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Having taken delivery of my Nexus 7 (2013) yesterday, forgive me my indulgence of being unable to put it down. Because Google has made a good tablet even better. We had the teething problems with the original Nexus 7 but now  they are making one of the best tablets on the market today. The original Nexus 7 was ground breaking in that it offered a totally usable platform, married to the latest version of Android, for £179. The Nexus 10 gave us a very quick, ultra high resolution 10-inch tablet for £319.00 . This year Google is stepping out of the shadow of value and into one of excellence. It starts with the new Nexus 7, (here on I’m going to refer to it as the N7-2).

Based on the success of the original Nexus 7, Google went back to ASUS for the second version. In the 12 months since the release of the Nexus 7, the world has changed quite a bit. Expectations for value tablets had been reset by the original Nexus 7 as well as Amazon’s lineup of Kindle Fires. Simply showing up with another good value likely wouldn’t do anything to further the brand (or market). I get the distinct impression that Google isn’t big on not changing the world. Build quality is much improved.

The result is the N7-2. Identical only in name. (Why have they not changed or added something to the name is causing confusion).

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Old N7                       New N7 2013

 

 

Build Quality

After the problems with Google made it thinner, lighter, faster and better in almost every way.
The original Nexus 7 was rather thick but it got away with it since the overall footprint of the tablet was so small. The N7-2 truly feels like a slate.
I don’t miss the rubber imitation leather from the original Nexus 7, but, I did like the dimpled effect, however it’s replaced by a soft touch plastic back. The N7-2 is still nice enough that I’m nervous about scratching or scuffing the back.

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New N7 2013                                                                                     Old N7

Sound Quality

The stereo speakers are now placed at either end of the tablet, improvement in the  sound is really good.  It’s an easy feature to take for granted but going back to the old mono design sounds worse.

Both ASUS and Nexus logos are prominently featured on the back. ASUS continues to amaze me by just how far it’s come as a company, and the N7-2 is hands down its most impressive tablet creation yet. From a build quality standpoint I really have no complaints about the N7-2. The N7-2 feels like a solid slab of soft plastic and glass. It’s nice.

The power/lock and volume buttons are the only real sore spot on the physical side. They aren’t particularly well defined and you can’t get to them when it’s flat on a table. Other than this the build quality is really good.

The only other complaint I’d levy against the N7-2 is that the design doesn’t particularly stand out as being unique. Although the N7-2 falls victim to the fact that ultimately it’s tough to make these ultra mobile devices stand out. You need a large glass surface and you need a back. Black also tends to be one of the easier colours to sell, although we would not be surprised to see a white model coming out. It’s not a huge deal to me personally, but as mobile devices can often be fashion statements I don’t know that the N7-2 has all that much curb appeal.

Specs

The Display

What the N7-2 lacks in “curb appeal”, it completely makes up for once you power on the display. The 7-inch 1920 x 1200 display produces colors that are not only vibrant but, for the first time ever in a Nexus device, accurate as well. Google really worked on color accuracy this time, with a two step calibration process – once at a high level by the panel maker and once again per device during final manufacturing. The result is just awesome:

The N7-2 display is not only visually appealing but stacks up incredibly well in display tests.

The new panel is also incredibly bright. I typically view 500 nits as the threshold for outdoor usability, and the N7-2 definitely exceeds that threshold. The tablet will drink away all of your battery life if you leave it at this brightness setting indefinitely, but if you need to actually use your tablet outdoors for a while the N7-2 works.

Black levels are a bit higher than on the original Nexus 7, but the resulting peak contrast ratio is still excellent:

Pixel density shoots through the roof with the N7-2 display as well. One major advantage of the Android platform is in its flexible resolution handling. The 1920 x 1200 panel presents itself as a 960 x 600 panel to web pages in Chrome, while other apps can use every last pixel for unique content (e.g. games).

The beauty of not having to double the original Nexus 7’s resolution but instead settling on an in-between option like 1920×1200 is that Google could get away with a performance mainstream SoC instead of something ridiculously high-end.

The display looks great when viewing everything from photos and movies to web pages and eBooks, and a notification LED has been handily added below the home button.

Speed and Battery life

Overall the N7-2 is better than the N7 but, watching a HD video I found that the battery life was getting sucked out compared to the old N7. On normal use the N7-2 is better at looking after the battery. From charging it up yesterday and constant usage, (as you would expect) i’m very happy with the battery life.

N7-2 battery_WM

Nexus 7 2013: Verdict

The N7-2 is more expensive than the original but significant upgrades including the design, exceptional screen and added rear camera justify this. Despite still lacking a microSD card slot, it’s the best 7in tablet around. 

 

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Dave Thornton

Senior Editor

Senior Editor
Been involved in technology for many years, more than I care to remember. Live in Dundee, Scotland. I like Android, Windows Phone OS, BlackBerry OS and iOS, and love writing about all things techie. Currently have a Honor 6+, Elephone P6000, Nexus 5, Chrombook C720, HTC One M7, Nokia Lumina 625, Microsoft Lumia 435, Blackberry Q10, HTC Hero and iPad mini