The Google’s Nexus 7’s best feature is its price tag. Starting at just $199, the Nexus 7 is in impulse-buy territory and the cheapest way to get a device running the latest version of Android.
The Nexus 7 is Google’s attempt to stir things up in the tablet category. So far, the Kindle Fire has been the only Android tablet to gain serious consumer attention. Like the Nexus 7, The Kindle Fire sells for $199. That’s a far cry from what we saw a year ago with the introduction of the Motorola Xoom. The Xoom was the first tablet to ship with a tablet-optimized version of Android, was a flop due in large part to its $599 (w/ 2-year contract) and $799 (w/o 2-year contract) price tags going up against the $499 iPad 2.
The Nexus 7 Price Matters
It’s easy for Android and iPad enthusiasts to get caught up in devices’ speeds and feeds, comparing features side by side, as if any single one will be a deal breaker to the average consumer. The feature that matters the most when average consumers hear about a new gadget is its price. Simple.
The $199 price point sticks out like a sore thumb in the world of tablets. The iPad is between 150% to 417% more expensive than the 8GB Nexus 7. In other words, $199 is a heck of a lot cheaper than the iPad’s $499 to $829 asking price. The iPad 2, Apple’s current budget tablet, is $399 or double the Nexus 7’s price.
Sure, Apple can get away with charging a premium for its devices, but it can be argued that those premiums are justified in the form of superior customer support and other niceties. But can Apple get away with selling tablets at these kinds of premiums without consumers taking notice?
At $199 The Nexus 7 is the same price as Apple’s 8GB iPod Touch. Moving up to the 32GB iPod Touch costs consumers $299, which is $50 more than the 16GB Nexus 7. The 64GB iPod Touch eclipses the Nexus 7 with at $399.
The $199 Kindle Fire is dead in my book. Yes, Amazon aficionados applaud its integration with Amazon services, but you’d be hard pressed to find anything the Fire can do better than the Nexus 7. Google’s tablet is better in both the hardware and software departments.
Jelly Bean Bargain
Google isn’t looking to make a ton of money from selling the Nexus 7. Instead, it wants to get its tablets into as many hands as possible. It’s also trying to push Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) to developers and consumers. Galaxy Nexus owners are first up to see Jelly Bean once Google and its partners dispatch updates, but you can’t buy a subsidized Nexus with Jelly Bean quite yet. The best you can do is buy the $349 unlocked Galaxy Nexus direct from the Google Play store.
Due to Android fragmentation, carrier issues and manufacturers’ focus on selling new phones, those who already own Android phones shouldn’t hold their breaths waiting for Jelly Bean updates. We’ve put together a list of Android phones and the status of their Jelly Bean updates and it doesn’t look pretty. Most Android users are still dreaming of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and will probably be due for a new phone before they see a Jelly Bean update.
Android users stuck on older versions of the mobile OS can get their Jelly Bean fill for $199, a bargain compared to paying early termination fees or paying full-freight for a new smartphone with Jelly Bean, whenever those come out.
The Nexus 7 even comes with a $25 Google Play credit that can be used to get started with Android apps and media.
$199, $249 is Cheap
The Nexus 7 is very solid for such a cheap device, but it isn’t quite ready to take on the iPad in a number of departments. But it’s easy to forgive those short comings at these price points. Would I trade in my iPad with 64GB of storage, Verizon 4G and Retina Display for the Nexus 7? Absolutely not. Would I pay a couple hundred bucks for a Nexus 7 to serve as a media player and Jelly Bean sandbox? I already did.
I don’t recommend buying the Nexus 7 if you expect it to do everything an iPad can with the same finesse. I do recommend it if you’re looking for a companion device that runs the latest version of Android and you’re willing to put up with a few compromises.
You can read my full review of the Google Nexus 7 here.