Take THAT Apple!
Last week saw the arrival of iOS 7 for Apple’s mobile devices. Like many I looked at the impending upgrade with a mix of excitment and scepticism. I can’t say that I really cared for the new look that Apple had chosen to go with, but I did like the idea of a command centre and a few other useful tools like Airdrop.
Unfortunately, when I actually managed to download and install the new update I found it to be, well, pretty crap if I’m honest. It wasn’t just the Fisher Price user interface or lack of certain features on my 12 month old tablet (although what’s up with that, Apple?). What really bothered me was how the new “upgrade” slowed my device down to a crawl.
In response I did what any sane (read: bored and stupid) person would do and picked up a Nexus 7 from my local high street electronics store.
Look and feel
The latest Nexus 7 is manufactured by Asus, just like the 2012 version. As Android tablets go it’s a pretty thin and light package. It’s a unibody design, just like Apple’s iPads. The back and rolled sides are coated in a lightly textured rubberised coating, which should prove hard wearing and does a great job of stopping the tablet from sliding about too much on smooth surfaces, something that the Nexus 4 can’t say.
To the top right you’ll find the standard Android power and volume buttons, there’s also a micro-USB charging/syncing port. You’ll also find openings for the front and rear facing cameras, and that’s pretty much it. It’s a very sleek and smooth design, although you may notice that there’s no micro-HDMI port or micro-SD card slot. These will be major shortcomings for some buyers, so it’s best to get it out of the way early: You don’t get many options for expandability, the Nexus 7 comes with either 16 or 32GB of internal storage, and that’s as much as you’ll ever be able to store on it.
That being said, it does support SlimPort which allows for video output via the Micro-USB port. You also get NFC and Qi wireless charging, which may be of interest to you.
The Nexus 7 is priced at £199 for the 16GB WiFi only model. That’s not too bad for a 7″ tablet, and quite impressive when you actual see the specifications.
Processor: Quad core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor
Internal storage: 16 or 32GB
Screen: 7.02″, 1920 x 1200 pixels (323 ppi)
Front camera: 1.2MP, 720p @ 30fps
Rear camera: 5MP, 1080p
Audio filetypes: MP3, WAV, eAAC+, WMA
Video filetypes: H.263, H.264, MP4
Dimensions: 200 mm (7.9 in) H, 114 mm (4.5 in) W, 8.65 mm (0.341 in) D
Weight: 290g (WiFi), 299g (LTE)
Running on this hardware is the latest version of Android, 4.3 Jellybean, direct from Google with no third party skins or apps involved.
With the specs mentioned above it’s no surprise that the Nexus 7 chugs along quite nicely. The Android interface is about as fluid as you can get (take THAT Apple) and most games run with no issues whatsoever. As an example, Real Racing 3 performs every bit as well as it did on my iPad 3. Less intensive apps like Candycrush or Angry Birds are obviously no problem, and the better-than-HD screen ensures that they look about as good as possible.
When it comes to media playback, the Nexus 7 is capable of playing back full HD video with ease, providing it’s in a suitable file format. Videos appear crisp and clear, with excellent colour and brightness on the screen. In my view, the screen on the Nexus is every bit as good as the retina display n the current 10″ iPad, and miles better than that in the anaemic iPad Mini.
It’s never easy to tempt someone away from a system they’re used to, especially when it comes to mobile platforms. But the Nexus 7 is possibly one of the strongest arguments for switching to an Android tablet, especially if you’re a current iPad mini owner.
For a start it’s around 20g lighter than the iPad mini. It also has a faster processor, four times the RAM and a higher resolution screen. All this, and it’s 70 quid cheaper. Really the only reason for buying an iPad mini over the Nexus 7 is if you’re morally opposed to Google for some reason. It really is hard to find a logical argument for buying an iPad Mini, except that you’ve already invested a fortune in apps for your iOS devices.
On a personal level, I’ve found the Nexus 7 to be a breath of fresh air. My iPad 3 was no slouch, until iOS7 came out, but I’d say that the Nexus 7 is faster than the iPad was on iOS6. The screen is every bit as good as the iPad, and the device itself is the perfect size for me to type with two thumbs comfortably.
If you’re in the market for a tablet then you should definitely consider the Nexus 7, even if you’ve always been faithful to iOS. Android has come on leaps and bounds in the last 18 months or so, to the point where its more polished and feature rich than iOS, even with the recent upgrade.