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Review: Google Nexus 7 Hardware

Everybody has been waiting for a Nexus tablet ever since Google introduced Android Honeycomb alongside the Google experience Motorola Xoom tablet. Even though Google worked closely with Motorola to realize the Xoom, it wasn’t branded as Nexus device and it took Google more time than I expected to finally throw a real Nexus tablet on the market.

Not much time ago ASUS announced some interesting 7-inch tablets which came with good hardware specs and an competitive price tag. But shortly after those tablets have been shown they basically vanished from all following ASUS press meetings. Rumours spread saying that Google was interested to work with ASUS on a Nexus tablet, and this was officially confirmed when they showed off the Nexus 7 running on Jelly Bean a few weeks ago. And as expected Google directly attacked the Kindle Fire with better specs and a 200 (8GB) to 250 (16GB) USD price tag.

Currently it seems like demand is very high, as most stores sold out very quickly and even the Google Play Store wasn’t able to deliver many preorders on time. I managed to get my hands on a brand new Nexus 7 from UK to check out the first tablet directly from Google.

The Nexus 7 is a light and thin 7-inch tablet with a soft rubber back. When the first pictures emerged i was afraid that ASUS opted for a plastic back, but luckily they went with a rubber coating similar to what Amazon used for their Kindle Fire. This makes it much easier to hold the tablet in one hand as it’s not as slippery as plastic or even aluminium backs. Google chose a ‘golf ball’ style texture which doesn’t win any beauty prices. In direct comparison i prefer the Kindle Fire’s clean back.

On the bottom you’ll find the micro-USB slot as well as the earphone plugs. It just makes more sense to have the plugs at the bottom as the cable won’t obscure your view on the display.

The left side sports 4 dock connectors which will probably be used for a docking station in the future.

Volume controls as well as the power button have been placed on the right side. Both hardware buttons have nice pressure points and feel sturdy.

Google decided to go with a front camera only, which can be found on the top of the device. The primary use case being video calling. I think it’s a good decision to leave out a dedicated back camera for taking photos as Google was able to keep the price of the tablet low this way, and i don’t know any person which would seriously consider the camera as a major feature for a tablet anyway.

Compared to the Kindle Fire the Google Nexus 7 is slightly longer and thinner. With 340 grams it’s also quite a bit lighter than the Kindle Fire weighing in 413 grams.

The Nexus 7 is much stronger when it comes to general hardware specs like 1 GB of RAM, Quad Core CPU and HD display resolution, which is not a big surprise keeping in mind that the Kindle Fire was released last year. As mentioned earlier both manufacturers opted for rubber backs to enhance the grip on the tablet.

A lot of reviewers out there are impressed about the great built quality of the Google Nexus 7, and some even compare it to iPad standards. Sadly i cannot confirm this, as my first device had a major display problem causing heavy display bleeding.

It’s basically not possible to use the device with this kind of display issue, and the XDA Devs boards are full of complaints. Additional problems seem to occur with dead pixel and displays which seem to be loose and creak when pressed.

[UPDATE]The replacement device i received from Google has a perfect display without any bleeding or dead pixel issues. There is only a little creaking to be heard if you press hard on the left edge of the screen, which is not a real problem though. All display pictures in this article, except the one above which shows the faulty screen of my first Nexus 7, are taken from the replacement device.[/UPDATE]

So most of the times you’ll get a Nexus 7 without manufacturing problems, and then it can really be compared to Apple quality. Generally the display has great color reproduction and viewing angles, as well as a high resolution sceen and the so-called zero gap technology used to minimize the distance between the devices display surface and the digitizer to register your touch input. Using this approach the displayed content will look like it’s printed on the surface of the Nexus 7 front which is looking very impressive.

But be aware that there seem to be some problems in manufacturing quality assurance due to the high market demand currently. This can especially be a pain as returning a Nexus 7 which has been bought from the Google Play Store is a chore. Reactions to emails are very slow and calling the Google customer care number can result in up to an hour of waiting on the line until you get to speak to a Google representative.

Verdict

The Google Nexus 7 is exactly what many customers have been waiting for. A pure Google experience tablet, which has great hardware specs, continued support with Android updates, slim and light casing and an incredibly competitive price tag. I’m sure that following the success of the Kindle Fire, the Nexus 7 will also be one of the most successful Android tablets out there.

Just don’t make the mistake of ordering an Nexus 7 from the Play Store, and opt for a regular retailer instead. This way you will probably have the Nexus 7 in your hands earlier and if you have bad luck like i did, you’ll be able to get a replacement much faster than going through the slow Google customer service process.

Google Nexus 7 Hardware Specs

CPU Quad-core Tegra 3 processor
RAM 1 GB
Internal Storage 8 or 16 GB
Display
    7” 1280×800 HD display (216 ppi)
    Back-lit IPS display
    Scratch-resistant Corning glass
    1.2MP front-facing camera
Features Accelerometer, Magnetometer, Gyroscope, GPS, NFC, Microphone
Wireless WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth
Connector Micro USB
Battery
    4325 mAh
    9 hours of HD video playback
    10 hours of web browsing
    10 hours of e-reading
    300 hours of standby
Dimensions Size: 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm
Weight: 340 grams
OS Android 4.1 Jelly Bean