The Nexus 7 Review: Google's First Tablet Gets Benchmarked

Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) Improves Performance

Android 4.1, code-named Jelly Bean, is one of the Nexus 7's greatest assets. It's an apropos combination: the Nexus 7 is a tablet aficionado’s hard candy, and Android turns out to  be a delicious filling. Google is using its first tablet offering as an opportunity to debut Jelly Bean, which contains several usability improvements, including voice dictation (read all about the operating system's new features).

As a hardware guy, however, it's also easy to be impressed by how Jelly Bean affects the Nexus 7’s CPU and GPU performance.

Google claims that Jelly Bean’s internal improvements make the Android user experience so much smoother that the company internally dubbed its efforts “Project Butter.” Page 2 of Reporting From Google I/O 2012: Nexus 7 And Jelly Bean (Android 4.1)details many of the enhancements, but we'll review some of the raw benchmarks comparing Jelly Bean to its predecessor, Ice Cream Sandwich. According to Android engineering director Dave Burke, the core changes include:

  • To quote Google's developer page, "To ensure a consistent frame rate, Android 4.1 extends v-sync timing across all drawing and animation done by the Android framework. Everything runs in lockstep against a 16 millisecond v-sync heartbeat—application rendering, touch events, screen composition, and display refresh—so frames don’t get ahead or behind."

  • Again, to quote Google's already-simple explanation, "Android 4.1 also adds triple buffering in the graphics pipeline for more consistent rendering that makes everything feel smoother, from scrolling to paging and animations."
  • Finally, "Android 4.1 reduces touch latency not only by synchronizing touch to v-sync timing, but also by actually anticipating where your finger will be at the time of the screen refresh. This results in a more reactive and uniform touch response. In addition, after periods of inactivity, Android applies a CPU input boost at the next touch event, to make sure there’s no latency."

In practice, battery life seems largely unaffected moving from Ice Cream Sandwich to Jelly Bean.

  • joytech22
    I've had mine for about a week now, picked it up in JB Hi-Fi for $317 (AUSD 16GB version).

    Extremely impressed, blows my Iconia A500 out of the water.
    I just wish they had cases for the Nexus 7 in stock. :(
  • killerclick
    No thanks, I'll wait for Surface Pro. It will only be 5 times more expensive, three times heavier, and I simply must run Photoshop and AutoCAD on a tablet, because... just because.

    Microsoft FTW
  • EzioAs
    Wow, it seems that the nexus 7 is a really great product. Every reviewers seems to be very pleased with it's performance, portability and low price. This really is what every tablet should be :). The only issue I heard was that the speakers are quite terrible although I didn't see that mentioned in this review
  • mayankleoboy1
    if it had a fruity logo, it would be $400more
  • matter37
    Well, I have the Nexus 7 and I love it, I really dont like the 10" screen size on other tablets, I think 7" is great, but speaking of the Surface Pro, depending on how that thing performs it could easily replace my current notebook since it could have the capabilities of a ultrabook
  • bin1127
    I was reading the specs and was really impressed with the screen pixel density but missed reading the price first time around. Then when I saw the price that just blew me away.

    This isn't some left field tablet with no supporting software and apps. This is android and all that is attached to the OS. Google is going to blow apple out of the water. I'm looking forward to the lowered earnings guidance from apple any day now.
  • aznshinobi
    Love what they've done with the the Nexus lineup. All pretty affordable now and now with Jelly Bean, I'm sure even Apple lovers will like Android honestly. Project Butter and the new Voice Command is much better. Voice is better than Siri now too, pretty awesome.
  • darkchazz
    Hope they don't take long to release a nexus 10 tablet. Me want a bigger screen :)
    + Getting all updates first straight from google + best dev support FTW.
  • Great review, love how Toms always goes a little further while most other gadget sites only present an opinion.

    Any numbers on internal storage and wifi throughput performance?
    Have one on order and it would be interesting to know how long it would take to copy for example a movie onto the device.
  • hardcore_gamer
    On the other news, Apple is releasing a smaller version of iPad to compete with nexus 7 at a "compelling price" of $400.