- Android 4.2 is best version so far
- OS still needs improvement
The Google Nexus 10 by Samsung, the Nexus 7 by Asus and the Nexus 4 by LG make up Google’s arsenal of Androids. Finally in a position to take on Apple’s iRange head-on, it’s the larger Nexus that’s going under the microscope now. Pitted directly against the iPad 4th generation, the Google Nexus 10 crams in a better than retina display screen, a next-gen dual-core processor and an all new version of Android, 4.2 Jelly Bean. With the 32GB version costing less than the 16GB iPad, it’s got value on its side, but has Google done enough to make their first true iPad competitor competitive?
Google Nexus 10 Review – Design
Aesthetically, the Google Nexus 10 is a soft, curvaceous affair. Subdued in black, it’s rich to the touch and grippy. This surprised us for two reasons. The first, it’s made of plastic, and the second, it’s made by Samsung. Neither have historically boded well for tablet design however the Nexus 10 doesn’t subscribe to history.
The finish isn’t the high-gloss plastic we’ve seen on Tab 10.1 2s and Note 10.1s, nor is it explicit soft-touch. It’s instead something of an amalgam of the two, providing just enough grip to make the tablet usable in one hand, and delivering enough sheen to prevent dust and dirt sticking to it like glue.
On the front of the tab is the 10.1-inch display with a 2-megapixel front facing camera above and stereo speakers either side of the screen. To the right is a microHDMI port while to the left is a micro USB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. On the Nexus 10’s top side is a power button and volume rocker while to the back is a 5-megapixel rear facing camera and an LED flash.
Between the weight being lighter than that of the iPad, the materials being more palm friendly not to mention the curves being softer, we prefer the Nexus 10’s design in the hand, however to look at, the iPad still has the refined edge.
Google Nexus 10 Review – Screen
Thanks to its incredible 2560×1600 resolution, the Google Nexus 7 manages to deliver a PPI of 300. Sharper than most phones and any other tablet on the scene, it’s a wonder to behold. As far as clarity goes, you won’t get better. Text looks mind bogglingly good, pictures look incredible and performance in isolation is sharp and vivid. As good as it is though, the screen isn’t quite as vibrant as the iPad in terms, with lower contrast and saturation. It does however delivers comparable viewing angles and outdoor visibility not to mention responsiveness.
Gooogle Nexus 10 Review – User Interface
The Nexus 10 delivers stock Android 4.2, the latest version of Jelly Bean. The Nexus 10 version shows off more evolutions than that of the Nexus 4 or Nexus 7, with the 10-inch Android UI of old bidding us farewell once and for all. Instead of a notification bar in the bottom right for example, we now have two bars and they’ve moved to the top left and right. The left hand bar is exclusively for your notifications, the right hand bar for quick settings and user profiles.
User profiles you ask? Another addition to Android 4.2 is the ability to add multiple users to a single device. Turning your Android tablet into something shareable, it enables new users to password protect their profile, customise their UI and install custom apps. A flexible, soft partition is created for each user ensuring that profiles live separately to one another. As to how secure this is, we are yet to find out, but regardless it will suffice for a small office, a trustworthy team or a household.
Google have also customised the keyboard heavily in Android 4.2. On top of Android 4.1’s fantastic word prediction which borrowed heavily from SwiftKey, at least in execution, Android 4.2’s keyboard emulates Swype, delivering gesture supported typing. This works extremely well on the 10-inch tablet form-factor and we were able to get faster typing speeds than we have on a tablet prior.
Google Nexus 10 Review – Camera and Multimedia
The 5-megapixel camera around the back of the Google Nexus 10 is on par with the iPad 4th generation in terms of pixels however results don’t fare quite as well across the board. The slower lens produces slightly blurirer shots and general noise handling and performance isn’t as on point. One area that is impressive is its macro capability, or more generally its touch to focus with quick results and accurate focal points.
This brings us onto the user interface of the Nexus 10’s camera. It utilises the standard touch to focus tech, however if you hold your finger down, you’re given your imaging options. It’s an incredibly intuitive interface and we’re at a loss as to why it hasn’t been implemented before. With additional photo modes including PhotoSphere for 360 degree Google Street View-esque panoramas and a standard panorama, despite not having the very best camera out there, there’s a lot you can do with it.
What’s more, there’s a pretty comprehensive photo editor not to mention a range of filters that can be applied to your photos to give them an instant Instagram-esqu sheen, without the Instagram. Video is recorded at full HD resolution. We weren’t blown away by the results with slight jerkiness to the final video and lacklustre noise handling.
Google’s services are much more developed than they’ve ever been, not least of all Google Movies delivering HD films to your tablet in moments. With the front facing speakers directing the sound right at you and the picture looking simply immense thanks to the gorgeous better than full HD display, there really isn’t anything better for video out there, with even the iPad paling in comparison thanks to the Nexus 10’s HD aspect ratio.
Audio playback from the loudspeakers is indeed loud and being front facing, when the Nexus 10 is face up, they aren’t muffled whichi is a nice touch. Google Music is also now available here in the UK, so you needn’t even download third party apps to get all your tracks on board. Reading eBooks is also a totally unrivalled experience on android. The ergonomics of the tablet, the clarity of the screen and the apps available on Android including Google Books and Amazon Kindle make everything come together seamlessly.
Google Nexus 10 – Storage and Connectivity
Available in two sizes, the Google Nexus 10’s cheaper 16GB variant costs £329 whereas the 32GB variant costs £379. With both costing less than the £389 16GB fourth generation iPad, there’s little wonder they sold out on the Google Play store moments after going on sale. Not being expandable though, chances are unless you’re a very light user, the larger version would be the better option of the two.
Despite no 3G version, the Google Nexus 10 still packs most of the connections we’d hope to see on a 10-inch tab such as Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, NFC and Bluetooth. Web browsing is an absolute pleasurre on it thanks in no small part to the screen. Vellamo benchmarking results peg its HTML5 performance as better than any other Android tab out there. With incredibly crisp text and pure whites complementing the speedy pinch zooming and page zipping, we can’t help but be impressed.
Google Nexus 10 – Performance and Battery
We’ve touched on web benchmarks, however they’re rarely the benchmarks on peoples minds. No, the benchmark scores everyone wants are the CPU and GPU benchmarks, and we can tell you that they’re in and they’re pretty impressive – for the most part. While certain applications like Antutu didn’t rate the Exynos 5 dual as all that competitive when compared to the Tegra 3s and the S4 Pros, other benchmarking tools such as Geekbench, Quadrant and GLBenchmark ranked it extremely favourably. In our week with the tablet we can safely say we’re impressed. There’s ever so slight stagger in image heavy web pages and when loading up a new user, however this could in part come down to net speeds and doesn’t hamper day to day use with intensive games lookinng immense.
Despite delivering poor battery life during the first 4-5 cycles, after a week with the Nexus 10 the battery life seems to have improved somewhat. Stretching between 8-9 hours, while still not on par with the iPad or Asus Transformer Pad Infinity, it’s respectable given the screen’s mind-boggling resolution.
Google Nexus 10 – Conclusion
If anyone ever wondered why Google didn’t bestow the coveted Nexus status upon the XOOM from Motorola, it’s because it wasn’t ready for it. The Nexus brand signifies quality and a combination of geekery and consumer usability. The Google Nexus 10 by Samsung is the first 10-inch straight tablet running Android that strikes that balance. No keyboard docks or S-Pens, this is standalone good. Don’t get us wrong, the OS still needs to improve. Android’s tablet apps aren’t a patch on those of the iPad, however at least now the hardware’s on point. Google are also providing great apps out of the box turning the Nexus 10 into a media hub, and if you look hard enough, there are some gems in the Play Store, not to mention a plethora of 3D games that look immense. Couple that with the best version of Android to date and support for multiple users and we’re sold on the cost effective Nexus 10. It may not be an iPad killer, but it’s certainly a competitor.