Jul 31 AT 11:05 AM Brooks Barnard 37 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 an 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 Android modding and theming. He has a hot wife, is a father of three, an avid F1 fan, and enjoys watching sports when he can. His current devices include the Nexus 6 and 7 (2103) both running stock roms and may or may not be rooted. You can follow Brooks on Twitter @Brooks_Barnard.

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  • Haggie

    I had the original Nexus 7. It was my daily tablet even with the slight lag issues (I also own an A500 that I only use now for streaming shows).

    I immediately upgraded to the new N7 and it is rock solid. They fixed every minor complaint that I had with the device.

    Also, when I wiped my old N7 to give to my wife, it updated itself to 4.3, so the lag problem is gone. My wife used it for about five minutes and said that she’ll never go back to her Kindle Fire.

    • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

      What were some of your gripes with the old Nexus 7 that the new one fixed (other than the lag)?

  • w9jds

    I got mine last Saturday. I absolutely love it! The notification light is amazing (just like the Nexus 4), the speakers or great (no tinny, tangy sound), the screen is absolutely gorgeous, feels great in my hand, and battery life so far has been solid. Reading books and comics, watching videos, checking email all runs smooth with no problems at all.

    All in all it is by far the best Android tablet I have every used/owned. I give Asus and Google extreme props on their work this generation. Well worth my 230 dollars.

    • steve

      I totally agree!

  • GrendelJapan

    I keep thinking about getting a new one. I love my old N7 and use it all the time. I’m not sure there is any compelling reason to upgrade, other than as sort of a personal treat. My folks don’t have any sort of tablet at all, so I could give the old one to them…

    • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

      I’m trying to be subjective about how I feel about the new Nexus 7 vs the old. It’s obviously updated hardware that’s put together well, but if you’re happy with your old one like I am/was it’s hard to find compelling arguments to switch.

      What would get you to upgrade? Anything you’d like to see compared side-by-side?

      • phor11

        The resolution bump really doesn’t matter to me.
        I use mine to read RSS (which is perfectly fine on the current 720p screen) and watch twitch.tv streams (which I actually prefer to have in 720p to save on bandwidth).

        The only complaint I had about the original was the speaker.
        A media tablet really NEEDS to have front facing stereo speakers.
        They did add stereo, but sadly they are still rear facing on the new N7.

        I went ahead and bought one of the new models, but the ONLY reason I ordered it was because my girlfriend said she would take my current one. If she didn’t want a tablet, I would have just kept the original for another year and been perfectly happy with it.

  • SGB101

    If you have to get the old one out to do a side by side to see if it’s worth the upgrade, that to me says it not.

    I’m not saying it isn’t great, if your in the market for one,you would be mad to look elsewhere. but if you have the original and got 4.3, I’d wait for next year, or until the og breaks.

    I’ve not seen the new one yet, but that screen will be great, the old one wasn’t to shabby.

    • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

      For me, I’ve been running custom recoveries on my old Nexus 7 and can overclock if I want to marginally improve the performance. I don’t generally overclock because it performs well enough for me. I generally have very little complaints about the device. I attribute not experience the lag issues many people have with these mods. Not everyone roots and mods their devices though, so an upgrade may be a bigger deal to them.

      I could easily see people being pretty frustrated with the old one and just wanting to start new. Then again, the old N7 gets Android 4.3 and may solve a lot of issues…

      Don’t get me wrong, I think the new Nexus 7 is a great device. I don’t think you’re going to be disappointed in the $230 spent, but if you have an old N7 it may take some justifying.

      • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

        And by custom recoveries I mean custom kernels…

  • Jake

    My only concern with the new Nexus 7 has to do with the fact that it’s not compatible with the Google Wallet app. I’m not bothered by the fact that I can’t use the tablet to pay at registers; I’m bothered that I can’t load the app (or updates) onto it, so that I can then copy the apk and sideload it onto my Verizon Galaxy Nexus (which is what I’ve been doing with the original Nexus 7). I guess I’ll have to take a chance and download future Wallet apks from xda.

    • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

      How often do you need new Wallet APKs? Do old ones not work after updates?

      • Jake

        Yes, that’s often exactly what happens. Old versions stop working some time after an update is released. The updates don’t come often, but there have been a handful in the last year.

  • richard saltus

    Thanks for this helpful post. I bought the new Nexus 7 while waiting for my 2012 one to be repaired by ASUS (charging an battery issues.) Now that I have my original Nexus 7 back and upgraded to Android 4.3, I’m hard-pressed to see that the new one is that much better to justify having spent $240 with the prospect of selling the old one for maybe $100. True, the new one slips into my jacket pocket a little easier, but most of the other improvements don’t make that much difference. I’m probably going to return the new one and will be glad to have the money back in my pocket.
    Looking forward to your further posts on this!

  • Nelson Mejia

    Do you have the 16GB or 32GB and how much storage space did it have available out of the box?

    • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

      Good question. I have the 16gb version and it has 12.2 gb of available space.

      • Nelson Mejia

        Thanks a bunch for that information. I am about to go buy one for my daughter and didn’t know if the 16GB would be enough storage for her space if it ended up having only 8 GB or something of availability.

  • ojoavizor

    Do the old covers fit in the new N7?

    • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

      They will not. The devices are very different sizes.

      • tommydaniel

        And there’s a camera on the back now.

  • Michael Martin

    Odd how the notification LED is only in white as opposed to RGB combinations like in the Nexus 4, doubt this could really have been a cost casualty.

    • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

      Where have you seen/read that? I’ve only seen mine blink white but that’s the typical notification color for the Nexus 4 and GNex so I didn’t think anything of it. I actually only noticed that it had a notification light yesterday..

      • Michael Martin

        I confirmed by sending the log information to Light Flow – its an odd omission.

        • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

          Oh, good call. That is pretty weird. Thanks for sharing!

  • sweet

    i want one!!!!!

    • donger

      same here.

    • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

      What’s stopping you guys?!?

  • Paul
    • Paul

      “Like these friends did with the OG Nexus 7″ link is broken

    • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

      It’s fixed now. Sorry about that. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • Adam Babb

    I was able to sell my OG Nexus 7 for $130(16G). So I have to say paying basically $120 for this was 110% worth it. i’ve owned a Kindle Fire HD/Galaxy Note Tablet /iPad 3/ even one of the old 8.9 inch Galaxy Tab’s and I loved the Nexus more then any of them. Only a few things kinda irked me about the origenal(terrible speakers,not very bright screen,got sluggish after 6 months) and for the full price of $230 it probably it might not be worth going from the old to the new, but if you can sell your current for even 100 bucks Id say the new one is worth the $150

    • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

      That’s a really good point if you’re willing to take the time to sell your old Nexus 7. I’ve been able to get the best prices for my used devices selling on craigslist. Or Swappa and eBay are also good options. For the old Nexus 7 eBay might be a better bet with seller fees compared to swappa due to the low selling price.

      The new Nexus 7 would be a killer deal though for only 100 bones!

  • Ariana M

    I’ve resisted buying a tablet for years. Just bought the new N7 and I’m in love! Only dilemma to encrypt or not to encrypt? There were lots of posts about encrypting causing a lag. It seems it was due to the old OS. Does anyone have experience to share about encrypting the new N7?

  • joey

    i would love to get my hands on a google nexus 7 ever since the original ive wanted one ive recently lost my ipod touch so it would be nice to get this for free but i sincerely think grimmdev should win if not then i would be happy if i were to win it and people who downvote everyone stop everyone wants to win dont downvote them for no reason

  • Diabsoud

    This is, in my opinion, the best Android tablet…!!

  • Blanca Pez

    The new Nexus 7 has a problem with the magnetic on/off function. I have three cases that supposedly support this – Poetic Slimbook, Poetic Slimline, Caseology Folio. All behave the same way. Sometimes the “on” doesn’t happen when you open the cover. It seemed random until I experimented. If you turn off WiFi before you close it. It won’t turn back on when opened. If WiFi is left on, it works fine.

    I don’t know why or if this is a correct diagnosis, but it seems like it.

  • Larry Kawaguchi

    Only a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw great pattern. “Individuals may form communities, but it is institutions alone that can create a nation.” by Benjamin Disraeli.