Nexus 9 official press (2)

At 8.9 inches, the Nexus 9 sits right in-between the portable 8 inch form factor and the larger 10 inch varieties. Compared with the previous Nexus tablets, the Nexus 9 features a lot of cutting edge hardware, which we’ll delve right on into.

By the numbers

Just like the newly announced Nexus smartphone, the Nexus 9 tablet comes with some top of the line hardware and easily competes with the biggest brands in the business. The 2048×1536 display keeps the larger tablet looking as crisp as its 1080p 8-inch rivals, but Samsung’s tablet range still retains a healthy lead when it comes to display clarity and quality.

 Nexus 9Galaxy TabPRO 8.4Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
Resolution2048x1536 (281ppi)2560x1600 (359ppi)1920x1200 (283ppi)
SoCTegra K1 (64-bit)Snapdragon 800Snapdragon 801
CPU2x Nvidia Denver Cores4x 2.3GHz Krait 4004x 2.5GHz Krait 400
GPUKepler 1 SMX GPUAdreno 330Adreno 330
Storage16GB / 32GB16GB / 32GB16GB
Rear Camera8MP 8MP8.1MP
Front Camera1.6MP2MP2.2MP

On the inside, the inclusion of NVidia’s new 64-bit Denver CPU cores sets the Nexus 9 apart from the pack. As well as being the first to 64-bit support, the Denver design goes back to a dual-core setup rather than the common quad-core arrangement. But don’t let that fool you, the new Nvidia design apparently packs a lot of punch per CPU core. The real concern is how well the tablet will manage in multi-tasking scenarios and if NVidia’s ARMv8 translation approach proves efficient enough to reach its performance potential.

The 64-bit Tegra K1 chip keeps the same Kepler GPU architecture found in the Nvidia Shield tablet, which packs in plenty of power for all your tablet gaming needs. The extra display resolution might hinder performance somewhat compared with the Shield tablet, but performance should compete with Samsung’s high-end tablets.

 Galaxy Tab SNvidia ShieldG Pad 8.3
Resolution2560x1600 (359ppi)1920x1200 (283ppi)1920x1200 (273ppi)
SoCSnapdragon 800 / Exynos 5420Tegra K1 (32-bit)Snapdragon 600
CPU4x 2.3GHz Krait 400 / 4x 1.9GHz Cortex-A15 & 4x 1.3GHz Cortex-A74x 2.2GHz Cortex-A154x 1.7GHz Krait 300
GPUAdreno 330 / Mali-T628MP6Kepler 1 SMX GPUAdreno 320
Storage16GB / 32GB16GB16GB / 32GB
Rear Camera8MP5MP5MP
Front Camera2.1MP5MP1.3MP

However, in our review of the Nvidia tablet we found battery life to be rather lacking, so we’ll have to wait for a hands-on to see if this remains an issue with Nvidia’s latest SoC. Although the massive 6700mAh battery should go some way to avoid this issue. The LG G Pad is the weakest of the selection, performance wise, but the rest should all perform exceptionally well in most scenarios you can throw at it.

Other than the new SoC, the Nexus 9 fits in nicely with the current selection of high-end tablets. Camera options, on paper, seem like a step up from the Nexus 7, and the 2GB of RAM is as much as you’ll likely ever need, although doesn’t quite match some other tablets. The tablet’s storage options are also in line with expectations, although again the lack of a microSD card slot will disappoint those of you who like to keep a selection of movies with you to watch on the go.

Extra features

High end tablets these days tend to ship with 3G/LTE variants for those who want mobile data access, and all of the above tablets are available with LTE, Bluetooth, WiFi, and some with NFC connectivity too.

Dual front facing speakers are becoming increasingly popular, and the Nexus 9’s HTC BoomSound speakers match Samsung’s TabPro series and the new Xperia Z3 tablet in this regard. Sound buffs will definitely want to keeps these tablets in mind. Water and dust resistance is another growing trend, and Sony is currently leading this field with its IP68 rating.

 Nexus 9Galaxy TabPRO 8.4Galaxy Tab SG Pad 8.3Nvidia ShieldXperia Z3 Tablet Compact
IP ratingIP68
Front SpeakersYesYesYesYesYes

As far as software features goes, the Nexus 9 will be the first tablet to ship with Android Lollipop, so it might be worth waiting for if you’re eager to try out the latest Google features. Gamers should be able to install many of the Nvidia Shield’s Tegra specific software offerings, such as the Shield Hub, from the Play Store. Other than that, the Nexus 9’s stock-Android experience isn’t as feature packed as Samsung’s tablets, but some prefer it that way.

Serious gamers have a tough choice between NVidia’s and Sony’s latest tablet offerings. The Shield enables Nvidia graphics card owners to stream PC games to their tablet, while the Xperia Z3 tablet can be connected up to a PS4 to play games with the company’s DualShock controller. The Nexus 9 doesn’t come with any of these features out of the box, but the Tegra SoC might allow for some third-party software to emulate the experience at a later date.

Wrap up

The latest Nexus is full-fledged premium tablet, with hardware that competes, and in some cases exceeds, some of the tablet markets other high-end offerings.

As with most Nexus products, the slightly cheaper price tag comes with its share of compromises on some non-essential features. But overall, the Nexus 9 is an excellent tablet for the price.

Robert Triggs
Lead Technical Writer at Android Authority, covering the latest trends in consumer electronics and hardware. In his spare moments, you'll probably find him tinkering with audio electronics and programming.
  • dags170291

    I taught the nexys9 had 4GB RAM

  • robotoaster

    Proper gaming tablet. Lower resolution to allow higher refresh rate. Defo buy.

  • alacrify

    I think you should explicitly list the aspect ratio (yes, people can figure it out, but that 4:3 ratio on the Nexus is a deal breaker for a lot of people)

  • wat

    Should have just refreshed the LG GPad with the Tegra K1. Nothing more was needed, especially not this joke price.

  • imackler

    But no SD slot! Boo!

    • José A. Medina

      32gb its enough for me :)

    • dodz

      I swear if this doesnt have USB OTG im gonna burn the HTC HQ

      • CPA01

        Yup. One of the many things that makes Android vastly superior to iOS.

        Yeah, sure Google won’t put a MicroSD card in, but when a micro reader is $10 and 64 gb Micros go for $35, 128gbs of storage at $80 is leaps and bounds better than what Cupertino is offering.

    • Jose

      It’s ‘missing’ other things too >=-(

      SPecifically, MULTI WINDOW like Samsung’s…

      I mean, it is a big screen. Why the heck not???

      Come on Google, you make my eyes rain. Tab S it is for me… for now.

      • spectremANDROID

        I think multi-window can be achieved through apps or, at worse, through a custom ROM. This is, after all, how Samsung achieves the feat. The lack of it out of the box probably shouldn’t be a deal breaker if you like everything else about the tablet.

        Of course, if the Galaxy Tab S is better somehow and you’ve got the money for it, its definitely the better buy. I think, however, that the Nexus tablet buyer, is likely intentionally seeking a device and user experience that is without all the extraneous stuff that you’ll get on a Samsung device, right?

        • Jose

          I’ve tried the apps, some which require root… but seriously, all of them really suck bad, compared to Samsung’s. Which makes me sad.

          Samsung’s TouchWiz… I live with it on my old Galaxy Note 10.1 (2012), and honestly I wouldn’t even call it ‘bad’. Just disable the stuff you don’t want, like ‘Crayon Physics’, and everything else is fine :)

          • spectremANDROID

            Excellent point. I guess then, as always really, it comes down to individual preferences and tolerance levels.

            Having owned a couple of Samsung devices, several HTC devices and one Nexus 7, I have to say that I’m spoiled on the details and minutiae of the “pure” Android experience. For me, there’s simply no comparison and, based on my feelings about everything I’ve used after my Nexus 7 (including the HTC One M8 that I’m replying with right now), no going back.

            That said, I really find the Nexus 9 interesting but I have to admit that for the projected price, its size, the relatively odd aspect ratio, its feature set and my intended uses for the next tablet that I own, I too will have to pass on it.

    • Jay

      No Infrared either. There goes my universal remote control :-(

  • beatles

    article became a samsung review from a bunch of samscum fanboys

  • Isaac

    After seeing the Nexus 9 price, I decided to order a Shield tablet. The Nexus seems to be the superior tablet but it doesn’t seem to be worth the $400. It will be interesting to see performance comparisons.

    • Larsony

      I’m right there with you. Do you know if the shield will get android 5.0?

    • Sumitro Bhaumik

      But battery sucks in the shield :-(

      • John Garlits

        Do you have one? How bad is it? The N9 has similar internals and a slightly bigger battery. I doubt it will have that huge an advantage over the Shield, and for me I’m probably likely to use it at home a lot, so battery life isn’t that much a deal breaker.

      • Da Fuq

        I have a Mi Pad and battery life is pretty good. Does Nvidia have any battery saving software?

    • spectremANDROID

      What’s the price?

  • I’m going for the Shield Tablet. That’s the best tablet right now

    • John Garlits

      I have to agree with you there.

  • Chris

    Dat bezel.

  • David Li

    It’s unfair to say that the Shield Tablet is “16 GB” when there is a 32 GB + LTE variant for the same price as the 16 GB Nexus 9 and you list other tablets as “16GB / 32GB”

  • Marty

    I’m really interested in an HTC-made Nexus tablet. I love HTC hardware – among the best as far as I’m concerned. And this Nexus 9 tablet certainly looks sweet.

  • monkey god

    I’m kinda torn between the Nexus 9 and the Tab S. The Tab S got dat screen and dat expandable storage though and its around the same price. Nexus 9 got dat Tegra K1 pure android, and boomsound. I’m not that much of a 3d gamer on the tablet, but im also a display and sound snob. So difficult to decide!

    • Bryan

      The nvidia shield tablet has front facing speakers, supports micro SD card, + tegra k1, and cheaper than both. If recommend it.

      • Aditya Gaikwad

        Give bryan a medal (sarcastically). Well said bro. But if you want better screen/built quality then nexus 9 might be the way to go.

      • monkey god

        I want a bigger screen, around 9-10″, so a Shield is probably not for me.

  • monkey god

    can anyone explain the advantages and disadvantage between having a 4:3 vs a 16:9 screen? Which would be better for reading comics? I’m deciding between the Nexus 9 and Tab S.

    • José A. Medina

      I’m not an expert 4:3 means the screen its a little more “squarish” if you want (like an ipad) which is great for web browsing, reading and basically everything but media consumption (videos and movies) because when you put it on landscape mode you get one black bar on top and bottom of the display and waste screen space, meaning you won’t feel that full screen sensation.

      On the other 16:10 are more rectangular (like any 10″ android tablet) those are great for everthying too, including media consumption.

      I think all the 4:3 rage it’s because of that, because the black screens and maybe they overeact.
      Personally i like 4:3 because it feels more comfortable to me at hand than 16:10, plus i tend to read a lot of ebooks, webpages and pdfs so that resolution is great, even that i use youtube everyday i wouldn’t mind, because the iphone had the same problem and Google fixed it, so i don’t see why i wouldn’t do it for the new flagship tablet.

      But I’m not a expert, so if i got something wrong or missed something please correct me.

      • monkey god

        Almost all Android devices are 16:9 or 16:10 right? Does this mean that most Android apps/games are designed for this ratio? Will this present an issue on a 4:3 screen?

        • José A. Medina

          That’s hell of a question, my guess is probably, maybe some apps will look strange but I’m hopping the developers will get on that.

        • Joseph Carty

          The answer to that question is no. This is one of the new features of Lollipop. It is making android seamless among any screen size or aspect ration. The implementation may take a couple of months as the developers implement this new feature but for the future of android – aspect ration, size, and pixel density concerns are hopefully gone.

  • Manningham

    Is it possible to attach a USB key or external hard drive to get extra storage? Maybe through a USB – MicroUSB adapter? The cloud’s no good when flying Seoul to NYC..

    • Aditya Gaikwad

      yes sure cause google aint that stupid to dump the otg functionality. Infact they have added new features like you can connect high powered microphones and controllers to the device through usb. Its all mentioned in the android 5.0 features list which is a 4 page list when printed.

  • Ivan Budiutama

    My wallet, my poor wallet

  • Aditya Gaikwad

    even if the shield tablet is best bang for buck , nexus 9 can be directly compared to the iPad air.

    Same aspect ratio and best of both worlds( i have seen many people getting confused whether they should opt for 7.9″ or 9.8″ iPad)

    also even if people will complain that watching videos is gonna result in black bars , how does the iPad play video then. Also if you play a video on nexus 9 the video size will be of roughly 7 inches so its gonna be like watching on nexus 7 but you will get additional functionality in every other way ( apps like evernote , word, browser , games photo editing , etc)

    So the tagline is nexus 9 is best tablet yet to hit market with most powerful chip( ARM ) in a tablet

    • Joshua Hill

      Unfortunately it’s not priced like the Nexus 7.

  • Michael Mantion

    Man Kitkat and nexus 5 were so great, I guess I expected too much.. I won’t be getting a nexus 9, I guess I will just go with the shield. I don’t understand people that think metal on the outside is a good thing.

  • Ernest

    Since when samsung had front facing speakers lol

    • totoro

      I think the first note tablet has front facing speakers, same w/ the other tab models excpt the latest models?

  • BatDroid

    Apparently! It doesn’t hold up very well against likes of Tab S 8.4 and iPad Air, at-least that’s what spec-sheet and design says.

    • Noeliu

      Have you seen Tab S homescreen lag? its just disgusting for a 600$ tablet

  • R.D. Vaughan

    I currently own a Nexus 10 and through a relative got extensive time on a Samsung Tab S 10.5″. I primarily use my tablet for media consumption. This new Nexus 9 holds no interest for me. It fails on these points:
    1) Price compared to a Samsung Tab S 10.5″ as this is the first time the Nexus line is not delivering bang for the buck. That was a good reason to tolerate the lack of an internal mSD reader.
    2) Lack of AMOLED screen technology. The Tab S screen is just so much better than IPS especially in low light conditions, no light bleed that seems to always effect IPS screens to some extent.
    3) 4:3 aspect ratio resulting in far to much wasted space when watching HD videos. If I wanted 4:3 I’d buy an iPad (now I have to go and wash my mouth out with soap).

    Despite having a 64bit processor I’ll definitely hold on to what I have until a 64bit, 10.x” AMOLED alternative is available. In the mean time my Nexus 10 is getting an Android Lollipop update when it’s released so I’m not feeling left out.

    • Tran Nguyen

      I have same your thoughts. My old Nexus 10 is going to die soon (screen turned brown). I plan to buy Galaxy Tab S 8.4 or 10.

  • Wide bezels = ugly! I have the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 – a thing of beauty by comparison with its narrow bezels. Feels and looks classy, elegant. Comparing these tablets to cars, the Tab S looks like a sports car while the Nexus 9 reminds me of a Ford Flex – square, boxy, ugly.

    • Noeliu

      Tab S lags even in the homescreen… I hate that!

  • John Garlits

    The Shield is looking better all the time to me. Same resolution, same RAM, same GPU, similar CPU (not 64 bit version, but who cares until there is software or extra RAM to take advantage of it), SD card slot, straightforward HDMI out instead of maybe MHL which may or may not work anyway, even a stylus thrown in which could be nice. Speakers I imagine may not be quite as good as HTC, but that’s probably fine, and no I don’t care to take photos with a big tablet, so I don’t care about the camera specs either. I even disabled the camera on my N7 2013.

  • gacl

    16B storage is ridiculous! AND no SD slot!!! SD cards work great with photos/videos but most apps/games can’t be stored on SD in Android 4.x (they may have fixed in 5).

  • Nethaneel Sagun

    The lack of an SD card slot is disappointing.

  • jamesinkorea

    The Galaxy Tab S looks like the best to me.

  • Nabeel

    What do we Learn…? Go with Shield…is that it…?

  • Da Fuq

    64-bit and only 2GB RAM? WTF???

  • Marty

    I’d love to have a Nexus 9, but the display puts me off. The Galaxy Tab S has a much higher resolution AMOLED display for the same cost. Granted, the Tab S build quality is sketchy and you take a gamble if the one you buy is without flaws. Still, if you can stand returning flawed ones until you get a perfect one, the Tab S is the better value.

  • apolloa

    The Nexus 9 is a bit too big for me, so I’m sticking with the Sony Z3 Tablet. I would really think about it if it was a bit smaller and it should have more RAM I think.