Nexus 9 unboxing and first impressions

by: Lanh NguyenNovember 2, 2014

The refresh to the Nexus tablet line is finally here, and just like the bump in size the Nexus smartphone received, the Nexus 9, as the name suggests, now boasts a larger 8.9-inch display. The Nexus 9 also brings HTC back into the Nexus fold, and is also the first tablet the company has manufactured in a while. With the best of HTC and a stock Android experience, what does the Nexus 9 have to offer? Before diving into a more comprehensive review, we take a quick a look at the unboxing, and give you our first impressions about the Nexus 9!


Nexus 9-19

If you’ve watched our unboxing of the Nexus 6, you’ll notice that the Nexus 9 comes in a similar plain white box, this time with a large 9 up top. Opening up the box shows you the tablet in all its glory, and underneath, you will find the microUSB cable and the AC wall charging adapter. That is all that is in the box, but this is probably not the final retail packaging though, since there was no documentation in the box, including any user guides or warranty information.

First Impressions

Nexus 9-16

When it comes to the design, the Nexus 9 features a sleek metal frame, and a soft touch plastic back that makes it feel very solid in the hand. HTC has always been committed to great build quality and design, and that certainly comes through here.

Nexus 9-6

Up front is an 8.9-inch display with a 4:3 aspect ratio, which isn’t something you see very often on Android devices anymore. The display is very bright and vivid, with great looking colors. In terms of specifications, this is an 8.9-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 2048 x 1536, resulting in a pixel density of 281 ppi.

Nexus 9-35

Being manufactured by HTC, a signature feature makes it over to the Nexus 9, and that is the front-facing BoomSound speakers. In the short time I got to spend with it so far, I am already very impressed by the audio quality. They are loud, crisp and clear, with a lot of depth, and sound as good as you’d expect from a current HTC device.

Nexus 9-34

On the back is a 8 MP camera with LED flash, and at least on paper, this is the best Nexus tablet camera we’ve seen. It sounds like it could be promising, but once again, a tablet camera is likely not going to match up to its smartphone counterparts. A more detailed look at the camera will be done in the upcoming full review.

Nexus 9-7

Great design and features aside, what makes the Nexus 9 special is the fact that it is the first tablet to feature Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box. This is biggest overhaul to Android since Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and brings with it all the Material Design goodness that we’ve all been looking forward to. Changes are obvious even from the initial setup process. Apart from the brighter motif that you’ll see throughout the UI, you now have the option to restore settings, apps, and data from other Android devices, making the process a whole lot easier that it has ever been before. Apps, menus, and every individual design element come together wonderfully in a smooth and seamless experience. There are numerous changes made in Android 5.0, including improvements to the lockscreen and notification center.

So there you have it – a quick look at the unboxing and our first impressions about the Nexus 9! Obviously, there is a lot more to talk about with the Nexus 9, including the performance with the Tegra K1 processor, the upgraded camera, and the many features of Android 5.0 Lollipop, so stay tuned as we bring you a comprehensive review of the Google Nexus 9.

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  • Adi

    I want this tablet.

    • dodz

      I want Ipad Air 2!

      Just kidding, off course everyone wants this, except google wont make this as available worldwide on its release, thus the waiting game begins… whew almost started a war there lol

      • Manus Kelly

        Brave. Very brave. Or foolish . . . which is it? I can see news articles of you assasination already lol

    • ibrahim speed

      Who does not want this?

    • flye

      i want it cheaper.

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        • flye

          Shut up, i got a brand new s class mercedes by fapping at home

    • Happy


  • mforker Just gone back to the Xiaomi Mi Pad “Apple-copy” article. I find it very surprise no mentioned here of Nexus 9 copying Apple Mini iPad design. Especially the 4:3 screen ratio and camera position. Is this tech-racism at the highest order??? Xiaomi (Asian brand) does it = copying Apple. Google Nexus (American brand) does it = zzzzZZZZZ

    • Brandon Franklin

      Is copying apple some right of passage now for android devices?

      • CyBrix_21

        No, those are just a small part of all Android devices.

        I somewhat saw the similarity of Nexus 9 to iPads, but I like it more than I like the iPad Mini 2. (Anyways, I know many of you don’t care about this, but I just want to share my impressions about Nexus 9.)

    • Mike

      All kit is made in the far east and China whoever’s logo is on it, so let’s not play the racism card. As to copying, they all copy each other. What prompted Apple to make smaller tablets and bigger phones?

    • Patrick Smithopolis

      The only thing the Nexus 9 has in common with the iPad mini is the 4:3 aspect ratio. The camera on the Nexus 9 is in the same position as the Nexus 7 2013. On the other hand, the MiPad is a straight ripoff of Apple’s hardware and software design and even Apple’s terminology. I’m surprised Xiaomi hasn’t copied the Apple logo. That’s probably coming soon.

    • DaMan5

      And Apple copied and was influenced from decades of science fiction TV and books wherever a tablet like devices was depicted. Who actually really cares honestly, it’s truly irrelevant. This is looking to be a nice piece of hardware just like the Apple products, which will spur Android manufactures to make better constructed, attractive designs and look for innovation to differentiate themselves. Apple will then look for new innovations to set them apart as well. Sounds like a nice healthy ecosystem for continuous improvement!

      • ds010z5045

        Absolutely Apple copied tablets from Startrek Next Generation. Treknology.

    • Andrew T Roach

      Apple is the most in demand brand on earth.

      Why wouldn’t companies subtlety copy features?

    • Chava

      Was about to say the same thing.

  • Mike

    Look forward to a fuller description of it in use, particularly with widescreen content.The 4:3 is stopping me pre-ordering online. I want to see it in the flesh first.

    • Sean

      I say finally! 4:3 is the right ratio for productivity. This is where android manufacturers have been doing it wrong. Not everyone is using these devices for media and games exclusively. This is where Apple had it right.

      I’m all over this!

      • Mike

        OK :-)

        I’m retired. I want it for browsing and films. I’d still want the keyboard though. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person ;-)

  • The only thing I find unattractive about the Nexus 9’s appearance is the wide bezels. Compared to the Galaxy Tab S’s narrow bezels, everything wider, including all iPads, looks a bit boxy and inelegant to me.

    • Sumitro Bhaumik

      Front firing speakers :)

    • asd

      Front facing speakers and needing to be able to HOLD it.

  • Tee Jay

    Does the lte version of the nexus 9 can be used as a phone like the Samsung tabs ??

  • CyBrix_21

    When I first saw this version of Android on Nexus 6, I was a bit disappointed for the UI that is full of animations. But when I saw this review of Nexus 9, I started to like it. I am really impressed with the 5.0 Lollipop!

    Good job Google and HTC!

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  • Andrew T Roach

    As a brand agnostic tech nerd: I’ve been waiting for Google to wise up and prioritize Single Core performance, and give us NATIVE Android.

    Running an OS through a VM like Android has since its inception, would never perform as well or consistently as a Native OS like iOS running on the same hardware.

    Kudos to Google for bringing Android up to date with ART, and moving the Nexus line on to modern 64bit hardware which can give them the snappy performance people demand.

    • question

      Could you explain what virtual machine and native os is?

    • Zhaofeng Li

      If you seriously want the native-ness, you have the option to code in C, as usual (Google even provides a toolchain, NDK). The virtual machine is what makes Android so portable. Developers don’t need to care what architecture the device is (whether it’s ARMv6 or v7 or x86 or even MIPS). They just code in Java, and their apps will run smoothly on all devices.

  • Sven Orzelski

    you really should use a pop filter for your videos

  • garry

    I fucking hate being poor and being forced to watch other people buy things I can’t .

    • Why tempt yourself by visiting this website?

    • neodragon

      Chances are you’re richer than a large majority of the human race. Those of us in the developed world think that not being able to afford the latest tablet is poverity. Others worry about affording food, clothes, and shelter.

      • Lopekal


        If you have savings in the bank, you are in the 7% richest.

  • littlevince

    I kinda wish when scrolling through the app drawer, the white background didn’t animate and just the icons did. I think it would look a little… I dunno. Nicer?

  • Blowntoaster

    Xperia Z3 Compact tablet or Tab S 8.4 seems like a better buy than this right now, considering price and features.
    Though the Nexus 9 is better future-proofed…very powerful hardware, but slightly dull software experience.

    • M3D1T8R

      The Tab S display is amazing, probably the best there is, but Samsung [ruins every device they make with their awful buttons and software].
      The Z3 Tablet Compact looks great, and I might buy one..if it didn’t retail for $500.
      As is I will probably just stick with my Nexus 7 2013 another year, or maybe get a Shield – front speakers for $300 is looking pretty good now.
      The N8 seems like a huge let down: $480 for the same 32GB as my N7 that I got new for less than half as muxh ($220) well over a year ago, and the N8 loses wireless charging, which I use constantly.

  • sud

    one word “AMAZING”

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