In just a few weeks, Google will kick off its version of Apple’s fabled WWDC conference in the form of its own developer’s conference, dubbed, Google I/O. Google I/O 2013 is slated to start on May 15th and rumors have been circulating about what the company could potentially debut on stage. One of the big names that we’ve heard about is a sequel to the Nexus 7 tablet that arrived at last year’s Google I/O. And while details are unofficial and scarce, it’s time to make some predictions in regards to the rumored Nexus 7 2 tablet.
Last year, at Google I/O 2012, in typical Google fashion, the company debuted a host of new products for Android enthusiasts and average consumers to drool over. One of those products was Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, an operating system that is extremely well known. Another, was the arrival of the Nexus 7 tablet, Google’s first Nexus tablet and the device that ushered in Google’s Device section on the Google Play Store.
The Nexus 7, for a time, was one of the most popular tablets on the market and one of the best as well. Marrying pure vanilla software with some fantastic hardware including its 7-inch display and Tegra 3 quad-core processor, the Nexus 7 became a go-to for those looking for a smaller, more compact tablet. It didn’t hurt that the price for the Nexus 7 was extremely cheap as well with Google undercutting the competition with its $199 and $249 price tags.
The spotlight that the Nexus 7 commanded was arguably stolen away by an Apple tablet called the iPad mini, a device that arrived much later than the Nexus 7, just ahead of the holiday season. With a unique build and design, Apple’s iOS, and a price tag that’s cheap by Apple standards, the iPad mini quickly became the Nexus 7’s fiercest rival.
To this day, the tablets remain two of the go-to 7-inch tablet options. However, both are rumored to be getting replaced this year and smart money is on Google drawing first blood.
Rumors in the build up to Google I/O suggest that Google and the Nexus 7 manufacturer, Asus, could be developing another Nexus 7 tablet for this year’s conference. So far, rumors have been scarce though there have been whisperings of a higher resolution display and a new processor, but nothing beyond that.
Here, we want to go beyond that with some of our own predictions in regards to the rumored Nexus 7 2, its release date, its features and more.
Nexus 7 2 Release Date Shortly After Launch
Unlike its Android manufacturers like HTC and Samsung, Google has, in the past, released Nexus devices rather quickly after announcing them. For instance, last year, the Nexus 7 was announced in late June and went up for pre-order the very same day. It was then released in mid-July. In the cases of the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10, Google announced them, and they went on sale a few weeks later. We expect the same to happen with the Nexus 7 2 if it is indeed announced at Google I/O as has been rumored.
Right now, rumors suggest that the device could be coming out in July, which would mean a little over a month after Google’s announcement. This seems fairly credible, given Google’s past releases but it’s also possible that we could see it touch down earlier than that. Whatever the case may be, don’t expect Google to wait long to put this device on shelves, or at the very least, put it up for pre-order.
The hallmark of Google’s Nexus devices, at least ones that aren’t tied down to a carrier, are they cheap price tags. The Nexus 7 arrived with an extremely attractive $199 price tag, the Nexus 4 smartphone is one of the cheapest unlocked devices on the market today and the Nexus 10, with its powerful display and large size is also an extremely affordable slate.
Don’t expect Google to stray too far from this formula with the Nexus 7 2. $199 seems to be the sweet spot for the device and we imagine that Google will keep the price here in order to undercut the iPad mini’s steeper price tag. Given the arrangement of the Nexus 7 pricing right now, we’d be surprised to see it arrive for anything over $300 off-contract.
Google is rumored to be showing off its new operating system at Google I/O 2013, dubbed, Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie. Not much is known about the operating system but we do know that Google has a tendency to launch its new major Android software with new major devices. Case in point, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10, Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 3G with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
So, we think that if the Nexus 7 2 indeed arrives at Google I/O, it will most definitely arrive with a new piece of software. After all, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is only an incremental update and by the time Google I/O rolls around, it will be about six months old. So it would be odd to see Google roll out a new piece of Nexus hardware, that it wants to compete with the iPad mini with software that is incremental and old.
Expect Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie or better on board any new Nexus slate debuting in 2013.
The Nexus 7, despite its cheap price tag, arrived with a quad-core Tegra 3 chip inside. The Tegra 3 helped the device offer smooth software transitions, multitasking, great looking gaming and more. Look for Google to continue this trend of putting powerful processing power into a cheap device.
Rumors have suggested that the Nexus 7 2 will feature a current-generation quad-core processor inside, possibly the Snapdragon S4 Pro and quite possibly something better from Qualcomm, either the Snapdragon 600 or the Snapdragon 800. The Snapdragon 600 seems to be the best candidate given its power and because it will be arriving with the Galaxy S4 in just a few days. The Snapdragon S4 Pro is an aging chip while the Snapdragon 800 isn’t thought to be arriving until later this year.
Another possibility is the Tegra 4 chip from NVIDIA that we saw arrive at CES 2013. Point is, the chip inside the Nexus 7 2 should be powerful and it should be able to handle heavy lifting, especially for something like gaming.
No Rear Camera
We think Google is going to want to keep this Nexus 7 2 cheap, while also offering some powerful hardware. And as we saw with the Nexus 7, that means that it will need to skimp on some of the device’s other features. With the Nexus 7, it was the rear camera, which was non-existent. Instead, it was outfitted with a front-facing camera only.
There wasn’t a chorus of boos from consumers in regards to the missing rear camera so we don’t expect Asus and Google to add a rear camera on board the new slate.
It’ll keep costs low and prevent owners from looking like fools at concerts.
The Nexus 7 had a sneaky good 7-inch IPS display. No, it didn’t have the 1080p resolution that we are all accustomed to now, but it still made content look fantastic. With display technology where it’s at right now, there is only room for improvement with the Nexus 7 2’s display and we expect Google to come out firing with something fantastic in order to capitalize on the fact that the iPad mini display isn’t Retina.
Rumors have pointed to a 1080p display, specifically 1920 X 1080-pixel, which would put it on par with many of the smartphones that are coming out in 2013. If true, it would mean better looking web content, better looking videos and better looking games, all of which are essential in the life of any 7-inch tablet device.
As for the size, we could see Google bumping it up a bit to be more in range of the 7.9-inch iPad mini but at this point, considering how good the previous tablet sold for an Android tablet, we’re thinking it stays at 7-inches.
Surprisingly, the Nexus 7’s plastic form factor, including its black matted back, were fantastic to hold and also, extremely durable. Many Nexus 7 owners felt comfortable enough to forgo a case. Two gripes that consumers did have though were the thickness, which was over 10mm, and its rather heavy 340 gram weight.
Look for Google and Asus to keep what worked, the cheap but durable and good looking plastic/black matte, but look for them to improve on the dimensions of the Nexus 7 2’s form factor.
Making it slimmer and more lightweight can only help stand to make the device even more attractive.
Cellular Data Off the Bat
One of the stranger things about the Nexus 7 launch was that it actually launched twice. The first, in July, saw the arrival of the Wi-Fi only versions of the device. Then, in November, after weeks of rumor, the Nexus 7 3G arrived along with the Nexus 10 and Nexus 4.
This time around, we think that Google may unfurl Wi-Fi versions and the cellular versions right off the bat rather than waiting until the holidays. Again, Google will want to keep pace with the iPad mini. Last year, it was in no hurry as the iPad mini remained unannounced. This time around, it doesn’t have that type of advantage and because of that, we think that it could launch cellular data enabled Nexus 7 2 slates early.
One other thing to note, T-Mobile is currently offering devices off-contract with its HSPA+ and 4G LTE networks. T-Mobile carried the original Nexus 7 and it also carried the Nexus 4.
16GB & 32GB Options
The original Nexus 7 came in two storage options, 8GB and 16GB. In November, the Nexus 7 8GB was discontinued and was replaced with the 32GB model. Currently, Google sells a 16GB Nexus 7 model and a 32GB Nexus 7 model.
Due to the size of applications, especially on tablets, and the fact that Google does not like to include microSD cards on Nexus devices, we expect Google to offer 16GB and 32GB Nexus 7 2 tablets straightway instead of initially offering an 8GB model.