Google’s hardware partners design a completely new “Nexus” smartphone every year, with wildly varying size, shape, and hardware features. But last year’s Nexus 7 tablet, the size of an iPad Mini or Kindle Fire, did so well that this year’s sequel is called just that — the Nexus 7.
Like with Apple’s recent iPad models, Google didn’t bother to change the name, and didn’t significantly change the form factor. The new Nexus 7 has some substantial under-the-hood improvements, though, as well as shiny new hardware features which might cause you to do a double-take in the stores.
Let’s take a look at what’s new for the Nexus 7.
New “Retina Display” quality screen
It’s sharper than the iPad’s Retina Display, in fact, which is already so sharp that the unaided eye can’t discern individual pixels. The Nexus 7’s better-than-HD screen has a 323 ppi (pixels per inch) rating, which is better than the full-sized iPad’s 264 and right up there with the iPhone 5’s 362 ppi screen. So if you were waiting for Apple to release an iPad Mini with a Retina Display, you might want to rethink your wait.
New rear-facing camera
The new Nexus 7 has a 5 megapixel rear-facing point-and-shoot camera, in addition to its front-facing webcam. It doesn’t have a flash, but the old one only had the webcam, so that’s still an improvement. You will be able to use camera and augmented reality apps with the new Nexus 7.
Some people apparently consider it embarrassing to take a picture with the full-sized iPad’s camera (apparently it’s less embarrassing to own both an iPad and an iPhone). I’ve had someone ask me if my last-gen Nexus 7 was a smartphone, though, and with the Galaxy Note pushing 6 inches it’s not hard to imagine people mistaking yours for one too. The biggest problem for me would be waiting for Poetic to release a slimline case with a hole for the new camera.
More powerful hardware
It’s got more megahertz, it’s got more megabytes. The old Nexus 7 had a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, and started at 8 GB of storage space and 1 GB of RAM. This one has a 1.5 GHz quad-core, and starts at 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. It still only goes up to 32 GB, though, unlike the iPad Mini and Kobo Arc (which are both mini tablets which have 64 GB configurations).
The downside? The new Nexus 7’s Snapdragon processor can’t play Tegra HD games, which use features exclusive to the old Nexus 7’s Tegra 3 processor. If you’re that serious about Android gaming, though, you might consider buying NVIDIA’s Shield console, which uses the new Tegra 4 and has a built-in hardware controller.
Price and release date
The new Nexus 7 will start at $229 for the 16 GB version, and will be available starting July 30.