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Nexus 9 Hands-on & First Impressions



Here it is, the brand new HTC Nexus 9 tablet. Google’s newest Android tablet running the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop hits the streets November 3rd, and here we’ll share our first impressions and unbox the new slate for prospective buyers.

Earlier this month, Google posted a quick blog post and announced the all-new Nexus 6 smartphone, the Nexus 9 tablet, a Nexus Player and the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop software update. All the reports and rumors that were floating around for months were put to rest, and now we have our hands all over it.

Read: 7 Nexus 9 Features You’ll Love

The previous Nexus 7 was announced and released in the summer months, and many expected the same this year. However Google kept everything a secret and took a few months longer to deliver a bigger and better Nexus 9 running the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop. The release date is almost here, and below we’ll share a quick unboxing video and some of our first impressions.


Google shocked everyone by announcing the new Nexus 9 was made by HTC, delivered tons of quality features, and would be available for pre-orders just a few days later. It’s available now from Amazon, Best Buy, and the Google Play Store for pre-order, and will be in stores around the nation (and globe) starting November 3rd.

Ahead of the release date, we want to share some pictures, unbox the new tablet, and share a few thoughts ahead of time. Hopefully you’ll learn a few new things, although most buyers know everything about this tablet already. That being said, here’s what is has to offer.

The Nexus 9 tablet breaks from tradition when it comes to Nexus devices, and instead it’s aiming for the top. Google bundled all of the latest hardware, software, features, front facing speakers and more into its sleekest and most powerful tablet to date. It isn’t a cheap $199 tablet aimed at developers anymore. This is putting Apple’s iPad Air 2, Samsung, and all other Android tablet makers on notice. The Nexus 7 lead the way for budget tablets, and the Nexus 9 will help lead the way for premium Android tablets.


When we say premium we mean it. From a brushed aluminum design on the sides, an 8 megapixel camera, stunning Quad-HD display, and even front facing speakers. Another major change is the wider, not as long, 4:3 aspect ratio. It’s shaped more like an iPad than an Android tablet. This should help productivity, ease of use while holding, and many other things, but to each his own.

Nexus 9 Specs

In case you missed it from the video above, the Nexus 9 has some compelling specs and features. This tablet has tons of features that we’ve never seen before on a Nexus device, so check out the entire list of top tier flagship specs below. The Nexus 9 is Google’s iPad Air, yet has much more to offer. Things like front facing speakers, just to name one.

  • 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 (32GB 4G LTE coming later)
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop (first device with Android 5.0)
  • 8 Megapixel OIS 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
  • 153.68mm x 228.25mm x 7.95mm and only 420 grams
  • more

Offering a bigger Quad-HD display, front facing speakers, a brushed aluminum design, an 8 megapixel camera and more all in a sleek package makes this an instant buy for Android users. It’s sized and priced perfectly between the iPad Mini and iPad Air 2, and should be quite popular this holiday season.

Nexus 9 Price

In previous years the Nexus 7 tablet was extremely wallet-friendly, and priced very aggressive to take on the competition. This year Google changed that a bit, while still being aggressive, but delivered a much better product. The Nexus 9 is the best tablet they’ve released to date, has tons of features other tablets don’t offer, but that all comes at a higher price.

The Nexus 9 will be $399 for the 16GB model, and $479 for the 32GB version. Google’s 4G LTE option will be even more, costing users $599, making it the most expensive Nexus tablet ever released.


The Verge claims that reliable sources suggest the Sand color and 4G LTE version won’t arrive until a later date, which was confirmed when it wasn’t available for pre-order on the 17th. That being said, we can expect the Sand color and the 4G LTE model to be released in late November.

Three Things You’ll Notice

Without getting into too many details, as we’ll save that for the full review, we wanted to highlight three things you’ll instantly notice with this tablet. Those being the size, the look and feel, and of course the all-new Android 5.0 Lollipop.


The Nexus 9 feels like a premium tablet. It’s comfortable, curved on the back with a soft-touch matte design, yet durable with a brushed aluminum ring around the entire frame. This is black on the black model, and silver on the cloud white color option. The 8.9-inch size is perfect between large 10-inch tablets, and 7-inch tablets that often aren’t big enough to warrant the jump from our ever-increasingly large smartphones.

Read: Nexus 6 Hands-On: 5 Things You Need to Know

It’s the perfect middle ground, in my opinion, and a tablet that many buyers will absolutely love.


Altogether, it feels sturdy and well made. The bezels are narrow, and the slight curve of the sides gave me just enough space to grip with the edge of my thumb. Still, for longer periods you’ll probably want to rest it on your leg or get one of Google’s new Nexus 9 case and origami stands from the Google Play Store.

Then of course we have Android 5.0 Lollipop, which you all probably know plenty about already. If not, here’s a few more details.

One thing you’ll love about the Nexus 9 is the new tap to wake feature. It sounds silly, but once you’ve used it with other devices, you’ll miss it and find yourself trying it on other devices. Simply double tap the display and it instantly wakes up and is ready for use. This first started with the LG G2 smartphone, and is something more tablet and smartphones are starting to add, and we love it.


With Android 5.0 Lollipop we have a fresh new, and alive feeling Android. Everything pops, is very visual, and there’s a visual response for every tap and touch. There’s neat little animations, colors change as you tap buttons (if they’ve added Google’s material design elements) and it’s just a great, smooth, and fluid experience.

Google has completely redesigned all of its key apps, and that includes Google Earth, Gmail, and the Calender, but we can’t get into that quite yet.

Final Thoughts

The Nexus 9 is a premium tablet, made for any and all users to fully enjoy. The screen is stunning and just the right size, the interface is friendly and lively, and the speakers boom with excellent sound. This can be enjoyed on the couch, or at work using the new Keyboard folio case. Google’s done a lot to make sure it hits all aspects of usage with the Nexus 9, and they’ve succeeded. We’ve yet to test the camera fully, give the battery a full rundown, and other things, but will all weekend long.

We have a lot to cover, a lot of questions, and tons we want to share, but we’ll reserve all the gritty details for our full review.


Coming in at $399 this is one of the more expensive Nexus tablets ever released, but with good reason. It has tons to offer that no other Nexus tablet (or any tablet) does, is extremely powerful, and was built to last. The Nexus 7 helped kick off Android tablets, especially given the price, but we’ll have to wait and see if the Nexus 9 can level the playing field with Apple and get more premium Android tablets out and in the hands of eager users.

All said and done, this is a fine device from our limited time with it. HTC makes excellent hardware, we all know that. Bundle that with top-tier specs, great speakers, long battery life, and a pure version of Android, and we can see why users everywhere want to buy one.

Stay tuned for more details, videos, pictures, and our full review coming soon.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. chris r (MrChris)

    10/31/2014 at 4:41 pm

    Some of the animations don’t look smooth and whenever you go back to the home screen from an app the icons just appear instantly, its not as slick as I imagined for a top end nexus tablet. Shame.

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