If there’s an Android contender to rival an iPad Air 2, that is it. The Nexus 9 has the identical display screen form, the identical decision and – just like the Apple tablet – launches with the perfect its platform has to supply.
You get the model new Android 5.0 Lollipop software program, bags of power and an excellent-sharp show: all for £80 less than an iPad Air 2. It’s positive to lure thousands away from the Apple Store.
Simply as vital, although, is what the Nexus 9 does for Android. It units the bar for future Android tablets, and sees Google lastly embrace non-widescreen tablets. It’s been a very long time coming.
THE TUPPERWARE OF TABLETS
There’s loads of reward to return for the Nexus 9, nevertheless it’s not a tablet that units out to wow you with its hardware design. Like the nice outdated Nexus 7, it’s extra sensible than luxurious.
The again is plastic, and has the type of minimalist design a swedish furnishings maker would possibly provide you with. Good-wanting? Positive, but it surely doesn’t give the arduous, costly impression of the iPad Air 2, or provide the jaw-dropping skinny-n-lightness of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4.
You get the sensation Google cares a bit of extra about what occurs whenever you swap the display screen on than what it appears like.
That we will be so blasé a few tablet this skinny and light-weight tells you about how far we have come, although. The Nexus 9 is 7.9mm thick and weighs simply 425g in its Wi-Fi solely incarnation. It is skinny and it is mild, it simply doesn’t showcase it in the identical method the 6.1mm-thick iPad Air 2 does.
That slight lack of preliminary impression is rapidly forgotten if you begin utilizing the Nexus 9, although. The 4:3 aspect is so significantly better suited to an 8in-plus tablet than the widescreen types that was once the Android norm.
Change between this and the Nexus 10 and the older tablet simply appears a bit, nicely, foolish. It’s not simply concerning the appears to be like both, however how its weighting sits in your mitt. The Nexus 9 feels proper, and is nearly gentle sufficient to make use of one-handed whereas studying an article on the prepare on the best way to work.
Briefly, the Nexus 9 makes it fairly apparent why 10in widescreen tablets have been by no means all that popular.
Google Nexus 9 tech specs
The Nexus would possibly lack among the gloss of an iPad Air 2 however construct high quality is greater than cheap. The plastic (in black, white or sandy beige) flexes just a little in components, and the quantity controls really feel a bit, effectively, naff. However the entrance is Gorilla Glass 3 and the band of steel across the sides provides you some confidence that HTC – this tablet’s maker – hasn’t scrimped fully on the necessities.
The scale, the form, the dealing with: we have now no critical complaints. Nonetheless, Google has intentionally restricted you in a single fairly annoying means. There’s no reminiscence card slot.
After all, iPads have by no means had reminiscence card slots, both – however the iPad Air 2 is offered in 64GB and 128GB variations should you’re the sort that values on-board storage. The Nexus 9, however, maxes out at 32GB.
Informal customers might properly get by with the usual 16GB, however with solely 10GB of it really obtainable to make use of when you issue within the OS, it’s quickly gone for those who load up a number of video games and flicks. You possibly can clearly bolster this with cloud storage from Google Drive or Dropbox, nevertheless it’s probably not the identical factor. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The Nexus 9 display simply begs for video games and movies, too. It provides oodles of pixels, 2048 x 1536 to be actual (similar to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5), and it’s sufficient to make every part on the 8.9in screen look as sharp as any rival.
Get your eyeball as much as the show and you may see a teeny little bit of fizziness, however we’re calling it: this decision is sufficient.
Similar to the Nexus 7 earlier than it, the Nexus 9 makes use of an IPS LCD display, the identical tech discovered within the iPad Air 2. The sturdy color replica melded with the excessive decision, shiny backlight and really quick image give the show loads of pop.
Nonetheless, purists will discover a couple of little points. First, that is an LCD and its black ranges aren’t near what you get from an OLED tablet such because the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4.
There’s additionally some fairly clear leakage from the backlight, notably clear on the high of the Nexus 9. It displays as a tiny strip of brightness on the prime of the display. It’s best to get used to it, however these with show OCD might discover it distracting. It’s pretty minor, however is one other little damaging to jot down for those who’re after the last word Android tablet.
WHAT FLAVOUR IS THAT LOLLIPOP?
That is the primary tablet to run Android 5.0 Lollipop, the model the remainder of the Android-utilizing world goes to be clamouring after for weeks or, extra probably, months. So what’s all of it about?
Android 5.0 Lollipop has a brand new look. It seems and feels acquainted, however every little thing has been given a refined facelift. The mushy keys are new. The apps menu now appears to be like like a sequence of white pages and also you double-swipe down from the highest of the display to entry fast settings toggles and display brightness.
The lock display is new, too, providing you with notifications with out having to take the tablet out of sleep mode. Very useful and about time. These are all issues that we’ve seen earlier than in different customized interfaces. It’s principally only a neat, easy, fairly cute UI – not a revolution.
Google has additionally reworked a bunch of the usual Android apps within the Nexus 9’s Android 5.0. Gmail, the Contacts e book, Calendar and even the Play Store have all been given a spring clear.
However talking of apps, it is also price noting that many nonetheless aren’t optimised for bigger Android screens. Builders appear completely satisfied to supply totally different variations of their apps for iPhone and iPad, however many appear content material to launch only one for Android, which is then merely blown-as much as match tablet screens. That may have some ugly outcomes.
However Lollipop is fairly elsewhere, with a color palette that now has that additional trace of pastel to it. And every little thing strikes with that additional little bit of pep. Google appears to need the Nexus 9 to be one thing that will slide gracefully into an IKEA present house in its software program in addition to its hardware design.
Is it flat-out higher than what you get with the Google Now interface out there for almost any Android system lately? Perhaps, however not by an enormous margin.
What actually issues is the stuff within the background – these turning cogs you’ll be able to’t see on the floor. Android 5.0 now helps 64-bit processors and is healthier primed for connections to different units than ever earlier than. Our guess is that this implies deeper integration with Android Put on watches, co-operation that we don’t even find out about but. For now, it means you possibly can take up the place you left off with media and apps in Lollipop goodies.
Numerous that promise is concerning the future, not proper now. For instance, whereas the Tegra K1 CPU used within the Nexus 9 is sixty four-bit, there’s nothing that particularly makes use of that extra superior structure at current.
It’s not noticeably sooner than earlier high Android tablets, both. There’s the odd trace of lag right here and there, undoubtedly as a result of Android 5.0 Lollipop is a child chick nonetheless dismissing these remaining bits of eggshell.
We think about it’ll quickly be improved in an replace earlier than too lengthy, and it’s hardly dangerous at current anyway. Simply the occasional stutter, and a few apps not loading as quick as we’d like, particularly given Android 5.0 makes use of a particular ART runtime that’s meant to hurry this complete course of up.
THE NUMBERS OF THE BEAST
Hardware-wise, the Nexus 9 is without doubt one of the strongest Android gadgets ever made.
Its Tegra K1 CPU is a dual-core 2.5GHz chipset – it could have simply two cores, however they don’t half pack a punch. Within the Geekbench three benchmark, it scores roughly the identical factors per core as you get out of all the Nexus 7’s 4 cores. For the spec-heads on the market, it scores 1970 factors per core, 3332 complete in Geekbench 3.
Nevertheless, the true meat of the K1 processor is within the graphics facet. It makes use of a Kepler DX1, which has 192 cores – sounds ridiculous and it sorta is.
We thought all this energy would possibly find yourself being squirted into oblivion, however there are already some video games that make terrific use of it. For instance, Useless Set off 2 affords a particular graphics mode not out there on different gadgets that provides attractive water results, the sort you’d solely usually see in console or PC video games. Sure, that does imply the sport is now jammed filled with puddles, however they aren’t half fairly.
These optimisations are already in place as a result of this isn’t the primary time a Tegra K1 has been jammed into an Android machine: the Nvidia Protect tablet has one, too (a barely totally different model). Nvidia went so far as to convey over classics equivalent to Portal and Half-life 2 to the Defend tablet, however they don’t appear to be accessible for the Nexus 9 but.
Fingers crossed they are going to be in some unspecified time in the future, although. If just for present-off factors.
Battery life is fairly good. Off a full cost we acquired just below 12 hours of video playback from the Nexus 9, with the display set to middling brightness – which is definitely most likely a bit brighter than you’d use indoors. In regular on a regular basis use it’s going to final a number of days.
For those who’re an actual energy person you is perhaps dissatisfied to search out that sizzling-swapping is off the desk. In truth, swapping of any variety appears unlikely – battery is not simply non-detachable, it is glued in place behind a again cowl you’ll be able to’t rip off.
The cameras are a slight weak level. On the again of the Nexus 9 sits an 8MP digicam whereas the entrance makes use of a relatively uncommon 1.6MP sensor.
Stroll round a significant metropolis and also you’re positive to see a great deal of vacationers taking a great deal of footage with their tablet – most likely iPads. However HTC and Google nonetheless appear to be working below the idea tablet cameras aren’t too vital.
We would would not necesarily argue with that, however in case you are a tablet snapper you may probably discover that your biggest annoyance isn’t picture high quality however autofocus pace. It feels sluggish, not the form of digital camera to whip out to seize your canine because it bounds throughout a park, flinging 360 diploma drool. You’d in all probability find yourself with a photograph of some grass. Possibly a tree when you’re fortunate. The Nexus 9 can be susceptible to overexposing nearly each cloud within the sky, too.
Strategy the digicam with persistence and you may get some affordable outcomes with fairly first rate color saturation, however we might suggest sticking to your telephone digital camera except you merely should let completely everybody see that you just’re rocking the brand new Nexus.
GOOGLE NEXUS 9 VERDICT
The Nexus 9 exhibits the place Android tablets of the long run ought to be headed — rather less geek locked of their bed room, a bit extra ‘peculiar particular person’ stress-free within the lounge. Nevertheless, it additionally has the uncooked energy beneath to fulfill lovers so it’ll provide you with the hardcore items as soon as extra devs will get their heads round its sixty four-bit Kepler engine.
However there are nonetheless some niggling flaws – the construct isn’t up there with the likes of the iPad Air 2, storage is proscribed and at this early stage Lollipop is just a bit stuttery.
Our different lingering remorse is that the Nexus 9 and Nexus 6 present that the Google Nexus line isn’t the discount-hunter’s paradise it was. Good worth total? Certain, however maybe the actual cut price proper now could be the £240 iPad Mini 2. Now there is a flip up for the books.