Nexus 9 vs Nexus 7 (2012): What Buyers Need to Know

After several months of reports and rumors floating around last week Google finally announced and revealed the brand new HTC Nexus 9 tablet running the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop. Now that the tablet is officially confirmed, many prospective buyers are weighing their options when it comes to buying an Android tablet.

With tons of tablets readily available for Android or Apple users, and new ones on the horizon, here we want to compare the brand new Nexus 9 to the original Nexus 7. It was Google’s first tablet and still wildly popular, but it’s getting a little old and starting to show its age.


Read: 7 Nexus 9 Features You’ll Love

When it comes to buying a tablet there are tons of choices readily available. However, many want to get the latest and greatest devices, and those are the iPad Air 2, the Nexus 9, or something from Samsung’s ever-growing lineup. Here we’ll compare the Nexus 9 to Google’s original tablet for those considering making the upgrade from the first generation, to the latest and greatest.

Nexus 9


The original Nexus 7 was announced at Google’s annual developer event in June of 2012 running the new Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system, and was eventually released in July. A new model replaced it last year with the same screen size and some improvements, but in 2014 we have a completely different beast in the Nexus 9.


Google’s Nexus 7 was the first quality Android tablet that could compete with Samsung and Apple, not to mention it was priced extremely aggressive. In fact, it was the best price/performance tablet available, and Google did the same with the second-gen Nexus 7 last year.

However, this year they’ve decided to deliver a truly quality product that will compete with Samsung’s latest devices, and fit nicely between Apple’s two iPad sizes. Below is what all you Nexus 7 owners need to know about Google’s new premium Android tablet.


First up would be the display, as that’s one of the most important aspect of any mobile device. Google’s original Nexus 7 was of course, 7-inches, and only had a 1280 x 800 (720p) HD display, but that was good enough back in 2012. It had decently thin bezels and was a bright IPS panel, one that many enjoyed.

Many users still have and enjoy the original Nexus 7, including myself as I have the white Google I/O edition for those who attended Google’s developer conference. Sadly, the tablet hasn’t aged well and does have a little lag here and there, and battery life is starting to become an issue. Both of those should be addressed a little with the Android 5.0 Lollipop update, but you can only do so much with an aging device.


Nexus 7 tablet

Google’s HTC Nexus 9 has an 8.9-inch 2048 x 1536 display, offering a slight increase in size, but not making it too big like many 10-inch tablets. It’s the perfect middle ground if you ask us. My favorite tablet is the LG G Pad 8.3, but the 8.9-inch Nexus 9 seems to be the perfect size, and I’ll update once it arrives. It’s also wider offering a 4:3 aspect ratio (like the iPad) rather than the long and skinny 16:9 all other Android tablets employ.


Google’s Nexus 9 is also different from other Android tablets and offers an Apple-like 4:3 aspect ratio as mentioned above, vs the long and this 16:9 they’ve used in the past. This makes it easier to hold, better for browsing the web, but won’t offer as good of a video playback experience.

The Nexus 7 had a good display back in the day, but the new Nexus 9 will be extremely better in all areas. Colors, text will be crisp, and 1080p video will look excellent. The new Nexus 9 is bigger, better, and certainly worthy of an upgrade.



Similar to the Galaxy S5 released earlier this year, the original Nexus 7 has an odd textured or dimpled plastic design. It was all plastic, comfortable, and easy to hold, but nothing overly impressive. It felt good in the hand and was durable, but didn’t have that premium iPad feeling many wanted.

The bezels on top and bottom were average, but on the sides we had a bit more black bars and bezel than many wanted, but that, like everything else, won’t be a problem on the new Nexus.

google-nexus-7-review 2

However, Google’s Nexus 9 offers a few important features the Nexus 7 didn’t. For one, they’ve changed the approach of their tablets and the Nexus 9 finally has a brushed aluminum design around the entire outer edge. That said, for weight and comfort while using it the back is still a soft touch matte plastic design. Available in black, white, or sand (gold) color options. It looks very similar on back to the Nexus 7 (2013) style.


Google’s Nexus 9 is sleek, elegant, and has subtle curves as it wraps around the aluminum sides to offer a better experience that feels thinner in the hand than it really is. The Nexus 9 isn’t as thin as the iPad Air 2 although it’s thinner than the Nexus 7, but the sides curve to a rather thin point and will make it feel extremely thin in your hands. Another major design feature is the dual HTC Boomsound front facing speakers. No tablet makers have done this right, but Google looks to have finally delivered. No more cupping the back trying to get decent sound towards your face.

Samsung had a tablet with front speakers years ago, but abandoned this obvious and excellent design approach. All said and done the new Nexus 9 is sleek, durable, premium looking and feeling, and will be a significant update over the Nexus 7 from 2012.

Release Date

Before we talk about specs and features, you may be wondering when the Nexus 9 is available, in case you missed the announcement. Google’s Nexus 9 went up for pre-order last week and won’t be in stores until November 3rd.


If you’re looking to buy a tablet today, right now, the Nexus 7 (2013) is an excellent choice and we doubt you’ll be able to find the original. This article is more geared for original Nexus 7 owners anyways, so that isn’t a concern. All said and done, it’s worth waiting until November 3rd and trying it out in stores before you get something from Samsung, or opt for an iPad.

Read: Nexus 9 Release Date Breakdown

Google’s past releases haven’t been extremely smooth when it comes to availability and stock, but that was much better with the release of the Nexus 7 in 2013. This year though, things are looking even better as Google has pre-orders available from Amazon, Best Buy, the Google Play Store, and others are coming soon.

The Nexus 9 should be shipping on the 3rd of November, in stores, and we’re hearing plenty of stock will be available to make this Google’s biggest and best Android Nexus tablet launch to date.


This brings us to our next topic, price. Buying a new tablet isn’t cheap, unless you’re getting a Nexus. That was the assumption over the past few years, but not this time. The original Nexus 7 was $199 and became an instant hit, even if that was only 8GB of storage. The 2013 model was $229 for the 16GB model, and $269 for the 32GB variant.

However, you can get deals on the newer Nexus 7 from just about anywhere, but you won’t be able to find the original 2012 Nexus 7 in stock from most sources. You can buy it 3rd party from many online sources, often for around $100.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 3.15.47 PM

The Nexus 9 comes in three variants, as well as three colors too. Black, White, and Sand Gold. So how much?

Google’s Nexus 9 will be $399 for the 16GB model, $479 for the 32GB option, and $599 for the 32GB 4G LTE flavor. There is no micro-SD slot to expand storage, and there’s no 64 or 128GB option available. This isn’t cheap, but still undercuts the bigger iPad Air and is the same price as Apple’s smaller iPad Mini option.


So what will that $399 get you and why is it sooo much better than the Nexus 7? We’ll tell you below. The Nexus 9 at $399 looks to be one of the best tablets around with neat features like front facing speakers, and a good 8 megapixel camera. Here’s the detailed breakdown for those interested.

Nexus 9 Specs

  • 8.9-inch 2048×1536 Full HD display (4:3 aspect ratio, and Gorilla Glass 3)
  • NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor with 2GB of RAM (64-bit)
  • 16/32GB storage configurations
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop (first device with Android 5.0)
  • 8 Megapixel Rear and 1.6 MP front camera
  • Brushed Aluminum frame, soft touch matte design
  • Dual HTC Boomsound front facing speakers
  • 6,700 mAh battery
  • White, Black, and Sand color options
  • 228.25mm x 153.68mm x 7.95mm and 425 grams

Nexus 7 2012 Specs

  • 7-inch 1280 x 800 HD Display
  • 1.2 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-core and 1GB of RAM
  • 8/16GB storage options
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, now Android 4.4 (planned update to Android 5.0 Lollipop)
  • 1.2 front camera, no rear camera
  • Plastic design
  • 4325 mAh battery
  • 198.5mm x 120mm x 10.5mm and 340 grams

There wasn’t much to the original Nexus 7, but it was the first of its kind. The screen isn’t even 1080p, there’s no rear camera, the processor is outdated, and it didn’t have a very big battery. All of that and more has been addressed in the all new Nexus 9. Making it a worthy successor to the Nexus brand, and for your aging original Nexus 7.

Final Thoughts

If you bought the original Nexus 7 most likely you already have the newer model released last year, but if not, now is a great time to finally update that old tablet for something fresh and new. You’ll get a bold premium new design, more features and better options, improved performance and battery life, and what looks to be an excellent tablet for years to come. HTC makes quality stuff. Anyone remember the HTC Nexus One?

The Nexus 9 also has a 64-bit processor, and will deliver the smoothest and best Android 5.0 experience of any device. So while the original Nexus 7 will see an update, it won’t be the same as on Google’s new slate.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 9.28.18 AM

The Nexus 9 is set to be Google’s best tablet to date, and may end up being one of the best tablets of 2014. It has a lot to offer, and should be in the running for any tablet buyer this holiday season.

HTC and Google are putting tablet makers in the Android space on notice with the Nexus 9, and aiming directly at Apple’s iPad Mini lineup and the new Air all at the same time. It’s a complete package with everything a tablet buyer wants and needs, priced fair, and should be a great device. We’ll report back with more details and our hands-on experience and first impressions the moment it arrives.

That said, we’re pretty sure it’ll be worth the update no matter what. So save your pennies, try and sell that old Nexus 7, and order a new Nexus 9 today.