Google has just taken the wraps off the new Nexus 7 tablet, one of the year's worst-kept secrets and the successor to last year's well-regarded model, which marked Google's first attempt at selling Android tablets direct to consumers. It's quite a bit thinner than the original, about 2mm thinner, and it's also 50g lighter. Much like the previous Nexus 7, the new model is a 7-inch tablet running a stock version of Android - though judging by the placement of the Nexus logo on the back, this year's model appears to be designed with landscape usage in mind. It also keeps the rather large bezel on either side of the screen, and volume and power buttons are in the same spot as last year.
A major update for Google's small-screen tablet
While the tablet looks familiar, there's a whole host of improvements on board, starting with the display. This time out, Google's put in a high-resolution, 1920 x 1200 panel, which marks a major improvement over the predecessor's 1280 x 800 display and puts it up to par with the high-res screen on the Nexus 10 tablet. It also has brand-new guts, with a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 8064 processor with Adreno 320 graphics and 2GB of RAM. It also features dual stereo speakers, a pretty major upgrade over last year's model. Google's also bowed to the masses and added a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera to go along with the front-facing shooter included on last year's model.
As expected, the new tablet is running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. There aren't a ton of new user-facing features, but Barra outlined a few changes. There's new set of multi-user settings, including restricted profiles for kids, which means you can restrict app content at a user level. Bluetooth Smart, aka Bluetooth Low Energy, support was one of the expected features of Android 4.3, and it is indeed being introduced. It's joined by OpenGL ES 3.0 support, which Hugo Barra rightly identifies as "a big deal for game developers." NFC is also on board, for those who might want to use Google Wallet with a 7-inch tablet.
There are Wi-Fi and LTE models available — the first time Google has offered an unlocked LTE tablet in the US. It's compatible with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon's networks. As for the battery, Google is promising 9 hours of HD video playback and 10 hours of web browsing, numbers that should be competitive with the iPad. And for the first time, that battery will support wireless charging. It's a major update to Google's small tablet, but it costs a bit more than last year's model. The 16GB model will cost $229, the 32GB model will come in at $269, and the 32GB LTE model will cost $349. It'll be available from retailers like RadioShack, Walmart, Amazon, and — of course — Best Buy as of July 30th. Other countries, including the UK, Germany, Japan, Canada, Spain, France, Australia, and South Korea will get the tablet in the coming weeks. It sounds like the LTE models won't be available immediately, either, but they should launch soon.