Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

8/28/2012 1:51:43 AM

Nice Design, Strong Configuration, Cheap Price

At Conference for Programmers Google I/O 2012, Google introduced a tablet about which had been rumored for a long time. It is Nexus 7. It is said that besides Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Nexus 7 is in the second place of drawing much attention. This is a small tablet, light, accompanied by the latest Android OS with lots of improvements. At a cheap price, only 199USD for such a high configuration, Nexus 7 is impossible to avoid weaknesses in appearances and comprehensive quality. Android 4.1 is not really convenient for this 7-inch tablet though. Let’s look through a detailed review about this tablet.

Description: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

Hardware and design

When holding this tablet, it delivers a feeling of lightness (340 g). You can hold it completely in one palm without any troubles. Nexus 7’s Hardware quality is good, slightly better than Kindle Fire but a little bit worse than Galaxy Tab 7.7. Nexus has the thickness of 14.45 mm, not too thick but not as thin as other competitors’ products. Despite this, the thickness does not affect much. It does give us a feeling of solidity instead.

The front side is covered by glossy black layer. When the phone is off, it looks so nice. The screen is sunk into all paths. A glossy layer covers the whole front side; it looks desirable; but it is easy for the fingerprint to stick. There is a camera on the top short side for video calls. A light sensor is located next to the camera to automatically adjust the brightness based on light conditions. The paths are quite thick, so they do not look cool but it is really useful for holding this equipment. You can hold it horizontally or vertically, and these thick paths will prevent our finger from touching the screen, especially when browsing the webs, reading or gaming. Although thin paths improve beauty of the tablet, but it also sacrifices the convenience while using the product. It is not a good idea at all.

The backside is made from a textured soft-touch material that is easy to grip and pleasant to touch. However, it is easy to be dirty. My version is in white so it is much easier to be dirty. The big Nexus logo is highlighted on the short top; then you find Asus’ logo (the company that cooperates with Google to produce this tablet) and the speaker which is designed to be a long black stick. Please note that the backside cover is not removable, so you cannot replace the battery for Nexus 7 by yourself.

All solid buttons of Nexus 7 are located on the left side, including unlock keys and 2 volume keys knitting to each other. Those buttons are not too big which are soft and easy to press, partly thanks to the position so that the fingers can embrace the Nexus 7’s body before pressing. On the left side, Google locates a microphone and 4 contacting points so that users can connect Nexus 7 to accessories.

All connections, including microUSB and headset jack, are brought to the bottom side. Locating 3.5mm jack on the bottom side is convenient for using Nexus’ headset because the wires will not cause irritation like tablets that have this jack on the top side. There is no separated charging port because Nexus 7 uses microUSB port to transmit signals and energy. The upper side has another microphone so there are 2 microphones in totals. Integrating microUSB with charging port helps you to make full use of smartphone accessories although the time to charge the battery will be prolonged much more.

In general, I was impressed by the fact that Google and Asus together made this Nexus 7. Despite cheap price, it is invested and taken care of remedial details. Although it is not the most nice-designed, thinnest or lightest tablet, it is obviously a good product at a price of $200.

Description: It is obviously a good product at a price of $200

It is obviously a good product at a price of $200

Internal configuration

Nexus 7 is equipped with a configuration that can be considered “the best” in cheap tablet segments. You will find it difficult to get a tablet that is lower than $200 with quad-core processor, NVIDIA Tegra 3, RAM 1GB, IPS display at 1280 x 800 resolution. It is known that CPU Tegra 3 on Nexus 7 will run at 1.15 GHz clocking frequencies when 4 cores run at the same time and increase to 1.3 GHz when 1 core runs. Internal memory storage is 8GB and 16GN optional with additional $50. It is a pity because this tablet does not support the external memory storage (micro SD or SD). In terms of connections, Google and Asus equip most of popular standard on their tablet, including Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC (Android Beam) and other sensors such as Accelerometer, Magnetometer and Gyroscope. A lack of 3G and 4G is the weakness of Nexus 7 because it reduces the flexibility, especially to ones who travel a lot to Wi-Fi-less places.

The front side has 1.2-MP camera and no main camera at the backside at all. However, there is no available photo app in the tablet and even Instagram does not appear in Google Play. You cannot use webcam to make video calls on Yahoo Messenger because no plug-in is installed. It works normally with Google+ Hangout and Skype. As far as I know, the camera app does exist on Nexus 7; the users just cannot get access to it. A programmer created a small app to activate the Camera.


Nexus 7 is equipped with a 7-inch Back-lit IPS screen, 1,280 x 800 HD (216 ppi) resolution and scratch-resistant Corning Glass with Asus’s TruVivid Technology. Thanks to IPS, the viewing angle is wide and clear. With a density of 216 ppi, the texts shown on screen look smooth and nearly get rid of pock-marked pixels. Although it does not reach the Retina level, it satisfies demands for reading and browsing webs on Nexus 7. The brightness is good. Automatically adjusting is quick and reasonable, making me feel comfortable when testing the tablet in different environments. Even when you are out in sunlight, you can see all contents shown without encountering any troubles with the glossy surfaces.

There is one weakness of the screen: it is the color. In some cases, the color is more faded than usual. When compared with a Galaxy Nexus, the color of Nexus 7 screen is much worse, mostly because Galaxy Nexus’ AMOLED Technology has many prominent features which help to increase the balance level. When compared with a new iPad, Nexus 7 is a little worse. The contrast of this IPS display is not really out-standing.

Performance and battery life

Equipped with a strong quad-core processor and Android 4.1 with Butter project, Nexus 7 works smoothly. It is likely to be the smoothest Android-based tablet I ever used. Apps operating, menu switching, dragging, quick browsing, etc. all are slippery and smooth as butter, identical to what Google has advertised. However, during in use, there are some slight lags when sliding quickly. It is unknown that this is the problem of hardware or software but I do not have this problem when using Android 4.1 on Galaxy Nexus. It is lucky that it only happens when you slide very quickly. For others, they work well on Nexus 7. The actions are fully responsive. When the tablet is in use, the tablet does not become hot, only when we use it to play games for quite a long time, the backside is slightly hot but it does not cause any irritations.

I have run some benchmarks on Nexus 7 with 4 softwares used for Android OS including Quadrant, Nenamark, RD 3D and Vellamo. When running Quadrant, Nexus 7 got a score of 3763, not so high and not so low. According to the comparison chart, Nexus 7 is ranked after HTC One X and Asus Transformer Prime TF2012 although they share the similar configurations: CPU NVIDIA Tegra 3, 12-core GPU, 1GB RAM, HD screen, etc. When running Nenamark, Nexus 7 was ranked first with a score of 55.3. When tested with RD 3D to check the image processing performance, it was ranked 106 after a range of other smartphones and tablets. 108 is not a low score but indeed it has troubles with building blocks hand handling the saw-tooth in comparison with Transformer Prime TF201. For Vellamo, it reaches 1,674, after HTC One X (the One X version for US market).

It is possible that these apps have not been optimized for Android 4.1 because it is so new, but it partly reflects the true performances of Nexus 7. Most benchmarks show that Nexus 7 is slightly worse than some of other models but the distance is not so great. In general, with a price of $199, Nexus 7’s performances are good.

About the battery life, it can be considered a strong point of Nexus 7. 4235mAh battery helps the laptop to run within 2 days with these performances: Always Wi-Fi connection, pushing emails from 3 Gmail accounts, Facebook updating, automatic brightness, browsing webs for 5-6 hours, chatting for 2 hours, playing music for 1 hour, and other time in stand-by mode. 7-inch and 10-inch tablets hardly compete with Nexus 7 on battery life. According to Google advertisement, we can watch videos for successive 9 hours and 300 hours for waiting mode.


As stated above, Nexus 7 is equipped with latest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Admittedly, any program that belongs to Nexus owns the pure interface and features from Jelly Bean. If you have experienced tablets running on 3.x Honeycomb or Android 4.0.x, you will see the tablet interface of Jelly Bean on Nexus 7 is totally different. I doubt that these differences will exist again on other brands’ tablets because at the moment, no tablet except for Nexus 7 runs on Jelly Bean. It is only known that it can be changed based on the pixel density. In my opinion, 10-inch tables which have lower pixel density will use the old interface, and new interface for high pixel density.

The first new point of that interface is that the virtual keys are located on the bottom side, not in the right corner like before. The advantage is that helps the general interface become nicer and the disadvantage is that we are confused with Home button when pressing the virtual keyboard, even when you use the tablet horizontally or vertically, making it back to main screen. It takes time for you to get accustomed to that.

The second new point is that Notification Area will not appear in the right corner anymore, now it is on the top path of screen, like previous Android-based versions. You can pull the notification bar like you do to the smartphone. Drop-down notification bar is favorable and more convenient than the fact that you have to observe and act in the bottom corner.

The main screen of Jelly Bean will not rotate automatically based on the way you hold your tablet so it is not very convenient. For iPad and some other tablets, the home screen will automatically rotate based on how you hold it. And it still works when you use a certain app. If you feel the automatic rotation is irritating, Google will help you to turn it off quickly just by pulling notification bar and touching Auto Rotate symbol.

Font Roboto on Android 4.1 looks like 4.0 at first sight, but it has been slightly changed. You can see this font in the Light format on the whole interface of OS. Calendar app is enhanced to be more visible and easier to use. Switching from other apps to Calendar looks smooth and more quickly than 4.0. Map on Jelly Bean is the newest version, supporting data browsing even when there is no internet connection. In addition, there are many other changes.

The prominent point of Android 4.1 on Nexus 7 in comparison with Galaxy Nexus is the Chrome browser. Although these two devices have Chrome both, but Galaxy has Android’s traditional browser and Nexus 7 do not. At Google I/O, Google revealed that Nexus 7 was the first sold device with installed Chrome. But indeed the experienced on Nexus 7 fell short of my expectation. The scrolling is not as quick as the default browser of Galaxy Nexus so it will take you much time to return to the top of a page. The response time has latency. When using Chrome with many tabs vertically, the tab sizes will be small. Therefore, ones who have big fingers like me will easily press by mistake. The site download speed and navigations have nothing to complain about.

Big apps mostly have compatible modes to work well on Android-based laptop, although there are not so many. Most softwares would run on smartphone modes with some inconvenient buttons, not making full use of large screen. With the release of Android 4.1 SDL, it is hopeful that the developers will release the updated version so that the apps are more user-friendly when they are run on tablet.



Good general quality

Light, nicely-designed

Comfortable to use

Latest Android 4.1, performance is extremely good

Android 4.1 interface with new convenient notification bar

Long battery life


No 3G – 4G support

No expandable memory storage

Backside of the white version is easy to be dirty

Chrome falls short of expectation

In some case, Android 4.1 on Nexus 7 is not responding as quickly as that on Galaxy Nexus

No available photo apps, Voice and video for Yahoo Messenger are not in use

Screen home does not rotate based on how you hold the tablet

Google Play Store is not available in Vietnam yet

Description: Google Nexus 7

Google Nexus 7

Nexus 7 is good at software and hardware both. With a price of $199, you have in your hands a mere Android-based tablet with quick performance, stability, satisfying the demand for viewing contents. It is not exaggerated to say that it is the best “under $200” tablet model in the market up to now. Although it has some limits such as OS has some tiny errors, low mobility because ò no 3G/4G, no automatic rotation, etc. Nexus 7 still satisfies the demand on expanding market shares of Android-based tablet with low-budget customers. In general, if you want own an Android-based with a cheap price, Nexus 7 is the first candidate you should think of. 

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