Google Nexus 7 (2013): The Best Android Tablet Yet

Performance: Battery Life and Camera

Brand new to this year's Nexus 7 is the introduction of a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera. It's a feature addition that's lacking in the original model because, at the time, ASUS had to decide between implementing poor quality optics at the desired price point, or skip it altogether rather. ASUS chose the latter, but this time around, a higher MSRP and continued advances in technology made it possible to squeeze a rear camera into the spec sheet. Is it any good?

After putting it to the test, we'd describe the rear-facing camera as "serviceable," if not occasionally very good. It takes pictures that are easily good enough to post to Facebook and other social sites, and some are nice enough to be printed. By and large, however, you'll want to use a dedicated point-n-shoot if image quality trumps convenience. While the Nexus 7's camera does relatively well in both well-lit and dimly lit environments, the colors don't pop and too much sunshine can wash out an image, even when pointing the lens in the complete opposite direction. In the bottom middle pic shown above, you can see the sun washing out the image a little, and to the right of that, you can see an example of over saturation among the white colored flowers.

To be fair, we're nitpicking a welcome feature addition. For the most part, the pictures are pretty good.

Battery Life Tests
Untethered Up-Time Measurements

In an attempt to quantitatively measure the Nexus 7's battery life in a controlled benchmark environment, we ran two tests. For a more controlled setting, we used AnTuTu's battery rundown test. This a newer test for us, so we're still building out our baseline reference numbers still. This test is fairly intense, ramping-up CPU cycles in an effort to drain the battery as fast as possible -- it's a solid look at endurance under duress and heavy use.  

Like everyone else, we were a little worried that Google and ASUS downsized the battery in the Nexus 7 from 4,345 mAh in last year's model to 3,950 mAh in the 2013 model. We understand the desire to slim down and lighten the tablet, but not if it comes at the expense of significant battery life.

Luckily, our fears proved unfounded. Google rates the battery life at up to 9 hours of active use, and in the real world, you can easily squeeze a full day out of the tablet; some of you will see as many as 2-3 days if you're not doing anything too intense. Of course, you're mileage will vary depending on the activity and how bright the screen is set at. Playing games tend to stress the components and drain the battery at a fast clip, though surfing and even streaming videos doesn't put much of a strain on the Nexus 7.

In the AnTuTu battery test, the 2013 model Nexus 7 scored 457, the second best score we've seen so far.

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