Performance Analysis: What was already a fast and nimble tablet is now even faster and more adept at every task you throw at it. The 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro with Adreno 320 graphics gives the 2013 Nexus 7 a serious boost in power over last year's model, and on several occasions, we saw the new model post benchmark scores twice as high as its predecessor. Gamers in particular stand to benefit from the upgraded SoC, which was able to pull 41 frames per second in GLBenchmark's Egypt Off Screen test. The Nexus 7's 3DMark performance was equally impressive.
The obvious highlight of the 2013 Nexus 7 is the upgraded IPS display, which now boasts a 1920x1200 resolution. Far be it for us to downplay the hype, because as far as we're concerned, this is one of the best looking tablet displays available, if not the best around. Everything simply looks better compared to the 2012 model, and the best part about it is the experience starts at well under $300. It's remarkable to think that a $229 tablet (16GB Wi-Fi SKU) can offer such a premium viewing experience, but it's here, it's real, and it's every bit as good as advertised. If you think you'll need more storage, the 32GB variant is still under the $300 mark, which is still reasonably competitive.
At the expense of sounding too smitten, everything about the new model Nexus 7 is improved from the original. Granted, we didn't find the 2012 model to be heavy or chunky, but next to the 2013 release, it almost feels that way. The new Nexus 7 is slimmer, lighter, and a whole lot faster, the last of which is reason alone to upgrade if you like to stay on the cutting edge or are specifically interested in playing games. Not to mention, the new Nexus 7's display is drop-dead gorgeous.
Lest we be accused of writing a love letter here, Google and ASUS left some room for improvement. We love that there's now a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera for impromptu photo shoots, but in reality, its image output is best served for social media or other casual uses. You might end up with a gem that's worth printing, but you'll also end up with photos that are a bit washed out and grainy. But hey, it's there and the results are at least far from terrible.
We also would like the speakers to be a little bit louder. As it stands, they deliver rich audio and are pretty good for a 7-inch tablet, but if Google and ASUS truly want to knock our socks off, they'll find a way to fill our eardrums a bit more in the next iteration. It's a tall order for a tablet but between Google and ASUS, they should be able to figure it out.
Minor quibbles notwithstanding, the 2013 Nexus 7 is our definitive choice in the 7 and 8-inch tablet category. Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 could pull up a close second if they dropped its price by at least $150 (not likely). Put simply, you won't find a better all-around tablet in this size or price range. From the external display to the internal engine, this is the total package, and it's affordable to boot. Google's 2013 second generation Nexus 7 is a no-brainer HotHardware Editor's Choice.