25 Comments

Summary:

It’s about time Google’s Nexus 7 tablet gets a refresh and sources tell Reuters it will happen in July. Here’s what to expect in terms of pricing and hardware changes.

nexus-7

Watch for an updated Google Nexus 7 tablet as early as July, sources tell Reuters on Wednesday. Aside from a higher-resolution display, the refreshed 7-inch Android slate should also have a chip inside from Qualcomm instead of Nvidia. Pricing could change, say Reuters sources, but the focus will be on keeping the cost low in an effort to ship up to 8 million units in the second half of 2013.

nexus-7-unboxedWith Google’s I/O developer conference scheduled for mid-May, I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long to see if this report pans out. And I suspect it well. The cycle of hardware technology improvements for mobile devices is running around 12 to 15 months and the original Nexus 7 debuted in June of last year. The current model has already seen a very minor refresh with a boost of internal storage at no additional cost: the original $199 model went from 8 GB of memory to 16 GB and Google later added a 32 GB model with integrated mobile broadband for $299, for example.

It’s likely that Google will hold the $199 price point for the lowest new Nexus 7 model and drop the current model pricing by $50 until the older units are sold out. As for what to expect in a refreshed Nexus 7? Here are my thoughts, which are mostly minor improvements:

  • The same 7-inch screen size, but a higher-resolution panel of 1920 x 1080 for a pixel density of 315 pixels per inch (ppi). The current device uses a 1280 x 800 resolution display at 216 ppi.
  • It’s possible that Google keeps an improved 1280 x 800 model at $199 and offers the higher-resolution panel as a more expensive option; say $249.
  • Google opts for Qualcomm’s new quad-core Snapdragon 600 chipset. The company often switches hardware components between manufacturing partners on Nexus devices, but if this happens, it’s certainly not good for Nvidia and its Tegra 4 chip.
  • With a Qualcomm chip inside, it’s highly likely the Nexus 7 gets an LTE option due to the chipmaker’s solid modem integration on its silicon.
  • The new Nexus 7 will get a memory boost: 2 GB of RAM up from the current 1 GB.
  • A rear camera is added but it won’t be a top-of-the-line sensor: Just good enough for Google+ photos and such.
  • The refreshed tablet will ship with at least Android 4.2 software and a later version to quickly follow via software update; that software will be what Google announces at its developer event.
  • I expect the current metal pins to be in the same place on a new tablet model; this would keep the new device compatible with the Nexus 7 dock which only arrived on the market recently.

As Reuters correctly notes, this is a low- or zero-margin strategy for Google. The company isn’t looking to earn a high profit margin on the hardware. Instead, it wants to get as many Android devices out in the wild so it can collect data and earn money through targeted ads and services. An improved Nexus 7 tablet at current pricing would help do just that.

  1. About time? It came out less than a year ago. What’s wrong with people, that they need to buy a new one after less than a year? I realize technology is moving faster and faster these days, but yeesh.

    Share
    1. Alex, I didn’t mean: “Finally, it’s about time because a refresh is overdue.” I meant that with the current hardware cycles and Google’s annual developer conference where it often unveils new products is coming so the time for this is right. Sorry if that wasn’t clear! :)

      Share
      1. Alex, it’s actually called the ‘upgrade treadmill’ -> The desire to always want the best hardware. It’s a strange phenomenon, but most of the next generation has it ^^

        fyi: It was Jeff Bezos (CEO Amazon) who came up with the definition.

        Share
    2. @Kevin C. Tofel – I caught your drift. I thought I’d poke a bit of fun at peoples bad purchasing habits.

      @lenb – Very interesting. Actually finished repairing my old original gaming device, and got some new apps for it. My old original Game Boy.

      Share
  2. Still no Micro-SD slot? Seriously, am I crazy for wanting to have 30 – 40GB of music and movies with me all the time?

    Share
    1. Alamgir Tamboli Wednesday, April 3, 2013

      USB OTG (On-The-Go) cable for $2, USB Thumbdrive (I prefer those TINY TINY Sandisk drives, because they’re TINY!)…problem solved.

      Share
      1. That’s a kludgy solution. I ride the train every day, I wanted to mount it in the car and have it charging … doesn’t seem like that’ll work well.

        Share
    2. You can get the Sero 7 from Walmart. It has the Tegra 4 chip. And is just as fast as the original Nexus 7, but it has a MiniSD card slot and HDMI out. Do a Google search, it has only been out for a month, but already has tons of options for modding. Everyone that has reviewed it has loved it. They mostly all agree its the Nexus 7 killer device.

      Share
      1. Forgot to mention, The Sero 7 is only $149

        Share
      2. It is a tegra 3 chip. NOT tegra 4. BIG difference

        Share
      3. Oh and micro sd and mini HDMI. So much wrong with your post

        Share
  3. No phone option? Asus does make the fonepad afterall.

    Share
    1. Sure there’s a phone option: It’s called the Nexus 4. ;) I’m joking, of course. I’ve long said that I’d like to see cellular voice capabilities implemented in tablets — and used VoIP primarily on one for some time myself — but U.S. carriers don’t seem ready to allow that just yet.

      Share
      1. Jason Lacoss-Arnold Wednesday, April 3, 2013

        There’s always GrooveIP as a softphone. Add a freedompop mobile hotspot for a “good enough” VoIP solution with no monthly bill. The only catch is that the freedompop is only fast enough outdoors (strong signal) for VoIP but a lot of indoor areas have wifi so that covers a lot of bases. I carry an old feature phone for the gaps but I’m considering dropping that since I rarely use it.

        Share
  4. I’m glad I saw this article I was all gung-ho about getting my first tablet in the very new future. It most likely would have been a Nexus 7, I’ll just wait too see what the new one will have instead though.

    Share
  5. Michael Edwards Wednesday, April 3, 2013

    1920 x 1080 is a different aspect ratio. You think they’re going to change the aspect ratio?

    Share
    1. Michael Edwards Wednesday, April 3, 2013

      I’m hoping for 1920 x 1200, not 1920 x 1080 so that it preserves the aspect ratio.

      Share
  6. Better Battery?

    Share
  7. The camera is a must not for taking pictures but for all the augmented reality and QR scanning.

    Obviously LTE since there is a refresh but I still get 5MB up and down on T-Mobile which is still way better than AT&T’s LTE speeds in my area

    Speakers, Speakers, Speakers please have a better speaker on the new unit. The current model sounds absolutely horrendous.

    Battery life is something they need to improve on. The iPad mini even with AT&T LTE service running lasts twice as long as my Nexus 7

    Gorilla Glass would be nice too as I broke my first one fairly easily and would like to carry it around without a bulky case. Kind of defeats the purpose of a small form factor tablet.

    @Alex Yes, about time. The iPad mini with Retina Display will be out too and the current iPad mini model has better speakers, better battery life, Gorilla Glass, front and rear camera, and LTE to boot. So unless they want to cede market share they better be addressing the current Nexus 7’s shortcomings the sooner the better.

    The reason they come up with the new hardware is to keep up with the competition and to win new customers. You don’t grow market share by just selling to the same people who bought your product a year ago.

    Share
  8. My experience with a Freedompop hotspot and VoIP (I use SparePhone rather than GrooveIP, but either one produces the same result) is that it falls under the bar of “good enough”. But in a WiFi environment, VoIP is just barely “good enough”. Perhaps carriers are artificially crapifying VoIP traffic, but in practice, I’ve had noting but bad luck. I moved back to a bare-minimum month-to-month plan and have a grudging respect for the big bad carriers’ voice backbone.

    Share
  9. micro SD? HDMI out? two short comings not addressed again!

    Share
    1. Like I mentioned in another post, The new Sero 7 tablet sold at Walmart has Mirco SD and HDMI out, The device it’s self is almost a clone of the Nexus 7. Same processor, same resolution. And it’s only $149. Right now it has not received any air time from sights like this. But that should change fast. Do a google search, Lots of reviews and youtube videos out there about it. And it’s only been available for just over a month.

      Not to mention the modders have gone crazy over this device. Check it out!

      Share
  10. I hope the brighten up the screen! Im the kind of people that hates dim screens and always sets it to max, (unless in the dark). But looking at the low brightness makes me think cheap.

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post