Nexus 7 2013 Review By An iPad User

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by appledes7, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. appledes7, Jul 29, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013

    appledes7 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2011
    I have been an iOS user for quite some time. When the Nexus 4 came out I decided to give it a shot and I loved it. I started using my iPad less and less because I enjoyed Android so much. Getting an Android tablet was next on my list, but I really wanted to wait for the 2013 Nexus 7 before trying it out. Once the Nexus 7 was announced, I quickly ordered one on Best Buy.

    Today my Nexus 7 was delivered and I thought I would post my first impressions and mini review of it.

    The very first thing I noticed when taking it out of the box was its weight, or lack of. This thing is amazingly light and amazingly thin. Of course, the whole "lighter and thinner" quote is often said by Apple, but it can be easily applied to the new Nexus 7.

    Of course, the screen is another great thing about it. The 323 ppi is just 3 ppi short of the retina display on the iPhone. And for a device that will typically be held further away than a 4" screen, this display is fantastic. It can be extremely bright and colors look fairly good so far. Viewing angles are pretty good. But my biggest complaint about the screen is how glossy it is. I would love to see more manufacturers start to implement the same kind of anti-glare glass that was put on the RMBP. Of course, this is dependent on Gorilla Glass, but hopefully they will start trying to decrease glare. Also, fingerprints get pretty obvious after a fair amount of use. But that is to be expected. The back of the device also seems to enjoy fingerprints. But this doesn't bother me on the back. And the back of the device has a nice finish to it making it comfortable to hold.

    The weight, size, and resolution of the Nexus 7 makes it a fantastic eReader. However, when it comes to web browsing the screen does feel small. This makes me wish it was a Nexus 8 instead of a Nexus 7, but I guess that could have increased the price. This is one area where I think Apple did a great job. Just a 1" difference really does a lot to improve overall user experience when browsing the web. Sure, you can argue resolution, ppi, and throw all sorts of small numbers at the iPad Mini to make it look awful in comparison. But the screen size and aspect ratio really make it a great device for browsing the web and reading.

    When it comes to movies, the Nexus 7 is great. Although the 16:10 aspect ratio means you will still see black bars on the top and bottom on nearly every movie you watch. But the sound coming from the Nexus 7 is amazing. Google and Asus did a great job with dual speakers. However, in landscape mode the speakers are right where you are going to put your hands. So you may end up muffling the sound a little bit. The front bezels would have made a much better spot to put the speakers. Then they would have at least had some sort of excuse for the Texas-sized bezels. In fact, I watched a review online and the new Nexus 7 is taller than the old one. Meaning the top and bottom bezels are slightly bigger than last year!

    The simulated surround sound is a nice addition. And music sounds great. With movies, I have them all on Plex. So I am not sure how the Nexus 7 handles audio playback through Plex when watching a movie. And I know this may never happen, but it would be great if Google could do what they did with Google Music to personal movie collections. Obviously they would be worried about pirated movies. But I have a lot of DVDs that I got on my computer using HandBrake. And having that kind of functionality would be great. But I'm not holding my breath.

    The cameras seem to be decent. I have not tested them extensively yet, but for a tablet all you really need cameras for are for video chatting. And every video chat service will have to decrease the quality for streaming anyways.

    Wireless charging is a cool addition. It seems to work with my Nexus 4 wireless charger. However, I am still not a fan of Qi charging. Calling it wireless is just deceptive. Are wires still involved? Yes. Thus, not wireless. Plus using it on a wireless charger makes it much more difficult to use while the device is charging. If I have my Nexus 7 plugged into the cable, I can still play games that use the accelerometer. Can't easily do that with a wireless charger. Plus wireless chargers take longer to completely charge the device.

    Battery life is hard to determine at the moment since I just got it. I will need to update this section when I have more time with the device.

    Now that I have used it a full day, battery life isn't as good as I had hoped. Not even close really. I will post screen shots.

    The 2GB RAM and S4 Pro help the Nexus 7 feel speedy. However, it is still not perfectly smooth. Some parts of the UI will encounter some hiccups every now and then. Specifically dealing with the recent apps button and in some cases the home button freezing for a second or two. Nothing major, but this device still encounters minor lag.

    I find it odd that there is no vibrator motor in the Nexus 7. Sure, it may not be a priority, but adding one couldn't cost too much.

    Now that I have gone over the hardware, time to touch on the software. Android 4.3 is a minor update, and maybe it should have just been 4.2.3.

    Tablet app selection is still far inferior to iPads. Although, the Nexus 7 feels less like a tablet and more like a large phone. I'm not really sure how to explain this part, but is just doesn't feel like a tablet. Of course, 7" is considered the smallest size screen a tablet can be, so I guess that makes sense. But when you have 5" phones, 10" tablets, and then a device with a 7" screen, the screen size is closer to phones than tablets.

    Most apps work fine and are the exact same as the phone app, just scaled up. Some of the default Google Apps, like People and Calendar, are slightly different. But they feel squeezed, especially People.

    When it comes to third party apps, most function fine. However, Evernote keeps crashing on me. It will not open at all. Same with Slice. Whether or not this is due to Android 4.3 or the device itself, I don't know. Maybe someone can shed some light on this?

    Also, I am starting to find apps that are incompatible with the Nexus 7. I have never had this problem before with the Nexus 4. But one game I play quite often, Blitz Brigade, is not compatible. What's weird is that the Nexus 7 has the same CPU and RAM as the Nexus 4! Why it is incompatible I have no idea. But this is very frustrating.

    Ultimately, the best things about the Nexus 7 are its price, screen, and speakers. Android is a great phone OS, but it just doesn't feel as good on a tablet. The Android tablet experience definitely feels lacking in certain ways. But I expect this to improve as the OS matures.

    One thing in particular I do not like about the tablet experience is the lack of synchronized notifications. For example, I just got a notification from the default calendar app about an event coming up. I got the notification on both my Nexus 7 and Nexus 4. And I have the same Google Calendar synced on both devices. Yet if I dismiss the notification on one device, I am still required to dismiss it on the other device. Synchronized notifications is something that is sorely needed in Android.

    The Nexus 7 is a great and affordable way to get a foot in the Android tablet arena. If you are on the fence about it, you should definitely buy it and give it at least a week and see how you like it.

    Let me know if you have any specific questions and I will do my best to answer them.

    Edits in italics.

    Attached Files:

  2. Assault macrumors 6502a


    Mar 19, 2013
    in the taint
    The app issue is due to 4.3

    Gonna have to wait for the devs to update before all apps function as they should. So far, I have had several updates to bigger name apps over the last 2 days.
  3. Ddyracer macrumors 68000


    Nov 24, 2009

    I heard Chris Pirillo say the same thing. He said his Nexus 4 lagged less on UI and scrolling. The thing is, we know it's Android and how it runs on tablets because the Nexus 4 has a slower s4 pro and a crappier gpu. This has got to get resolved.

  4. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    This looks promising in all areas. over the iPad mini. including a resolution higher than the Retina display of the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, and probably 5s when released.

    Apple won't win here...

    Unfortunately, I've bought too many apps on iPad 3, to start from scratch, otherwise i'd switch in an instant.
  5. appledes7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2011
    That is how I felt when I first switched to Android. But I found many apps to be free on Android or I found free alternatives that offered similar functionality.
  6. Fanaticalism, Jul 29, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013

    Fanaticalism macrumors 6502a

    Apr 16, 2013
    I just picked up a 32GB N7 today as well. My son has completely taken over the Imini so I decided to give it a shot... the N7 solidifies how much I enjoy android as a platform over iOS.

    I have to agree with you on the screen size. My main purpose for a tablet is web surfing and movie watching during travels. While I enjoy the portability of the N7, the experience is not the same for my intended purposes. Like you, the placement of the stereo speakers make it, truly stereo.

    The build quality feels great, aside from the light bleed that I have on the screen. I don't have this issue on my mini. I also find it incredibly slippery as I have to grip it tightly if want to hold it without supporting the bottom with my pinkies.

    I know this is just a matter of familiarity, but I've gotten used to the menu button on my S4, I find myself missing it on the N7.

    I have 15 days to decide if I want to keep it. Hopefully we'll get some more leaks on the Galaxy note 8 v3, as the Tab 3.0 was a huge disappointment in the performance category.

    Edit: One thing I noticed is that N7 does not have the amplitude to drive my Sennheisers to the same level as my S4 or Mini (I can push the volume on the mini without distortion).

    I did some side by side comparisons using streaming services such as netflix and Vudu. It seems the N7 exposes more detail, but I am not sure if this is due to lack of contrast as color saturation is definitely better on the mini. The N7 also has serious posterization in high contrast scenes.
  7. maxosx macrumors 68020

    Dec 13, 2012
    Southern California
    I believe you got a defective unit.

    After buying my Nexus 7 2 and bringing it home, both my son and my wife were so impressed with it I decided to buy two more. All three of these are very well made with not a trace off light bleed or other irregularities.

    I'd return it for a replacement, you'll be glad you did.
  8. appledes7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2011
    I know what you mean. I run CyanogenMod on my Nexus 4 and I set it up to always have a search button on the bottom left and a menu button on the bottom right. I greatly miss these.

    I didn't notice it until you mentioned it. But my Sennheiser 449s definitely aren't the same on my Nexus 7 compared to my desktop. It is minimal, but still an issue.
  9. Fanaticalism macrumors 6502a

    Apr 16, 2013
    I'll take a look at the display at BBY, as it is where I purchased mine.

    In all honestly, even though I pointed it out, it doesn't bother me. Besides, since I have two children I decided to put accidental insurance on it just in case. Worst case I can swap it out later if I have to.


    I may root and flash if I keep it. For now I'll use Nova Prime and use gestures.

    While I have the 32GB version, lack of an SD card hurts a little as I have 13 GBs of lossless audio on my S4.
  10. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    Thans for the review / impressions. Good reading, I too prefer 4:3 8" for web browsing irrespective of ppi - so I'll hold out for a retina mini, but at $230 its certainly a great slab for the price regardless :)
  11. ChazUK macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2008
    Essex (UK)
    Very well written.

    I personally don't mind some kind of bezel as holding my Mini with my thumb over the screen doors seem a little intrusive with it obscuring the screen.

    CPU and GPU wise I've read that it's actually an underclocked Snapdragon 600, not an S4 Pro so it should have the grunt to run well. Hopefully Google and Asus will have some time to optimise things further.

    4.3 has helped things on my 3g Nexus 7 2012 edition but the new model may be mine come the UK launch. Must resist! :p
  12. kevinof macrumors 6502a

    Jul 30, 2008
    Well that would be difficult seeing as the nexus 7 is not a phone but a tablet.

  13. marc11 macrumors 68000

    Mar 30, 2011
    NY USA
    I agree about the sync of notifications, emails too. If I move or delete an email from my gmail account on my computer or one of my devices it seems to live on my SIII and Nexus 7 still. I do not like that. I can see some benefit, but it would be nice to have the option.

    Minor issue really, but still a PITA at times.
  14. Rodster macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2007
    Great review, my Nexus 7 is waiting for me at Best Buy for pickup. As far as webrowsing goes on the N7, that's a problem with Most 16:10 devices. Which is why I hope Apple continues to use the 4:3 aspect ratio.
  15. paulsalter macrumors 68000


    Aug 10, 2008
    Not sure if there is a setting for mail notification sync, had a look but couldn't see anything obvious

    for me it works as expected, just done a test

    sent an email from desktop, notification appeared on my Nexus 7 & GS2, read it on tablet and notification disappeared from GS2

    sent another email and read on phone, notification disappeared from the tablet

    This is with the gmail app, if I use the stock email then I get no syncing of notifications
  16. GR33NIE macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2008
    Nice write up, I will be ordering one too although us poor folks in the UK have to wait until Sept 13th to get one!
  17. appledes7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2011
    K9 works similarly. The biggest issues I have with synchronized notifications are things like Facebook, G+, calendar events, tapatalk, etc.
  18. randy98mtu macrumors 65816


    Mar 4, 2009
    I'm so tempted to pick up an LTE version when they hit the streets. I just played with one at Best Buy and I loved it. I love my iPad mini, but I'm not going to buy it without retina and I'm hard pressed to justify $560 for the same device.

    I have, however, been encoding some music using Apple Lossless. Do you have any tracks that you can try to see if they play on the N7? I had a GS3 for a short time last year but I can't remember if I ever got them working. I'm thinking no.

    I'm still tempted by some of the Android phones, so I'm thinking trying out the N7 could give me a better feel for if I could get used to an Android phone. There were several features I really liked. The main things that bothered me were the color/white balance of the screen and some of the problems with my media, which is all in iTunes. I have an extensive library set up with playlists and smart playlists using play history, etc. I found iSyncr to work reliably, but still had some music that just wouldn't play.

    Great review with some good information from someone with a history in iDevices.
  19. appledes7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2011
    I don't. But if you want to send me a file I can try it out for you. Just send me a link to it in your Dropbox or whatever cloud storage you use and I can test it.
  20. Fanaticalism macrumors 6502a

    Apr 16, 2013
    They need to be converted to MP4 which can be done with Isyncr. I syncr will automatically transfer the files to your device either via wifi or hardwire depending on which version you download. You can then play them back using Poweramp, which is absolutely fantastic. By using Isyncr you can continue to rip your CDs into itunes and they will automatically upload when your device is on the same network as your pc.
  21. randy98mtu macrumors 65816


    Mar 4, 2009
    Thanks for the answers. That's what I thought. I'm watching reviews of the N7 right now and I'm drooling. I hope they release the LTE rig soon. I'm fighting the urge to just go to Best Buy and get the WiFi version.

    Will iSyncr automatically convert lossless files? I know my DRM'd tunes need to be worked around some other way.
  22. superstarmc macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    I thinking about getting my daughter the nexus 7 to replace her kindle fire.
  23. Fanaticalism macrumors 6502a

    Apr 16, 2013
    Yup. They will be re-encoded to the standard lossless format (in this case MP4) from Apples proprietary AIFF/ALC.
  24. appledes7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2011
  25. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Excellent review!

    I agree with your points, and I'm really hoping the N7 (and the rumored speed demon of a Kindle Fire HD rev) light a bit more of a fire under Apple's ass and cause them to improve the iPad mini - I've not bought a portable device from Apple in a long time, and iOS 7 has me yearning to do so again, but I just can't buy anything with the current mini's specs.

    I've gotten used to the new N7 to the extent that the old one seems just really... old, although I still prefer the back of it to the back of the new one. Not the fake-metal sides, but the racing glove back. I still wish they'd moved a bit of what's under the top and bottom bezels to the sides or to a slightly thicker back (I don't really care if my devices are paper thin as long as they're not difficult to hold). I'm happy with the speed and responsiveness, and I figure the missing apps will come along shortly (I mean, 4.3 just came out, so some lag is understandable).

    I want a case (haven't found one yet) and a screen protector (to stave off fingerprints more than to actually protect the screen), but I'm generally really pleased with this iteration.

    As far as the wireless charging goes: I agree it has its drawbacks, and I tend to charge mine with the cable at home, but being able to set it down on a Qi pad at work is great - I can keep it topped off and yet always have it available for a quick pick-up-and-go. Also, although I worry too much about such things, should the USB port ever go, I can still charge it, and everything else is available wirelessly, so I see the wireless charging as a bit of a failsafe. What I'd like to see are Qi-enabled windshield clamps, so that I could use my N7 for navigation and then just remove it without having to actually unplug it - that would be nice (if, say, I actually used the N7 for navigation, which I've not done yet).

    USB OTG works, which means it's easy to add more storage, albeit a bit cumbersome to do so.

    SlimPort works, although I've never found a really decent use case for that.

    NFC works, which means I can do the same things with Tasker that I've always done.

    Overall, there's very little I prefer about the 2012 model (namely, the back), and I find this one to be extremely well put together.

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