INTERNET GIANT Google's new Nexus 7 is the firm's second flagship Android tablet, and it signals that the firm is looking to overtake Apple in the tablet market.
Google clearly is hoping that the new Nexus 7 tablet's high-end specifications and budget price tag will be able to lure punters away from the iPad Mini, and it might just do that. Whereas the iPad Mini lacks Apple's high-resolution Retina display, the new Nexus 7 takes the title of the world's highest resolution 7in Android tablet, which it combines with a nippy quad-core processor and the latest version of Google's operating system.
We managed to get our mitts on the new Nexus 7 ahead of its UK launch on 28 August to see whether it's as good in real life as it is on paper.
The new Nexus 7 is similar to last year's model in terms of design, featuring a soft-touch plastic casing and prominent Nexus branding on its rear.
It's noticeably thinner and lighter than the original Google Nexus 7 though, measuring 8.7mm thick and tipping the scales at just 290g, making it almost 2mm thinner and 40g lighter than last year's model. This also means that it's lighter than most of its competition and likely will be more comfortable to hold for prolonged periods than the Apple iPad Mini.
Google has tweaked the tablet's design slightly, and has dumped the textured plastic casing of last year's model to replace it with a smooth, more minimalistic chassis. As we have yet to use the device for very long we're not sure whether we prefer the new design or not, as the textured casing of last year's model added a nice bit of grip to the tablet.
Given its budget £199 starting price for a 16GB model, the new Nexus 7's hardware specifications are pretty impressive.
Of course, the tablet's main talking point is its screen, with Google keen to boast that its latest tablet is the highest resolution 7in device on the market despite costing significantly less than some of its competitors. This display features a 1200x1920 resolution and a pixel density of 323ppi, and on first impressions it really is stunning.
Although smaller, the screen's crisp image quality is easily on a par with the latest iPad's Retina display, although we did notice that colours can appear a little oversaturated when the brightness is cranked up to full.
The screen, which features a much smaller bezel than last year's model, is powered by a quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, making this one of the nippiest tablets on the market as well as one of the most vibrant. Although we have yet to put it fully through its paces, we found swiping through screens swift and smooth, and apps opened almost instantaneously, with the device delivering an all-around much nippier experience than its predecessor.
The new Nexus 7 also improves on last year's model with its dual camera setup, featuring a 5MP rear-facing camera and a 1.2MP sensor on the front. We had a quick play with the rear camera, and we weren't overwhelmed. The camera seemed to struggle in the dark lighting conditions, with pictures appearing fuzzy. However, we'll be sure to test this camera more fully during our full new Nexus 7 review.
We also have yet to test the tablet's 3,950mAh battery, which Google claims can handle nine hours of video playback. The tablet also supports wireless charging, and we'll test that too.
The new Google Nexus 7 is the first device to ship with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, the latest iteration of Google's mobile operating system. Unlike previous iterations, this doesn't add a wealth of new features, instead introducing a handful of small tweaks.
Among these is Restricted Profiles support, which seems easy enough to set up and should prove to be a great feature for businesses wanting to purchase pooled tablets and parents who want to prevent their kids from spending money on in-app purchases. Android 4.3 Jelly Bean also has Open GLS 3.0 support, which should pave the way for more graphics-intense apps and games, along with a reworked Camera app.
Beyond the new features, Google's latest Nexus 7 tablet offers a vanilla Android experience, with no widgets crowding the screen when the device is first switched on. We much prefer this to the heavily customised user interfaces found on tablets from other vendors, with the device offering a simple, easy to customise user interface. It's also a bonus for keen Android fans, with the new Nexus 7 tablet likely to be the first to roll out future software updates.
Although we have yet to test it fully, it looks like the new Nexus 7 is just as promising in reality as it is on paper, and we were surprised by the tablet's impressive performance given its £199 price-tag.
The HD 1080p display is, just as Google claims, the tablet's standout feature, giving Apple's highest specification tablet a run for its money. Its quad-core processor also delivers an exceptionally smooth experience, while Android 4.3 Jelly Bean should manage to win over fans of Google's mobile operating system.
Check back soon for our full review of Google's new Nexus 7 tablet. µ