Welcome home Nexus 9!
I just received Google’s latest flagship Nexus tablet, the Nexus 9 made by HTC.
HTC has not been making Google Nexus devices for quite awhile now (last one with Nexus One) but it’s great to see Google hiring HTC for the Nexus job. I just feel like Samsung is making too many damn tablets that people don’t want (perhaps too many different models) and really diluting the tablet market along with its Nexus line. HTC isn’t really big on tablets in the past but I feel like the HTC Nexus 9 is a great example of HTC’s abilities to make great 9-inch tablets.
The Nexus 9 comes with metal bezels that make it feel very solid in your hands along with a 1536×2048 pixel screen, which is a great combo for a 9-inch tablet. The tablet is super-zippy (once updated to latest firmware) and offers users pure Google experience without carrier bloatware. Like its predecessor Nexus 10, Nexus 9 also ships with stereo speakers (in landscape mode), which have great sound but not as loud as I would have like them to be.
For performance, Nexus 9 packs the latest Nvidia K1 dual-core 2.3Ghz processor (which isn’t quad-core but it’s faster than most Android tablets on the market today), which is among the fastest CPUs found on a tablet. I should have further benchmark testing with Antutu but for now, let’s say the Antutu scores are above 50,000, very impressive.
Surprisingly, the camera on the Nexus 9 is actually one of the best I’ve seen on a tablet, packing 8MP front-camera (with stereo recording), along with front 1.6MP camera. Although I detest using tablet as a camera (as it’s too bulky and makes you look like someone who can’t afford a smartphone), the Nexus 9 may be a good backup camera while traveling (and think of the longer battery you get so you can take more photos/videos).
Software on the Nexus 9 is probably the highlight as it’s the first Google device launched with the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop. The UI has been revamped with material design along with ART, which makes everything super-smooth and fast.
The 4:3 aspect ratio on the screen really ruins video viewing experience as most video apps use 16:9. While running the YouTube app, there are big, black spaces, making your screen-use a lot smaller than the real size of the tablet. Of course, the 4:3 aspect ratio may be better for holding the tablet for some, there may be advantages but I should have further analysis in my full review.
For storage, only 16 or 32GB of internal storage is provided, I just wish they added an extra micro-SD card slot so users can easily expand the storage as they like.
Pricing is a bit steep for the 32GB version, over $400. I know this is a Google tablet, it should never cost more than $400, especially considering its missing necessities like IR blaster, only 2gigs of RAM, and nothing out of the ordinary. Google has been always offering more for the price (like Nexus 10), but it’s clearly becoming evident that premium margins are being added to Nexus 9. I would say a fair “honest” pricing should be around $299 for the 16GB model.
Other than that, I have really nothing bad to say against the Nexus 9, it’s a really nice tablet with sleek design and powerful hardware. If you are looking for a good, fast tablet that’s not too big (less than 10-inch) but not too small (bigger than 7-inch), the Nexus 9 is perfectly built for that.
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