Jul 31 AT 11:05 AM Brooks Barnard 36 Comments

New Nexus 7 first impressions

New Nexus 7-1

Ever since rumors about  a next generation Nexus 7 started, I’ve had some money set aside waiting for its release. I thoroughly enjoyed the original Nexus 7. It’s an important part of my family from everyday web browsing to babysitting the kids to entertainment for road trips. Unlike Chromecast, we received more than a few leaks regarding this new 7-inch Google tablet. We’ve been intrigued by the specs that, on paper, seem so similar to the almost year-old Nexus 4. The new Nexus 7 officially launched yesterday, but has been available for sale from various sources prior to launch. If you’re on the fence regarding whether you’ll pick one up, maybe this will help you out. I’ve had the new Nexus 7 in my hands for a little over 72 hours, and it’s definitely left some impressions.

When opening the box, I noticed that Google and ASUS have changed their packaging strategy. The box was only sealed with one piece of tape and the packaging wasn’t nearly as air-tight this time. So if you’re opening the device in front of your buddies, you won’t look like an idiot like these friends did with the OG Nexus 7.

Once you get the box open, you’ll immediately notice how the device seems tall. And it is taller than the old Nexus 7 by 6 hundredths of an inch (1.5 mm for you normal people that use the metric system). That may not be much, but the device is also nearly a quarter of an inch skinnier than its predecessor, which makes the “large” bezels at the top and bottom of the device seem awkward. However, once I picked up the tablet for the first time, I immediately realized how much nicer this device was going to be to use. It’s lighter and thinner. And that almost quarter of an inch makes a big difference when holding the device with one hand. My wife is a pretty small person and was super excited when she first picked up the new Nexus 7 and realized she could easily one-hand the device. I definitely feel like Google stepped it up with the feel of the device.

As far as the hardware goes, the 7-inch 1900 x 1290 pixel 323 ppi highest-resolution-Android-tablet-display-ever looks really great. It’s bright and very crisp. The colors look great. I’ll have more details to share when I can get down to the nitty gritty and compare the tablet side-by-side with other devices. I’ve just been playing with it so far. One cool feature about the new Nexus 7 is the dual speaker setup. When the new Nexus 7 was announced, they talked about the “virtual surround sound” feature. This is actually a feature of Android 4.3, but the new Nexus 7 definitely takes advantage of it. Judging by the few times I’ve watched shows or movies on the device, the sound quality is very good. But, I wish it were louder. The dual speakers on the new Nexus 7 are rear firing, so in my noisy house with kids I still had to wrap my hands around the device to be able to hear conversation in the movies. If I really cared about hearing videos in my noisy house, I could always throw on a pair of headphones. But this is just something I noticed about the speakers. I wish they would’ve figured out a way to make the speakers front firing.

A few more comments on the hardware: The new Nexus 7 will support smart cases. It has a magnetic trigger just like the old Nexus 7. Additionally, the new Nexus 7 includes LED notification unlike its predecessor, which is a huge plus in my book. Unfortunately, the new Nexus 7 DOES NOT have haptic feedback. I was super disappointed to find this out, but it is what it is. Maybe next year.

The performance of the tablet has been fantastic so far. It’s snappy and smooth. That butteriness is one the biggest things I’ve noticed when using the device. Scrolling during web browsing or through menus is noticeably and surprisingly smooth. I didn’t even realize that my Nexus 4 wasn’t smooth before the new Nexus 7. I also tried some online gaming with the new Nexus 7. The device handled Riptide GP2 impressively. There hasn’t been a hiccup yet when using the device. Battery life also seems respectable so far, but I’ll try to do a more standardized test for the full review.

So what are my overall thoughts on the device? I really like it. It think it’s a fantastic piece of kit for $229. Is it that much better than my old Nexus 7? I’m still undecided. If you’re a videophile or someone with money burning in their pocket, you’re not going to be disappointed with this new tablet from Google. But is it a big enough upgrade to justify the jump from the old one? I’m going to do a side-by-side comparison of the new and old devices. Hopefully that’ll help me make up my mind, and I’ll give you my opinion then. For now, I really like it, and it’s dang fun to have around.

Be sure to stay tuned if you want to find out more about the new Nexus 7. Let me know if you have any questions about the new device by commenting below. Also, if you want to make sure I cover a specific topic in the full review or side-by-side comparison, you can comment below or let me know in the Threads. I’d love to hear from you guys and get you involved in the review. Happy new Nexus 7 launch day!

Brooks is engineer living in the Bay Area recently dislocated from the Great Northwest. He's an Android enthusiast who decided to start doing something (productive?) with his countless hours surfing the interwebz and addictive ROM flashing and began writing. He has a hot wife, is a father of two, an avid F1 fan, and enjoys watching sports when he can. His current devices include the Nexus 5 and 7 (2103) both running stock roms rooted and modded with Xposed Framework (but this is subject to change). You can follow Brooks on Twitter @Brooks_Barnard.

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