Tablets seem to get more and more attention nowadays, especially the newish 7” generation that caught our attention through the low budget devices they provide, like the newly released Asus Google Nexus 7 or Samsung’s 7” Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0).
Originally, I was going to talk about a dogfight between the Google Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) and the rumored Amazon Kindle Fire 2 and Apple’s iPad Mini, but I’m going to settle for the first two, as I don’t want to make false presumptions based only on rumors. Rumors are not one of my strong points, they are not to be trusted.
So, as I said before, let’s see how the Google Nexus 7 does against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) and see which one is better suited for you.
The Nexus 7 has a nice and simple design with a sturdy build quality in spite of its all-plastic construction and low budget. The back cover has a nice rubbery textured feel to it that keeps your fingerprints away and offers a good grip so you won’t feel like dropping it.
You get a comfortable experience from the Google Nexus 7 not only because of its build quality, but because of its compact size too, measuring 198.5 x 120 x 10.5 mm, almost the same as a book.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is not so different from the Nexus 7 regarding build quality and measurements. It comes with a minimalistic and simple design with a nice textured back that repels fingerprints. You get the same comfortable experience as with the Nexus 7, but I tend to lean towards Google’s device when it comes to design and comfort.
We know that both tablets come with a 7” display, but the technologies that power them are different. The Nexus 7 comes with a LED-backlit IPS LCD screen with a resolution of 800 x 1280 pixels that packs 216 ppi (pixels per inch). It offers nice and sharp images with no pixelation or jaggedness and it has surprisingly good viewing angles for a budget tablet.
Compared to the Nexus, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0’s front is inferior in all aspects, featuring a PLS LCD display that comes at a lower 600 x 1024 resolution with even lower 170 ppi pixel dispersion which would result in pixelated images that could hurt your eyes when you’re reading text at near distances.
So, regarding the display and image quality, the Nexus 7’s is not only better than Samsung’s but than most tablets out there and there’s something else I like about the front of Google’s tablet, and that is the larger bezel around the display, giving its users a more comfortable grip without worrying that you might accidentally touch the screen.
Both devices feature good specs that have their ups and downs, but be advised, as you might not like what you will see in the following lines as both might miss some features that could be essential for some of you.
Google went for the best when it came to processing power and equipped the Nexus 7 with the 4-PLUS-1 Nvidia Tegra 3 Quad-core 1.3 GHz CPU that comes with a 12-core ULP GeForce GPU and compared to Samsung’s Galaxy 2 7.0, that makes a big difference, as Samsung has a weaker Dual-core 1 GHz CPU and an even weaker GPU, the PowerVR SGX540.
The Nexus 7 might have outsmarted the Galaxy Tab 2, but when it comes to storage space, Google’s device gets hit below the belt, as the Nexus only gets 8/16 GB of internal memory with no means to expand via an microSD slot and if you compare that to Samsung’s 8/16/32 GB storage that can be expanded through a microSD card of up to 64 GB, well you get one big disadvantage.
The only thing you could do to expand the storage on the Google Nexus 7 is by buying a microUSB to USB adapter and use it to store your data on a memory stick or keep all of your data in the cloud which could be kind’a hard to access when you’re on the move, as the Nexus 7 doesn’t come equipped with a cellular antenna, so no 2G/3G/4G for you, only Wi-Fi and I’m sure you see the down-side in that too.
Speaking of wireless, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 has a cellular antenna, better Wi-Fi and stereo Bluetooth which helps for better and faster connectivity, but getting to the wired side, the Galaxy Tab 2 comes with a 30 pin proprietary connector for charging and connectivity instead of the usual microUSB slot and not to mention that you can’t charge the tablet via USB, so… there goes Samsung’s shining moment.
Now, none of these two devices is the winner regarding hardware because for some of you, the Nexus 7 would be perfect if performance and a good user experience is what you want to get out of your tablet, but if you’re one of those guys who uses their slate as a media device, uploading lots of music and movies to it, then you need to go for the Galaxy Tab 2.
The camera is not an important asset of a tablet because you don’t see people running around taking pictures with their tablets (you see that only in an Apple ad), that’s what phones and real cameras are for.
With that in mind, you do need a camera on a tablet, but not for taking pictures, you need it for video conversations and that’s what the Nexus 7 has. It has a 1.2 MP front facing camera that can only be accessed while you’re in a camera dependent app, like Skype. Google’s Nexus 7 doesn’t feature a rear camera because they thought it’s not necessary and it would make the tablet more expensive.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 features a front facing VGA camera for video calling and a 3.15 MP rear camera that in my opinion should not be there because even my old phone took better pictures. The camera lacks auto-focus, you get a bluish image and in low light conditions, digital noise is all over the place.
This is an entire different story where the Google Nexus 7 gets the happy ending (that’s a dirty mind you’ve got there), because it comes with the latest Android Jelly Bean 4.1 right out of the box and the user experience is simply awesome with a pure Android UI with nothing on top.
Project Butter combined with the Nvidia Tegra 3 processor makes everything run as smooth as butter, without any lag whatsoever and the animations are fluid and flawless.
We get a great browsing experience with the Chrome Browser on the Nexus 7 tablet, as everything runs how you expect it to run… fast, smooth and without any choppiness.
The only thing I don’t like about the UI of the Nexus 7 is that it doesn’t support landscape mode while you’re in the home screen or in the app drawer, but don’t worry (be happy), as when you launch an app, if that app has a landscape version, you will be able to use it in landscape as you would normally.
On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 doesn’t offer the same smooth experience as the Nexus 7. It lags from time to time and the animations are not as fluid, but this shouldn’t worry you because I’m sure that the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 will get updated to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean in the near future.
For now, the Galaxy Tab comes with the latest version of Android ICS out of the box which is combined with a not so impressive TouchWiz UX which didn’t see many improvements compared to its predecessors, but don't get scared of what I'm babbling about the experience you get out of the UI as it's much better than what Honeycomb had to offer.
When it comes to user experience, I would pick the Nexus 7, because it’s without question the better option, beating the Galaxy Tab 2 in every aspect, from speed to animated transitions.
I have to say that we got more battery life out of the Google Nexus 7 because of its bigger 4325 mAh battery and the energy efficient Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset that switches to its 5th companion core when you’re not doing anything demanding on the device.
You’ll get almost 8 hours of heavy usage out of the Nexus 7 and a few days of stand-by time, but these numbers are not carved in stone as it might fluctuate from one user to another, depending on the way it’s used.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 has a slightly smaller 4000 mAh battery that will give you up to 3 days of light usage and 6 to 7 hours of heavy lifting.
All I had to say was written in the upper lines, but I want to remind you that these two tablets are not perfect, not both of them, but one of them could be perfect or almost perfect for your tastes. As I’ve mentioned before, if you want performance and a great user experience, you should aim for the Google Nexus 7, but if you’re a media oriented person and you like to store music, movies and such on your tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is the right choice for you.