The Nexus 9 was launched recently and the tablet from Google and HTC has created quite the hype, especially since it comes with Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box. The Nexus 9 slate is the Nexus 7 successor and comes as an attempt to upgrade the Nexus 7 as well as set an example of a great compact tablet running stock Android. If you’re thinking of the perfect Christmas gift for a tech enthusiast friend, the Nexus 9 might just be it, since it comes with great specs, design and HTC’s BoomSound speakers.
The Nexus 9 is the upgraded and bigger version of the Nexus 7 and it is definitely worth the upgrade and the price, even though there’s a substantial difference in the pricing of the two. The Nexus 7 has received the Android 5.0 Lollipop update and will soon receive Android 5.0.1, but until then, the recent OTA for the Nexus 7 has rendered the device almost unusable, being riddled with bugs and issues, as well as occasional crashes. While that is unfortunate, we’re sure Google will be tweaking Lollipop and it will eventually make the Nexus 7 better than ever. If not, and the device just won’t work out with the new OS, we would be sad to see the Nexus 7 slowly fade into oblivion.
Nonetheless, a comparison between the Nexus 9 and Nexus 7 is warranted, especially for those of you who are planning to upgrade from the older slate to the brand new one. It would also come in handy for those of you would like a new slate or are beginners in the tablet world. For beginners, though, the Nexus 7 might be sufficient enough, as long as they don’t update to the new OS. Even though letting go Material Design and the new features of Lollipop would be painful, Android KitKat is still a very good OS that worked and is working wonderfully on the Nexus 7. Read on to find out what are the differences and similarities in features, specs, design and price of the Nexus 9 and Nexus 7.
Design and size
The Nexus 9 is an HTC slate that bears the minimalist design of HTC and Google, while the Nexus 7 is from Asus, who has done a great job with the tablet, albeit the bezels on the tablet are much larger than on its upgraded counterpart. The Nexus 9 is just a bit larger than the Nexus 7, mostly due to the bigger display, which suggests that the Nexus 7 has a lot of bezel surrounding its own screen. The Nexus 9 is 228.2 x 153.7 x 8 mm and weighs 425 grams (Wi-Fi) or 436 grams (LTE), while the Nexus 7 size is 200 x 114 x 8.7 mm and weights is 290 grams (Wi-Fi) or 299 grams (LTE). As you can see, the Nexus 9 is bigger and heavier than the Nexus 7, but it is also a bit thinner, which makes it just as easy to handle as its predecessor. Nonetheless, the screen/body ratio on the Nexus 9 is better and higher than on the Nexus 7, which is a plus for the new slate in my mind.
When it comes to build quality and design, there’s not such a big difference between the Nexus 9 and Nexus 7. The Nexus 9 has an ideal aspect ratio of 4:3, while the Nexus 7 has the wide screen 16:9 aspect ratio. The back panel of the Nexus 9 is different depending on color, the black one being very similar to the rubberized panel of the Nexus 5, being a bit of a fingerprint magnet. The white version of the Nexus 9 is a bit more attractive, seeing as its less of a fingerprint magnet and has a more papery feel to it. The silver trim found on the sides of the white Nexus 9 is also pretty appealing in my mind. The Nexus 7 on the other hand has a more plastic feeling to it, being rounder and harder than the Nexus 9. Another difference between the two is the fact that the speakers on the Nexus 7 are placed on the back, while the Nexus 9 features front-facing BoomSound speakers.
The Nexus 9 display is an 8.9 inch IPS LCD display with a 1536*2048 resolution amounting to 281 pp pixel density, protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The Nexus 7 display on the other hand is a 7 inch LED-backlit IPS LCD one with a 1200*1920 resolution amounting to 323 ppi pixel density. The Nexus 7 display tends to be more pink than you would expect, while the Nexus 9 display has a green tint to it. While neither of these tints is desirable, the Nexus 9 does have better viewing angles. As you can probably deduce, the Nexus 7 display actually seems brighter and sharper than the Nexus 9 display, even though the 4:3 aspect ratio is pretty great on the device. That being said, if you’re more a video and film viewing type when it comes to tablet, the Nexus 7 might be the better option for you. If you’re more the gaming type, the Nexus 9 should be perfect for you.
Specs and performance
The Nexus 9 is clearly the upgraded successor of the Nexus 7, having better hardware incorporated which amounts to better performance. Nexus 9 specs include an Nvidia Tegra K1 CPU with Kepler DX1 GPU, backed by 2 GB RAM and either 16 or 32 GB internal storage. The Nexus 7 specs on the other hand focus around the Snapdragon S4Pro CPU backed by an Adreno 320 GPU and 2 GB RAM, with the same amount of internal storage available. There’s no microSD card slot available on either of these devices, sadly, so you’ll have to make due with internal storage and cloud storage. The Nexus 9 performance isn’t as good as we expected it to be, since it tends to freeze and lag occasionally, but the Nexus 7 is overpowered when it comes to gaming and intensive power consuming apps. Nonetheless, we would have liked to see spotless performance on the 64 bit Nexus 9, yet there is still work to be done to optimize the tablet for that.
The Nexus 9 camera has been upgraded and we now have an 8 MP sensor on the rear of the device, with a LED flash and a 1.6 MP sensor on the front of the device. The Nexus 7 camera is a 5 MP shooter on the rear with no LED flash and a 1.2 MP sensor on the front, which isn’t a very impressive setup at the moment. Neither of these cameras are great, but the Nexus 9 takes better photos and handles low-light photography much better thanks to LED flash Google and HTC decided to incorporate in the device.
The Nexus 9 battery is a pretty beefy 6700 mAH one, while the Nexus 7 is endowed with a smaller 3950 mAH battery. That being said, one would expect the Nexus 9 to have a great battery life, but after a few tests and reviews, it seems that the Nexus 9 battery life isn’t as shiny as we had hoped it would be. One of the issues with the Nexus 9 battery is that it is slow to charge, which can be annoying at times. Nonetheless, you will get about 7 or 8 hours or moderate use out of the slate, which is not so bad. The Nexus 7 battery on the other hand, is just as lasting as the Nexus 9 one, managing to rake up about 7 hours of moderate use.
Price is of the utmost important when shopping, so you should always check your wallet before shopping, naturally. The Nexus 9 price is currently set at $390 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi version, $480 for the 32 GB Wi-Fi version and $560 for the 32 GB LTE version, which is quite a hefty price, to be honest. The Nexus 7 price is more affordable, the 16 GB Wi-Fi version setting you back around $185, the 32 GB Wi-Fi version $245, while the LTE Nexus 7 with 32 GB storage will cost about $400. Those are not cheap prices for either tablet, but the Nexus 7 takes the lead with bang for buck, since it seems like a more reliable tablet for now. With subsequent updates and tweaks, the Nexus 9 should improve performance as well as battery life and its price should drop in the coming year, so we are looking forward to that.