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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  • wrkingclass_hero - Saturday, July 27, 2013 - link

    ^adfly links Reply
  • texasti89 - Saturday, July 27, 2013 - link

    If they had included a SD slot (likely a dollar or so worth of parts), this tablet would have been the perfect tablet for me. Reply
  • CityBlue - Saturday, July 27, 2013 - link

    "What’s a little awkward is how tall the bevel at top and bottom looks on the Nexus 7"

    I think you mean bezel, not bevel...
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Saturday, July 27, 2013 - link

    Oops, fixed, thank you!

    -Brian
    Reply
  • techtoll - Sunday, July 28, 2013 - link

    Price is what is the most tempting. Surely going for this whenever available in India. Reply
  • flashbacck - Sunday, July 28, 2013 - link

    people on the androidcentral forums are saying the headphone jack does function as a line-in Reply
  • Impulses - Sunday, July 28, 2013 - link

    This mini war of small HDMI connectors is getting out of hand... Maybe I'm just the only oddball with this particular issue, but right now I have three different devices with three different HDMI output implementations, and the Nexus 7 will be a fourth...

    My pocket camera uses micro HDMI whereas my M43 mirrorless camera uses mini HDMI. Ok, I can understand that, I can even understated why we'd want a combined USB/HDMI port on phones and even tablets... Didn't MHL already solve that tho? AFAIK HTC & Samsung are still using MHL, now Google's pushing Slimport!

    I can charge a phone, a small tablet, an MP3 player, a Bluetooth headset, a small portable speaker, a USB battery pack/back, and even a pocket camera with one micro USB charger/cable... Yet I need four different dongles for HDMI output. One step forward and two steps back I tell ya.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Sunday, July 28, 2013 - link

    Looked up Brian's old pipeline port on the Slimport adapter and answered my own question, I'd forgotten Slimport dispenses with MHL's need of powered adapters... I guess that's worth dealing with yet another port, why aren't other manufacturers transitioning to this? Not like MHL ever materialized on TVs (which promised power AND HDMI over a single cable if it came to pass). $30 is kinda steep tho, is no one else offering Slimport adapters still? Reply
  • JNo - Sunday, July 28, 2013 - link

    wireless charging (Qi) ?!?!

    This will be such an awesome feature in the UK when they never bring out the charging orb, just like they haven't for the Nexus4 almost a year after release!

    Well done google! Selling products based on imaginary features!

    /angry sarcastic rant over
    Reply
  • weiran - Sunday, July 28, 2013 - link

    It's a bit disingenuous to say the Nexus 7 dominated it's form factor, the iPad mini probably sold 3-5x more than the OG Nexus 7.

    I say probably as we don't know for sure because Google refuses to release sales data, which also makes me believe sales either were under expectations or Google takes a big enough hit on each sale they don't want it public info.
    Reply

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