Nexus 7-32GB with LTE (2013 Edition)

About a month ago, I purchased the Nexus 7-32GB from T-Mobile. Obviously, this is the LTE version, and it is the 2013 Edition which means it is the thinner one with a camera in the front and the rear. I bought this tablet for a couple of reasons. First, I think I should have something relatively nice once every couple of years without a “need” or condition. My last major purchase was my notebook which replace the one that died, and the one before that was my Nexus 4 which required a 2 year contract. Now with the tablet came a down payment which was pretty much the $10 SIM card, and sales taxes on the price defined by T-Mobile. With expedited Shipping, I paid $50 and will be paying $16/month for 24 months. In addition, there is a $10/month service charge for 200MB, but since I am a T-Mobile customer, there is a $10 credit that will be applied to the bill.

The tablet has a Snap Dragon S4 Pro running at a 1.5Ghz Quad Core CPU. This is a little slower, but more cores than my notebook that I am typing this posting on. It has an Adreno 320 GPU running at 400Mhz which is sufficient for tablet games. There is 2GB of memory, and 32GB of storage with no micro-SD card slot. There is a 3950mAh battery which does about 8-9 hours of active use, and can go a day with casual use. The micro-USB2 port supports for both charging, HID (Human Interface Devices), and Slim Port for media. This port is located on the bottom with the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. Both power, and volume is located on the right hand side along with the Micro-SIM tray. The screen has full HD with 323ppi, a 1.2MP front camera and 5MP rear camera. There is no LED flash however. It supports Dual Band Wifi-N, Quad Band GSM-2, 850/900/1900/2100 HSPA+ as well as AWS 1700/2100 (used by T-Mobile) for GSM 3G. It supports 700/850/1700/1800/1900/2100 MHz LTE, and Bluetooth 4.0LE. Obviously, it also has GPS, and NFC.

The Good

The tablet is great in quality, and reliability. I have used it to offset the demand on my phone, and right now – it has replaced some apps that were on the phone, and been set up with the Tablet only. The screen is pretty good quality especially when I have to compare it with the Sero 7 which was terrible and leaves the Nexus 7 the winner in every aspect with exception of the Bad Points. And the options for connectivity is also a great thing. Rather than using my phone for getting bus directions, I have set up common places on the tablet which the bigger screen makes it a joy to deal with. Not only that, I have actually settled down and watched videos, played games and read documents – things which I never done on my phone. The tablet not only offset my demand on the phone, but on the PC as well. When watching a video on the tablet is good enough – that makes it a viable alternative to turning on, and powering the notebook.

The LTE connection is much like icing on the cake. While my smart phone always had a GSM-3G connection, I do notice near Wifi speeds (at least comparing my home) when I am not home. This means that data reliability at least with my instance has been pretty good. And since I don’t use a lot of data, I hadn’t hit the 200MB limit on the tablet yet, although if I did – T-Mobile will just throttle the connection which will mean I will likely use my Wimax router.

And obviously with this being a Nexus device, I have a reliable update path. The performance for the dollar in my opinion is pretty good, and yes, there are rumors of an 8” Nexus replacing this 7” version, and while I am sure I can notice the screen difference – the 7” is worth the keeping of the primary tablet – especially since I am still paying for it.

The Bad

There are a couple of issues – a couple seems to be with the carrier’s policy, while others is related to the tablet. First, since this has a cellular data connection, I technically have a phone number associated with the tablet. However, I can’t use this phone number for anything. I know, I can’t make calls on it, and I wouldn’t want to even if it had the earpiece and mouthpiece for such. However, it would have been nice to use the phone number for SMS/MMS capabilities. And it does seem as if the tablet will receive a message, but will show a notification which I could do nothing about it. I do have Google Voice installed, and since I use Google Voice as my primary number, this is good enough.

And another issue in my opinion is the lack of expansion. It will seem as if Google has followed the Apple way where there is no choice on the storage expansion, so you have to buy the capacity you assume you will need. However, in the case of the Nexus line, there seems to only be two options, and one if you want LTE on the Nexus 7. Simply put this is terrible, and I find the rationale of Google saying that they are doing this to make it easier for consumers as a crock. They could have simply designed code into Android where media and created files store on the SD card while apps, personalized data (contacts/logs), and the OS is on the storage system. So, while I know that quality devices with expandable storage will become extinct, there is no rule that says I can’t go kicking and screaming about it. In reality, my $125 Sero 7 with a 32GB Class 10 Micro SD card has more storage capacity than my $375 Nexus 7, and that is a shame.

The Ugly

T-Mobile does not allow tethering on this reduce price plan. This is more of an issue with T-Mobile. Thankfully, I carry my wimax router if I should need to use my PC when I am not home. In addition, I had to go through a couple of cases before I found one that seem to be right for me. You would figure with a uniformed and popular design of the Nexus 7, there will be more for it. In addition, it will seem as if my LTE connection drops dramatically when I connect to Wifi. I am guessing this is a feature where the LTE antenna reduces itself when it detects a better connection, and I am hoping that to be the case.

I also had to adjust myself with the variations on the tablet vs. my Nexus 4. For example on the 4, the power button is on the right while the volume is on the left. With the 7, they are both on the right. You would figure Google will tell the OEMs to put everything in a uniformed way. Simply put, most people don’t think of LG with the Nexus 4, and Asus with the Nexus 7. They just know Google. Last, there is no LED flash. Now, I am not one that tries to use my tablet as a camera. I don’t even take many pictures. However, the LED flash can serve another role to function as a flashlight. At night time when I don’t want my phone on – it would be nice to just use my tablet as a flashlight when letting my two dogs out at 5AM.

And will it kill someone to make a good quality keyboard? You would figure with Asus being the manufacturer, they would have made a good keyboard. And yes, all keyboards for a 7” device will be not so great, but I am asking for good enough. Other decent accessories will be nice too.

Verdict

I do not regret the decision to buy the Nexus 7. I also feel that anyone in a market for a small tablet (less than 9”) will find this one pretty good. And of course being a Nexus device, this will have a reliable update path. And while there are very few in the way of quality accessories, and there are a number of apps I have that aren’t supported for tablets (such as BBM, and WhatsApp), the tablet not only offset the demand on the phone, but also on the PC. If someone consumes media, this is an idea choice. Also with all but 1 band (HSPA-1700Mhz) supported and the device unlocked – it will work well with any GSM2G/3G carrier. With more than 20 bands of LTE available, one can’t expect complete support there, but there it would seem as if most if not all US LTE bands are supported.

If you can pay full price, you should go through Google Play. There is a 16GB, and 32GB for Wifi Only, but just 32GB for cellular. If you want to keep your price down, one might consider a service such as Freedom Pop, and that will give 500MB free. Although, this means 2 devices to carry and keep charged. I personally like the integrated cellular.

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