Is The Nexus 7 (2013) still worth it?

Nexus 7 (2013) was no doubt one of the best tablet you can find in 2013. With the top end specs and low price point, it outshined many tablets in the market. For those who don’t’ own a Nexus and would like to, you might be considering the Nexus 7. Is the last generation Nexus 7 still worth your money? Let’s find out.

I recently bought a 2nd hand Black 32GB Wifi Nexus 7 for SGD220 (SIngapore Dollars). I have put this device through its paces and have some thoughts on it.

Nexus 7 2013

Nexus 7 2013

Hardware and Build Quality

The Nexus 7 comes with a 7 inch 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD screen with a PPI of 323. The glass display  is made of Gorilla Glass, which is scratch resistant. The screen is sharp and colors are vibrant. The back of the tablet is grippy and has a soft touch matte plastic which to me, is a fingerprint magnet.

Bottom right has some smudges

Bottom right has some smudges

P1060284

Sharp and vibrant colors

The Nexus 7 feels solid and comfortable in the hands. As this is a 7 inch device, I had no problems holding it using one hand for longer periods of time. The top and bottom bezel is on the thick side but it provides room for our thumbs to rest on while holding in landscape mode. As the stereo speakers are situated at the top and bottom facing backwards, it can be easily muffled by our palms in landscape orientation.

Landscape orientation

Landscape orientation

One-handed

Holding one-handed

Because the speakers are back facing, it doesn’t sound as good as front facing speakers. But it makes it up with its loudness.

Side speakers with USB port

Side speakers with USB port

Other side speakers with headphone jack

Other side speakers with headphone jack

Software

Android 5.0 Lollipop

Android 5.0 Lollipop

Google has pushed out Android 5.0 Lollipop to the Nexus 7 Wifi (LTE variant apparently is not out yet). It brought a brand new experience to the tablet compared to KitKat. Initially I was skeptical about having a newer Android OS on an older device. But once I updated, I was surprised by how fast and buttery smooth Lollipop was. Animations were smooth and apps opened without any hiccups. It seemed like it brought a brand new life to the Nexus 7.

Once you are updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop, if pressing the app drawer does not have the same animation as the Lollipop version, you have to install Google Launcher. Apparently Google removed the Google Launcher package installation on older devices (Nexus 7 2103 included) to reduce the package needed to install.

Android 5.0 Lollipop introduces a new notification system. Individual notifications are displayed as cards and multiple notifications produced by a same app will be grouped together. The lockscreen can now display the cards and you can directly interact with it.

Notification cards

Notification cards

You can dismiss the notification by swiping horizontally, or double tap on the card to launch the app. Swiping down will expand the notification to display more details.

There is also a camera icon on the bottom right where you can launch the camera app by swiping left on the screen.

You can now create guest mode or multiple users when you are sharing devices to prevent people from snooping in your personal information. Access by swiping down from the notification shade and tapping on the blue icon.

Guest / Multiuser mode

Guest / Multiuser mode

Android Lollipop now has an inbuilt Chromecast functionality where you can now easily cast right from the notification shade. Tap Cast screen in the notification quick toggles.

Quick toggles

Quick toggles

If your kids or friends might want to play with your device, you can ‘pin’ an app on the screen. This will disable the home button so they can only use that pinned app. Activate at Settings -> Security -> Screen Pinning.  A pin icon will appear on the app cards at the multitasking screen. Holding on Back and Overview button will exit the pinned mode and you will be prompted with a code or pattern to unlock it. This security prompt is the same as the lockscreen, so if your lockscreen is not protected by a code or pattern, then this option will not appear.

Screen pinning option

Screen pinning option

Screen Pinning the app

Screen Pinning the app

Battery

The battery has a 3950 mAh battery which on my typical use, can last at least 4 days. My usage is usually watching youtube, browsing on Chrome, checking emails and playing some games at 1/4 brightness before bedtime.

Screen On Time is roughly around 3.5 to 4 hours before I have to plug it in for a charge. Overnight idling dropped the battery from 2% – 4% on average with Wifi turned on. Playing games though, drained the battery quite fast. Playing Clash of Clans at 50% brightness drained my battery from 100% to 65% in just 1 hour.

Streaming Youtube on the other hand, drained the battery by 20%. This is playing a music playlist for an hour at 50% brightness.

For those who want to squeeze any remaining juice out of your battery, Lollipop also includes a battery saving mode which will help improve battery life by reducing the device’s performance and most background data. The top and bottom of the screen will be in orange to notify you that battery saving mode is now active. Access by tapping on the battery icon in the notification shade, tap the icon with the 3 dots at the top right corner and choose battery saver.

Battery Saver

Battery Saver

Camera

The only thing I noticed was the lag between pressing the shutter button and the app actually taking the photo.

Below are some sample shots of the back facing camera.

Low lights

Low lights

Normal lighting

Normal lighting

IMG_20141206_145503 IMG_20141206_145556 IMG_20141206_145734

Price

Currently, the Google Nexus 7 has been discontinued since October 17th 2014. You can either get a 2nd hand set from another seller or Groupon (US) is having a deal for the Nexus 7 2013 16GB Wifi model over here. FYI, I got my set at SGD$220 for the 32GB Wifi (2nd hand).

Just to have a comparison, this is the RRP when it was launched :

16GB : US$229

32GB : US$269

32G + LTE : US$349

Conclusion

7 inch might not be for everyone since most mobilephones are now already in a 5.5 – 6 inch category. But If you are looking for a 7 inch tablet, there is no better alternative out there. Personally I find this size perfect for bringing out and using before bedtime. For those who wants to experience the latest Google update for personal use or even for development, the Nexus 7 will provide more bang for the buck.

Nexus 7 (2013)
Dimensions 7.87 x 4.49 x 0.34 inches
Weight 290g
Screen Size 7 inches
Resolution 1920 x 1200
PPI 323
Screen IPS LCD
Back Camera 5 megapixels, 1080p video recording
Front Camera 1.2 megapixels, 720p video recording
Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
Processor 1.5 GHz Quad Core Krait 300
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.0 / WI-FI (802.11 a/b/g/n)
Graphics Adreno 320
RAM 2 GB
Storage 16 GB / 32 GB
Battery 3950 mAh non-removable

Richard

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