The original Nexus 7 was a great tablet. As we noted in our full review at the time, despite having a few niggling flaws such as the lack of a rear-facing camera, the first Nexus 7 offered unprecedented value for money, costing less than £200. According to Google's internal statistics, the value offer proved a hit with customers, with the company claiming that since launching, the Nexus 7 has helped ensure that one in two of all tablets sold runs using Android.
For this reason it's unsurprising that Google has chosen to use the same strategy for its newly unveiled Nexus 7 mark two. Choosing to stick to its guns, Google has worked to ensure the tablet remains affordable, costing only £199 for the 16GB WiFi model. Although as is often the case, US buyers will get a slightly better deal, with pricing for the US 16GB model costing $229, which will equate to about £160 with taxes. But even with the price markup for UK buyers, it's important to remember the new Nexus has radically upgraded specs.
The display is, on paper, one of the finest seen on any tablet, being the first ever to break the 300ppi mark. Specifically, the new Nexus 7 features an impressive 7in 1920x1200 1080p HD 323ppi screen that Google claims will be able to display a 30 percent wider array of colours – meaning it should be more vibrant as well as more crisp. The device also features an amped-up quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, improved 2GB of RAM and a newly added 5MP rear camera. All this makes the Nexus 7 a seriously beefed-up improvement to its predecessor and should provide more than enough of an incentive for new tablet buyers to finally take their plunge into the market.
However, the story doesn't end there and the upgraded specs actually hide the most interesting aspects of the tablet. For me the most impressive thing about the Nexus is how it demonstrates Google's ongoing and rather sensible focus on getting developers interested in the eco-system. Android and Chrome chief Sundar Pichai boldly stated that the original Nexus 7 was a key component contributing to an ongoing boom in Android application development. The Google chief went so far as to claim that since launching the first Nexus 7 a year ago, app downloads from Google Play have risen from 20 billion to 50 billion, earning developers 250 percent more revenue.
Pichai said Google is hoping to create a second boom in Android application numbers with its new Nexus 7, by adding upgraded OpenGL ES 3.0 support for extended 3D graphics to its Android 4.3 Jelly Bean operating system. While this sounds small, Android is the first platform to embrace this standard and it's a big deal for games developers. This is because the newly added APIs let developers create better-looking games, adding support for things like more complex textures and better shading. Even better, thanks to its compression technology, it does this while reducing the overall memory requirements of the apps.
While this isn't of direct relevance to employees in most businesses – apart from those who want a work tablet that can double as a games console on long-haul flights – it is for those within the UK's booming games startup community. It's also of wider significance as it shows an understanding by Google that having a pretty and intuitive mobile platform means nothing unless you have developers on side creating products for it; this is a problem clearly showcased by BlackBerry and Microsoft, for which a lack of mobile applications is often viewed as a key reason for their mobile operating system's ongoing poor market share.
The new Nexus 7 is set for release in the next few weeks. Check back with V3 then for a full review of the new Google Nexus 7.
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