The new Nexus 7 has been thoroughly detailed in a set of pictures, benchmarks, and a hands-on video, just hours before the device is set to be officially unveiled by Google.
In a few hours, Android and Chrome boss Sundar Pichai will be sitting down to have breakfast with, well, everyone who tunes in to Google’s live event feed, to talk about, among other things, the second-generation Nexus 7. The problem is, thanks to a flurry of leaks, we’ve had pretty much a clear idea of what to expect from the company’s second attempt at a 7-inch tablet, which means the official unveiling won’t hold many surprises for anyone who has been following the news these past few weeks.
To further put the dampener on Google’s incoming announcement, a Reddit user who was able to buy the actual device before launch has posted a hands-on video and numerous pictures for our viewing pleasure. Shortly thereafter, the folks over at Android Police were kind enough to provide a full list of specs and various benchmark results of the tablet, so let’s take a look at what you’re getting with the new Nexus 7.
Right from the get-go, the new Nexus 7 looks almost exactly like its predecessor on the front, though there are a few noticeable changes on the back. Google has added a 5-megapixel camera, and switched the Nexus logo’s position from portrait to landscape. The back apparently feels similar to the Nexus 10′s (read: plasticky), but for the most part there are minimal changes, including a similar arrangement of all the ports and buttons.
The display has been upgraded to a 1920 x 1200 pixels unit, which will provide almost double the pixel density of the original N7 (and the iPad Mini, though that could change later this year). The chipset powering it is a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro clocked at 1.5GHz, the same as the Nexus 4, that should provide a marked increase in performance over the Tegra 3 CPU, coupled with the Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM.
Thanks to the improved internals, the benchmark scores are higher across the board. In AnTuTu, a benchmark that gives a total score based on the processor, storage, memory, and graphical performance, the new N7 scored 19,883 points, which means it did marginally better than the Nexus 4 while falling short of devices like the HTC One, which are powered by the faster Snapdragon 600 chipset. The performance was similar to the Nexus 4 in the Quadrant test as well, owing to the common processor powering the two.
In 3DMark, a graphics benchmark, the new Nexus 7 was able to post a higher score than the Nexus 4 despite pushing more pixels to the display, though in case of graphics performance even more powerful devices like the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 aren’t too far ahead, as all of them have the same Adreno 320 GPU ticking away inside. Compared to the Tegra 3 in last year’s N7, it’s almost a 3x boost, so all the gamers out there shouldn’t be disappointed apart from the fact that they’ll lose access to those Tegra-exclusive titles.
As expected, the new Nexus 7 runs on Android 4.3 (build number JWR66N, same as the one that leaked for the Nexus 4), and since it’s a minor upgrade in terms of new features, the visible differences from Android 4.2 are not many. Under the hood, the audio latency has been reduced by almost half (40ms on 4.3, 80-90 on 4.2.2), and while it’s still not as low as to make developers of music apps suddenly embrace the platform, it’s an impressive achievement nonetheless. Going by the benchmark scores, underlying performance is also better, so it’s clear to see what Google was aiming for with the latest version of Android.
Almost everything on the second-generation Nexus 7 has received a major upgrade, and while the hardware falls short of devices like the HTC One or even Google’s own 10-inch tablet, the low $229 price tag should give prospective buyers no reason to complain. Hopefully, the second round of the low-cost 7-inch Nexus will be enough to attract developers into focusing on tablet-optimized apps for the most popular smartphone operating system in the world, but even it doesn’t, well, that isn’t going to stop you from placing an order as soon as the new Nexus 7 launches, is it?