updated 01:43 pm EDT, Mon July 29, 2013
Asus and Google take aim at iPad mini
Despite Android's dominance in the smartphone arena, Google and its hardware partners have struggled to compete with Apple in the tablet market. The second-generation Nexus 7 appears to serve as Google's answer to the iPad mini, adding a Retina-resolution display while undercutting the entry price by $100.
Android tablets have been playing catch-up with the iPad since Apple introduced its first-generation model in 2010. Cupertino took another leap forward when it added a 2048x1536 display to its 10-inch flagship, helping to justify the iPad's premium price compared to many Android competitors. The newer 7.9-inch Mini steps back down to 1024x768 resolution, enabling Asus' new Nexus 7 to stake its claim as the first seven-inch production tablet with a pixel density above 300ppi.
The second-generation Nexus integrates a 1920x1200 panel, representing a significant upgrade over the 1280x800 display of its predecessor. The new display is certainly impressive, with wide viewing angles and seemingly accurate color representation thanks to IPS technology. The jump in pixel count does not appear to have required a sacrifice to other important considerations, such as brightness.
Internally, the new Nexus 7 matches its smartphone cousin, the Nexus 4, pairing a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon Krait processor with 2GB of RAM. In contrast, the iPad mini integrates a 1GHz dual-core chip and 512MB of RAM. We'll be running benchmark tests for a full review, but in real-world tests, such as browsing and gaming, the Nexus 7 is a solid performer.
The new tablet is built with a rubberized plastic backside, similar to most other Android tablets. We have encountered no problems with Asus' tablet build quality, however the iPad mini's aluminum shell and thin bezel give it more of a premium look and feel.
With its ultra-high resolution display and quad-core processor, the new Nexus 7 arguably represents the strongest contender in the seven-inch tablet category. The 16GB edition sells for just $229, in contrast to the Mini's $329 price tag.