We've talked a lot lately about the new Nexus 7 and compared the new and old models on paper, but this week we tested the two side-by-side and made a comparison video. You can find the video below, and we've included the transcription here if streaming video is not your thing.
Asus has once again built the Google Nexus 7 and we just got one in the AndroidPIT office. The first thing you notice is how different the new tablet looks compared to last year's model. For starters, the back of the tablet now has a nice smooth finish which looks much better compared to the old Nexus' textured back.
You'll also notice the addition of a rear-facing camera on the new Nexus 7, a 5 MP snapper that didn't appear on the old model at all. However, both devices have 1.2 MP front-facing cameras that perform equally poorly. The new Nexus 7 now has internal stereo speakers.
How about dimensions? The new Nexus 7 is a little bit smaller than the older model, just under 2 mm thinner and a fraction thinner in width. The screens however are the same size, although the new model packs in a wonderful 323 pixels per inch compared to the older model which only had 216 ppi in the same area – that's a neat 1.5 times more pixels per inch in the new Nexus 7.
Speaking of resolution, the 2013 Nexus 7 has slightly better than Full HD resolution, with 1920 x 1200 pixels. Full HD is 1920 x 1080 pixels. Similarly the old Nexus 7 had slightly better than HD resolution, with 1280 x 800 pixels, whereas HD resolution is 1280 x 720. This ''additional'' resolution is due to the 16:9 aspect ratio of the Nexus 7's. In comparison, the iPad Mini has a 4:3 aspect ratio – this is basically the difference between widescreen tvs and traditional television sets.
Once we turn the devices on you can really see the difference in screens. The new Nexus 7 has a 7-inch, LED-backlit, LCD IPS touchscreen, and combined with the additional pixel density the results are pretty stunning. It's seriously bright in comparison. The new Nexus 7 also shipped with Android 4.3 straight out of the box, and one of the main features of 4.3 is that it includes OpenGL ES3.0 graphics as standard. The old Nexus 7 is upgradable to Android 4.3 but the older Nexus 7 has GeForce graphics compared to the new model's Adreno 320 chip and of course, a lower pixel count.
As for CPU's, the new Nexus 7 has a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro which we discovered is actually a throttled-back Snapdragon 600 processor. The new Nexus 7 CPU ticks at 1.5 GHz whereas the Snapdragon 600 is capable of 1.7 GHz. In comparison, the older model has a quad-core Asus Tegra 3 chip running at 1.2 GHz. So there's certainly a lot more speed available in the newer device. The new Nexus 7 also ships with 2 GB RAM.
Scrolling through the app pages it's easy to see the difference in lag time and smoothness between the new and old Nexus 7. We should note too that the new Nexus 7 comes with Google Play Games pre-installed. And considering the print-resolution display, the new Nexus 7 can certainly compete as an e-book reader – something Google mentioned during the launch of the device.
One of the interesting features of Android 4.3 is multi-user profiles that the device owner can apply restrictions to. Say if you're sharing your work tablet with the family at home and you want to protect valuable data. Or if you want to stop the kids going crazy with in-app purchases. It's super easy to set up and apply the restrictions you want. Switching between users is as simple as returning to the lock screen, and the owner's profile can be password or pattern lock protected.
Android 4.3 also has a function called TRIM, whereby the system regularly looks for old data points in the index and clears them up if the files they point to have since been deleted. This minefield of extinct data blocks was one of the main reasons the old Nexus 7 suffered from major slow-down over time. But with the OS update your old Nexus 7 should get a fresh lease on life. Of course the new Nexus 7 has TRIM from the start so it shouldn't suffer the slow-down at all.
We couldn't get any of these problems on our Nexus 7, and now they've been patched. / © Bobafuzz
Now there's been a few problems reported in the new Nexus 7, like GPS location issues, multi-touch weirdness and error messages when trying to update apps in the Play Store. We didn't experience any of these problems while we played with the device but there's enough reports of them to have Google scrambling to fix the bugs.
As far as batteries go, the new model actually has a smaller battery capacity than the older model: from 4,325 mAh to 3,950. This shouldn't be a problem however, as improved software integration should see a healthy shelf-life from the new model's battery pack. The smaller battery has also helped the new Nexus 7 come in 50 grams lighter than the 2012 model.
So what does the new Nexus 7 cost? There's three options: $229 for the 16 GB model with WiFi, $269 for the 32 GB model with WiFi and $349 for the 32 GB version with WiFi and LTE, aka 4G.
While I previously said there's not too much in the way of improvements from the old Nexus 7 to the new to warrant the upgrade (especially if you're perfectly happy with your old model), now that I've seen that extra resolution and improved graphics capability I have to say I'm possibly a convert.