Review updated: 4th Feb 2014
The second-generation Google Nexus 7 has been around for roughly six months now, and is still one of the best 7in Android tablets that money can buy. Here’s our long-term review.
The original Nexus 7 caused quite a stir in the tablet market, primarily due to its low price. This was despite its premium build and specifications, which led many to suspect that Google was subsidising the tablet in order that more people would choose Android and buy more apps, books, music and movies from its digital stores.
The updated Nexus 7 went on sale in summer 2013 and was even better in lots of ways. Yes, it cost more, but it’s money well spent, as you’ll see.
New Nexus 7 (2013): Design and build
The new Nexus 7 looks very much like the original version but if you’re upgrading from that model then within seconds of taking it out of the box you can tell it's next-generation stuff. It's slimmer and lighter, measuring just 8.7mm thin and weighing 290g.
It's marginally taller but far more important are the few millimetres which have been trimmed from the width. It doesn't sound like much but the new tablet is significantly easier to hold in one hand. The vast majority of rival 7in tablets, including the Tesco Hudl, Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Advent Vega Tegra Note 7 are all noticeably wider when held upright – enough to make it uncomfortable to stretch your thumb and fingers to grip both sides.
Instead, the Nexus 7 is taller and this makes it look rather like an over-sized smartphone. Indeed, the Nexus 7 isn't that much bigger than a phablet such as the Nokia Lumia 1520 or Sony Xperia Z Ultra.
Google has dropped the silver band from the edge of the tablet: it's an all-black affair this time. Buttons and ports are placed as before but the rear casing has a completely smooth surface which feels soft to the touch. It becomes grubby after a while, and isn’t particularly easy to clean.
Two design changes which are particularly welcome are the stereo speakers, now placed at either end of the tablet improving sound; and the addition of a notification LED below the screen.
Excellent build quality has been maintained with no signs of unwanted gaps in the casing or wobbly buttons. The only thing we can really mark it down for is a lack of premium materials such as aluminium, but even that would be unfair at this price. Take a look at our Apple iPad mini vs Google Nexus 7 2 comparison review.
New Nexus 7 (2013) review: Hardware and connectivity
The highlight of the Nexus 7 is its amazing screen. The 7in IPS display’s resolution has been cranked up from 1280x800 pixels to 1920x1200, giving it a mammoth pixel density of 323ppi. It results in a display which is simply stunning to look at and without a doubt the best of any 7in tablet around at the moment. Apple’s Retina iPad mini 2 has more pixels, but they’re spread over a larger area, so the pixel density is basically the same.
Google has dropped nVidia for Qualcomm and the 2013 Nexus 7 is equipped with a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core Krait processor and the memory has been doubled to 2 GB.
You might be disappointed to learn that Google is still only shipping the Nexus 7 in either 16- or 32 GB capacities, and there's still no microSD card slot for expansion. It's one of the only downsides to this tablet but you still get twice as much storage as the entry-level iPad mini for £80 less (£239 vs £319).
Although you are paying £40 more for an extra 16GB of storage, it’s worth it if you plan to install lots of apps, take lots of photos and videos and store a collection of music and movies on the Nexus 7.
There’s no infrared so, unlike some Android devices, you can’t use the Nexus 7 as a TV remote control, but you do get dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi (although not 11.ac), Bluetooth 4.0 LE (low energy), GPS, NFC and Qi wireless charging (although you’ll need to buy a separate Qi-compatible wireless charger if you want to use this feature). If you need it, a 4G LTE model (with 32GB of storage) costs £299.
Plus, there are both front and rear cameras, the front being a 1.2Mp webcam and a 5Mp autofocus shooter at the back.