Google Nexus 7 (2013) review - now with Lollipop, but is it still worth buying?

The new Nexus 7 is showing its age but it's still one of the best 7in tablets available today

20 Mar 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT
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7 in 1,920x1,200 display, 290g, 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, 2.00GB RAM, 16GB disk

The screen is, without a doubt, the new Nexus 7's crowning feature. The 7in, 16:10 IPS panel has fantastic viewing angles and colour accuracy is superb, even beating the iPad Mini in our tests by covering 100% of the sRGB colour gamut. It's incredibly bright, reaching a peak 526.22cd/m2 at its maximum setting, meaning you'll be able to take it outside on a bright day and still be able to see everything onscreen. Reflections from bright lights were minimal too.

Photos and videos look vibrant without becoming oversaturated and black response is excellent for an LED-backlit display. At 1,920x1,200,  text looks gorgeous at virtually any size, high resolution images have incredible definition and 1080p video loses nothing in translation to the small screen. It pales in comparison to modern displays with more dots per inch, but it's still incredibly pretty to look at.

There's even a competent set of speakers to match the stunning visuals. It's a tough call whether to place speakers on the front for clearer, more direct audio, or on the rear for a cleaner looking device, we narrowly prefer the front but Google has opted for the rear. The stereo speakers are placed at the far left and right ends of the tablet, when held in landscape mode to watch video. They're loud enough that you won't need to reach for a pair of headphones every time you load up Netflix and the stereo sound is a big step up over the mono speakers found on the old model, or even the iPad Mini's closely-spaced pair.

Google Nexus 7 (2013)

Although the soft-touch rubber makes a reappearance on the rear of the tablet, there's less of it than there was on the original Nexus 7 and the dimples are gone. While this arguably makes the new model a little slipperier to hold, it still has more grip than the glossy plastic backs found on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab or Asus MemoPad HD 7. The power and volume buttons are ever so slightly hidden beneath the lip of the screen bezel so it took us a while to find them without looking every time, but they are sensibly placed for both left-and right handed users. Apart from the 3.5mm audio jack at the top and micro USB port on the bottom, there are no other physical connections (no HDMI most notably), although there are plenty of wireless connections.

Google Nexus 7 (2013)

Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, wireless display and dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi are all on-board, as is Qi wireless charging. That last feature could come in handy, as although a battery score of just over eight hours in our light use test is above average, it's not quite the ten hours we saw from the original Nexus 7. It is, however, slightly better than the 6h 52m we saw from the Tesco Hudl 2, which is worth bearing in mind. The battery is slightly smaller in the new model, but has the advantage that it doesn't drain quite so quickly in standby mode. During real everyday use, you should still get more use out of this new model between charges, even if it doesn't look like it on paper.

This is partly because Google has switched from Nvidia to Qualcomm internals, opting for a previous generation Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset rather than a newer Snapdragon 800. This was likely due to cost concerns, and although it's still a quad-core chip running at 1.5GHz, it will be interesting to see how well it performs in twelve months' time. After all, the original Nexus 7 felt fast last year, but is rather sluggish today by comparison to the latest devices.

Paired with 2GB of RAM, the S4 Pro achieved 1131.7 in the SunSpider Javascript benchmark and scored 2689 in the Geekbench synthetic benchmark, which puts it on par with the fastest smartphones and tablets we've reviewed. In real world use, the Android interface felt incredibly smooth and apps loaded quickly, showing none of the stutter we've seen in the past when home screens are filled with widgets. In terms of pure numbers this score does put it some way behind the newer Tesco Hudl 2, so the Nexus 7 doesn't quite have the edge it once had. 

The Adreno graphics chip is also well equipped for playing 3D games. Scoring 11793 and 7154 respectively in the Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme 3DMark benchmarks, it outpaced almost every other tablet we've reviewed. Games such as Real Racing 3 were incredibly smooth, showing no signs of dipping frame rates. It might not have Nvidia's Tegra-specific graphics effects in certain games any more, but you'll be able to play pretty much anything smoothly for the foreseeable future.

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