In its endeavour to expand products and services across the globe, Google began selling its highly anticipated Nexus 7 tablet in India towards the end of March. A few days later, Asus officially announced the availability of the 32GB and 3G variant of the Nexus 7 as well, and at very tempting prices. Today, we’ll be looking at the fully spec’d out version of Google’s 7-inch tablet and see how it stacks up against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and Apple’s iPad mini.  

Design and build
The Asus-built tablet has a good design and feels very well made. It’s nowhere near as light as the iPad mini, but is still comfortable for one-handed operations. The chassis is built mostly of plastic, but nothing reflective or glossy that would be hard to maintain. The rubberised back offers good grip; however, it does tend to dent easily if dropped. The bezel around the screen is not overly thick but just enough for you to hold the tablet comfortably in any direction. There’s a front facing 1.2MP camera for video calls. There’s no camera app by default, so you’ll have to download that separately for self-portraits.

Asus Nexus 7

Simple design

The buttons have good tactile feedback and are easily accessible. On the right, we have the volume rocker and power/sleep buttons while the left side houses the 3G microSIM slot and contact points for the dock. The microUSB port is placed at the bottom for charging and data transfer along with the headphone jack. Asus has done away with the rear camera in order to keep the costs down.

Asus Nexus 7

Built well and feels sturdy to hold

Overall, the Google Nexus 7 doesn’t have the most striking design like the iPad mini, but it’s well made and feels sturdy.

Just like any other Nexus device, the Nexus 7 runs the latest version of Android, which is 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. You also get the tablet exclusive features of 4.2 like setting custom user profiles. This is really handy as you can have multiple profiles for various members of your family, each with their own set of settings and apps. However, unlike Windows, you can’t share the apps you install across users as it’s limited only to your profile. There’s a workaround for this, though, but that requires you to go down the rooting road. The interface is otherwise similar to any other stock Nexus device. The UI is smooth, lag free and very responsive.

Asus Nexus 7

The stock UI and the new profile system

The display uses an HD (1280 x 720p) IPS panel with LED backlighting. This gives you very good viewing angles; however, the colour accuracy wasn’t as good as we expected. The colours are a bit heavily saturated and not accurate as one would expect. Still, the display has a higher pixel count than the iPad mini as well as the Galaxy Tab 2. Finally, there’s also Corning Gorilla Glass for some added protection.

The nexus 7 packs in a lot of grunt thanks to the Nvidia Tegra 3 SoC onboard. This chipset boasts of four Cortex-A9 CPUs running at 1.2GHz along with a twelve-core GeForce GPU.  Coupled with 1GB of RAM, the tablet can easily take on the most demanding apps without breaking a sweat. You also get to witness some of the exclusive features in some games that are optimised for Nvidia GPUs. Games like Riptide GP have advanced particle effects and motion blur, which is not available on other chipsets. You get a total of 32GB of onboard storage, out of which 24.8GB is available for use.

The stock audio and video players are a lot more competent in the newest version of Android. The music player gives you a good number of equaliser settings and the volume level of the speaker is loud and clear. Since the speaker grille is a long strip at the back, you won’t accidentally block it when you hold it with both hands. Sound quality is good even at full volume – enough to be enjoyed among a small group. The stock video player can now playback MKV files as well. Full HD videos playback just fine without any stutter or lag.

Asus Nexus 7

Media playback support has improved

The 3G variant of the Nexus 7 supports all four bands, so you can use high-speed data anywhere in the world. The tablet also packs in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC. The 3G SIM can only be used for data as there’s no GSM radio for calls or messages. You can use a third party messaging app like Go SMS Pro to send SMSes, but calls will not work.

Asus Nexus 7

Great for media consumption

Battery life
The Nexus 7 is fitted with a 4325 mAh battery that delivers good performance. We managed to squeeze 4 hours of video, 2 hours of music and 3 hours of YouTube streaming over Wi-Fi. This makes the Nexus 7 very good for media consumption.

Verdict and price in India
The 32GB 3G version of the Asus Nexus 7 costs Rs 21,999, which is much better value for money when compared to a similarly spec’d 3G iPad mini, which costs upwards of Rs 30,000. The Nexus 7 still loses out to the Galaxy Tab 2 though, which is priced at Rs 16,000 and has expandable memory, rear camera and voice call support – something the Nexus 7 lacks. If you’re looking for a tablet for gaming, then the Nexus 7 is the most powerful out of the lot. It packs in impressive hardware and is compatible with games optimised for Nvidia’s chipset. It also has a screen with high pixel density and good battery life for media consumption. Plus, you will get all the latest updates on priority. If talking on your tablet is of high priority for you, then you’re better off with the Galaxy Tab 2. For everything else, we would recommend Nexus 7. 

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