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Google Nexus 7 (2013) review: Now with Marshmallow, but is it still worth buying?

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 170
inc VAT

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

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Google Nexus 7 (2013) review: Software

Since we wrote the original review, the Nexus 7 has received timely updates from Google for Android 4.4, Android 5 Lolipop and even Android 6.0 Marshmallow.  

There have been several useful additions including a significantly improved notifications tray, although the quick shortcuts to change various settings including brightness and wireless connectivity remain rigid and non-customisable, which is a little frustrating. A really useful update is the addition of a search bar in the settings menu, which means you don’t have to go hunting for settings down a rabbithole of menus.

Among the default apps are the very well-stocked Google Play Music, Books, Movies, Games and Newsstand there’s also Google+ Keep, Drive, Calendar, Photos and Earth. 

The biggest change between Android 4 and 5/6 is the addition of multiple user accounts. This is great if you plan on sharing your tablet between family members, keeping your Google accounts separate. In addition, accounts can be locked down for children, meaning inappropriate content and in-app purchases can be limited, making the Nexus 7 a very family friendly tablet.

Google Nexus 7 (2013) review: Camera

The final major change from the original Nexus 7 is the introduction of a 5-megapixel rear camera. It doesn’t have a flash, but includes tap-to-focus and a simplified user interface that lets to adjust white balance, pick a scene pre-set, change exposure and press the shutter with one finger. Photosphere also returns from Android 4.2, letting you capture full 360 degree panoramic shots, and you can also capture 1080p video and there’s a time-lapse mode too.

Google Nexus 7 (2013)

Picture quality is about what we would expect given the pixel count. Close-up shots in well-lit settings have plenty of detail, as do outdoor landscapes, although there’s quite a lot of noise and bright lights frequently get overexposed when shooting indoors.

well-lit still life

Moving to our still life scene, the Nexus 7 coped well when the studio lights were switched on. It preserved plenty of detail from the stuffed animals so you can still make out the fur textures clearly. Only the brightest and most reflective parts of the fan showed any signs of highlight clipping, with the rest of the image well exposed. Colour accuracy was excellent too, even using the automatic white balance pre-set.

poorly lit still life

With the studio lights switched off, the Nexus 7 struggled, producing incredibly noisy images with blown out highlights and a lack of any real detail. With no flash or image stabilisation, there’s no way to reign in the noise without reaching for a light switch. The autofocus also struggled at times, so you’re best of leaving the tablet at home if you’ll be shooting in the dark. It’s fine for spur-of-the-moment type snaps when you don’t have time to reach for an actual camera or smartphone with more megapixels.

It’s a similar situation when switching from stills to video. When there’s plenty of light, the focus locks quickly and small details are captured clearly. However, when the lights are dimmed, it begins to constantly refocus – this is most likely because the fan is constantly in motion with a moving light source. When the shot is actually in focus, moving objects like the train are smooth and free of judder, but considering it’s mostly blurred until the lights switch back on, you won’t be doing much low light filming with it.

Google Nexus 7 (2013) review: Verdict

The Nexus 7 (2013) is a few years old, but if you can pick one up on the cheap either new or second-hand, it’s well worth a look. This is partly because quality 7in tablets are a rarer breed these days with most top-end devices measuring in at 8 inches or larger diagonally. If you tend to read books on your tablet, this smaller size is a real boon as it’s very comfortable to hold one-handed.

The Tesco Hudl 2 may be a better tablet in terms of specification and performance, but we reckon the Nexus 7 is still the best 7in tablet you can buy today; its closest rival is the very cheap Asus Memo Pad 7 but thanks to a lower resolution screen, it’s a lot less pretty to look at.

Not for you? Take a look at our Best Tablets guide for a full rundown of the finest slates you can buy today.

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Basic Specifications

Rating*****
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
Processor clock speed1.5GHz
Memory2.00GB
Memory slots1
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory2GB
Size114x200x9mm
Weight290g
SoundQualcomm 8×60 SoC Audio
Pointing devicetouchscreen

Display

Viewable size7 in
Native resolution1,920×1,200
Graphics ProcessorQualcomm Adreno 320
Graphics/video portsnone

Storage

Total storage capacity16GB
Optical drive typenone

Ports and Expansion

Bluetoothyes
Wired network portsnone
Wireless networking support802.11n
PC Card slotsnone
Supported memory cardsnone
Other ports3.5mm audio output

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemnone
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includednone
Optional extrasnone

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£199
Detailswww.google.co.uk
Supplierhttp://play.google.com

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