Google Nexus 7 Review (2013)
Ah yes, it’s the NEW Nexus device we’ve been waiting for, so it’s obviously treated to a new experience. To be specific, it’s running a vanilla Android 4.3 Jelly Bean experience, which doesn’t depart much in the visual department over the last major version of Android, but there are some noteworthy new additions that help to deepen the platform’s functionality by just a smidgen more. As expected, the platform lays claim to an exorbitant amount of personalization, but there’s nothing new in the visuals aside from a few preloaded static wallpapers we haven’t seen before.
After checking out some of the platform’s new features, some are naturally more practical than others, seeing that many of them are mostly relegated to behind-the-scenes. Here’s what’s new with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean:
Restricted Profiles – Last time around, we were ecstatic to find multi-user support with Android tablets, but with version 4.3, it now provides us with Restricted Profiles. Now, this is something wonderful to find if your tablet is widely used in the home, where kids, parents, and spouses all rely on the same tablet. Essentially, the admin can specify what apps are accessed by each user. Therefore, when those users log in, they will only be allowed access to apps that have been set to on by the admin.
Bluetooth Smart Ready – Primarily targeting those who have low-energy Bluetooth smart accessories, like some chest strapped heart rate monitors, devices running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean are optimized to work efficiently with these low power devices. It’s not something that’ll benefit everyone, but if you happen to fall into the category, you’ll surely come to appreciate it.
Wireless Display – If streaming video is your forte, like ones from YouTube, the Wireless Display feature of Android 4.3 brings your favorite content to the big screen in your living room – that’s as long as your television set supports Miracast.
Location awareness with Always-on Wi-Fi scanning – Again, another feature that’s more of a background process, this one allows devices running Android 4.3 to continue getting location information passively when Wi-Fi is turned off by the user. Seeing that always-on Wi-Fi scanning is present, it’ll continue to provide relevant data to apps without draining battery.
Accelerated 3D Graphics – Gamers will undeniably relish this one, since Android 4.3 brings forth support to Open GL ES 3.0. Basically, graphically intensive games will now sport more accelerated 3D graphics, which in turn, will give games even more photorealism than ever before.
Virtual Surround Sound – Armed with two speakers now, which means stereo support is in tow, the Nexus 7 with its Android 4.3 experience will give users that surround sound feel.
Generally speaking, this isn’t that huge refresh, but rather, it’s a miniscule update that mostly finds its usefulness with items in the experience that we’re not constantly in touch with on a direct level. However, it’s nevertheless nice to find that the platform is still seeing some optimizations that no doubt extends its totality.
Being stock and all, we’re presented with the tried and true on-screen Google keyboard – one that’s sporting the same layout as before. Due to the comfy spacing of its 7-inch screen, our thumbs have no issue whatsoever encompassing the entire layout. Better yet, the responsiveness of the keyboard keeps our fingers clicking away at a constant rate – all without much pause or accident. We can’t say the same about the landscape option, since it’s a bit more cramped getting our fingers into that natural typing position.
Would you look at that? It’s stock Android, so we’re given the usual Gmail and standard email apps for all of our emailing needs. Being a tablet and all, they make good use out of the extra real estate, as they employ that timeless layered approach with their presentations. However, their functionality remains largely unchanged.
Quickly glazing at the core organizer apps on the Nexus 7, there’s nothing different with their functionality and presentation from before – so they’re all very much the same as last time. Of course, Google Now’s exceptional behavior in tracking our habits continues to astound us, as it’s able to deliver pertinent data that centers around our daily lives.
Processor and Memory:
Some were quick to point out the Nexus 7’s not-so-cutting-edge quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, which has been eclipsed by more recent entrants, but it’s nonetheless still able to give the tablet that sense of speed and snappiness with its performance. Also armed with 2GB of RAM and the Adreno 320 GPU, its performance gallops at a pace that undoubtedly shows us that it’s still one powerful thing to contend with. Sure, the benchmark scores might not reflect it, but heck, its real-world performance is enough to justify to us that it’s able to handle all tasks – both elementary and complex.
Indeed, we would’ve loved to see expandable storage with this, but alas, we’re comforted to find that its base internal storage capacity has been doubled from last year’s model. Whereas it was 8GB, this year’s model starts off at 16GB. With our 32GB review unit, it actually turns out to be 26.11GB out of the box, which is still an ample tally to accept.
Internet and Connectivity:
Combining its high-resolution display and quick performance, it doesn’t surprise us in the very least that it’s a winner in the web surfing department. With Google Chrome in for the ride, it’s able to provide us swift page loads via Wi-Fi, instant rendering on the fly, and smooth navigational controls, to make every single aspect of the experience simply phenomenal!