as good or better than the Nexus 10, which already had me convinced they were the best tablet speakers around.

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The caveat here, though, is that – unlike the Nexus 10 – the new Nexus 7's speakers are obviously not front facing. This is a little weird when holding the tablet in landscape mode. Even if it isn't true, I feel like I need to hold the tablet like a precious gem in landscape mode so that sound will come out unimpeded. It's not the ideal experience, but it's something I'm probably willing to get used to.

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Otherwise I'm loving the tablet so far. We already took a look at how it performs compared to the old Nexus 7, and it seems to be just as smooth in practice.

Of course, it's hard to form a detailed opinion about the product in just 24 hours, so we'll be back with a deeper look soon.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Nathan Fletcher

    Stupid people making me jealous with the high marks for the new nexus 7 *storms away*.

    But in reality, I would like to get this, but can't seem to get myself to cough up 280 for this when I already have the n7.

    • Walkop

      Sell it for $175 on Kijiji (trust me, people will pay quite a bit), buy the new one for $229 or $269. Profit! :D

      • shojus

        Exactly... You should def be able to get at least $150 for a 32gb model on Craigslist. I sold mine very fast! Lovin the NEW N7! ;)

        • Justin W

          I'm trying to sell my 16Gb Nexus 10 on Swappa, but haven't had any buyers yet. It's up for $325, but still no takers, and I'm not much of a fan of Craigslist's way of advertising (posting one minute then being on the 5th or 6th page 10 minutes later).

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

    "it's hard to form a detailed opinion about the product in just 24 hours"

    *cough*THEVERGE*cough*

    • shojus

      LMAO

    • jpelgrom

      Maybe they've had it for a few days already? A review unit and a NDA, to make it possible to be the first to post a review.

      • killik

        or they just publish first day reviews as click baits..

        • Hans Pedersen

          They've been doing that for at least a year. Look back at the HTC One "Review", for instance. The last review I read at that site. They're a joke, a troll site just looking for clicks from "firsts" and breaking news consisting of the three words "To be updated".

          • Justin W

            Look at AnandTech though - they posted what they call a mini-review (trust me, compared to their normal sized review, it was mini) based on 90% facts and tests, 10% opinions. They published it this morning, but they usually do an amazing job with their reviews.

          • Hans Pedersen

            Exactly. All other sites call it "fist impressions" or "first hands-on". Because there is no way in hell that anyone can make a qualified review of a mobile device in one or two days. Their "reviews" are lacking so much information that it is really pointless reading them.

          • Justin W

            The Verge? Yeah, I agree. There was a lot they missed and a lot they mis-reported on. AnandTech got a lot more indepth and, IMO, they did a great job with their review.

          • lordmerovingian

            Anandtech's "mini review" was more detailed than my doctor's report from my last checkup. I bow down to those guys usually. They know their stuff.

          • BrianLipp

            I generally like The Verge, but they really lost a lot of points when they reviewed the Ouya after Josh got his kickstarter unit in. I know the Ouya isnt that great, but you dont review a device that ISNT THE RELEASE VERSION! It wasnt even on release software, and wouldnt be out for like 2 more months. I hate it when sites review things that arent anywhere near release as if they are the final product.

          • mustbepbs

            I can't stand The Verge or Josh. He's a total Apple fanboy. When the iPad Mini came out with last years specs, sub HD screen in an HD tablet era he was drooling all over it saying how incredible it was and how crisp the screen was and how it was the best thing since sliced bread. Since then, I know they have zero objectivity when it comes to Apple products, and it absolutely shows in their double standard reviews.

      • Shitiz Garg

        Well, the reviewer did pre-order it. So either they're lying on the review or they reviewed it within a day...I don't know which is worse

        • BrianLipp

          He could have pre-ordered a retail device for himself. Generally review devices have to be sent back to the manufacturer by a certain time.

    • PhineasJW

      They gave it an unexpectedly high review.

      But you're right. The original Nexus 7 performed flawlessly for the first 24 hours as well. Then, over time, the back loosened and started creaking like a wooden door in a horror movie, the cheap flash memory bogged down without Trim, the touch-screen began to misfire, and the whole OS began stuttering and lagging.

      Hopefully this one fares better.

    • lordmerovingian

      Come on Mr. Ron, let it out. You know you really want to.

      • user311

        thats what she said.

    • GlennStile

      My god , Look at all the Up-Votes, I'm glad I'm not the only one who notices TheVerg Speedy yet half baked "reviews".

      I was just looking at their rating chart for the old and new nexus 7 and they score both an 8 for speakers. So new stereo speakers and new surround sound effects and apparently no improvement ?, anything to keep it in line with the fruity products perhaps :/ hummm..

      • Ruben Martinez Jr.

        The Verge rates devices relative to other contemporary devices, not relative to past versions. i.e. An iPhone 3GS might've gotten a 9.0 rating when it was new, but if they reviewed it now it might get a 3.0. Same with the N7; Last year it got an 8 because it was an 8 compared to other devices at the time. This year, other similar devices have seen improvements in their speakers as well, so it still scores an 8.

        • GlennStile

          That makes perfect sense and I would find it perfectly acceptable if it were not for the other reviews I have seen i.e

          "I'm no audiophile, but the speakers here are as good or better than the Nexus 10, which already had me convinced they were the best tablet speakers around."

          at the end of the day it's just one persons opinion, I find some of the verge reviewers opinions somewhat knee-jerk but then that's why I turn to anandtech and ars

    • user311

      that and their overwhelming love for all things Apple is why i stopped reading the Verge.

    • marijan stojcevski

      *cough* Anandtech *cough*

      • Thomas

        Anandtech actually succeeded in forming a detailed opinion in just 24 hours :)

        Of course it's still not the full Review but it's much better than any other "review" i've seen sofar.

    • c3vzn

      I've been trying to ask @piercedavid how long he spent with it on Twitter but he won't answer. Maybe if many people ask he'll come clean.

  • mitchsurp

    Very glad I bought this as my first tablet. Only one snafu so far: After a few hours, it would only boot to the Nexus X. No number of reboots helped. Had to factory reset from recovery.

    Not the end of the world, but I lost all my customization, and only because I knew how to factory reset from recovery. Normal consumers wouldn't.

    No root attempt, so this was just a software glitch I experienced.

    • Kharl Martin

      yup have this problem too but its still amazing thus far

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.danna.733 Jonathan Danna

    It bothers me how thin the sides are now. I can't use my arkon car dock anymore because it doesn't fit.

    • jaduncan

      Make a shim.

  • Zack Nebbaki

    This is probably the best mini review yet by Brian Klug:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7176/nexus-7-2013-mini-review

  • angel_spain

    You should clarify in the extended review if a case (many will buy one) can mute the dual speakers.

    • Justin W

      Usually the cases have openings where the speaker ports were. I know with the old Nexus 7, the speakers were muted with the cases I bought from Amazon, but only because they only put 3 holes (about 1/8th inch holes) for the speaker cutout.

      • Ark

        Mine has the Asus case, and it doesn't mute the speakers even a little bit.

        • Justin W

          Yeah, this one was an aftermarket one from Amazon. IMO, it was a great quality one, though.

  • Garrett Bridges

    I got mine at Best Buy last night and I'm loving it. So snappy and smooth. My only complaint actually has nothing to do with the actual tablet. I'm jonesing badly for a screen protector and case, because I'm terrified of dropping it and I HATE fingerprints. Zagg said they had no plans in the design room for this one yet, so I'm stuck with the official Asus one until then. Hope it doesn't suck!

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Spigen has said they have plans for the new Nexus 7, and their screen protectors are better than any I've ever used. Just wish they would have had them ready for the surprise release.

      • Garrett Bridges

        Yeah, the early release definitely didn't help anything. I've never heard of Spigen until you mentioned them, but their stuff looks awesome. I've always used Zagg. I ordered the official Asus protector and case, but they look craptacular. I really hope they're not.

    • taxi333

      That's my only complaint too (no case or screen protector)

  • http://pctonic.net/ Ashutosh Mishra

    I hope AP will review this Nexus 7 again after six months to see how well it has aged. Also, a review of the old Nexus 7 running Android 4.3 would be nice as well, because apparently TRIM support has been added.

    • Evan Anderson

      Trim support was always there. Android 4.3 mounts the partitions with discard (automatic trim) enabled (previously it was only enabled for certain memory chips) and improves the background garbage collection to prevent degradation of the memory.

  • Greyhame

    This tablet is fantastic. Android, lag free... the way it should be. My only gripe is the back material. While very nice looking, it's just too slippery to hold at times. Otherwise, an excellent experience!

    • Joshua Hill

      Free bugs included too according to other posters.

      • Joshua Hill

        2 users in these comments are reporting bugs post patches and Google has already issued 2 patches.

      • Greyhame

        I haven't experienced any.

        • Joshua Hill

          I never said you did but your OP was glowing and I wanted to provide a funny, factual counterpoint for others reading.

          Somebody ignorant about these issues I presume down voted it so I provided more info to make it clearer.

    • KevenMcCuller

      Give it time...the lag will return.

    • Seth Parr

      This reply is 6 months late but I couldn't agree more about the device being slippery...very slippery. It's like holding on to a bar of wet soap.

      I've put strips of Gaffer's tape on the back of mine to help add some grip and to hold me over while I wait on a case to be delivered but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the previous generations material backing.

      It feels to me too that the screen on the new version is extremely smooth which makes holding the device even more difficult when carrying without a case.

  • Kharl Martin

    got dang tablet soft bricked it self after the second update. No I'm getting all paranoid. Should I be worried? Now im getting launcher has stop working. I can fix it but don't want too many problems now because knowing myself i will cause problems lol.

  • Graham

    What wallpaper is that?!

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      It's fourth in the lineup of default wallpapers for 4.3 and 4.2. If you're using the Nexus 7, it's fifth.

  • crackinthewall

    What I really want to know is whether or not the front-facing camera is good enough. I'm not expecting much from the back camera but the FFC should perform well in low-light if only because video-calls and selfies will be taken in less than ideal conditions.

  • Andrew

    It's a shame the notification led on it is only white, unlike the n4 and n10

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I didn't notice that right off, but yes that's kind of a strange decision. A single color LED isn't nearly as practical for...actually notifying you...as a multi-colored one.

  • Tomáš Turlík

    Have you guys noticed 'safe mode' it can be accessed by holding power off button in power menu. Is it something new or did I just miss it?

    • Thomas

      Definitely been there in previous versions of Jelly Bean, not sure how long it goes back though.

      • Darrien Glasser
        • http://cyanlabs.co.uk/ Cyanlabs

          No it was way before then its on 2.3.X aswell

          • Darrien Glasser

            Just for the sake of it, I booted up my sister's Nexus One (passed on to her) running 2.3.7, Cyanogenmod. And by holding down "power off" in the power menu, I can't access Safe Mode. For the record, I can't do it on my Note 2 (4.1.2 Touchwiz) either.

            Unless Cyanogenmod dropped support for safe mode, or it's hiding in another another menu, I I can't can't seem seem to find it.

          • http://cyanlabs.co.uk/ Cyanlabs

            Here is proof it works on my Xperia Play running 4.1 but it also works on 2.3....

            imgur[dot]com/RRn2hzk

            however prior to 4.2 it was different, you had to press and hold menu while turning on the phone and keep menu held in.

          • Darrien Glasser

            The menu button doesn't seem to do it for me (on either of the devices, it must be dependent on a physical menu button), however, holding down both volume up and down during the boot did it.

            http://www.talkandroiddotcom/guides/beginner/how-to-boot-your-android-phone-or-tablet-into-safe-mode-for-troubleshooting/

            My theoretical hat is off to you.

            I'd try it out on the Nexus One, but that thing is being held together by an apps to ext app. Regardless, pretty cool.

          • Darrien Glasser

            I totally responded to this yesterday, it doesn't seem to have posted, regardless...

            You're right. Holding down the menu button is dependent on a physical menu button, but I was able to find another guide where you'd hold down the top and bottom volume rockers while booting up.

            My theoretical hat is off to you for knowing your stuff.

  • caps

    This site has gone to shit..one the site feels like a playground bullies and two it goes after sites like the verge..come on guys I have been following the verge guys from Engadget days and they are the only ones to say something is good or shit ...and have you guys not heard about review units ...please grow up and act like the site that is a news site not a lets bash other sites...

    • Michael Crider

      Yeah! How dare those jerks hold onto editorial integrity. It wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for the fact that the Android Police writers barge into your home and hold your head against the screen, then break your fingers so you can't visit any other sites. Those dirty, dirty bastards!

  • Moosa Mahsoom

    The nexus 7 2012 seemed to have a fair display to me.I did buy it six months later

  • Zacisblack

    Come join an awesome NEW Nexus 7 community on Google+!

    https://plus.google.com/communities/102840066366666223469

  • http://mobers.org/ psydex

    that wallpaper is fantastic! can anyone provide it?

  • Brandon Watkins

    I've pretty much already fallen in love with my nexus 7 2013. I do miss the grip of the old nexus 7. And while they did give us a camera on the back its not very good. My biggest gripe about the new nexus 7 is it doesn't have a vibration motor so when you type yo feel nothing..... Unless you enable keypress sounds. Other than those those things I love it ....and for the price ypou can't beat it.

  • Mystery Man

    Hate the touch screen problems on this thing. Double taps, wont respond to long presses, dead spots. Asus should research a little on Six Sigma

  • Prouddad

    I had too return mine just now :( a few stuck pixels (staying bright white), I think that means they are stuck....couldn't fix them I tried hard. Also, the touch screen was just so unresponsive :/ took multiple taps to register, long pressing took several tries to register, and also when tapping did work it didn't seem spot on or accurate. Also had two out of nowhere reboots. I'm pretty bummed I was really hyped. I'll wait a month and try again. :(

  • Mie Mohd

    Me quite envy for those premium price but I rather stay out from Asus troubles, looking ahead next version from Samsung