Now that the much awaited and heavily rumored Google Nexus 7 tablet has been officially revealed by Google a few moments ago at the I/O conference, one question has made its way to everybody’s lips: how does the Nexus 7 tablet compare against what seems to be its direct competitor, the Amazon Kindle Fire. Does the Nexus 7 tablet have what it takes to become the best budget tablet ever created? Let’s find out as we poise these two contenders against each other in the following segments: OS, display, internal hardware and design.
While the display and internal hardware are obviously a big deal, the real game-winner for Google’s tablet might be the fact that it runs on the newest version of Android: 4.1 JellyBean. We’ve updated this article with a link to the full analysis of JellyBean, but what you really need to know is that the Nexus tablet is fully optimized for Google play, meaning magazines, movies and sometimes even web content are all perfectly displayed on the tablet.
Furthermore, all Nexus devices have been the first devices to get new OS updates, since the updates are issued by Google themselves, without the intervention of third-parties such as manufacturers or carriers. If you’re an Android fan, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on a tablet that brings you the full Android experience, and not the highly forked version of Android offered by Amazon on their Kindle Fire.
Full-fledged vanilla Android vs Amazon’s closed, forked OS and slightly unintuitive interface? That’s not really a fair fight from an end-user perspective, is it?
Winner: Google Nexus 7 (we’re an Android website, so this one was easy!)
The Google Nexus tablet and the Amazon Kindle Fire both showcase a 7-inch screen, although the differences between them are quite evident, even on paper. While both tablets use an IPS display, the Nexus 7 runs at a 1280×800 resolution while the Kindle Fire runs at 1024 x 600. The Nexus tablet is able to display 66% more pixels than the Kindle Fire, and given the same size of the displays, the Pixel Per Inch (PPI) density is also 66% higher.
But what about the aspect ratio, you ask? The Kindle fire has a 17:10 aspect ratio and that's that. But with the Nexus 7, the menu bar takes up 48 pixels from the bottom most of the time, leaving you with an aspect ratio of 17:10, but full-screen apps (video players mostly) will display content on a 16:10 ratio.
Winner: Google Nexus Tablet
Google, rumored to have designed the Nexus tablet specifically to compete with the commercial successful Kindle Fire, knew that they had to deliver on the hardware front, and that’s exactly what they did as the hardware inside their first tablet completely trashes the silicon found inside the Kindle Fire. Why on earth would you go for Kindle Fire’s 1GHz dual-core TI-OMAP 4430 processor and 512MB of RAM instead of the 1.3 GHz Quad-Core Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM on the Nexus tablet? Just in case you’re wondering, the Nexus Tablet’s 12-core Nvidia ULP GPU is also significantly better than the PowerVR SGX540 (single-core) GPU inside the Kindle Fire. To put it bluntly, the Kindle Fire’s TI SoC is a fair match to the Tegra 2, while the Nexus tablet uses the much-improved Tegra 3 SoC.
[Correction] In the first version of the article, we incorrectly stated that the Nexus 7 features an SD card slot. We have removed the statement.
Winner: Google Nexus Tablet
The Kindle Fire features a decent design (although there are some who consider it to be waaaay too Blackberry Playbook-esque for their liking), with a soft-touch plastic case on the back and sides and a rectangular shape. The Nexus 7 tablet isn't the sexiest tablet around, that's for sure. We must also mention that the tablet is lighter than the Kindle Fire. We'll have to wait to get our hands on a Nexus 7 to properly judge its build quality, but the tablet certainly looked awesome during the official presentation.
Winner: Since the Kindle Fire’s design isn't actually that bad, and considering the fact that looks are subjective, we’ll call this one a draw!
The Kindle Fire is currently priced at $199, while the Google Nexus tablet will set you back $199 for the 8GB version. In addition, Google will throw in $25 for spending in the Play store as well as a bundle of free premium content, including the Transformers: Dark of the Moon movie. A 16GB version of the Nexus 7 is also available for $249.
The Nexus 7 will be released in mid July in the US, the UK, Australia and Canada, with more countries to be added to the list in the near future.
Winner: Google Nexus 7
Note: Many expect Amazon to lower the price for a Kindle Fire now that the Nexus Tablet has been announced. Although this is the way the market usually evolves, I wouldn't count on a significant price cut, given that Amazon doesn't make a lot of profit from the tab itself (some reports claim that the components cost roughly around $160-$180).
Before Amazon fans start bashing up on this article for comparing a 6-month old tablet against one that was just announced, let me just say that I have nothing against Amazon and their business, as I have only compared two tablets that are currently equally priced. Until Amazon steps up and releases the Kindle Fire 2 (some rumors claim that will happen during July, although there would probably have been a lot more leaks about it if that were the case), the Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus are direct competitors. And the Nexus 7 turns out to be significantly better in all departments.
Google did a perfect job in delivering a budget tablet. From where I'm standing, this is the first Android tablet that really counts!