Nexus 9 review: Google’s best tablet yet isn’t perfect

by: Lanh NguyenNovember 4, 2014

At a glance

Google's best tablet yet isn't perfect

  • Solid and practical build
  • Great display
  • Decent camera
  • Stock Lollipop is smooth and feature rich
  • Great speakers
  • Occasional performance issues
  • Battery life is disappointing
  • Limited storage options
It’s not without flaws, but given all that it offers for the price, the presence of beautiful stock Android, and the guarantee of timely updates, the Nexus 9 is worth every penny.

Fall is the best time to be an Android fan, and this year is no exception. While Google revealed most aspects of Lollipop in June, the actual update to Android 5.0 is only coming to eager users now, along with three attractive Nexus devices.

Nexus 9 Keyboard Folio-17See also: Best Nexus 9 Cases & Accessories5

This year’s Nexus devices are a bit different from the people-pleasers from the last two years. Not only they are more expensive, but the philosophy behind them seems to have changed as well – where Nexus 7 and Nexus 5 democratized access to Google’s vision of Android, the 2014 Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 are unabashed powerhouses that should stand their own against the best devices on the market, without any “for the price” disclaimers snuck in at the end.

Big price tags create big expectations, and the Nexus 9 in particular has a high bar to reach – in the tablet market, the iPad still reigns supreme, and the Nexus 9 goes against Apple’s tablet without the benefit of a lower price. The Nexus 9 must also outshine some Android tablets that offer a “good enough” experience at a lower price.

Google HTC Nexus 9 Android 5 Lollipop-20

While Google itself doesn’t have much at stake, the Nexus 9 is a BIG deal for HTC. This is the first Nexus device made by the embattled Taiwanese company since the Nexus One and the first tablet since the forgettable Flyer, in 2011. HTC’s smartphone business is beginning to stabilize, but the company still needs to diversify into new areas. A successful Nexus tablet could do wonders for HTC, just like it did for Asus, LG, or Samsung in the past.

More importantly, the Nexus 9 is a big deal for users. The Nexus 7 (2013) is still perfectly serviceable, but it belongs to the past. It’s close to 18 months old, as well, making the Nexus 9 the way to go if you want a future proof device. But while the Nexus 7 (2013) was almost an impulse buy, buying the HTC Nexus requires more consideration, especially if you choose the higher-end versions.

Note that for this review we used the latest software update that Google made available to us, which is supposedly the build that’s running on retail units.

With all this said, here’s our in-depth Nexus 9 review.

Nexus 9-6

HTC has always been known for their designs and build quality, and this prowess shines through with the Nexus 9 as well. With that said, the device retains the minimalistic design elements of previous Nexus devices.

The soft touch plastic back is similar to what was found on the black Nexus 5, so grip isn’t going to be an issue, making the tablet very easy to hold on to. Apart from giving it a more premium look, the metal frame also adds to the rigidity of the device, allowing for a very solid feel in the hand.

Nexus 9-19

Despite the bump in dimensions, the Nexus 9 is still quite thin and light for its size, and it shouldn’t get uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. The Nexus 9 may be the most portable device ever, in my opinion the HTC has really nailed it in terms of design and build quality.

All the buttons and ports are in their typical locations, with the headphone jack found up top, the volume rocker and power button on the right side, and the microUSB port at the bottom of the tablet (in portrait orientation.)

Nexus 9-23

Of course, this would not be an HTC device without its signature design and hardware elements, the front-facing BoomSound speakers.

Nexus 9-15

This speaker setup and placement makes even more sense on a tablet, and sound quality is as good as you would expect from any current HTC smartphone. Even though they’re masked by glass, the speakers are very loud, crisp and clear, and full of depth, and definitely among the best you can find on a tablet. Listening to music, watching videos, and playing games are all that much more enjoyable because of this fantastic audio experience.

The HTC Nexus 9 sports a display with a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning that the screen is “squarer” than on most Android tablets out there, which tend to be 16:9. No aspect ratio is ideal for everyone, so this feature is likely to be divisive. Some users may prefer 4:3 for the extra real estate it affords, which is especially nice for browsing the web and doing productive work in portrait mode. Those who watch a lot of video or play games may like 16:9 better.

Nexus 9-33

Talking of video, the Nexus 9 handles the aspect ratio problem by letterboxing 16:9 video – this is not ideal, but for most users it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. On the app front, provided developers do their part, the 4:3 format should be no trouble, as Android apps can easily adapt to a wide variety of screen types.

If you’re coming from a Nexus 7 (2013) or a similar device, the 2048 x 1536 (281 ppi) screen of the Nexus 9 will look stunning. The change may be less favorable if you’re coming from a Nexus 10 however, given the Nexus 9’s screen is both smaller and slightly less dense. Still, the device is close enough to the magical 300 ppi threshold to look very crisp at normal viewing distance and even closer.

nexus 9 letterboxing

Color reproduction is accurate, viewing angles are great, and the display is very bright. However, I have to deduct some points because sunlight visibility is a bit disappointing. It’s not that I couldn’t use it, but the experience wasn’t that good.

Nexus 9-22

Nexus 9 Specs

CPU/GPUDual-core 2.3 GHz Nvidia Tegra K1, 64 bit
Display8.9 inches (2048 x 1536), 4:3 aspect ratio
Memory16/32GB storage
Batterynon-removable, li-po 6700 mAh
Camera8MP rear cam, 1.6MP front cam
ConnectivityWiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, GPS / GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth® v 4.0 (LE)
SensorsAccelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
OSAndroid 5.0 Lollipop
Dimensions and Weight8.9 x 6.05 x 0.31 inches, 425 grams (wifi model)

On paper and in real life, the Nexus 9 is well equipped in the hardware department, with the only real drawback being the microSD card slot, a feature that Google has shun on all its recent Nexus devices. Being that there’s no 128GB or even 64GB version, that’s something that could turn away some potential buyers. It’s one sacrifice that every Nexus owner must make, and it’s entirely up to you to decide if it’s worth it.

Inside the Nexus 9 ticks a dual-core Tegra K1 processor, built on a 64-bit architecture, and while the Nexus 9 isn’t the first 64-bit Android device, it’s the first to run Lollipop, which is designed to take advantage of the architecture. This Nvidia-made processor is especially powerful on the graphics side, where a 192-core Kepler GPU ensures top-notch performance during gaming.

Nexus 9-32

For the most part, the Nexus 9 flies through Lollipop’s smoothly animated interface. But it’s not all the time, which is puzzling. I encountered instances of lag, especially when loading apps, as well as some stuttering when there really shouldn’t be any. Pushing the overview button (recent apps) is particularly jarring, as it sometimes takes 2-3 seconds to load up the screen. I don’t know what the cause of these issues is, but hopefully Google will manage to alleviate them with software updates.

The experience is buttery smooth during gaming, and graphics look really good. However, the device heats up noticeably. This also happens when watching a video or just browsing the web for half an hour. The device doesn’t get uncomfortably hot, but it’s still an issue that I hope will be addressed.

On paper, the 6,700 mAh battery inside the Nexus 9 should be more than enough to ensure good battery life. However, I was disappointed to find out that, with typical activities like watching YouTube or Netflix and some gaming, the device didn’t last as long as I would’ve hoped. For your reference, I typically got about 4–5 hours of screen-on time, which would be great for a smartphone, but not quite satisfactory for a high-end tablet.

Nexus 9 screenshots-6

It’s possible that the heating issue I mentioned earlier has something to do with the disappointing battery life, and hopefully Google will be able to fix it with an OTA.

On the back of the Nexus 9 there’s an 8MP shooter with an LED flash, a significant upgrade over previous Nexus tablet cameras, and a promising setup, at least on paper.

Nexus 9-10

Talking about the camera software, you have the stock Google Camera application, and if you’re familiar with this app, you’ll know that the interface is quite simple and minimalistic. There’s not a whole lot you can do in terms of manual controls, so you are dependent on the camera to do all the work. Features like Photosphere, Panorama, and Lens Blur are available though, adding some salt and pepper to an otherwise bland experience.

In the past, Nexus devices haven’t necessarily been known for their picture quality, and tablets in general aren’t go-to devices for mobile photography anyways. The Nexus 9 isn’t exactly breaking that mold. Picture quality isn’t particularly bad though, and is better than most other tablet cameras out there, even if that’s not really saying much.

Exposure can be hit or miss, but color reproduction does look accurate and true to life, with a good amount of detail. It’s a very decent shooter in a pinch, but once again, it’s not going to replace the far better mobile camera you likely already have in your pocket.

With every new Nexus, be it smartphone or tablet, you are also getting the latest version of Android, making the Nexus 9 one of the first devices to feature Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box. This is the biggest overhaul to Android since Ice Cream Sandwich, bringing with it all the Material Design goodness that we’ve been eagerly looking forward to.

Nexus 9-8

With Material Design, everything takes on a flatter look, but there’s a lot more depth, color, and shading, creating an attractive layered look. Animations have been changed as well and make more sense now, with everything coming from somewhere, instead of just popping up. Apps, folders, and various other UI elements slide in and out of view, or grow and expand in a way that is logical, creating a very intuitive experience.

Along with Material Design comes a slew of features and enhancements. For starters, the lock screen has been revamped to function as a notification panel, letting you interact with your notifications just like you would when the device is unlocked. With the notification shade, a swipe down from the top reveals all your notifications, with a second swipe down opening up the Quick Settings menu.

Nexus 9 screenshots-14

Heads-up notifications are also a new addition: if you’re doing something in full screen, such as playing a game, notifications will pop up as an overlay, instead of interrupting the app. A new Do Not Disturb mode lets you set what kind of notifications you get and when. This long overdue feature can be really useful at work, during meetings, or if you just don’t want to be bothered.

Google HTC Nexus 9 Android 5 Lollipop-10

The Recent Apps section has been renamed to Overview, as it not only shows the list of recent applications, but also activities from within the app. Screen pinning is another useful addition, letting you lock the screen to a particular app. Double tap to wake is available as well, and is quite handy when you don’t want fumble for the power button.

There are a ton of other features with Android 5.0 Lollipop, and this is definitely the best iteration of Android yet.

Android Logo Mascot Lollipop Nexus-9

The Nexus 9 is available right now in three different color options, black, white, and sand, in both 16 GB and 32 GB iterations for $399 and $479 respectively, with an LTE model on the way for close to $600.

There you have it – our Nexus 9 review. From the first moments you pick up the Nexus 9, it’s clear that you’re holding Google’s best Nexus tablet yet and a worthy contender to title of best tablet on the market. The Nexus 9 is well-built, features a beautiful screen, great speakers, decent camera, and, above all, offers an exquisite software experience.

There are some flaws that I simply can’t ignore – the occasional performance issues are inexcusable and the device heating is an inconvenience you won’t find on other devices. And battery life has been disappointing in my experience. It’s possible that Google, HTC, and Nvidia will find solutions to these problems and a future OTA will erase them, though there’s no guarantee this will happen.

With all this considered, I still feel confident to recommend the Nexus 9 as a great buy. Given all that it offers for the price, the presence of beautiful stock Android, and the guarantee of timely updates, the Nexus 9 is worth every penny.

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  • Emmet

    First! Still love the tablet though

    • Guest

      Congrats on being first. Really, congrats.

    • Anonymousfella

      Here, have a cookie.

  • Dolph Hiddler

    phonearea says it´s the 2nd best whats true ?

    • Maxim∑

      its phonearena…

    • MasterMuffin

      AA and AP reviews said that the battery life isn’t great

    • Guest 123

      Did you see any standardized battery tests here? No.

    • Techcrazy

      Lets wait and see what the guys over at Anandtech have to say about the battery life.

    • Andrew T Roach

      Anandtech and have the best, most comprehensive testing. Phonearena is pretty bad for technical analysis. is a german site, but checks power draw with real tools, under load, idle and off.

    • monkey god

      Most likely, the tablet for this review wasn’t tested with the latest firmware which was only just released on Sunday which is not enough time to do a a real battery test. Watch for androidcentral’s review later this week which was was postponed in light of the new firmware.

    • vcarvega

      Exactly… I just posted the same above. I don’t know about it being the 2nd best, but it’s definitely better than this reviewer alludes to.

  • DDT

    google’s best tablet, yet it can’t natch the iPad.

    • jcStrabo

      Doesn’t use iOS, which makes up for a lot. Really a lot.

      • Dave

        Except when you actually want to use it for tablet apps… then it becomes shitty again.

        But ooooh! Animated backgrounds!

  • Anonymousfella

    I don’t get the performance issues bit. Some reviewers are mentioning it while others are saying its a fluid experience. Were you running pre release firmware?

    • VAVA Mk2

      The patch pushed out Sunday after the review was made supposedly fixes these issues.

    • The device was already update prior to the review.

  • Marty

    I can understand the performance hiccups. My opinion is they’re related to Nvidia’s hardware. I had an Asus tablet with an Nvidia SoC and it was horrendous for performance. It was the worst I’d ever experienced. Lag and hiccups were the norm for it. Coming across a smooth spot in performance, one would amuse, “Ohh, look…there’s a smooth spot”.

    Nevertheless, I had high hopes for this HTC-made tablet. Having learned that the SoC would be Nvidia, though, I had severe reservations. But I chose to be optimistic and still consider a purchase. Looks like the Nvidia troubles are hampering this new Nexus.

    • hahmed330

      Yet shield tablet works flawlessly with no such hiccups.. Problem is Android 5.0 jumping to ART and 64 bit simultaneously is a huge risk. Android 4.3 fixed most of Asus tablet and Nexus 2012 the ones you are talking about.

      • Marty

        I finally rooted my Asus tablet and installed Android 4.4.4. Still had the same slowdown, lag and hiccups. Took forever to load things, too.

        • hahmed330

          Use a good custom ROM. In the early days of android all OEM sucked at making decent more importantly reliable products.

    • MasterMuffin

      It was Asus’ fault. They used bad parts that resulted in slow I/O –> lag

      • Marty

        Yeah, I’ve read that before, too. If it’s true, Nvidia would do well to stay away from Asus. Asus is giving them a bad name.

        • Joshua Hill

          Everybody else who complains about this blames Asus.

          • Marty

            Do you work for Nvidia or something? Your comments suggest you have a vested interest in Nvidia.

            You know…I don’t really have anything against Nvidia and do consider the possibility that Asus is more to blame for the tablet issues, but if you work for Nvidia, you aren’t helping them in the least. You are actually doing more harm for them than good.

          • Joshua Hill

            No I just really despise the communication of incorrect information.

          • Joshua Hill

            Your very first post in this article blames Nvidia completely ‘I can understand the performance hiccups. My opinion is they’re related to Nvidia’s hardware…..Looks like the Nvidia troubles are hampering this new Nexus.’

          • Joshua Hill

            For anybody else still reading this it appears Marty was so dissatisfied with Nvidia that he returned his N9 to purchase a Shield Tablet instead (directly made by Nvidia). The word hypocrite springs to mind.

          • Marty

            Jeeze…you’re…you need to check with your doctor, ask him to check for that recently discovered virus, the “stupid virus”. It’s a real virus just recently discovered by accident. Significant because they say it invades the brain and makes people stupid. You might have it…

          • Joshua Hill

            There’s nothing that tells others you are so wrong than resorting to ad hominem attacks.

          • Marty

            Like you, calling me a hypocrite. That’s okay, though. It doesn’t bother me that much because I know it isn’t true. But ignorance in you is disconcerting. ;)

          • Joshua Hill

            When you blame a company for a products faults. Then return said product only to purchase a replacement product that is solely made by the company you just blamed. Hypocrite, based on its definition, fits said actions. It’s not an ad hominem attack, as its not just an attack on your character but relevant to the original discussion. If the evidence of you being a hypocrite was based on something un Nvidia related then it would be an ad hominem attack.

            Your inability to see this is disconcerting :p

          • Marty

            You’re ignorant because I never blamed Nvidia. I expressed an opinion that they *were* at fault for the horrendous performance of the Asus TF300T tablet I own. An opinion is subject to adjustment based on differing information. The “differing information”, in this case, has been that Asus used poor memory and other hardware that lead to the TF300T’s poor performance.

            The opinion was never “set in stone”, as you seem to be trying to make it out to be. You, in fact, have made a huge mountain out of something smaller than a mole hill.

          • Joshua Hill

            Expressing an opinion that a company is at fault is the same as blaming them. The definition of blame is ‘assign responsibility for a fault or wrong’. I’m glad to see you’ve changed your opinion.

          • Marty

            Check the definition of “opinion” and stop harassing people, making huge mountains out of mole hills.

            And my Shield Tablet has been experiencing some lag and performance hiccups reminiscent of the troubles I experienced with the Asus Tf300T tablet, but not nearly as bad…yet. And I returned the Nexus 9 because it *is not compatible with Tegra K1 games and apps* even though it has a Tegra K1 SoC. I did not return the Nexus 9 because of any performance problems. On the contrary, the Nexus 9 performed better than this Shield Tablet is performing.

    • Techcrazy

      Asus used first gen nand for most of its tablet resulting in bad i/o.
      Though 4.3 updates did fix that issue for me (nexus 7–2012). Then kitkat came along and ruined it again.

    • Joshua Hill

      Pure speculation you have no proof for. Looks like Marty brain troubles are causing stupid comments again.

      • Marty

        No, not speculation. It’s an opinion. And if I had proof it would cease to be an opinion and become a fact. So it appears your brain is the one not functioning properly.

        • Joshua Hill

          You dont like it when it’s directed at you! Maybe next time before incorrectly (as others have pointed) laying blame you’ll keep it to yourself.

          • Marty

            [insensitive words removed]

            Apologies. I shouldn’t be insensitive. There’s too much of that in the world. So, again, apologies.

          • Joshua Hill

            My problem as you originally asked with the insensitive words was you were spreading false information that negatively effects the company you were blaming. That is against the law in certain jurisdictions.

          • Marty

            It wasn’t false. What I said was true. My Asus tablet was the worst I’ve ever experienced and it contained an Nvidia SoC. If Nvidia doesn’t want blame, they need to be more careful with whom they allow to use their product name.

            Even if the Nvidia SoC isn’t at fault, the fact that it’s in a product that is faulty reflects on Nvidia. Deal with it. I as a consumer have had severe reservations about buying *anything* else with Nvidia on it or in it. That’s what Nvidia did to me. Now go take an effin chill pill and get out of my face.

            And those “jurisdictions” you speak of can kiss my lily white arse.

          • Joshua Hill

            It reflects on google who chose Asus and ASUS who chose the memory. It dies not reflect on nvidia. You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about so as I previously suggested I’d recommend you don’t blame others before you potentially incriminate yourself.

          • Marty

            Screw you you silly joker. Nvidia is to blame for being a very poor manager of its product. And you aren’t doing them any good by keeping this thread going.

          • Joshua Hill

            As you said earlier, it’s your opinion and in this case it’s wrong. Anybody who can read and comprehend the English language can determine that. I’m happy to keep replying to your posts.

  • Chris

    Drop the price. One of the Nexus 4 pros was the price, which balanced out the weaker camera and battery (I’ve been happy with mine for nearly two years now).

  • Tom

    Samsung, bring Lollipop to my device. NOW.

    • The-Sailor-Man

      Now could Samsung bring Lollipop to your iPhone/iPad, when Lollipop is not out yet?

    • MasterMuffin

      Even Nexus devices don’t have it yet, patience…

  • Otto Andersson

    Great review! I’m glad it’s remaining grounded and is calling out the flaws. The recent app drawer on my note 4 is the same look as 5.0 and the lag is disgusting. I went in to developer options to turn off the animation, but it really is inexcusable.

  • Jacques Theron

    Thanks Lanh for the great review. I’m really enjoying your style of editing. Also, you didn’t leave anything out that was wrong with the tablet just because you’re an android fanboy or whatever, so props to you for an honest review! I really want this beast, hopefully I’ll win it in one of AA’s giveaways:)

    • We’re definitely going to be giving a few of these bad boys away Jacques, hang tight. Kudos to Lanh for a great review! The Nexus 9 is an absolute beast. Best Android tablet on the market next to the Galaxy Tab S 8 in my opinion. The Sony Z3 Tablet Compact is another one that is fantastic. But again, this is a Nexus, and this is Android 5.0 Lollipop :)

      • How does the SHIELD Tablet fit into that calculus? Other articles on AA (including the November tablet buyer’s guide) still proclaim love for it. Is the tradeoff of the Nexus 9’s display shape/size/quality for microSD card, HDMI out, other bits, and $200 off a good one?

        (I say $200 since the microSD card slot makes 16GB palatable on the ST vs. essentially requiring 32GB on the N9.)

        • Hi Jeff,

          That’s a great question. Joshua still stands by it as his favorite tablet. That being said, the Nexus 9 has one very important differentiator – it is 64 bit. With this in mind, the performance is that much snappier, and, as soon as devs and NVIDIA encourage games to come over, the richness of all games will be that much more salient.

          That being said, you raise some great points regarding microSD, and HDMI. But with chromecasting and the cloud, it appears that these features will grow less relevant over time. 64 bit. 64 bit!!!!

          • Hi Darcy,

            Let me throw another possibility your way: a SHIELD Tablet now for $200 less than an N9 (according to my custom math above). By the time the SHIELD Tablet 2 presumably rolls out next summer with a similar price point, you’ll have saved enough this year to nearly offset that cost — and you can bet it will be 64-bit, except by that point the various initial 64-bit hiccups will be shaken out and many more things will be ported over (the games that aren’t ever ported may well never have any advantage on the 64-bit chip, and you can bet that there will be a ton of those). Yes, the screen might still not be as nice (although not everyone is in love with 4:3, and even some Google apps look terrible on it), but it may have other nice perks (at least the same ones it has now).

            I assume you mean Chromecasting instead of HDMI out. If I’m carrying my tablet around all the time, and it has HDMI out, I don’t need to pull my Chromecast (and a power adapter) out of my TV to bring that capability along…just keep a mini-HDMI to full-size adapter in my bag. I’m even less sold on cloud. The time when I want that storage is when I’m on long plane flights. Yes, there’s USB OTG. Yes, you can even do a Y-cable so you can keep things charged while using USB OTG. At some point sitting on a plane with three cables/devices dangling out of the port of your tablet just becomes silly. And while I have and love Google Music, I can fit my entire music collection on a 128GB microSD card with plenty of room to spare for videos and apps.

            Just my $0.02. I’ve been agonizing over N9 vs. SHIELD Tablet for a long time, and held off buying the latter until the reviews were out for the former. But at this point I think it will take at least a while for 64-bit to shake out, and just like this year, the tablet landscape will be different next year — plus we’ll see 64-bit chips from other players like Qualcomm. If the N9 had Quick Charge, it very well may have tipped my decision entirely in its favor. So I’ll save the money now and see how things look then.

          • BuccaneerAhoy

            I am thinking similar to you Jeff and I am personally going to get the Shield Tablet. I was waiting for the reviews of the N9, and tbh it doesn’t seem to have the wow factor I was expecting. 64bit will take awhile to kick off imo and by that time the Shield 2 is out. Though I’m not sure the Shield Tablet will be that much cheaper in the end once you’ve counted in the (optional) costs for controller/case and SD card, but I think it’ll have much better functionality for the same money and I would prefer 16:10 to 4:3 anyday :).

          • Yeah, you don’t *have* to buy the controller — but it’s a nice option to have. And microSD cards can be gotten dirt cheap — if you watch Android Police they’ll post whenever they get a tipoff about sales on Amazon. I think I got my 64GB for about $20.

          • LavinasJoe

            @Darcy Alexander LaCouvee, The Nexus 9 is a beast, although in terms of Give away’s I personally would prefer the chance and opportunity to win a Nexus 6 as I already have a 10, 9, 7, 5, 4 and the one before ever since the Nexus 1 lol I am a Nexus fanatic just missing the 6 which unfortunately I am unable to purchase in Eastern Europe were I am based :(

          • Noah Sekala

            Like you cant afford to buy it and need to win it in a giveaway…

  • Vinay Mallik

    I thing Google should concentrate on its tablets range. Apps should be created to take full advantage of large screen.

    • daysofdre

      they do, 1st party google apps take full advantage of the real-estate. the problem is getting developers to make tablet apps.

      • Look at the screen shots in Android Police’s review and you’ll realize that’s not true. Hangouts, G+, and Inbox all look terrible on the 4:3 screen.

        • daysofdre

          you’re right, thanks for pointing that out

        • Token2k8

          Yeah not all of the apps take full advantage but I actually think G+ looks cool with the 4:3 as it reminds me a little of the desktop client, but you’re right a lot are not properly taking advantage of that real estate which is a shame because I love this on a tablet as opposed to 16:10.

        • vcarvega

          I have the Nexus 9… G+ looks great, but I do think Hangouts looks a little bland on it if you use the tablet in landscape. Looks good in portrait though. Still, I think it’s time for Hangouts to get a refresh in general though.. like why can’t I search through my hangouts?

  • Um, sand is not, in fact, available right now. Did you guys fact check?

  • Brandon Franklin

    Wow these reviews are all over the place! The one Iread before this said almost the complete oopposite( questionable build quality even to the pointe the reviewer said a soft spot formed on the back where he generally grabs the device, its thicker than it claims 9mm vs the claimed 8mm..though I admit the lag and terrible batt life was on tap. Considering apple can offer an almost flawless tablet at this price or less I’m not sure timely updates command that price tag. Not to mention almost in the same sentence you justify the price because of future proofing(updates) then claim last years tablet dead cuz its a year and a half old…?

    • tiger

      Well this is Android Authority…so, it is bias to begin with. I trust ARSTECHNICA or ANANDTECH way more than these fanboy websites.

  • Jack Jennings

    11 or so minutes is a long time to have music running in the background of a review…please consider either removing it entirely, or at least drastically lowering the volume next time – it’s pretty distracting :(

  • 01Bie

    Yeah really nice tab But Not the perfect one,Only felt affection for android updates though

  • Marty

    It appears having the Nvidia K1 SoC doesn’t make the N9 compatible with Half Life 2 or Portal. Saddens me because I was looking forward to those two games.

  • jesse542

    How is the Nexus 9’s screen a step up from the Nexus 7’s when its screen density is less than that of the Nexus 7’s? (284 ppi vs. 323 ppi)

  • Ali H

    I think “The verge” review is better because they considered more aspects after using the device.

    • Andrew T Roach

      Don’t forget the cheap back cover. It flexes at any poke.

  • tiger

    It is pretty clear that Google bet the farm on the Nvidia K1 Denver…basically throwing in the best Android chip available and then making compromises everywhere else. POS construction. POS build quality. POS display (light leakage galore!). POS battery life. What looks great on paper is worthless in real life.

    There is a reason K1 Denver is not on a phone…and probably why K1 Denver will never see the light of day on much of anything else.

    Lets hope Google does a MUCH better job with the Nexus 6 since it is using a more basic cheaper chip (S805).

    How the hell did Google let N9 go thru??????? WTF were they thinking?!

  • Cao Meo

    “Battery life is disappointing”
    The GSMArena says it’s “stellar”

    • tiger

      GSMArena is unreliable…they are good for rumors, but their reviews lack depth and criticisms.

  • “The change may be less favorable if you’re coming from a Nexus 10 however, given the Nexus 9’s screen is both smaller and slightly less dense.”

    I’ll stick with my Nexus 10, thank you. And kindly stop using that most inane of phrases, “future proof.”

    • vcarvega

      While I do prefer the screen proportion on my Nexus 10… literally everything else about the Nexus 9 is better. Worth it in my opinion. Also, the upside to the screen dimensions is that the Nexus 9 is noticeably more comfortable to hold for long periods, in either landscape or portrait. Just something to consider.

      I like the Nexus 9 screen better for web browsing, but I miss the Nexus 10 screen for watching movies and tv. For apps, they both seem to do the job equally well so far.

  • FlyBri

    I am a huge Android fan (all my phones have been Android since the original Droid on Verizon) and I also originally had the Nexus 9 on preorder, as I was really looking forward to it. That being said, I have to say that this review is definitely biased (I guess you can expect this, considering it is an Android website afterall). With the issues that have been mentioned, I don’t see how you can give it a 9.0. It also doesn’t seem like price was factored into the score at all. I can see a score in the low 8’s without price really factored in, and maybe a score of 8 (more likely in th high 7’s) if price is factored in. In other reviews it also doesn’t seem like the build quality is top notch. Is it good enough? I’m sure. But, as much as I am an Android fan, you can’t deny that “the company with the fruit logo” has top notch build quality, and as such, the Nexus 9 should be compared against that.
    Plain and simple — the build quality is less than the iPad Air 2, the screen is not as good (close enough, but still not as good), and as of right now, the performance isn’t where it should be (there shouldn’t be a hint of lag on the Nexus 9). Also some people are getting horrible battery life — those issues should be nonexistent at launch. As of now, the only thing really going for the Nexus 9 is that it has good speakers and it runs Android. So really the score should be reflective of how the unit is presently, and unfortunately in this review the score isn’t. Now if Google pushes an update to fix the performance issues (and hopefully battery life as well), you can then adjust the score somewhat. Even with that though, this tablet still isn’t where it should be for a $399 starting price. Now at $329 (even $349), that would definitely change things a good amount.

    • And not all reviewers agree that the speakers are all that good. Some say the M8’s speakers are actually better, despite the smaller size.

      If the update comes late enough, it should also not affect an official review score; first impressions count. But a note about what the score would have been, with those issues fixed, seems appropriate.

      • vcarvega

        The M8’s speakers may be better (haven’t heard them myself), but the Nexus 9 speakers are definitely better than any other tablet out.

    • Gary W

      Bought the Air 2, returned it bc the speakers aren’t good enough for me. Was looking at the Nexus 9, but I guess I’ll skip it as well.

  • John B

    Just got my nexus 9…first impressions:
    1. Build: OK, but not great. Definitely a little give in the middle of the back cover, but you have to look for it. Probably not something I would have focused on if others hadn’t noted it. There is noticeable light bleed on the top edge in portrait. Again not terrible, but definitely there. I like the soft touch. Yes it gets fingerprints but so what.
    2. OS: Lollipop really is nice. Everything looks and runs great. Haven’t opened too many apps yet.
    3. Speakers: sound fantastic!
    4. The possible deal-breaker for me. I downloaded the update, logged in to google, restored my apps and opened a movie in play movies. Within 5 seconds the left side became very warm to the touch. Not hot, but very very warm. As I type this it is still warm with nothing but Firefox running.
    5. Flicker: I admit I saw this in a review, but the screen flicker is there when adaptive screen brightness is on and it is really bad. I could probably live with it disabled, but wow, I honestly can’t believe its that bad.
    6. Battery: too soon to tell.

    I’m giving it a few days. I really wanted so badly to love this. The size is perfect. It looks nice enough and I miss android on my tablet. I love google now and I miss widgets. I just don’t know if I can keep this.

    For the record I have owned every nexus phone and the original g1. I also own a Xoom and nexus 7, I owned a transformer prime, but converted to apple a couple years ago for tablets. I really want to go back to android on a tablet, but this one may not be the one that does it for me.

  • Andrew T Roach


    A 9 score for 4 1/2 hours on-screen time?

    Google needs to work on Lollipop some more because there are clearly issues with the software.

    • vcarvega

      That 4 1/2 hours of onscreen time is not accurate. Look at Anandtech’s review. I was personally able to get at least 7 hrs out of mine yesterday… 7 hrs of tv and movies, and I don’t know how many hrs of apps and internet… But clearly, it was a minimum of 7 hrs for my usage yesterday.

  • vcarvega

    Regarding the battery life, I was a bit disappointed as well.. but I get closer to 7 hrs of screen on time, all spent watching Play tv shows and moves. The Reviewers assessment of 4-5 hrs is definitely off.

    • Maybe theirs is off, but yours definitely is. Watching videos from Play Movies uses hardware decoding. The only thing you’re taxing is the screen and a specialized part of the hardware. That’s not representative of mixed use.

      • vcarvega

        Perhaps, but I’m not so sure. For one, it’s still on wifi the entire time, so updates are taking place in the background. I responded to some notifications, while dismissing others. And I did a little browsing in between episodes… All in all, pretty typical use case for a tablet.

        More to the point, his issue was with onscreen time because the display is the number one drainer of the battery on any mobile device, regardless of what activities you’re using the screen for. And he did not specify in his review, what he spent that onscreen time doing either. The point is that you will definitely get more than 4-5 hours out of it.

        • Now you’re changing your story from “all spent watching Play tv shows and moves” to something else. Which explains why you got 7 hours. Those that did wifi video exclusively have been managing 9+.

          • vcarvega

            It’s not about changing my story… my point in stating that “all spent watching PLay tv shows and movies” is to say that I watched 7 hrs worth of content without needing to charge. In addition to the 7 hrs worth of content that I watched, I did the other activities mentioned above…

            But I did not time myself with those activities and cannot recall for sure how much additional time was spent on the tablet yesterday before I plugged in for the night. The only thing I claim for a fact is the 7 hrs of content I know that I watched.

      • vcarvega

        The Anandtech review actually shows that it has better battery life than the iPad Air 2… but not as good as the Nexus 7 2013.

  • Token2k8

    I’m getting decent battery life but it could be better I think. I’m hoping an OTA comes soon for that heating issue and OMG where are the good cases for this thing ?

    • vcarvega

      Yea, the cases are what I’m waiting on. They should have had those available at launch.

  • vcarvega

    I believe my previous post was removed… maybe b/c I posted a link to another review??? However, the anandtech review does show that the tablet gets significantly more battery life than this review alludes too; even beating the iPad Air 2. In my own personal use, I’ve gotten over 7hrs of screen on time easily.

  • edwardjames

    What I know is the newest doesn’t mean the best.The Google Nexus 9 is the first tablet to run Android Lollipop 5.0, which should receive timely updates.I even got a customer made case for it From here

  • ednewmy

    I’m really disappointed with the nexus 9. I went into a shop today to
    try it out, and all the negatives reviewers have been picking up on are
    very very much in evidence. The build quality feels really off on the
    back, the covering is really easy to press down, and with the shop’s
    security system pulling on it, it was really evident just how badly this
    has been fitted to the back…or not as the case may be.

    The light bleed was also a big issue, really evident when the brightness setting was set lower down.

    the whole thing did not feel like a premium product, in fact it felt
    like a kinda rushed and unfinished product, which is not what I would
    have expected from htc and with the direction google are taking nexus
    with its pricing and overall specs. I’m no samsung fan, but comparing
    the feel and overall build quality of the tab s against the nexus –
    there was just no comparison, the tab s felt solid and premium, the
    nexus just felt really cheap in comparison. Saying that is quite

  • Elton Woo

    I’m somewhat disappointed on the insistence of 4:3 over 16:9. Even web pages are better when viewed in landscape mode. Also the lack of an SD slot in this line of tablets is another “con” for me. For these two reasons, I would have given a lower score than 9/10.

  • liam fisher

    Can someone clarify that the battery life lasts about 7+ hours while Web browsing because some reviews say it lasts over that, and some say 5 hours

  • “I encountered instances of lag, especially when loading apps, as well as some stuttering when there really shouldn’t be any. Pushing the overview button (recent apps) is particularly jarring, as it sometimes takes 2-3 seconds to load up the screen. I don’t know what the cause of these issues is, but hopefully Google will manage to alleviate them with software updates.” No. This never got fixed; at least not on my device that I purchased from HTC during their black Friday sale. I just couldn’t get past this and heartbrokenly returned my Nexus. And that heating issue- didn’t get fixed either.

  • Roger

    9/10? That’s a joke. I’ve bought many tablets, this nexus 9 is easily the worst.