My thoughts on Nexus 7

By , Jul 24, 2012

The Nexus 7 is now available to the masses, and I just received mine yesterday. It’s a good device, but it’s not without its fair share of issues. The device is a small 7 inch tablet that features solid design, but it lacks the elegance of the iPad. For $199, I think that pretty much goes without saying. Actually, something strange happened with my Nexus 7 order – I received a 16GB Nexus 7, instead of the 8GB version that I ordered. Is this Google’s way of kissing up to a known Apple guy? Who knows, but you won’t find me complaining about it.

Since you’ve probably heard a million different opinions about the Nexus 7 already, I’m going to keep this short and concise. First of all, let’s talk about the good…

The good:
The best thing about the Nexus 7, like its 7 inch brethren, the Kindle Fire, is that it’s extraordinarily inexpensive. With that in mind, you feel a lot less compelled to be overly worried about the device’s well-being. It becomes more of a tool and less of a work of art that requires your own personal docent. I know everyone doesn’t have this problem, but sometimes I feel like I’m downright obsessive when it comes to making sure that I don’t scratch the aluminum or scuff the glass. At $199, I feel much less worried about the way I treat my Nexus 7. As one blogger brought out, it has “tossability”.

Since I’ve used a 7 inch tablet in the past, the form factor wasn’t that big of a shock to me this go ’round, but it does reiterate how great a form factor it is. In fact, I outright prefer this form factor to the iPad’s larger screen. That’s not to say that I don’t love the larger iPad, because I do, but there’s simply no denying that the smaller form factor can be practical in a variety of circumstances. For instance, right now, I’m holding the Nexus 7 in portrait mode, while laying on my bed and typing this review. Yes, I wrote this entire post using my Nexus 7. I would never be able to do that with the iPad, because my arms and hands would have worn out from fatigue two paragraphs ago.

Another area that I really enjoy about the Nexus 7 is the software. Now granted, we aren’t talking about Apple levels of synergy between software and hardware, but Android has come a very long way in this regard. Jelly Bean isn’t a massive overhaul over its predecessor, but that’s what makes it work so well. Google has continued to iron out the idiosyncrasies, and they’ve added awesome features like Google Now into the fold. The end result is a very complete feeling operating system.

Speaking of software, fans of Google will be in heaven. All of the popular Google Apps are here, and hardly any of them are gimped like their iOS cousins tend to be. If you’re wrapped tightly inside the Google ecosystem like I am, then chances are you’ll find Jelly Bean extremely engaging and satisfying to use.

The not so good:
While I really like the hardware, there are still some major signs that you paid under $200 bucks for this thing. Light leakage from the edge of the screen has turned out to be an annoyance, as is random screen flicker. There’s just no way that the Nexus 7 can compete on the same level of Apple’s premium iPad offering, but any sane person would head into the deal with lowered expectations anyway. Still, there’s no denying that it will take some adjustment time if you’re used to the high quality Apple gear, not to mention the Retina display.

I praised the software above, but it’s also the source of one of Nexus’ main failing points. iOS is infinitely smoother in function, no matter how much butter or margarine Google puts into Android’s batter. Once everything is cooked, Apple is still very much ahead of Google this area. While it has definitely improved over the years, animations, scrolling, swiping, and pretty much every other UX element still lags behind iOS.

The bottom Line:
When you consider the pluses and minuses of Google’s tablet, the pluses win out. The Nexus 7 is an awesome device. It’s not amazing, and nothing it does will make your jaw drop from disbelief, but it’s the first rock solid Android tablet I’ve ever used, and highly worthy of your consideration. If the thought of shelling out any money to the “enemy” makes you shudder with disgust, then sure, wait on the iPad mini. The fact of the matter is that Google is still going to sell tons of these suckers, whether you’re on board or not.

I think that the iPad mini has always been in the cards, “just in case”, and now the case has been made. The Kindle Fire was first, but it had too many obstacles with Amazon’s involvement. The forked Android software was way too niche to act as a serious threat to Apple. But with the Nexus 7, the barrier to entry is virtually nonexistent, and therefore Apple must respond. Make no mistake, Apple will respond, and the result will likely be something more polished than the Nexus 7. But that day of reckoning is still months away, and the Nexus 7 is available now.

The Nexus 7 isn’t perfect, and Android Jelly Bean still lacks the extreme level of polish present in iOS, but it’s by far the best Android tablet, and arguably the best Android device, well, ever. There’s more than enough room in this space for another serious tablet competitor, which makes me believe that it’s well worth a look from all but the most uncompromising of Android opposers.

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  • Kok Hean

    Jeff Benjamin = Jelly Bean = Jailbreak = JB

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      It was meant to be…

    • http://twitter.com/redevil1987 Damian W

      = jingle bells = jobblow = Justin Bieber = James Bond and so on

      • http://twitter.com/melovestoast Jared Floyd

        How can you forget the Jonas Brothers?

      • Kok Hean

        These are not related to tech -_-

      • http://twitter.com/redevil1987 Damian W

        they are …justin bieber plays angry birds on iPhone.

      • M_AlO

        Lol

      • Kok Hean

        :D

      • http://www.youtube.com/Tr1pTr0p Tr1pTr0p

        overkill…

      • http://www.facebook.com/bithack3r Osman Ali

        JB = Just Bullshit. Please stop it. :/

  • Robert Goldberg

    Was expecting to see a video…

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      Sometimes there’s nothing better than writing to express your thoughts. It’s a nice change of pace, plus I need to shake off the rust.

      • http://twitter.com/melovestoast Jared Floyd

        This is probably your first post without a video.. That I’ve seen..

      • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

        Yeah, I’ve posted plenty of posts sans video :)

      • Robert Goldberg

        Sure, but your videos are all very good and I wanted to see the device in action. Actually it doesn’t really matter, because I don’t expect any tablet in the near future to win me over from the iPad. And besides, I guess it’s not completely right to review an android on this blog ;)

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Felipe-Lopez/1608523380 Felipe Lopez

        He’s writing about an android tablet because so many readers call IDB biased apple fanboys. What would you do? Shut down the website? People have pushed them, but what do you expect? This is a dedicated apple jailbreak website. You don’t like it, go kick rocks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/saul.rodriguez.771 Saul Rodriguez

    Video video video video video Video video video video video or speed test against the ipad

    • Falk M.

      This.

      Creating tons of videos (of high quality, granted! Not complaining!) of shi**y Cydia tweaks “nobody” needs, but such a video that’d be of interest to a lot of us……

      My bet is that Jeff’s already creating or planning a video though! :P

      • Emre SÜMENGEN

        Did you guys forget, the site’s name is iDownloadblog!

        And, someone (!) needs and buys those sh*tty Cydia tweaks…

        In fact, a comparison with the iPad and Nexus 7 will not be very accurate IMO… (Meaningless too, in general, to compare an android to an iOS device, as they both different experiences.)

      • Kok Hean

        It’s a pity not a lot of people think this way. I totally agree with you.

  • Primo Sidone

    is Sebastien Page alive?

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      Yeah I’m alive and well. Thanks for checking on me :)

      • maurid

        Why aren’t you writing anymore? (Or maybe you are and I just dont realize it)

      • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

        I’ve been very busy with life (new baby) and have spent more time managing the admin side of iDB, like paper work, accounting and all that stuff. I do plan to be writing more soon. I just need to find the right balance.

  • http://twitter.com/toiVolco Toivo Pietiäinen

    Please Jeff, make a little comparison video on Nexus 7 v.s. iPad 3 !

  • http://twitter.com/ricky_j_89 Ricky J Vega

    Even though you’ve posted the positives and negatives I can’t help to feel the slight bias tone in favour of the iPad. I think it’s time to admit google’s OS has overpassed iOS and it is better in many aspects.

    This is coming from a loyal apple customer.

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      I won’t admit that, because to me, it’s not true. Hence, there’s nothing to admit :)

    • Dan

      Expecting a 200$ device to surpass another that’s more than twice it’s price is unrealistic.

  • http://twitter.com/iphonejailbrea2 iphonejailbreak

    next ipad killer

    • maurid

      Meh… I am pro-Google, but I don’t think this is an iPad killer. Maybe with a little more of effort from Google, and with better hardware (faster processor, more storage memory, SD card slot), it will definitely teach the iPad how it’s done.

  • Eric Armstrong

    So which category will the iPad Mini fall into? The “high quality, high cost device that you’re always worried about”, or the “tossable, low cost device that gets the job done, but no more than that”?
    I think both are important, but I bet a smaller iPad will still be in the “slightly too fancy for practicality” group.
    Fortunately, like most of us here, I’m a die hard tech fan, and I will probably soon own the Nexus 7 and the next iPad. As if my upgrade to The New iPad wasn’t unnecessary enough.

  • YujinNY

    My friend got his this week and it went back the next day. Light leakeage was an issue but ghosting was also a bug problem. The screen has nothing against the iPad though. Software wise is a good contender but the hardware limits their ability.

  • http://twitter.com/greghesp Greg Hesp

    I’d love to know what these extreme levels of polish found in iOS are? Is it the gloss overlay on some of the icons or what? If its to do with the stability etc then unfortunately I see no polish. My iPad lags and crashes more than my Nexus :s

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      I mentioned it above. Animations, scrolling, swiping. I don’t think anyone will realistically question this.

    • Ronald Weaver

      Really i never had a iOS non jailbroken product crash. i have owned almost every new product since 2009. What apps and such crash for u?

      • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

        I’ve had a few games and photo editor apps crash on stock iPad, but crashes do happen way more frequently now that my iPad is jailbroken. With the latest jailbreak, I probably have at least one springboard crash a day… but that’s a small price to pay for being able to do what I want on my iPad.

    • Dan

      The only times my iPad has crashed (and I can count those times on one hand), was due to a jailbreak tweak. In what situation has your iPad crashed exactly?

  • Rodney Coleman

    I dunno.. it is cheap but all the apple lovers are just followers… nothing big about apple… they hate the same people who feed them (Samsung).. plus Samsung sold 10million Galaxy S3 in 2 months… let’s see what the 5 and Nexus does

    • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

      I hate the whole idea of the headphone jack on the bottom and the 19 pin dock connector. I have had the 3GS, the 4 and now the 4S… I will be skipping the 5. I don’t see anything thus far that makes it a must have device.

      I agree with you… Samsung provides a lot of the guts for Apple products, but the fanboys love to spit out their rabid hatred against Samsung.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Felipe-Lopez/1608523380 Felipe Lopez

        Apple never confirmed those specs. You’re just believing the rumors.

    • Emre SÜMENGEN

      So, what’s exactly your point?? (None so far)

  • CollegiateLad

    The only problem is Jeff throws around “awesome” so freely that you have no idea whether this tablet is good or not. He also said the Sun weather app was awesome, that seas0npass was too, and that the Siri server proxy was the next best thing. As it turns out, all those things sucked big time. I still love you Jeff – but “awesome” has lost its meaning.

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      Well, we’re all entitled to our opinion, and I bet more will agree with me than not – on any of the items you mentioned – if they truly tried them.

      • Lordthree

        Meh. I’m with him. Seas0npass, Sun, and proxy are all just mediocre. If this tablet is as ‘awesome’ as them it’s really not saying much.

      • M_AlO

        I thought sun was awesome!

  • http://twitter.com/Mad_Mike17 Michael Fleming

    Great post. You sold me on the 7. I’ve been blogging a little, too. And the comfort of typing on it was my biggest concern. And $200 is right where I need to be price wise

  • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

    Light leakage was a big problem with the iPad 2 at the beginning as well. I had to send mine back twice. 3rd time is a charm I suppose. My first one had 13 points of leakage, the second one had 4, the third one is near perfect.

    Since I am not filthy rich, I would never buy an iPad or iPhone for my 7 and 12 year old daughters… but something like a Kindle Fire or Nexus 7 seems right in the sweet spot. I see no point in turning our kids into spoiled little brats who will demand the latest and greatest electronics year after year. That’s why they have a 2nd gen and 4th gen iPod Touch and the 12 year old has a $50 Pantech phone. For as much as they drop their iPods and the phone, I would be worried sick if they were carrying around an iPad every where they went. So for around $200, this is right about where I would feel comfortable for my kids. I love my iPad, but I will probably pick up a Galaxy Tab 10 by year end just to play with Android.

  • http://twitter.com/khalids19 Khalid Salim

    this article is just dying to prove how of an apple fan boy you are jeff..because Nexus 7 to me is just……”Perfect” (almost)

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      You said it. It’s perfect “to you”. We are all entitled to different opinions.

      • http://twitter.com/khalids19 Khalid Salim

        Well said.

  • Sirius Marchand

    whatch out if you buy this item, Google is so messed up with shipping that you might end up like me with no tracking number and no way to find out what is going on . Their support service is overwhelmed and did not help at all. I can just imagine if I get a defective product , how complicated it will be to replace it…if I ever get it in the first place. They were quick at getting the money from my credit card though, but for all the rest it’s very lame.

  • http://www.facebook.com/iagucool Igor IcyClawz

    “It becomes more of a tool and less of a work of art that requires your own personal docent.”
    I find it funny how you like to worship your devices, and not the other way around.

  • http://twitter.com/GtotheFO G

    I’m sorry but I just don’t see the point of reviewing an android product on an Apple fansite..

    I’m a frequent visitor and occasional poster but when I really wanted to know what the competition has to offer, I check out engadget and other universal sites.

    • http://www.facebook.com/grantster5405 Grant Lawrence

      I don’t understand why you would be on an “Apple Fansite” then anyway..

  • liquorich

    has anyone found a good camera application?