02 Mar 2015
BARCELONA: Microsoft has been working to persuade CIO and CTOs it means business when it says it wants to become the biggest player in the enterprise handset market.
As a part of this the firm has been releasing a steady stream of security- and productivity-focused software updates and affordable handsets, designed for mass rollout.
The Lumia 640 continues this trend and aims to offer business users an affordable access point to Microsoft's business cloud services that can be easily and safely deployed across enterprise environments.
However, with the release of the firm's even cheaper Lumia 535 still fresh in the memory, some buyers may justifiably wonder why they should pay attention to the Lumia 640.
Design and build
Visually the Lumia 640 has the iconic colourful design seen on past Microsoft Windows Phones and looks like a slightly blown up version of the Lumia 535.
The Lumia 635 features a polycarbonate smooth finish frame with rounded corners and flat sides. While not a significant move forward from past Lumias we found plenty to like about the Lumia 640's design.
The Lumia 640 is reasonably comfortable to hold and feels pretty sturdy, albeit a little on the 'plastic' side.
Most tech firms choose screen technology as the first area to cut when designing affordable smartphones. Microsoft has attempted to buck this trend with the Lumia 640, giving it with a 5in IPS, 1280x720, 294ppi display with ClearBlack technology.
Testing the display on the brightly lit MWC Microsoft showroom floor, we were reasonably impressed how well the display performed compared to other affordable smartphones.
Colours on the Lumia 640 jumped out and are much better than is the case with previous affordable Lumias and cheap Android competitors.
Brightness levels, while not dazzling, are also reasonably high. Thanks to its Sunlight Readability mode, the phone is usable in bright light - unlike most other affordable handsets.
The Lumia 640 is set to ship with Windows Phone 8.1 pre-installed, though Microsoft has promised it will be upgraded to Windows 10 when the next generation OS is released later this year.
As we've noted in past Windows Phone reviews, for business users embedded in Microsoft's ecosystem, Windows 8.1 is a great operating system.
Windows Phone offers users key productivity tools, such as integrated Outlook, Skype, Cortana and OneDrive, and as an added bonus, the Lumia 640 will ship with a free one-year Office 365 subscription.
Microsoft has also loaded the OS with a number of enterprise-focused management and security features, including upgraded mobile device management (MDM), VPN and Outlook S/MIME protection.
The Lumia 640 runs on a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM.
While the specs don't sound like anything to write home about, especially compared to what's on offer in the Android ecosystem, thanks to Windows Phone's low system requirements, we found the Lumia 640 was reasonably fast during our hands-on.
The Lumia 640 navigated between menus and opened applications smoothly and, while we didn't get a chance to benchmark the handset or see how it dealt with demanding tasks, we didn't notice any serious performance issues.
Microsoft managed to acquire the imaging technology that set past Lumias apart when it acquired the phone division of Nokia and has worked hard to retain Windows Phone's imaging lead since the deal closed.
While not a match for the 41MP Pureview camera seen on the Lumia 1020, the Lumia 640's 8MP rear and 1MP front cameras compare well with the competition at the affordable end of the market.
While we're a little disappointed the Lumia 640 doesn't feature the improved Zeiss Optics seen on its big brother the Lumia 640 XL, we were still able to get fairly good results using the rear camera.
Photos taken on the MWC showroom floor had noticeably better colour balance and contrast levels than those we have taken in the past using competing affordable handsets. Thanks to the Lumia app, we were also able to manually control some of the camera settings, including ISO and white balance.
The only issue we had during our hands-on was with the shutter speed, which is slightly slower than we'd like.
Battery and storage
Sadly we didn't get a chance to battery burn the Lumia 640's 2,500mAh removable battery during our hands-on.
In terms of storage, the Lumia 640 comes with a basic 8GB of inbuilt space. Fortunately, a further 128GB can be added using the Lumia 640's microSD card slot.
Release date, price and conclusion
The Lumia 640 will launch in April. The 3G Lumia 640 will cost €139, while the 4G will cost €159.
Considering the Lumia 640's low price our opening impressions are positive. Given its above-average specifications and the fact that it can be upgraded to Windows 10, the Lumia 640 could be one of the best affordable handsets available to business this year.
Hopefully it will make good on this promise when we test it more thoroughly for our full review.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
02 Mar 2015
BARCELONA: Acer unveiled its first Android 5.0 Lollipop smartphone at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC).
The Acer Liquid Z220 is unlikely to get too many people excited as it's the company's cheapest Android phone unveiled at the show. The firm also unveiled the 5in Liquid Z520 and Jade Z smartphones but, oddly, decided against loading them with Android 5.0.
The Liquid Z220 isn't going to win any awards when it comes to design, but it’s by no means a bad looking smartphone.
The rear is coated in a textured material, which makes the handset comfortable to hold, and it's a nice and compact unit despite the oversized bezel surrounding the screen.
However, the white version of the smartphone (it will also be available in black) was prone to picking up fingerprints even in the short time that we handled it.
The Liquid Z220 has a 4in 480x800 display with a 233ppi resolution. This was disappointing even for a phone with a €79 price tag, especially given the Honor Holly’s 5in 720x1280 screen and similar £79 price.
It’s perhaps just as disappointing in the flesh as it is on paper, as the screen quality is poor. App icons look fuzzy around the edges and brightness levels are low.
Software and performance
The Liquid Z220 is Acer's first smartphone to ship with Google’s Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system, trumping the Honor Holly.
This equips the smartphone with all of the latest Android features, such as Google’s card-based multitasking menu and revamped Notifications.
Acer has also left the UI largely untouched, which means that the Z220 comes with Google’s Material Design language. This is all very well, but it's difficult to appreciate on the low-quality display.
However, Acer has stuffed the smartphone full of applications that nobody asked for. Head into the apps menu and you’ll find Acer Portal, '50+ free games', Puzzle Pets and Real Football, among several others.
Most of these are likely to go untouched, and take up space on the handset, which has just 8GB of built-in storage. Thankfully, there is a microSD slot to extend the amount.
The Liquid Z220 uses a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, which is a little disappointing considering the Holly’s 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek offering.
We didn’t experience too many problems in terms of performance, although apps are noticeably slower to open than on many similarly priced phones, and there was some lag when swiping through screens.
The Liquid Z220 has a 5MP camera on the rear with an 89-degree wide angle lens, which we found easy to use thanks to the smartphone's compact size.
However, the camera struggled when it comes to image quality, in particular in the dark lighting at Acer's MWC event.
The camera had difficulty focusing, and pictures lacked detail and colour. We were unable to test the camera in natural light, but will do so in our full review.
Acer clearly has some lessons to learn when it comes to competing in the low-end smartphone market.
The Liquid Z220 is cheap at €79, but Huawei's Honor spin-off and Motorola are producing much higher-spec handsets at a similar price.
The Liquid Z220's screen, for example, feels like it belongs on a phone released in 2012, paling in comparison with the Honor Holly's 5in HD offering.
What's more, Acer's software additions will put some buyers off, especially when handsets such as the Motorola Moto G offer a largely untouched version of Android.
02 Mar 2015
The Samsung Galaxy S6 has finally been unveiled after the firm hosted its keynote at Mobile World Congress (MWC). With its redesigned body, improved components and Android Lollipop OS, the Galaxy S6 certainly gives the iPhone 6 a run for its money.
Buyers caught in the middle of this tug of war between the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 face a tough decision. So to help bring some clarity to the matter V3 has put together a spec by spec comparison of the two smartphones.
Measurements and weight
Samsung Galaxy S6: 143.4x70.5x6.8mm, 138g
Apple iPhone 6: 138x67x6.9mm, 129g
The iPhone 6 appears to have the upper hand here, being both lighter and thinner, although only by a few millimeters.
Samsung Galaxy S6: 5.1in, Quad HD (2560x1440) 577ppi, Super AMOLED
Apple iPhone 6: 4.7in, 1344x750 resolution, 326ppi Retina HD display
Samsung has a well-earned reputation for offering high-quality displays, and the above specs show that this is indeed the case with the S6, with a ppi count significantly higher than the iPhone 6's.
Samsung Galaxy S6: Quad 2.1GHz + Quad 1.5GHz, Octacore processor
Apple iPhone 6: Apple A8 chip
Samsung has shunned Qualcomm for the S6 phone, suggesting rumours of overheating issues were true, and instead used its own in-house Exynos chip. Without conducting tests, it's hard to say which processor is better, but it's likely to be a close-run thing.
Samsung Galaxy S6: 2,550mAh built-in lithium-ion battery – use time not quoted.
Apple iPhone 6: 14 hours from built-in lithium-ion battery.
Samsung has not quoted a time for the S6's battery life yet, but the size of the battery suggests it should be fairly hefty. Apple has upped its game in the battery stakes with the iPhone 6 so it would be a big surprise if Samsung hasn't done likewise.
Samsung Galaxy S6: Android Lollipop 5.0
Apple iPhone 6: iOS 8
The Galaxy S6 comes with Android Lollipop, as well as Samsung's usual added extras such as TouchWiz and its Knox mobile device management service.
Picking a winner between the two dominant mobile operating systems is a tough thing to do as it's highly dependent on which ecosystem a user is is already embedded in and prefers.
Samsung Galaxy S6: 16MP with optical image stabilization, 5MP front-facing
Apple iPhone 6: 8MP, f/2.2 rear camera, 1.2MP front-facing camera
Samsung appears to have the edge in the camera department, with its lens boasting twice as many mega pixels a the iPhone 6 and coming with optical image stabilization technology too. This should improve photos taken in less-than-ideal lighting conditions.
Also, with a 5MP front-facing camera, the S6 could prove enticing to those who enjoy making video calls, as it dwarfs the 1.2MP offering on the iPhone 6.
Samsung Galaxy S6: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB – no SD card slot.
Apple iPhone 6: 16GB, 64GB, 128GB – no SD card slot.
Samsung has decided against offering a 16GB option, which may deter more budget-conscious users.
Samsung Galaxy S6: Not yet announced.
Apple iPhone 6: From £539 SIM-free
Samsung has not announced pricing yet but it's fair to assume the device won't be cheap, even on a two-year contract. We'll have more information on pricing as and when it becomes available. The Galaxy S6 will be available globally from April 10.
Microsoft delivered a new build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview late last month, following an event at which the firm disclosed more upcoming features, such as Cortana support and the Continuum technology to optimise the user interface for tablet or keyboard modes.
The new version - identified as build 9926 - shows the progress Microsoft is making as it moves closer to a full release of the new operating system. This is slated for later this year, and some rumours now indicate that Windows 10 may hit its release to manufacturing date as early as June.
However, some features are still missing for those outside the US, including the Cortana personal assistant. In our tests, Windows simply displayed the message: 'Cortana is not available in your market' (see above).
What is apparent is a number of user interface tweaks and enhancements since the first Technical Preview was released last year.
The overall effect of these is to make Windows 10 look sleek and polished, and offer an experience much closer to that of older versions of Windows, without throwing out too much of the touch-oriented enhancements added in Windows 8 and 8.1.
The reinstated Start menu (see above) was present in the first Technical Preview but has now gained the option to expand to full-screen using a button at the top right. This principally provides more space for the Metro-style or Windows Store apps rather than anything else, but is welcome nonetheless.
There's also a new look Settings app (above), which delivers the Settings screen from Windows 8 in a format that somewhat resembles the old Control Panel in older versions of Windows, in yet another attempt to make existing Windows users feel more at home.
Also new is a beta of a new-look Windows Store app (see above), which introduces an updated visual design which will be common across PCs, tablets, phones and the web. However, Microsoft warned that apps purchased from the Windows Store Beta (represented by a grey tile) work only on devices with the January Technical Preview.
The Continuum feature, which dynamically adapts Windows for a desktop or touch-optimised tablet experience, is also implemented in this release. This is intended for two-in-one devices, where a keyboard can be attached or removed at any time, but users can also manually activate it using the Notifications panel accessible by swiping in from the right of the screen.
Overall, our impressions of Windows 10 from this updated Technical Preview are encouraging, and we could easily imagine using this as our everyday compute platform in place of Windows 7, something that we would not have sanctioned with Windows 8.
We look forward with interest to further developments from Microsoft.
LAS VEGAS: Lenovo unveiled its third-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook this week, featuring Intel's 5th-generation Core processor to bring the best possible performance for the form factor.
We got a chance to play with the device while running between the booths at CES 2015.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon looks all but identical to its 2014 predecessor, with the same black finish and red detailing.
The updated features are subtle, but very welcome. The laptop features an even thinner and lighter chassis, weighing just under 1.3kg and measuring 17.7mm thick, almost a full millimetre thinner than last year's model which measured 18.5mm.
The laptop felt especially light and thin in our hands and we can see it being ideal for travel or business trips.
Another new feature is PCIe SSD storage in a similar vein to the MacBook Air, which can take advantage of faster onboard SSD drive storage. The laptop will ship with up to 512GB drives.
The Thinkpad X1 Carbon (2015) is available in touchscreen and non-touchscreen versions. The demo unit we tried boasted a 14in, 10-point multi-touch display, with WQHD in-plane switching.
As well as being nicely responsive to touch, the new Thinkpad X1 Carbon's screen is pleasant to look at. Using the Thinkpad X1 Carbon in the brightly lit showroom floor, the ultrabook's display proved suitably bright and remained legible even when hit with stray light.
We were also impressed with its viewing angles, as text remained crisp even when viewing the screen from the side.
Colours were suitably vibrant and, while not as crisp as the Retina displays seen on Apple Macbooks, the Thinkpad X1 Carbon's screen was far better than those seen on most competing Windows 8 ultrabooks.
The laptop will be available with FHD display options.
Performance and software
Lenovo didn't go for an Intel Core M design and instead opted for the chipmaker's latest 5th-gen Core processor. The model we tested was running a Core i7 chip, and felt super fast in our initial tests.
It seemed to handle Windows 8.1 very well. There was no lag when swiping between pages, and programs popped up almost as soon as we selected them. It handled everything we threw it at with ease.
Beyond its performance-boosting powers, the real benefit of Intel's new Broadwell chip architecture is its ability to boost ultrabooks' battery lives.
Lenovo lists the Thinkpad X1 Carbon as being able to last for 10 hours of regular use from one charge, one hour more than last year's Broadwell model.
Intel's Core update packs in 35 percent more transistors than in Intel's previous 4th-generation Haswell CPU, while also shrinking die size by 37 percent, allowing for super powerful machines with form factors like the XPS 13, so expect many more like it to pop up from other OEMs later this year.
In terms of other features, there's wireless connectivity in the form of 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a selection of USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI output.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon starts at $1,249 and will be available in the US from January. UK release dates are yet to be announced.
09 Jan 2015
LAS VEGAS: Dell unveiled its brand new XPS laptop line-up at CES this week, the XPS 13, which crams a 13.3in screen into an 11in chassis.
Showing off the laptop for the first time on Tuesday, Dell claimed that the XPS 13 is the "smallest 13in notebook in the world, fitting a 13.3in screen into the size of a typical 11in notebook".
We got some hands-on time after the event to see just how good the XPS 13 is in reality.
There's no question that the Dell XPS 13's design and high quality aluminium finish juxtaposed against a matt charcoal casing looks the part and reflects its premium price.
However, it measures 15mm at its thickest point so it's definitely not the slimmest 13in laptop on the market. But it's impressively compact considering its high-end specifications.
The XPS 13 is also lightweight for its power at just 1.18kg. The smaller frame with bigger screen makes it feel slightly heavier than you'd expect for an 11in laptop but, considering this is actually a 13.3in device, we were very pleased with its size and weight.
Dell has made good use of high quality materials and the XPS 13 impressed us with its tiny bezel, design and build.
It feels well made and has a high quality finish, and as a result feels like it would be a pleasure to use. And the super-thin bezel has left us screaming: "Why on Earth didn't they do this before?!"
The touchscreen display is one of its finest features. It's an UltraSharp Quad HD+ infinity display with 5.7 million pixels in just a 5.2mm bezel. It's vibrant and clear, and colour reproduction is great. Colours appear very rich, just like on its older brother the XPS 15.
Brightness levels are brilliant, and we can imagine working on the XPS 13 outside, although not in direct sunlight as with most mobile devices.
The XPS 13's keyboard has good travel, allowing you to type rapidly with ease.
Unlike some other laptops we've tested recently, the XPS 13's keyboard didn't fail to register keystrokes. But the well-spaced layout of the keyboard means that the XPS 13 doesn't have a numerical keypad.
Performance and software
Running Windows 8.1, the XPS 13 is powered by Intel's 5th-gen Broadwell Core processors and takes advantage of solid state drive options for storage.
In our tests, it handled Windows 8.1 very well. There was no lag when swiping between pages, and programs popped up almost as soon as we selected them. It handled everything we threw it at with ease, probably owing to the new Broadwell processor.
Intel's Core update packs in 35 percent more transistors than in Intel's previous 4th-generation Haswell CPU, while also shrinking die size by 37 percent, allowing for super powerful machines with form factors like the XPS 13, so expect many more like it to pop up from other PC makers later this year.
In terms of battery life, Dell has said the XPS 13 will last for a huge 15 hours on a single charge. We're definitely looking forward to trying this out in a full review.
The Dell XPS 13 will be available from 20 January starting at £1,099 in the UK. The Developer Edition will be available from late January starting at £1,199, so it certainly doesn't come cheap.
13 Nov 2014
Google’s Nexus 6 handset breaks with tradition. Gone is the usual mix of reasonable components in a moderate form factor at a modest price. Instead, the Nexus 6 is big, flashy and costly.
With a starting price point of £499 the Nexus 6 is putting itself up against some serious competition in the shape of the iPhone 6, Galaxy Note 4 and LG G3. As such, it needs to seriously impress if it’s to woo the paying public, whether consumer or business buyer.
V3 got its mitts on the device this week and spent a little time playing with it to see how we think it will fare in the market.
Design and build
The Nexus 6 weighs 184g, which is heavier than the iPhone 6 Plus (172g) and the Note 4 (176g). However, such differences are mostly negligible and we found the Nexus 6 comfortable to hold.
Furthermore, the 159x83x10mm body of the Nexus 6 has an ever-so-slightly rounded edge, which gives it a nice, sleek feel. It’s not quite going to match the iPhone in terms of design chic, but it didn’t look out of place when placed against them, or other Android rivals.
Also, because Motorola has used contoured aluminium as opposed to polycarbonate - like previous Nexus devices - it has a reasonably premium feel, although whether this is worth £499 is debatable.
One thing there is no getting away from with the Nexus 6 is its overall size, which has been expanded to house a giant 5.96in screen. This is bigger than the iPhone 6 Plus (5.5in) and the Note 4 (5.7in). For those who are still not convinced by the trend for larger screen phones the Nexus 6 won’t do anything to change your mind.
However, for those who think bigger is better, the 1,440x2,560 Amoled screen with a 493 pixel per inch density should meet your needs. The screen displayed web pages, apps and photos with a pleasant level of clarity and crispness.
That said, the screen didn’t blow us away, and the Note 4, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus probably have the edge in this department, although we’d need to get all three together to really test this out.
Motorola has kitted out the Nexus 6 with a 13MP rear-facing camera, with a 4X digital zoom and Opticial Image Stabilisation (OIS) technology, the same feature found on the iPhone 6 Plus, although not the iPhone 6.
OIS is a nifty piece of tech that improves photo quality by compensating in real time for shaking and vibrating while shooting, so there are no alterations or light degradations in the image. The inclusion of OIS means the Nexus 6 should have the best camera ever seen on a Nexus handset.
We snapped a few shots with the camera and were impressed with the initial results, especially as we were shooting under some fairly harsh artificial lighting. We look forward to testing this more fully in our complete review.
Furthermore, with such a large screen, you get a great viewfinder, as shown below. The camera also comes with the usual features you'd expect to control lighting, exposures and so forth.
One of the most notable features of the Nexus 6 is that it runs Android Lollipop 5.0 from the off. We didn’t get much chance during our hands on to really test some of the new features in Android 5.0, but the Nexus 6 seemed more than able to handle the requirements of the new OS.
This is no doubt helped by the 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor that should mean you can run several apps without noticing any slowdown. We will benchmark the device in our full review.
Battery and storage
We didn’t get a chance to test the battery on the Nexus 6, although Motorola has been touting the Turbo Boost feature that allows the device to receive six hours of battery life from just a 15-minute charge.
Motorola also claims that the 3,220mAh battery should provide up to 24 hours use per charge. Again, we will test this in our full review.
Storage options are 32GB or 64GB. Disappointingly, Google does not include the option for a microSD card slot, meaning your options are fairly limited.
The Nexus 6 is a nice phone, that much is true. However, in our admittedly brief time with the device we weren’t exactly blown away.
Furthermore, with the price starting at a hefty £499 the Nexus 6 is moving the Nexus brand from the mid-tier to the top-tier, where it could struggle to compete.
But, with Android Lollipop, OIS camera technology and a quad-core processor, there are some compelling features that could sway buyers.
Stay tuned for our full review in the future, when we'll put the Nexus 6 through its paces to deliver our considered opinion.
29 Oct 2014
It's no secret that HTC wasn't the obvious choice for Google to make its next tablet. HTC has a strong track record creating excellent smartphones, like its current One M8, but its history in the tablet market isn't that great.
Prior to 2014 the firm's only tablet was the HTC Flyer, an Android device that was viewed by many industry commentators as an outright flop.
As a result, Google's announcement that HTC was the brains behind its first Android 5.0 Lollipop tablet, the Nexus 9, turned some heads in the technology community and led many to question what HTC could add to the increasingly competitive market having been away for so long.
Quite a lot, as it turns out, if our opening impressions are anything to go by.
Design and build
HTC has always been one of the few technology firms capable of matching Apple on the design front. As a result it's no surprise that the Nexus 9 is one of the most visually distinctive Google-branded tablets to be released. Featuring a metal frame and soft-finish polycarbonate back, the Nexus 9 felt significantly better built than past Nexus tablets, which were made entirely of plastic.
The device also felt reasonably comfortable in the hand thanks to its satchel-friendly 154x228x8mm dimensions and 425g weight, even when it was plugged into its attachable folio keyboard case.
Given the lightweight dimensions we can definitely see the Nexus 9 working well as a mobility aid for business folk on the move, and we're looking forward to seeing how it works as a productivity tool come our full review.
In a clear bid to stay competitive, HTC has loaded the Nexus 9 with an 8.9in IPS, 4:3 aspect ratio, 2048x1536 display, giving it the same resolution as the 2013 iPad Air's 9.7in display. Using the Nexus 9 in the brightly lit showroom and outdoor balcony on a rainy London day our opening impressions of the Nexus 9's display are very positive.
Brightness levels were very good and, while the screen did become reflective under a showroom light, the display was generally pleasant to use. Colour balance levels were warm and, unlike many recent Android tablets, not oversaturated. Contrast levels were also decent and we didn't notice any serious performance issues during our time with the Nexus 9.
The Nexus 9 is the first tablet to come with Google's latest Android 5.0 Lollipop. The Nexus 9 we tried didn't have the final build of Android 5.0 installed, so we can't sensibly comment on the operating system just yet.
However, if Google's claims are anything to go by, Android 5.0 should prove a key selling point for any enterprise buyer as it comes loaded with a wealth of new features and services.
The reworked notifications adds a new heads-up form of notification designed to let you know that something urgent has come in without interrupting what you're doing, and instant access to notifications from the lock screen.
Under the hood Android 5.0 adds a number of important security features, chief of which are enhanced encryption support and a Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux) mode.
Past Android versions have supported some encryption services but have required activation. Android 5.0 Lollipop changes this and turns on encryption by default.
The SELinux mode is a sandboxing feature that can create separate protected areas on the device. Data can be stored in the protected area and IT managers can set policies on the device, like preventing certain applications being installed or run.
The Nexus 9 is the first Google flagship to take advantage of Android Lollipop's 64-bit support and comes with a 2.3GHz Nvidia Tegra K1 64-bit processor and 2GB of RAM.
Google claims the processor features GPUs based around supercomputers and will grant "all the power and graphics of a desktop computer".
We didn't get a chance to benchmark the Nexus 9 or see how it performed when faced with demanding tasks, such as 3D gaming, but were reasonably impressed with its performance during our hands-on.
The tablet opened applications in milliseconds and smoothly navigated between menu screens stutter and lag free. Overall our time with the Nexus 9 left us excited to see how it performs with more rigorous testing come our full review.
HTC has loaded the Nexus 9 with 8MP rear and 1.6MP front cameras. A few photos taken around the showroom floor using the native camera app's automatic setting were not on a par with most top-end smartphones, but came out reasonably well by tablet standards.
The images featured reasonable contrast and colour balance levels and were suitably crisp. Focus and shutter speeds were also fairly good. We'll be interested to see how the camera performs in more adverse conditions like mixed or dim lighting.
Battery and storage
We didn't have time to burn the Nexus 9's 6700mAh battery but will be sure to do so in our full review. In terms of storage the Nexus 9 is expected to come with with 16GB or 32GB of internal space.
If our opening impressions of the HTC-built Google Nexus 9 are anything to go by, the tablet will be one of the best available this year.
Featuring a reworked design that adds a metal frame, a powerhouse 64-bit Nvidia processor and, from we've seen, top-end display, the Nexus 9 is stellar from a pure hardware perspective.
Hopefully the final build of Android 5.0 Lollipop will do the device's hardware justice come the Nexus 9's release later this year.
For an in-depth look at where you can by the Google Nexus 9, check out V3's round up feature.
Make sure to check back with V3 later for a full review of the Google Nexus 9.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson