02/09/2013 10:54 BST | Updated 02/11/2013 05:12 GMT

Google Nexus 7 (2013) Review: The New Android Flagship (PICTURES)

Google's Asus-built 2013 Nexus 7 is an HD upgrade to the popular 2012 seven-inch tablet. It is available from Google Play and other retailers starting from £199.

The Pitch:

"Now thinner, lighter, and faster -- Nexus 7 brings you the perfect mix of power and portability and features the world's sharpest 7" tablet screen."

Key Features:

  • 1920 x 1200 IPS screen
  • Snapdragon S4 Quad-Core 1.Ghx processor
  • 2GB Ram
  • 16GB or 32GB of storage (no SD)
  • Five megapixel rear camera
  • Android 4.3 operating system


Google's new Nexus 7 is an upgrade in virtually every respect over the 2012 version: it's lighter, thinner, faster, has a great screen and a camera. It's just brilliant value, and if you're in the market for a seven-inch Android device it's a must-buy.

The screen, in particular, is fantastic. It's bright, colourful and at 323ppi the sharpest display available on any tablet - twice the ppi of the iPad Mini. Reading on the new Nexus is particularly great, and still very readable at lower brightness levels. Likewise the sound on the new tablet is much improved over the older one, with new Fraunhofer drivers and better volume from the headphones compared to the 2012 machine.

It's not all great though. For one, the camera is a disappointment. It has a weedy 5-megapixel sensor, with quite poor low-light performance, and produces grainy images. You're not really going to use it very often, but it's an undeniable weakness. Likewise the 3,950 mAh battery is a downgrade over the older machine, since the higher-grade components draw more power. You'll get about nine hours use, which isn't tremendous.

Needless to say the stock version of Android 4.3 performs very well on a seven-inch screen, and lets you do everything that you want to on a mobile device (even if it does lack some of iOS's finesse). Then there's the price - £199 for 16GB and £239 for 32GB. That's unmatchable value. It really is a steal - though if value0 is an issue, you can go cheaper with the £130 Asus MeMO Pad HD 7.

Above: the new Nexus 7 (left) versus the old one (right)

The main problem, however, is that we still can't quite figure out when we're supposed to be using it.

Until the (much more expensive) 4G Nexus 7 from O2 arrives later this autumn, the Nexus 7 is still a WiFi-only tablet. And that really makes a crucial difference when the Android tablet ecosystem still lacks so many of the truly killer offline apps available on iOS.

Almost everything you might do offline - writing, drawing, playing games, editing video, messing around with music apps and generally getting work done - is still more difficult on Android. Without Paper by 53, X-Com or IA Writer (all creme-de-la-creme iOS apps), spending a lot of time offline with the Nexus 7 is comparitively less attractive.

Online, it's a different story. The getting-stuff-done side of Android on a seven-inch screen is excellent - and with a screen this good, and with this much space for genuinely useful widgets and news tickers, using the Nexus 7 as an email and reading device on-the-go is ideal. Except given it's WiFi only, you won't be using it as your default device on the move over your phone. And though the 4G version is coming, at £320 it's more expensive than an iPad Mini, which is a better offline device.

What we're saying is that you'll love the Nexus so much you'll want to carry it everywhere you go - but if you're already living a gadget-rich life, you might not use it as much as you'd think.

Make no mistake, though, we love the new Nexus. It's not up there with the iPad Mini in terms of hardware design or apps, but on value and screen quality it's way ahead over anything Apple, Samsung - or even Asus itself - can offer.