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Speed Magazine

Google Nexus 9: Next device, please

Google Nexus 9: Next device, please



8.9-inch 4:3 2048 x 1536 QXGA IPS LCD, Corning Gorilla Glass 3


Android 5.0 Lollipop


2.3GHz 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 Dual Denver, 192-core Kepler GPU


16/32GB internal storage, 2GB RAM


8MP rear, 1.6MP front


LTE, NFC, Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Bluetooth 4.1, microUSB 2.0


153.68 x 228.25 x 7.95mm, 436g


$399 (16GB), $479 (32GB)


Has Google lost its way? After two years of perfectly respectable Nexus 7 tablets that were affordable and extremely portable, they’ve gone big with an 8.9-inch tablet that brings little to the party. Next-generation OS and architecture aside, an 8.9-inch tablet running blown-up smartphone apps just adds confusion and fragmentation to the mix. My recommendation: sit this one out or look at the iPad mini or any of Samsung’s recent GALAXY Tabs instead.

User Rating

The Nexus 9 is an unusual turn for Google. It follows not one but two successful Nexus 7 tablets, which many users believe were “just right” in terms of size and specifications.

With a new 8.9-inch form factor, the Nexus 9, which is made by HTC (who has been absent from the tablet game for a while) is lodged between the popular 7-inch tablet niche and the 10-inch tablet market dominated largely by the full-size iPad.

In terms of design, the Nexus 9 takes a page from the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 stylebook. It is plain and rather boring. You do get a metal frame, which adds the only bit of premium feel to this otherwise generic looking tablet.

The Nexus 9 has been plagued by questionable build quality—something that many have reported and which my HTC-supplied review unit suffered from as well. The big downer is the back plate, which sinks like it was made out of cardboard when you push it even so slightly.

There’s also odd light bleeding at the borders where the display meets the bezel. These may be small issues, but when you consider that the Nexus 9 costs premium money, there’s just no excuse for poor build quality issues like these.

The first device to ship with the Android 5.0 Lollipop, the Nexus 9 also ushers in 64-bit architecture for Android. The potential for desktop-class apps and programs running on a mobile OS is promising but still quite early to determine if going 64-bit is a gimmick or a real feature. Across the pond in iOS land, they’ve had 64-bit processors for two years now and are just starting to scratch the surface of what apps can achieve.

Lollipop is a whole other story for another day. My impressions of it on the Nexus 9: it’s fast, intuitive, and clean. There are reports that many Android KitKat features have gone missing in the early release of Lollipop, which signifies that Google really pushed things to the market prematurely in terms of software as well as hardware. Hopefully, most users won’t notice the step back in features.

The Nexus 9 is a notable device but I wish Google had let HTC create their own design and possibly apply the style of their HTC One (M8) to the tablet. Size is also a bit of an issue here; it is a small tablet but one handed use is difficult, especially since the Nexus 9 is heavier than most 7-inch tablets.

Review by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
First published in Speed January 2015

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