If you're in the market for a new smalltablet then you really should check out Google's new Nexus 7 (2013), This subsidised tablet has a fantastic screen and an amazing price tag. Read out new Nexus 7 2013 review to find out more. (We borrowed our new Nexus 7 from eBuyer.)
New Nexus 7 (2013): Design and build
The new Nexus 7 looks very much like the old version but if you’re familiar with that model then within seconds of taking out of the box you can tell it's the next generation. It's slimmer and lighter than the original for starters, just 8.7 mm and 290 g. See also: New Google Nexus 7 2 UK release date, UK price and specs
It's marginally taller but far more important are the few millimetres which have been trimmed from the width. It doesn't sound like much but the device is significantly easier to hold. (Take a look at The 16 best tablets of 2013)
The taller proportion does make the Nexus 7 (2013) look a little like a large smartphone. If you've got a large 5in handset like the Samsung Galaxy S4 or Sony Xperia Z then the Nexus screen isn't that much bigger.
Google has dropped the silver band from the edge of the tablet to it's an all-black affair this time. Buttons and ports are placed as before but the rear casing has a completely smooth surface which feels soft to the touch. At first it seemed to be attracting indelible greasy marks but after hours of use we noticed that the rear cover was magically blemish free.
Two design changes which are welcome are the stereo speakers, now placed at either end of the tablet improving sound; and the addition of a notification LED below the screen.
The highlight of the Nexus 7's hardware line-up is its amazing screen. The tablet still has a 7in IPS display but the resolution has been cranked from 1280 x 800 pixels to 1920 x 1200, giving it a mammoth pixel density of 323 ppi. The display is simply stunning and without a doubt the best of any 7in tablet around at the moment. Apple will want to get that Retina iPad mini 2 out as soon as possible.
In the few days we tried it we experienced none of the display input problems which have been reported by users in the US.
Google has dropped nVidia for Qualcomm this year and the Nexus 7 (2013) is equipped with a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core Krait processor and the memory has been doubled to 2 GB.
This combined with the latest version of Android means the Nexus 7 (2013) felt super slick and responsive. It even booted up quicker than your average tablet.
In our synthetic benchmark tests the Nexus 7 (2013) stormed though Geekbench 2 and GLBenchmark 2.5, with record scores of 2651 points and 41 fps respectively. These number are higher than the impressive Nexus 10 and formidable iPad 4. It couldn't manage the triple but a time of 1136 ms in SunSpider 1.0 is decent.
For reference, the original scored 1452 points, 14 fps and 1682 ms respectively so it looks like an impressive upgrade in benchmark results.
You might be disappointed to learn that Google is still only shipping the Nexus 7 (2103) in either 16- or 32 GB capacities, and there's still no microSD card slot for expansion. It's one of the only downsides to this tablet but you still get twice as much as the entry-level iPad mini for £40 less for the larger capacity.
Considering the small price difference between the two storage capacities and the lack of a microSD card slot we highly recommend paying the extra for 32 GB.
There are no new gadgets like infrared but the Nexus 7 (2013) comes well equipped with dual-band 11n Wi-Fi (although not 11.ac), Bluetooth 4.0 LE (low energy) and NFC. A model with 3G/4G mobile data is said to be coming soon for £299.
New Nexus 7 (2013): Cameras
Yes, you read it right. The Nexus 7 (2013) now has two cameras rather than just one. The front remains at an acceptable 1.2 Mp and the new rear camera is a 5 Mp snapper with auto-focus but no flash.
Although we don't particularly advocate tablet photography, the Nexus 7 (2013) is small enough that using the rear camera for taking photos and videos is more appropriate than usual.
Photos from the rear camera are better than we expected with generally crisp nice looking shots. The auto-focus and auto-white balance aren't always accurate though.
Video can be shot at up to 1080p resolution and looks good if you hold the Nexus 7 nice and steady. However, panning while filming introduces a lot of unwanted jerkiness to the footage. You can take still images while filming by tapping the screen.
New Nexus 7 (2013): Software
Since this is a Nexus device from Google, by definition it has the latest edition of the Google Android operating system. Version 4.3 (Jelly Bean) is only a minor update to the OS with a few small tweaks. Android 5.0 (Key Lime Pie_ will likely bring bigger and more impressive features. The good news is that when new versions launch, the Nexus 7 (2013) will be prioritised for the update giving it an advantage over any other budget Android tablets.
There are a few small upgrades such as Bluetooth Low Energy, better text input and support for OpenGL ES 3.0, the latest standard for accelerated 3D graphics. However, the main addition is 'restricted profiles'.
Google already introduced the ability to have multiple user accounts on one device but now you can essentially manage the apps and content which is accessible on a certain user account. This is great if you want your children to use the Nexus 7 without accidentally spending your money or accessing unsuitable content.
New Nexus 7 (2013): Battery life
Strangely, the Nexus 7 (2013) has a smaller battery than its predecessor. Nevertheless, Google touts an extra hour of 'active use' with a maximum of nine hours. It has also added Qi wireless charging which is a feature we always like to see.
In our battery test, the Nexus 7 lasted 8 hours, 47 minutes on a single charge while looping a locally stored, HD video. That's a good result which is better than the iPad mini but unfortunately a step backward when compared with the 10 hours, 12 minutes which we measured with last year's Nexus 7. See our iPad 5 preview: Apple's upcoming new iPad tablet.
Buying Advice The Google Nexus 7 (2013) is more expensive than the original but sees a small change in the design, while its exceptional screen and added rear camera help justify this price hike. It’s still lacking a microSD card slot but for many people with be the best 7in tablet around. We now await the challenge of the Apple iPad mini 2.