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Summary:

The lack of a rear camera on the Nexus 7 disappointed some and even the front camera is limited. The sensor is 1.3 megapixels, but only captures VGA video. Adding a few lines of code to a rooted Nexus 7 changes that to 720p video.

Nexus-7-front-back

Disappointed that your front-facing Nexus 7 camera only captures images in low, VGA resolution? Cast your sad feelings aside, because it’s relatively simple to enable high-definition, 720p support on the Google tablet. The hardware was always capable, but is limited by software; specifically, it lacks a few lines of code that enables a higher-quality video capture profile.

I found the steps at the always helpful XDA Developers site by way of Liliputing. While the fix is easy, you’ll need to have root access to your Nexus 7 in order to modify the media_profiles.xml file. Out of the box, this file only has a profile for 640 x 480 video capture, even though the 1.3 megapixel is far more capable: A 1280 x 720 image, for example, is only 0.92 megapixels. Nvidia’s Tegra 3 is also plenty powerful enough to handle high-definition video capture.

Once you make the modification, you should have much higher-quality video capture from the Nexus 7 camera. Here’s a sample after the change; be sure to watch in 720p mode. A capture of the same scene before the changes can be seen here for comparison.

It’s rather unfortunate that the Nexus 7 doesn’t have a rear-facing camera because even with this software tweak, you’re limited to the front camera. But I’ll likely still make the change on my own Nexus 7 even though I don’t use it to capture video. The tweak will come in handy for my daily video chats on the small slate.

  1. You linked to the wrong video – “the sample after the change” should be the 720p video, but this is the 480p video. Fortunately it is easy to find the 720p since there is a link in the video description.

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    1. The sample after the change is embedded here in the post, although you do have to view it at 720p. The link takes you to the 480p video as intended, no?

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  2. Just a shame you have to root before you can do this, kinda makes it not so simple! I wonder if Google could patch this in with the next Android update.

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