Nexus 7

Nexus 7 (2013) Full Review: Android Revisited

 

After half a decade away, I jump back into Android with the launch of the 2013(2nd gen) Nexus 7. Ive got to say, things have changed! I bought this tablet for a few reasons. First, its damn cheap compared to the Galaxy Tabs(Notes), and Apples iPad Mini. Second, it has the highest pixel density out of all the 7 inch tablets currently. And last, its pure Android without the Samsung bloatware. For $230, its a pretty good deal. Some people think tablets are toys and while they can be good fun, I find them extremely useful for doing quick research, reading articles, and quickly looking up a video.

 


 

First Impressions

It seems pretty clear that Google is taking the Apple approach with the packaging. The unboxing experience is minimalistic and elegant. The Nexus 7 is styled sharper than the Galaxy Tab and the bezels are smaller. Unlike the Galaxy Tab, the Nexus 7 does not have a physical home button. Navigation is utilized by 3 software buttons that occupy a quarter-inch of the bottom edge. The top and bottom bezels are much larger than the side bezels. They clearly designed this tablet to be used in landscape mode. Ill get more into this later. The back of the Nexus 7 is rubberized for added grip. Overall, the Nexus 7 is nicely built. The only complaint I have is with the placement of the power/lock button. I wish it was located at the top when holding it in portrait mode. Other than that, the Nexus 7 look very sleek and professional. From all the sea of Android tablets, the Nexus 7 looks unassuming. The only real way an average consumer would recognize it is the black Nexus branding on the back. Even a power user would have a tough time telling it apart from the previous generation Nexus 7.

Nexus 7
Clearly more landscape oriented.
Nexus 7 Back
Even the logo changed from portrait to landscape.

Performance

To me, a tablet is useless without speed and convenience.В Lets face it, were all in a rush.В If I can look something up really quick without noticing any lag, the tablet is up to par. Anything less and Im annoyed. Unlike a computer, there is no control+alt+delete combo so if a lockup occurs, you just have to wait it out. The only hardware buttons are the volume rockers and the power button. In my experiences, the Nexus 7 is very fast. Dont get me wrong. There has been a few hiccups here and there. These few slowdowns only happened when I had many apps running and multitasking. Other than those occasions the Nexus 7 is fast. The apps load fast, videos load fast, and multitasking is okay. Battery performance is fair to good. The stock battery monitoring software shows about 6 hours of usage on a full charge which is somewhat accurate in my experience. Some people will get more, some will get less. I usually get less.

 

 

Apps

Nexus 7 Portrait MultitaskingIm not much of an an app hoarder. Id rather have core functionality built into the OS over having a bunch of apps cluttering my work flow. As far as app numbers and quality, Android has improved considerable over the years. Some apps have their own layouts of menu placements and Google seems to be doing a good job of keeping a design standard. I did find myself wanting more out of the stock Android keyboard so I bought SwiftKey from the Play Store. Its a good piece of software. Being able to type with fewer errors is like an aspirin to a big headache. Im enjoying the app selection. As a BlackBerry user, having all the popular apps available is a welcome change.

 

I did indulge in some turret defense games. I could burn hours playing them. Speaking of which, the stock battery monitor tell me the Nexus 7 takes a huge hit while playing games and watching videos. When I am not playing games, the brightness is usually number 1 in battery impact. Im currently using as many third party apps as I can to replace the Google services. For example, В Dropbox is replacing Google Drive and Evernote replaces Google Doc. Ive tried the Nook app and I found Google Magazine to be superior so Ill be using that alongside Kindle.

Nexus 7 Multitasking

When you install an app, its pretty much all or nothing. Google Play shows you a list of permissions required for the app and you click install. For someone that doesnt know better, I can see them installing every app under the sun. I find BB10s method much better.В  In comparison, BB10 gives me the choice of allowing or refusing each permission the app is asking for. For example, if its a note-taking app and its asking for my location and phone calls, I can reject those while giving it access to read/write files. Depending on how the app functions, It could probably still run. This is not possible with Android. Annoying!

 

One new thing that Ive noticed is app updating. They are now done in the background. I dont like this. Yes, its convenient but Id rather have control of the apps and manually update them myself. I remember a while back, I updated an app and it was filled with ads. I dont have a problem with developers putting ads on their software and making money off of it but this was not mentioned in the changelog. After updating the app, I read the wall of complaints in the comments. Ever since, I never updated an app until I read the comments. Having apps update in the background changes the game. There may be a workaround but upon digging through the menus and settings, there is no way to turn automatic updates off.

 

 

The Android Experience

Android is taking me some time to get used to. One thing that I was really used to on BB10 was the swipe gestures. Swiping from the bottom bezel up took me to the running apps. On Android, it takes me to a Google search where I can type or use their voice recognition technology to make a search. Their multitasking feature is also much different compared to BB10. On BB10, you can only have 8 apps running at a time. On Android, you can have as many(or so it seems) as your hardware an handle. One big thing Ive noticed while using Android; multitasking is not in real time.В  For instance when I tap the multitasking button, the app pauses while I go to the cards of background apps. If I am watching a video on YouTube and go to the calculator app, YouTube will pause the video. Not only that but if I went back into YouTube to resume playback, the video would have to load again. The buffer is dumped when multitasking.В  Ive read that its decided by the developers. Ive tested this with Pandora Radio and background multitasking works as expected. Its just strange to me when I go back to certain apps and see the page or video reloads.

 

 

Frustrations

One of the biggest frustrations I have with the Nexus 7 and Android as a whole is the whole Google experience. Its the little things that annoy me. Sometimes, an app would work flawlessly. Other times, it would freeze up the whole tablet where all the buttons wont respond. A few times, I had Dolphin Browser hang up and none of the software and hardware buttons work. Then all of a sudden, they all go through like massive gaming lag. Its very frustrating.

Nexus 7 Error

Another thing that annoys me is how Google manages my data by default. For example, when I first set up the Nexus 7, all the important information(location, personalized data, etc.) were check on by default. I dont want to send them my data, locations, whatever. Even the YouTube app does this. The Never remember history option is uncheckd by default and Improve YouTube by sending anonymous usage data is checked by default! Theyre definitely not hiding their intentions well.

 

 

Highlights

Nexus 7 Play StoreThis is a great tablet for media consumption. It seems like it was designed just for that. The YouTube app is great for watching videos but not so good for managing them if you are a publisher. It has noВ analyticВ data for partners and no Adsense earnings data. The Google Magazine app is excellent. I cant thing of anything I would change on it. Google Maps is probably the best mapping software out there. The only feature it has missing is a version of Bings Birds Eye View. Street View is fantastic as expected. I did notice the image quality was better than I remembered. Maybe theyve upgraded their cameras.

 

 

Final Thoughts

The Nexus 7 is a good tablet however it is not perfect. I wouldnt normally knock off points for app issues but I have to in this case since its an official Google app. YouTube needs work. You can post comments but not reply to specific ones. The Nexus 7 and all of Googles apps needs to have perfect or near perfect performance and synergy, especially on an official Google tablet! Aside from some performance issues, the Nexus 7 is a good device. The hardware is nice and the screen is sharp. As far as hardware, the only thing I would improve is the battery life. I can run the battery within a few hours if Im watching videos or playing a game.

 

As far as software goes, Android is good, not great. Dealing with force close and Googles nosy personality reminds me why I left them in the first place. Dont get me wrong. Im enjoying the app selection and tablet as a whole. I just wouldnt use it for anything serious. Sometimes I would leave my Nexus 7 on my PlayBook and I would just wish BlackBerry made the PlayBook 2 with BB10. A tablet with real multitasking and more intuitive swipe gestures. One can dream.

Nexus 7(2013)

Set Sar

Set is a writer, blogger, and analyst. His duties include site administration, graphic design, reporting, and publishing articles. His passions include technology, science, cars, and learning.

More Posts - Twitter - Google Plus

  • Ryan

    The app auto-update setting is the second option in the Play Store settings. How could you miss that?

    • http://techshift.net/ Set

      I was used to looking it up through the settings menu. Why would a tablet enable an app to update through the app and not the system menu. If anything, this option was checked by default. Seems like a lot of bullshit on android is checked on by default. let us know your location, send us your personal data etc.

      • Richard Stefanits

        Lack of basic knowledge and experience. That is a simple fact most android users reading this article concludes in the middle

        • http://techshift.net/ Set

          Can you explain to me how experience and basic knowledge can overcome the force close issue I had in the middle? Or how about the constant Google data mining? Or the shitty stock keyboard. A simple fact I concluded reading you comment was fanboy.

  • Ben

    I enjoyed your reviews of this device and android hating from prior reviews, these are some of the same complaints I have, currently I have an Android based phone, and I am at a standstill with it because it is lagging constantly. I need a new phone but Im afraid to get another android phone just to have it start lagging again after a year of use. I dont want an apple product because I have used them before and I just cant deal with certain things, I would rather endure the frustrations of android than have apple. So it leaves me with the inevitable choice of another android, I am hoping MOTO X will work the best because it wont have carrier bloatware, here goes nothing. Seeing as how I have unlimited data from Verizon and if I upgrade I lose it I will have to shell out $500 for the MOTO X.

    • http://techshift.net/ Set

      There are other less popular platforms out there like Windows Phone and BB10 and like all platforms, they each have their flaws.

      Ive since returned the Nexus 7. I couldnt stand the device any longer. It was a fine tablet hardware-wise but Android was pissing me off to the point where I said, fuck it. The experience made me rethink tablets as a whole and what OS would best suit it. I know the Nexus 7 was fast but the having video stutter on the YouTube app or random crashing made me realize how important reliability was to me.

      The fact that once the device locks, you have to resort to using the hardware power button or wait until the app catches up, takes away the control you should have. I feel like Android is moving away from their roots and the next de-facto standard is installing a custom ROM like Cyanogen. Why? Spyware, malware, data-mining. Soon, every app and their momma will require your damn DNA just to use it. It was too much. I had to let it go.

  • Vitor Silva

    You get the prize for the most biased reviewer in the interwebz.

    • http://techshift.net/ Set

      3 comment history. All on android. Then it calls me bias. Lool interwebz.

  • whatever

    i dont care if it is anti-android like someone suggested. i love android over all other platforms -yet ->i think you are bang on with most of your comments/observations (esp. that first review i clickeda bit dated but still very relevant) and you are only doing them a service b/c this is how $*** gets better! thanks for being critical!

  • steve

    The author obviously knows nothing about Android. To complain about the stock keyboard is ridiculous. Thats the great thing about Android, you have thousands of choices, not what dictator Apple sticks you with. In his article 10 things I hate about Android, he states you cant remove bloat without root. If you arent rooting your phone, then you arent getting the true potential of Android. He also acts like apps force close all the time. The author is definitely in the minority, as flocks keep leaving Apple to come to Android. Did you know Samsung invests 12 billion a year in innovation, while Apple only invests 3 billion. It makes it easy to see why Samsung took the Crown.

  • http://techshift.net/ Set

    Why is complaining about the stock keyboard ridiculous? The keyboard is one of the most important tools on a smartphone. What do you expect me to do? Say, Okay Google For everything? Wouldnt that be ridiculous? Thousands of choices are good. The only problem I see with their apps is the inability to change app permission. If you expect every user to root their phone, why not sell their phones/tablets pre-rooted? Jumping through hoops is not what is expected from average users. Also rooting voids most carriers support. Something most users arent willing to lose. How about you go buy the Nexus 7, use it, specifically the YouTube app and count how many times it force closes the entire day. Its a tablet. Im not making input errors. Im using the touchscreen. This has been my experience. If you feel like I am exaggerating, buy one and see for yourself.

    If I am part of the minority, who cares? I have a negative opinion on your holy phone OS. So what. You act like I care how much money Samsung or Apple invests. I dont. Like the Nexus 7 is even a Samsung device! And you also assume that Im using an iPhone. I dont. You fanboys, see anything negative about your precious phones/tablets and you copy/paste your ad-hominen, strawman laced fallacies. Take care and thanks for the comment.

  • steve

    Complaining about a stock keyboard is ridiculous because like i said, you have a thousand more choices. I already have a Nexus 7 and I use Viral not YouTube. Once again choices. Android doesnt root their phones because there are idiots like you that would wreak their phone. You can Un root your phone and put stock back on, and the carrier never knows. Once again, you show you know nothing. Why dont you head over to XDA developers and learn something. What was the last comment I copy and paste, you have any proof, or are you showing how little you know. Oh by the way, Android is as open source as it comes, maybe you have heard of AOSP? Probably not. For someone that cant find the play store settings, dont act like you know the first thing about Android. I also have bb and iphone, and I know whats best

  • steve

    One last thing, you complain about Samsung and HTC putting skins over top, which gives you better keyboards and such, but then you also complain about stock, beggars cant be choosers. Oh wait, with Android you can. It should be perfect for a complainer like you.

  • http://techshift.net/ Set

    Read the first sentence of my final thoughts. I said the Nexus 7 is good however not perfect. And did you read the review? I wrote I bought and installed Swiftkey Tablet. Youre the prime example of the over-zealous fanboy I was talking about. So blinded that anything negative about your precious OS, you must fight tooth and nail over. Its really sad. Ive been around XDA and Ive installed their custom ROMS before. It aint shit. Ive used KDE Ubuntu currently and have been using Linux for years. Those are open source. Android open source? What are you, a child? So I have to perform hardware sequences and install custom ROMs to get root access to my phone? Why cant I just sudo password? Because people might fuck up their phone?! Ha, youre a joke with your circular arguments. After I root my droid, will I still need to open an app to do everything little thing? Will I unlock the cool new glow in the dark widgets?

    Dont preach. We all know your open source Android is one big Google spyware. Thats why you guys need to root it to put Cyanogen or whatever flavor-of-the-month ROM on it. Thats why all the developers make free apps for it. People like you are so brainwashed and naive when Angry Birds require every permission under the sun, maybe DNA and a piss test. And googlebots like you eat it up. You know whats best alright. Do you dream of electric sheep?

  • http://techshift.net/ Set

    Its like putting make up on a pig. Shit still sucks.

  • steve

    Once again you show how dumb you are. Android 4.3, you can easily control app permission, but youre too slow to look it up. In 4.4 it was taken away, but thats easily fixed by installing xposed, but what do you know, Im saying theres a fix for every little petty problem you have.

  • steve

    If you are looking for privacy, what the hell are you doing living in America? The government already keeps every single phone call, text, and e mail you send. I really dont see any option to not to be spied on. Even BBM isnt secure anymore. The NY mafia thought so, until the cops brought their BBM conversations to court. I am curious, what do you think is a secure os? NWO Bill gates? Apple? Wake up man, everything you do is being watched, I dont think because Angry birds knows where I am, makes me any less free in todays world

  • steve

    Going to XDA and installing root, custom recovery, aint shit, but finding the store settings and Un checking a box Is so hard. Whos the joke? Google is part of the problem in some sense yes, but they also fight for freedom in other sense. Like going after providers in court. Like I said, their all part of the problem, not one is isnt

  • http://techshift.net/ Set

    Ive since returned this shitty tablet and your post shows the intent of Android. This feature of control was taken away in an update. Hmmm. Shows the real intentions of Android? This is a flagship tablet, not an HTC, not a Samsung. It should work as intended out of the box. If app permission is petty to you, then that shows how far our thought processes are. You have different values and privacy and security isnt on that list. Im guessing its media and games which this tablet excels at. Working around Google to fix a problem just tells me Google is the problem, not the solution.

  • http://techshift.net/ Set

    Were going to far into politics here but I would still argue BB10 is the most secure. Not specifically BBM, but BB10 as a modern phone OS. IMO bb6-7 was most secure but thats going back too far. Youre probably still too young to remember when cameras didnt filled the street. You were born a private person and that right is protected under the 4th amendment. Accepting this surveillance state as the norm is dangerous. We all value different things and if privacy isnt top on your list, let me ask you the same thing. What the hell are YOU doing living in America?

  • http://techshift.net/ Set

    We have more in common than you think. Let me explain. Im running a leaked OS for BB10. It has the latest Android runtime. In short, it allows me to run(emulate) Android apps on my BlackBerry. I love a secure platform but I also like to play around with leaks. We are just on different sides of the fence. When I need a phone to be just that, a phone, I cant count on Android for that. There have been plenty of cases for me where simple text messages and emails just wouldnt work. I also know that whatever I get from gmail on the Nexus will be combed over so I made a new throwaway account for that. No way would I use my production email on it. Everything acts differently when observed. Even LIGHT! I dont want to get into science but consider that last sentence and try to relate it to yourself. Thanks for all the comments.

  • http://techshift.net/ Set

    Do you have anything to add besides rewriting the same shit? Re-read what you wrote. Im a dinosaur so Im used to the old Android where it was called Market and not Play Store. This feature was not there so is it reasonable for me to assume it existed? Now ask yourself the real question. Why is this checked by default? Why is sending usage data checked by default? And why never remember history is UNchecked by default?! Think. Its not hard. You need to realize that if youre not paying for it, youre probably not the customer. Youre the product. Gmail? Free. YouTube? Free. Google Drive? Free. Who is buying up all your data? Advertising firms? Maybe. Insurance companies? Maybe. Really. Android can release updates after updates. The underlying issue is Google. Joke.

  • Ryan Moore

    Android is as open source as it comes? Having an app store flooded with 300 bajillion different apps that all do the same thing hardly makes the platform open source. Android is built off a Google customized Linux kernel that is jam packed with proprietary drivers and components, each and every one of which being closed to user modification and hence making the platform, Android, NOT open source. Nor was it ever open source either. People love to throw around open source like its just the catch all term for free or something but the GPL is a very strict document penned by people like Ritchard Stallman, the guy who invented thr GNU components of the Linux kernel that allow your Android kernel to even work. The GPL states quite clearly that any proprietary component in a piece of software negates its being open source because the end user cant modify the proprietary component and thus the softwares code isnt fully open. Open source doesnt just mean that its free or that its easy to gut it and releass a custom rom that is basically just a stock rom with a handful of tweaks because any major changes would be a copywrite infringement of proprietary components.

  • steve

    Why dont you actually read the contract. Most of th say you can add your own scripts to make their app or program better. Even make money off it. You know nothing. For one, having the same appd has nothing to do with open source. If a programmer diesnt have an open source, theur forum on xda is closed because there wouldnt be a way to tell if its dangerous