The Nexus 7 is Google’s answer to Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Apple’s iPad Mini: A small, 7-inch tablet, with “The Best of Google” first-party apps and access to hundreds of thousands more games and apps through Google Play (Google’s app store).
The new version, released this July, costs less than the iPad Mini and adds a feature it doesn’t have: A high-resolution display, sharper than the iPad’s Retina Display (a trademarked term Apple uses for a display you can’t make out individual pixels on) and almost as sharp as the iPhone’s.
It comes with several drawbacks, though, which you might not notice just looking at a new Nexus 7 tablet in the stores.
Reduced battery life
According to Katherine Boehret’s review for the All Things D enthusiast blog, the new Nexus 7 has “underwhelming” battery life — about six hours, compared to more than 10 hours for the iPad Mini and the old Nexus 7. “Google claims the battery life can last over nine hours,” but that’s with the Wi-Fi turned off and screen brightness turned down to half while playing videos. Boehret’s test was done with Wi-Fi turned on, like you’d have while streaming a video, and screen brightness at 75 percent.
Six hours of battery life is much closer to smartphone than tablet capacities, and may not last through a whole day of use.
No NVIDIA Tegra exclusives
The new Nexus 7 has more powerful graphics than the old one, but it can’t run “Tegra HD” games, which require an NVIDIA Tegra processor. The original Nexus 7 had a Tegra 3, so if you owned one and bought a lot of THD or THD-enhanced games, you’ll find that part of your game library either won’t run on your new tablet or won’t look as nice on it.
Fit and finish issues
The original Nexus 7 was plagued by the sorts of quality-control issues you’d expect from a tablet that was both cheap and powerful. These didn’t affect all buyers, but did affect many. I personally got one that creaked when I held it a certain way, and had to send it in for a replacement (and lose my saved games in the process). Plus, after awhile it started to slow down dramatically, although a recent software update (after it’d been on the market a year or so) fixed that.
The new Nexus 7 is being sold at a similar price point as the old one, so it remains to be seen whether it can avoid the same problems. Besides that, while it lost the silver border around the edge (which some considered not classy) it also now has its webcam pushed off to the side, and no longer centered over the screen. The back is also hard plastic instead of a leathery soft-touch.
Still worth it?
While the loss of Tegra HD games may prompt gamers to look elsewhere, the dramatically reduced battery life may be a problem for everyone who buys a new Nexus 7 … and may be the reason why the iPad Mini launched without a Retina Display.