Nexus 9 review: the pure Android tablet experience
- light and easy to carry
- comes in three elegant finishes
- access to Play Store's vast app library
- runs the latest version of Android
- the 4:3 aspect ratio is a welcome addition
- Android fragmentation is still a reality
- some apps are not optimized for the display
- there is no room for storage expansion
Google is one of the top tech companies in the world. Their Nexus line of high-end products delivers top-notch performance. After the success of their entry to the tablet game with the Nexus 7, Google is now set to challenge its biggest rival in the tablet wars: Apple. With the Nexus 9, Google has finally developed a tough competition in the tablet market today. This is the Nexus 9 review, and read on to know why this tablet is the best Android tablet you can buy.
The Nexus 9 is outsourced by Google to Taiwanese electronics company HTC for its manufacturing, but Google designed the tablet in its Mountain View headquarters. One of the key considerations for this choice is the manufacturing reliability that HTC has to offer. With the company’s most popular smartphone, HTC One M8, HTC’s passion for crafting magnificent products have inspired Google to collaborate with its latest tablet creation. It was known that the Nexus 7, the predecessor to the Nexus 9, was developed by Google in collaboration with South Korea electronics company LG.
One of the beautiful aspects of the Nexus 9’s exterior is the rubberized matte finish of its backside, which helps in securing the tablet to the user’s hands with a firm grip. However, the matte grip is also prone to fingerprints, which may cause you to give it a wipe every now and then. Nexus 9 comes in three finishes, namely indigo black, sand, and lunar white. The one in indigo black is a fingerprint magnet – the other two finishes can hide fingerprint marks better.
The tablet weighs a relatively light 0.94 pounds, which is a bit lighter than the iPad Air 2. It measures 8.99 inches tall, 6.05 inches wide, and a thinness of 0.31 inches, slightly thicker than the latest iPad.
The Nexus 9 packs some of the high-end components. It is equipped with a hefty 2 GB of RAM, the latest 64-bit NVIDIA dual-core chip running at 2.5 GHz, and a sharp high-resolution 8.9-inch display with 2048-by-1536 pixels. The display has the same number of pixels as the retina iPads, but performs relatively weaker in color reproduction and saturation. Another thing is that the aspect ratio of the Nexus 9 is 4:3, that is exactly the same as on the iPad. This gives a relatively larger viewing canvas compared to the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio of many Android tablets today.
The processor is from NVIDIA, a dual-core chip with 64-bit architecture. Although the Android operating system can handle its 2 GB of RAM, it isn’t enough to leverage the new chip architecture that NVIDIA provides for the Nexus 9. Nevertheless, performance is zippy and fluid, thanks to Android 5.0’s Material Design along with other background technologies that help create a smooth user interface experience.
Android 5.0, also known as Lollipop, is the latest version of the most popular mobile operating system. It is a welcome addition to the Nexus 9. Paired with the tablet’s crisp display, the Material Design philosophy embodies a fresh look and feel to the overall tablet experience on the Nexus 9. Lollipop has some of the new improvements to its navigation such as gesture-based actions that simplify the user experience even further. Just one swipe from the top of the screen shows the latest notifications that you need at a glance. A double tap on the screen when it’s turned off wakes up the display – a very nice touch to the Nexus 9.
There are some noticeable lags, stutters and unresponsive moments during the testing. This can’t be blamed on the Nexus 9, with all of its superb hardware components, but rather to the Android operating system. Android fragmentation is still an issue that is plaguing every smartphone and tablet that runs it. This can be a disadvantage, but if you can live with these minor issues, Android is still a good OS.
The camera on the Nexus 9 is an improvement from what the Nexus 7 has, although not stellar. The huge 8.9-inch display is the perfect viewfinder, but unfortunately the photo quality you get with the 8-megapixel camera doesn’t live up to its promise. The tablet also features a front-facing 1.6-megapixel camera that shoots photos with a surprisingly low brightness. Maybe this is just a bug within the Camera app, and hopefully Google pushes an update to fix this issue.
Nexus 9 has good connectivity features, carrying the latest protocol in wireless networks, 802.11ac with multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) technology that promises a theoretical throughput speed of up to 3 Gigabits per second (Gbps). It also has LTE connectivity for some models, and has the latest Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy and NFC. The Nexus 9 comes in 16 GB and 32 GB variants with no room for an SD card expansion. If you intend to store huge amounts of music, movies, and photos, you might want to get the 32 GB option for more storage allowance. In today’s standards, 16 GB is small and will be filled up quite easily if you stock up on lots of files.
If you travel a lot, the Nexus 9 is an excellent travel companion with its long battery life. Powered by a 6,700-mAh battery, the Wi-Fi version can last up to 9.5 hours of wireless connectivity or listening to music or watching your favorite movies.
The Nexus 9 is priced quite higher compared to its predecessor. The 16 GB WI-Fi version retails for $399, and costs up to a $599 32 GB LTE model. The high price can be justified by the larger display and faster internals, yet it’s relatively expensive with its set of features compared to the rest of the tablet market.
If you like Android 5.0 and you look for a large tablet, the Nexus 9 will suit your needs. Its large display benefits a lot from Lollipop’s Material Design that enhances the overall interface. Although set at a higher price point, its features will be enough to justify the cost. With a fast processor, large and sharp display, and a long battery life, Nexus 9 is a no-brainer when choosing an Android tablet. The pure, unadulterated version of Android plus the pure power of its internals are vital to a great tablet experience.