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Google unveils new Nexus 7 successor


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The tablets start at $229 and will be available beginning July 30th.


Google officially unveiled the successor to its Nexus 7 Android reference tablet this morning during a presentation given by Android and Chrome boss Sundar Pichai. The tablet, which is still called the Nexus 7 and is manufactured in partnership with Asus, will be available starting at $229 beginning on July 30th. The tablet was widely expected to be announced at the Google I/O developer conference in May, but the company forewent major hardware announcements at its keynote in favor of showing off new updates to its services and Android APIs.

This tablet will be the first to ship with Android 4.3, the latest version of the Android mobile operating system. Like Android 4.2 and 4.1 before it, this update will still be called "Jelly Bean" to reflect its status as a minor update rather than a major overhaul to the operating system. You can read more about the new update here.


The tablet's specifications are largely in line with recent speculation: its 7-inch screen has an increased resolution of 1920×1200, retaining the previous tablet's 16:10 aspect ratio. This gives the new tablet an impressive pixel density of 323 PPI, which while not as high as the 1080p Android phones we've been seeing lately is appreciably higher than the Nexus 7's 216 PPI and higher than the 264 and 300 PPI displays in the Retina iPads and the Nexus 10, respectively. The new screen also has a "30 percent wider range of colors" than the previous version's.

On the inside, the new Nexus trades Nvidia's Tegra chips for Qualcomm's, specifically a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro similar to the one being used in the Nexus 4. This won't be as fast as newer Snapdragon 600 and Snapdragon 800-based devices, but its higher clock speed and more efficient architecture (as well as its Adreno 320 GPU) should give users a sizable increase in processor and graphics performance over the old Tegra 3. It's also probable that Asus can buy the S4 Pro from Qualcomm for cheaper than the Snapdragon 600 or 800, a necessary step to getting the tablet down to the desired price point.

The $229 version of the tablet also includes 2GB of RAM (up from 1GB in the original) and 16GB of storage. A 32GB version is available for $269. The 4G LTE version of the tablet will include 32GB of storage and cost $349. As with every Nexus device since the Nexus One, the newest member of the family doesn't include an SD card slot for storage expansion. The United States will receive the device soon; Canada, Germany, Spain, the UK, Japan, South Korea, France, and Australia will get it in the "coming weeks." Other countries will follow soon after.


The tablet's physical design isn't drastically different from the old Nexus 7, though Asus and Google have worked to refine it. The silver plastic rim around the screen has been removed in favor of a black rim that matches the bezels and the back of the tablet. The device is also slightly taller (7.9 inches compared to 7.81), lighter (11.2 ounces compared to 12), and thinner (0.3 inches compared to 0.41) than the previous model.

The tablet's back (now smooth but still "soft touch" rather than textured as was the case with the outgoing Nexus 7) has a vertical Nexus logo in its center, and the old Nexus 7's single rear-facing speaker grille has been exchanged for two separate grilles on the top and bottom (or, in landscape orientation, left and right) sides of the tablet. There's a headphone jack on top of the tablet, a micro-USB port on the bottom, and power and volume buttons on the left edge.

The new Nexus also offers a couple of features that didn't make it into its predecessor: its front facing HD webcam is joined by a 5MP camera on the back of the tablet. The new tablet also supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n, while the old model supported only the 2.4GHz band. A 4G LTE version of the tablet will also be released—a single US model will be able to support AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Also, like the Nexus 4, it supports the Qi wireless charging standard and HDMI output through the micro-USB port via the SlimPort standard.

The original Nexus 7 will be discontinued in keeping with Google's decision to completely replace older Nexus hardware rather than making old models available at lower price points.

All in all, the new Nexus 7 looks just about like we expected it to: a predictable but respectable bump in specifications along with a modest redesign. We'll be giving the tablet (as well as Android 4.3) a full review in the coming days.

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