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Asus Nexus 7 (2013) Review: In Depth

4

The Good

  • Smooth, clean UI
  • Rich Full HD display
  • Great multimedia experience
  • Unbeatable value for money

The Bad

  • No expandable storage
  • No camera flash
  • Large facia bezels

The tablet game has changed a lot since the first Nexus 7 arrived on the scene last year, leaving a fiery trail in its wake. Google’s original small tab won crowds over with its solid spec sheet, compact form factor and appealing price tag, but one year on, can this 2013 refresh emulate that same success?

Asus Nexus 7 (2013) review: Design & screen

Things are getting more serious with this year’s Nexus 7. Gone is the dimpled grey back plate and faux-silver plastic skirting the slate’s edge, now we have an all-black black body that’s lighter (at just 290g), slimmer (at 8.65mm) and as a result sexier than essentially any other small tablet out there. It doesn’t have the premium metal bodywork of the iPad Mini for example, but it still feels wonderful to hold, with a soft touch back that provides a nice level of comfort and grip.

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The front-facing camera now sits in an offset position above the 7-inch display, while the back now features the distinctive ‘Nexus’ name embossed in a landscape orientation, rather than portrait as before. The back also hints at the new audio experience lurking under micro-drilled speaker grille holes at either end of the tablet’s body and in the corner, a large camera now resides where before there wasn’t one.

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The display itself is leagues away from the 7-inch panel offered up by its predecessor, with newer IPS technology ensuring consistent brightness and colour preservation even at more extreme viewing angles, paired to a stunning 1920x1200 Full HD resolution screen, which as a result totes one of the highest pixel densities around at 323ppi. Colours are rich, sunlight legibility is greatly improved and the only criticism comes as a result of the overtly thick bezels that sit somewhat out of place on the otherwise elegant design.

Asus Nexus 7 (2013) review: OS & multimedia

The launch of this new Nexus 7 also heralds the arrival Android 4.3, the latest revision of Jelly Bean. Despite the update, those familiar with Android 4.2.2 will struggle to find any specific additions or innovations, primarily as most of the changes have been carried out behind the scenes. In practice the UI is still wonderfully clean and smooth thanks to Project Butter and there are a wealth of stock Android apps and services to get you started.

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The lack of expandable memory in the Nexus 7 is likely a conscious decision by Google to push users towards streaming more media. With apps like Play Movies and now streaming functionality with other Google tech like Chromecast as well as a powerful CPU/GPU combo, Fraunhofer stereo speakers and that stunning display, content consumption has never been more enjoyable on a Nexus device.

Asus Nexus 7 (2013) review: Connectivity, performance & battery

Despite the low price tag, the Nexus 7 still packs plenty of options in the way of connectivity. We’re using the WiFi-only model in this instance but a 4G LTE version isn’t far behind (albeit for a fraction more cash).

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As well as dual-band WiFi, Android 4.3 accommodates the Nexus 7’s Bluetooth 4.0 LE (low energy) radio, there’s also NFC as with the previous tab, but for the first time on a Nexus device Qi-compatible wireless charging. Another first lies within the microUSB on the Nexus 7’s underside, which now features a little-known piece of display tech called SlimPort. With the correct connector, this means that the new Nexus can output to a larger display via HDMI without burning through battery.

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Interestingly the slimmer, more refined body of this latest slate houses a smaller 3950mAh battery compared to last year’s tablet, but despite the drop in capacity can promise around two days of general use between charges, including great Full HD viewing and slick 3D gaming as a result of a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and Adreno 320GPU.

Asus Nexus 7 (2013) review: Conclusion

There’s little to hate about the new Asus-made Nexus 7, a design and a concept we were already fond of has only been made better, and the cherry on top is that the price remains the same. Here in the UK we’re still waiting on this new Nexus, but when it arrives the 16GB and 32GB WiFi models will only set you back £199 and £239 respectively; an almost mind-blowing prospect when you reflect on the quality of the hardware and industrial design included in this little black package.

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Last year’s Nexus 7 is a great alternative at an even lower price tag, or some other great Asus-made options come in the form of the Asus Fonepad – if the additional phone functionality is what you’re after, or the new super affordable Asus MeMo Pad HD 7.

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