We speak to HTC about the new Nexus 9 and whether Android Lollipop can steal Microsoft's thunder
The Nexus 9 is one of the most hotly-anticipated Android tablets of the year. Not only is it the first device to come with Android 5.0 Lollipop, but its unusual 4:3 aspect ratio also gives it the potential to finally make it a worthy rival to Apple’s iPad Air 2. Google’s even launching a new mechnical keyboard for the Nexus 9 so you can keep working on your Google Docs on the move. In this sense, the Nexus 9 embodies a similar idea to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, which set out with the aim of being the tablet to replace your laptop. But can the Nexus 9 and Android Lollipop replace Windows completely?
“No, not at the moment,” HTC’s Director of Product Management Graham Wheeler told Expert Reviews. “There are still elements that I still like to use on my laptop that I don’t get on a tablet, but it’s definitely getting much closer.”
This isn’t a fault of Android Lollipop, though, as Wheeler was keen to emphasise just how versatile the Nexus 9 can be compared to previous Android tablets.
“There are pros and cons to both operating systems,” he said, “but we’d like to make sure that we fit them both and that we offer something for everyone. For example, [the Nexus 9] has the 2K display and the BoomSound speakers which offers you brilliant entertainment features, but it also has the keyboard, so it can do some of the features your laptop can do.
“If you look at the Lollipop release, there are a number of enhancements that come with security and giving you those enterprise management features. So yes, we are saying that it is something that’s very usable in that space, but with the BoomSound and the 2K display, it’s also a great Netflix device as well.
“If you look at how people are using tablets, it’s more about productivity. It’s not just about entertainment. It’s about using it for email, everything like that, and a 4:3 aspect ratio gives you that great working experience. For example, if you have 16:9 and an email, then it gets squashed quite a lot. If you have a keyboard attached, it fits much better with a 4:3 design as well.”
The Nexus 9 is the first tablet HTC’s brought to market since the ill-fated Flyer in 2011. Since then, the company’s been concentrating on its extensive range of smartphones, including its flagship One (m8) handset and the excellent Desire 816 phablet. It’s also dabbled in Windows phones, such as the Windows Phone 8S. However, HTC also told us that it has been making more tablets inbetween the Flyer and the Nexus 9 but none of them were brought to market.
“We never brought [these tablets] to market because we didn’t feel they offered something extra and that they actually stood us out in the crowd,” said Wheeler. “We believe the Nexus 9 has something different, something unique and with our design technology, our BoomSound, our screen, the processor that goes into it, it is a stand out device. So we’ve brought that to market.”
The Nexus 9 will launch on the 3rd November with prices starting from £319 for the basic 16GB Wi-Fi model. For all the latest news, read our Nexus 9 hands-on review.