At an event in San Francisco, Google announced an updated version of the popular Nexus 7 tablet which first appeared at last year’s Google I/O. The big new features update the Nexus 7 platform with inclusion of a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro (APQ8064) SoC, 1920x1200 display by JDI (Japan Display Inc), as well as 5 MP rear facing camera, 1.2 MP front facing camera, stereo speakers, dual band WiFI, wireless charging (Qi) and a thinner and lighter chassis. It’s a major update that keeps the competitive price point that made the original Nexus 7 appealing (the lineup starts at $229 for the 16 GB model) while bringing numerous much-needed improvements that people have asked for.

First off, it’s shocking how much of a difference the change in thickness and weight makes. The new Nexus 7 feels considerably lighter and thinner in the hand than its older counterpart. Gone is the textured rubberized (almost driver glove-like) material on the back, in its place a flat, uniform soft touch material. There’s Nexus emblazoned in landscape on the rear, which is a bit puzzling next to the 90 degree rotated ASUS down below. It irritates my OCD sensibilities seeing the two logos inexplicably perpendicular and right next to each other, but I suppose Google thinks this helps emphasize how much the Nexus 7 and Android platform are really tablet-friendly now, with landscape view support throughout the core apps.

The rear facing camera is in the extreme top left, next to the power and volume rocker buttons, and top speaker. The Nexus 7 build and finish does feel a bit more plasticky to me this time around, but that’s almost expected given the price point, and it isn’t a major dig on the hardware at all. That’s not to say it isn’t sturdy or well put together, but just that the original Nexus 7 left a stronger impression on me last time, and I’ve been spoiled by the ASUS FonePad since then. The edge chamfer also helps the Nexus 7 feel a bit more like the Nexus 4 with its rounded edge. The previous Nexus 7 came to a point that could be a bit sharp at times.

What’s a little awkward is how tall the bezel at top and bottom looks on the Nexus 7, I’m warming up to it. On paper the new Nexus 7 is smaller in almost every dimension, in reality the elongated aspect ratio is definitely a bit pronounced here. There’s also still a notification LED well hidden under the glass at bottom in the center.

On the back is the new 5 MP rear facing camera, buttons (which hug the edges), a microphone port, and speakers. The speakers fire out the back of the Nexus 7 and look like they have good separation (obviously the best that the device’s size affords – top and bottom), but I don’t have a good feel for just how loud they go quite yet. Having stereo is a dramatic improvement for the audio part of video and multimedia consumption, and Android does 5.1 virtualization out the speakers as well. On the connectivity side of things there’s microUSB at the bottom with SlimPort video out, and a 3.5mm audio jack. I know a lot of people were hoping for inclusion of line in on the 3.5mm audio jack but I can confirm it isn’t present.

Nexus 7Tablet Specification Comparison
  ASUS Nexus 7 (2012) ASUS Nexus 7 (2013)
Dimensions 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm 200 x 114 x 8.65mm
Chassis Plastic + Rubber back Plastic + Soft Touch back
Display 7-inch 1280x800 IPS 7.02-inch 1920x1200 IPS
Weight 340 g 290 grams (WiFi), 299 grams (LTE)
Processor 1.3 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (T30L - 4 x Cortex A9) 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro (APQ8064)
Memory 1 GB 2 GB DDR3L
Storage 8 GB / 16 GB 16 GB / 32 GB
Battery 16 Whr 15.01 Whr
WiFi/Connectivity 802.11b/g/n, BT, NFC 802.11a/b/g/n, BT 4.0, NFC
Camera 5.0 MP Rear Facing w/AF
1.2MP Front Facing
Wireless Charging Yes (Qi Compatible)
Pricing $199/$249 $229/$269 (WiFi 16/32 GB)
$349 (LTE)

My only real complaint with the new Nexus 7’s in hand feel and build is with the power button and volume rocker, which feel somewhat mushy to me. I had issues taking screenshots even at times. It’s a minor gripe, but with only three buttons on the whole device, and generally good execution by ASUS with buttons on tablets, it surprised me. I guess I also do miss that racing glove-inspired texture in the soft touch on the back of the original Nexus 7.

Nexus 7 (LTE) Band Coverage
Model GSM/EDGE Bands WCDMA Bands
(HSPA+ 42)
LTE Bands
(UE Category 3)
North America Nexus 7 LTE Quad Band
(850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz)
HSPA+: 850/900/1900/2100/AWS(1700/2100) MHz (Bands: 1/2/4/5/8) 700/750/850/1700/1900/2100 MHz (Bands: 1/2/4/5/13/17)
Europe Nexus 7 LTE 800/850/1700/1800/1900/2100/2600 MHz (Bands: 1/2/3/4/5/7/20)

There’s a version of the Nexus 7 with 32 GB of storage and LTE onboard for $349 which will appear ‘in the coming weeks’ and includes support for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon LTE in the USA on one piece of hardware. This is the first single SKU solution I’m aware of with coexistence of Bands 13 and 17 (Verizon and AT&T respectively) on the same device, which is awesome. There’s a model with Bands 3, 7, and 20 for Europe as well, so they’re not left out of the LTE fray. I had a chance to quickly get a look at the new Nexus 7 with LTE, which includes a microSIM tray and was working on one of the LTE networks in San Francisco just fine.

As far as I know, the Nexus 7 LTE solution is Qualcomm’s MDM9215 with a WTR1605L transceiver inside, and doesn’t necessarily include any of the new RF360 brand of front end hardware (like the power amplifier with integrated antenna switch or tunable front end), since MDM9x15 only works with QFE1320 (Bands 1,2,3/4,5,8,20). Still, that makes it all the more impressive, and Google deserves considerable kudos for further pushing such unprecedented interoperability, since in a tablet you do have more area to include discrete power amplifiers and filters.

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  • spinportal - Monday, July 29, 2013 - link

    If you are needing space on the go, hate dongles for USB OTG, and lacking as SD card slot, don't want to spend on a data plan for LTE/3G, and don't want to set up a your own Plex media server or depend on Wifi streaming being available for your Box/Google Drive/ Skydrive / Dropbox, don't want to spend on Spotify / Pandora / Rdio, then bring your own 1 TB wifi storage box from Seagate (Satellite or Wireless Plus) and add the special firmware modification and might as well through in a portable power brick for recharging in between pitstops at the wall outlets. The Seagate Wireless+ with mod can act as a wifi bypass bridge so you can use the media server functions of the drive, and still go on the 'net. Without the mod, you do not have a wifi bridge option. And the SW+ can feed up to 8 connected devices. I've tried Plex media from a home server over cable internet to public wifi at Starbucks and 720p music videos were choppy so forget 1080p 2-hr feature length videos being an enjoyable experience. Music streaming was not so bad on remote Plex, and I'm spoiled to not enjoy 480p DVD quality video anymore since it looks so pixelated and blurry (unless you're on a really small 4" smartphone screen) Reply
  • spinportal - Monday, July 29, 2013 - link

    Also, where's the pet projects of turning a Nexus 7 (32GB/LTE) into a car infotainment system with Waze / Google Maps (+ offline maps) / Garmin-TomTom apps, Dragon (Vlingo) for handsfree calls (assumed internal tablet mic), emails and texting (narration as well), dashboard mount, bluetooth integration to car stereo so audio outputs to car speakers with call muting other audio apps (assumed built-in functionality by now)? What is needed is for the Big Motors to integrate bt into their buttons on the steering wheel, or otherwise 3rd parties are going to build their own bt kits to do navigation (vol +/-, OK, left/right/up/down cursor, etc.) from the wheel Reply
  • aliasfox - Monday, July 29, 2013 - link

    This was supposed to be a reply to somebody about 10 pages ago who commented on tablets not getting updated past the first 2-3 years. Completely out of context here. Reply
  • vision33r - Monday, July 29, 2013 - link

    It looks like a very large 2011 Android phone with all that gap on the bottom. In 2013, most android phones have very little gap or wasted space in the bottom. Reply
  • Wwhat - Monday, July 29, 2013 - link

    So annoying how such tablets are all infused with monitoring you by google and such (and 'partners' if you know what I mean)
    I like tech and wish I could use a tablet without that ever present feeling of being monitored and watched and monitored and monitored, oh and logged.

    I'm not just bitching, it is a serious put-off for me, and since I'm not unique I have to assume many more people.

    Also to get more to the tech side: No SD slot? And the changes supposedly reflect what users asked for? uh..
    And not yet ac WiFi, but at this pricepoint and time I guess that's too early anyway. And it does have the 'WiFi version' BT 4.0 that has more possibilities than old BT.
    Overall I do like it though, but the aforementioned feelings so far kept me away from such devices, makes me wonder if I'll continue that stance much longer or buy one and go through all kinds of desperate efforts to privatize it a bit more.
    Reply
  • fteoath64 - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    I kinda agree on the monitoring part. Couple of things we can do. First wait for XDA Rom release that removes most of these junk. Second, wait for Ubuntu Touch to be released and a ported version will be done on the NExus 7. One cannot really complain too much about Google's approaches as it makes $20-25 per year on our balls for their advertising revenue. Additional Play Store revenue so they can release models such as these cheaper rather than $500 each or more. I still cannot figure out the lack of SD card slots as having one WILL facilitate Cloud usage much more more rather than much less. Firstly, less content can be populated on the tablet (ie photos, sound recordings, videos), then a lot less to traffic to the Cloud as well. Heck, anyone one can pull the content into a PC anytime they want if convenient. Apple mught have a good excuse but Not Google. They are just being mean for the sake of "want you to use Cloud more". Reply
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - link

    A simpler way to say it is Nexus devices are sold at or a little below cost. Reply
  • almerickso - Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - link

    Do the speakers automatically switch between left/right when you rotate the device 180 degrees or is there only 1 "correct" orientation? Reply
  • crpcat - Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - link

    "I know a lot of people were hoping for inclusion of line in on the 3.5mm audio jack but I can confirm it isn’t present."

    Does this mean that the 3.5 jack only carries line OUT? I.e. you cannot use a headset with this tablet? That would be totally ridiculous. Even ASUS new $149 tablet (Memo Pad HD7) has a combined audio/mic jack.

    I am looking to buy a small/light tablet for travelling, where on of the most frequent use case would be phone calls (i.e. VoIP/Skype). But if this tablet does not support connecting a standard headset then it totally disqualifies itself.
    Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    I don't understand. The original nexus did have a built in mic for VOIP/google chat. This one should too as well. Reply

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