Google Tablets Compared

In 2005, Google spent $50 million snapping up a small startup called Android Inc. It had been a more or less secret project since 2003, and work continued under a similar ‘fog of war’ until 2007, when the Android Operating System was formally unveiled by the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of corporations with an interest in agreeing certain industry standards.

The first smartphone shipped with Android was the HTC Dream in late 2008.

Google entered the tablet market in 2010, via the Nexus range of products. Early devices were made in collaboration with Asus, while for the Nexus 9 they partnered with HTC.

In late 2015, Google seemed to signal a change in direction, and announced the Google Pixel C tablet, to be manufactured by Google themselves.

Google Pixel C

Google Pixel C Tablet 32gb Silver Aluminum WiFi Only
  • 308ppi
  • 10.2 inches
  • 8mp rear camera 2 mp front camera

The first tablet developed and marketed by Google alone. It was partly the result of Google’s experience with the Chromebook range of laptops, and featured an interesting keyboard – the keys are almost as far apart as on a laptop’s keyboard, but a few less used keys were moved to the touchscreen.

Reviewers noted how heavily it borrowed in design concept from the previously-maligned Microsoft Surface range.

HTC Nexus 9

Google Nexus 9 Tablet (8.9-Inch, 32GB, Black, Wi-Fi)
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop; 8.9-Inch IPS LCD TFT Display; QXGA (2048x1536)
  • NVIDIA Tegra K1 2.3 GHz Processor
  • 32 GB Flash Memory, 2 GB RAM Memory

The fourth in the Nexus line, the powerful Nexus 9 ran Android 5.0 and sold for $399. It was praised for its great front-facing speakers and criticized for elements of its design. We previewed it here.

Asus Nexus 7 (2013)

Nexus 7 from Google (7-Inch, 8 GB, Brown) by ASUS (2012)...
  • 8GB Memory, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1
  • Android 4.1, Jelly Bean for a smooth and responsive user experience
  • 1280 x 800 high-definition IPS panel with an ultra-wide 178 viewing angle

An upgrade in almost every way, the Nexus 7 II was slightly taller, narrower, and thinner than its 2012 predecessor. The result was a device that sat much more comfortably in the hand – though we were confused about why only the side bezels were trimmed.

It suffered the same problem of having no expansion slots, but like the Nexus 10 it had a wonderful screen – it had twice as many ppi as its closest Apple competitor.

Samsung Nexus 10

Google Nexus 10 (Wi-Fi only, 16 GB)
  • Google Nexus 10 (Wi-Fi only, 16 GB)

This tablet seemed to represent a major shift away from stuffing performance into devices and towards improving the whole ‘look and feel’. It was an Android tablet that started to give the kind of user experience enjoyed by Apple customers.

Meanwhile, the display was, at the time, unmatched. A 2560 x 1600 pixel display, boasting 300 ppi, had a stunning effect. We gave the tablet a positive review, though we recommended users take a look at other options too.

Asus Nexus 7 (2012)

Asus Google Nexus 7 16GB Tablet (Gen 2), 7 Inches (Renewed)
  • 7-inch tablet screen, 1200x1920 (323 ppi), LED-backlit IPS LCD capacitive...
  • Powerful 3950 mAh battery, 10 hours, 15Wh Li-polymer Battery
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 8064 Quad-Core, 1.5 GHz

Apparently released in competition with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the Nexus 7 had no rear camera or upgrade slots. Although in many ways limited, it outshone its most direct competitor.