The HTC-made Nexus 9 desires a slice with the iPad Air a couple of and Xperia Z4's pie, but is it nearly the job?
- Because launch of the actual Nexus 10 several years ago, Google has chosen to focused on its smart dataphone and compact, in lieu of full-size, tablet varies, but it's now time for any comeback. After effectively making the Nexus 10 to assemble dust, the Nexus 9 has the iPad in its sights just as before.
Nexus 9 assessment: design
But how good is this kind of HTC-manufactured tablet? Should it sock it to the iPad Air a couple of, or is it just another Android also happened to run, destined for the actual try-again discount pack?
If it were all as a result of appearance and quality, the answers in order to those questions wouldn’t possibly be particularly positive. Pull the Nexus 9 via its box and the vital thing you might wonder is where your money has removed.
The Nexus 9 is actually ringed with blown aluminium, which appears to be smart enough; it’s capped with shatter- and scratch-resistant Gorilla Goblet 3; and it's got a pleasingly minimal appearance, too. Unfortunately, though, it’s undermined hugely by cheap-feeling plastic around the rear and underwhelming quality.
Tap the rear lightly plus it gives disconcertingly; twist the tablet and the whole thing creaks and groans. Pull with a corner of the panel plus it starts to come from its mooring, however the rear isn’t made to be user-removable at all. If you opt for the “lunar white” or “sand” versions, anticipate to get the cleaning cloth out often: it picks upward grime like nobody’s small business. Alternatively, choose the actual “indigo black” model instead.
The Nexus 9 can’t keep a candle to the iPad Air a couple of or, for of which matter, the Samsung Universe Tab S 8. four, Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8. 9in or our current much-loved Android tablet, the actual Sony Xperia Z2 Product, all of that happen to be more solid-feeling and attractive.
The only pluses are that it’s relatively light – actually, at 425g, it weighs a fraction under the equivalent ipad tablet Air 2, as well as smaller overall size (it measures 154 back button 7. 95 x 228mm) means it depends for folk having large hands to figure out in one mitt. Otherwise it’s a bit of a disappointment.
Nexus 9 assessment: prices, options and features
Usually, Nexus devices represent fantastic value, which counteracts any issues due to slightly inferior quality and features. At £319, the Nexus 9 definitely undercuts the ipad tablet Air 2 – on the other hand, simply being cheaper isn’t adequate these days.
At this price, the Nexus 9 is in direct competition with all the Kindle Fire HDX 8. 9in (£319), the actual Samsung Galaxy Ersus 8. 4 (£275), the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet (£369) and the original iPad Air (£319), all which offer more features, have a more inviting design, or both equally.
And to increase its woes, there aren’t many choices for would-be customers either. You can obtain a 32GB Wi-Fi Nexus 9 for £399 and a 32GB 4G model for £459, nevertheless that’s your ton. Anyone wanting more storage will likely be stuck, particularly since there’s no microSD slot intended for expansion - a big miss in each of our opinion.
Nexus 9 assessment: Display
The Nexus 9’s display screen makes a a little bit better first impression. Turn the Nexus 9 in, and you’re greeted by the bright, vibrant, crystal-clear graphic. It measures 9in through the diagonal, so it’s a little smaller than the actual iPad Air 2’s display, but with the identical resolution of 1, 536 back button 2, 048, this narrowly outdoes this for pixel density, at 284ppi.
We also such as 4: 3 aspect ratio that it resolution delivers. Usually, the screens in Android tablets are 16: 9 or 16: 10 extramarital liasons, which feel a little awkward - they're too tall to practically easy use in portrait orientation and too short in landscape. With the actual Nexus 9, all of us felt comfortable whatsoever way up all of us held the product. In portrait, you get an abundance of room to understand most websites with their full width and never having to zoom in, and in landscape, there's enough height to the screen that you don't feel you're needing to scroll on a regular basis.
The disadvantage with the 4: 3 ratio is actually that movies never look quite nearly as good, with much broader black bars earlier mentioned and below, but it's a satisfactory compromise and must not affect your enjoyment a lot of.
In our techie tests, the numbers look good, also. At maximum purity, the IPS display screen outmatches the ipad tablet Air 2, reaching 456cd/m2 using a full white display screen (compared with 401cd/m2), and contrast is really a fine 1, 092: 1. Colour accuracy is extremely good indeed, by having an average Delta E of 1. 53 and a maximum of 3. 52, and the display is capable of displaying 94. 9% with the sRGB colour field.
However, there is really a problem, and it’s a reasonably big one: around all edges with the display is a new gentle white glow – proof of major backlight seapage. This is in particular noticeable – and distracting – throughout movie playback, once the light is evident in dark views, and against the actual black bars earlier mentioned and below the film.
Nexus 9 assessment: performance
In terminology of performance there’s much less to complain regarding, but the Nexus 9 nevertheless doesn’t post a totally unblemished set regarding results. Under the hood is really a dual-core Nvidia Tegra K1 computer chip running at a couple of. 3GHz and the Nvidia Kepler DX1 GPU, together with 2GB of RAM. This combination performed brilliantly inside benchmarks, coming an extremely close second to the iPad Air 2 inside more demanding tests.
That may be a blip, however, since generally use, we by no means felt wanting intended for speed. The Nexus 9 feels every bit as responsive as the iPad Air a couple of, and nothing we made it possible to throw at this caused it to a great deal as break a new sweat. Clearly, the actual Nvidia K1 is actually highly capable.
Nexus 9 assessment: Android 5 (Lollipop)
The Nexus 9’s major attraction isn’t it is performance, however, it’s the software program: Android 5 (Lollipop). What’s completely new? With Android’s biggest ever update, it’s difficult to know how to start, but the greatest change is inside visuals. Android 5 is really a completely different looking operating system, much brighter and cleaner than just before, and the completely new “Material Design” scheme works in promoting a more contemporary feel.
The adjustments aren’t just skin color deep. Almost every portion of the user interface has been updated. The keyboard set, for instance, don't has edges or anything else delineating the correspondence, but our keying accuracy hasn’t endured. It simply makes it easier to understand the alternative characters.
The lock display screen now boasts richer notifications you can double tap in order to open, or swipe in order to dismiss. The pull-down Notifications menu has been revamped: anyone can expand and contract individual notifications, or mute them for any period; and quick settings are available with an additional pull down with the menu. The software drawer has completely new clothes, too: icons are arranged using a white “card”, which floats above a new darker background.
One particularly nice feature with the new version regarding Android is a chance to pick and opt for which apps to setup from a previously stored Android device. When you first set up the actual Nexus 9, as opposed to being given the option to restore via backup or by pass, as with past versions, you’re given a list with boxes to tick next to the apps you choose, so you don’t have to go through the rigmarole regarding removing apps you don’t want, or installing them one after the other from the Enjoy Store. It’s a little improvement, but an extremely welcome one.
Even the back, Home and app-switcher buttons in the bottoom of the screen have been redesigned, although all of us think the triangle, circle and square really are a touch too cryptic.
We’re also none too looking towards the new app-switcher display screen, which introduces a far more fussy 3D Rolodex-style view; it’s unnecessarily fussy in this view. However, generally we do such as new look. Every UI element are now able to be given not just X and Y co-ordinates, but likewise a Z co-ordinate intended for depth, with the OPERATING SYSTEM calculating real-time shadows dependant on those numbers. This makes Android look fresh and contemporary, and since the actual changes extend to every one the major Google apps (Gmail, Calendar and for that reason on), it’s a reasonably consistent look, also.
Behind the views, there’s now help for 64-bit processors and, at long previous, a move from the Dalvik JIT runtime – with which portions of the OS and apps will be compiled at runtime – to the new ART method, which uses pre-compiled code. It’s a move aimed towards improving all-round responsiveness and eradicating the lag that many Android devices would certainly demonstrate (even rather powerful ones) on the oddest of periods.
Time will tell how well this kind of works – and we’ll report back when our office Nexus 7 (2012) will get its update – but with all the Nexus 9 all of us haven’t yet knowledgeable any significant lag.
Android 5 (Lollipop) is additionally jam-packed with innovative features, designed to express to and help make yourself easier, from the message around the lockscreen that notifys you how long your device will require to charge, to the reworked battery-saver setting, which kicks in at 15% (it's achievable to customise this kind of, if need be). In all of the, we're pleased with all the new Android; it's actually a big improvement.
It’s worth remembering, too, that since the Nexus 9 is definitely an official Google device, it will obtain the next version regarding Android first, and updates should appear through quicker, too.
Nexus 9 assessment: battery life
Android 5 (Lollipop) likewise introduces new battery efficiencies within the moniker Project Volta, that happen to be aimed at generating the OS more power-efficient, especially in standby. For case in point, Android won’t now wake a device to use a network process when there’s no network connection productive; it can class unimportant app jobs together and run them in a short time, instead of getting out of bed the device in demand; and there’s now a chance to delay housekeeping work until your product or phone is associated with the mains.
This all bodes nicely for general stamina, and in each of our tests the Nexus 9 performed with aplomb. The very first time we ran each of our battery test all of us made the blunder of not putting it into airline flight mode, but despite syncing data inside background over Wi-Fi to the first eight hours with the test, it nevertheless outperformed the the actual iPad Air a couple of, lasting 13hrs 46mins in this looping 720p online video test. This end result also compares nicely with leading Google android tablets: the Sony Xperia Z2 Product lasted 14hrs 38mins and the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8. 9 intended for 16hrs 55mins.
If we ran the analyze again, this time having flight mode enabled through, the Nexus 9 lasted a remarkable 14hrs 59mins - using a par with the actual Xperia Z2 Product, but still not quite just like the HDX 8. 9.
Play games on it and, as having most devices, you'll see battery life plummet swiftly. However, with the actual Nexus 9, battery drain is a lot more pronounced than its key compete with. In the GFXBench power supply test, a projected runtime regarding 3hrs 25mins shows that anyone using this for intensive gaming will have to run to the actual mains slightly with greater regularity than owners with the iPad Air a couple of, which posted a new projected runtime regarding 3hrs 52mins on this test.
This doesn't seem like a huge variation, but we observed the Nexus 9 synthetically limiting the frame rate to conserve battery power: it averaged 34fps over the GFXBench battery analyze, which is considerably slower than what the Tegra K1 is capable of.
We were a little bit concerned, too, through the temperature the rear housing next to the camera reached over the more intensive tests we ran. This hit 46 levels after periods pf major use, which we observed unpleasantly hot to the touch.
Nexus 9: digital cameras, connectivity and audio system
Camera quality isn’t critical using a tablet, but with all the iPad Air a couple of upping the bet, it’s only fair to compare each in more depth than usual. In terms regarding raw specifications, the Nexus is using a par, with the 8-megapixel, f/2. 4 aperture camera on the rear and a new 1. 6-megapixel one at the cab end, and it pulls ahead with the help of a single-LED adobe flash.
Quality is fine for casual button snaps, but we found how the Nexus 9 offered help to blow available highlights badly, which the automatic bright balance went drastically wrong frequently; under strip lights at the office, everything took using a bluish tinge. Autofocus ended up being terribly slow, in particular in low gentle, hunting backwards and forwards forever before locking in. This isn't a device you’ll want to consider with you in order to shoot snaps of this kids in the institution play, and it isn’t a patch around the iPad Air 2 on this regard.
The Nexus 9 comes with the iPad outdone, just, on connection, with NFC on board besides 802. 11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4. 1 having A2DP and aptX sound support. Plus, sound quality is superb. With HTC’s BoomSound front-facing music system speakers, the Nexus 9 pumping systems out the audio by having an unusual level regarding strength and fortitude.
Volume levels are high – adequate to comfortably check out TV programmes and movies without reaching to the headphones – and there’s obviously any good degree of entire body and bass. The iPad Air 2 is good although not this good.
Nexus 9 vs Sony Xperia Z4 product
As well as the iPad Air a couple of, the Nexus 9 encounters another serious competitor inside shape of the actual Sony Xperia Z4 product.
Released at MWC 2015, the Xperia Z4 tablet has a larger, 10. 1 in screen with 2K quality, but at 6. 1mm as practically 2mm tinner versus Nexus 9. There are also Wi-Fi only or 4G versions, both which weigh a sliver beneath 400g, making them at the very least 30g lighter versus Nexus.
On the within, the Z4 product has somewhat better specs, including the octa-core processor, however the Nexus has larger battery capacity. We're yet so that you can fully put the actual Z4 through it is paces, but you can read our hands-on assessment here.
Nexus 9 assessment: verdict
Overall, it’s tricky to understand what to label of the Nexus 9. For the one hand, it’s the actual fastest Android product we’ve tested, and battery life for light tasks like watching video is actually superb. It has a bright, sharp display in a practical, usable four: 3 aspect rate, and great audio system, plus it’s gentle and reasonably slender.
In addition, this runs pure Google android, and the price to the base model undercuts the actual iPad Air 2 by the definitive margin. Additionally it is cheaper than each of our favourite large-screened Google android tablet - the actual Sony Xperia Z2 Product.
Yet it has many serious flaws, with poor quality chief among them. Then there’s the actual high battery exhaustion under load, backlight leakage round the edges of the actual screen, no microSD enlargement, and a deficit of high-capacity models, which put a major dent on this tablet's appeal.
Let us be clear about one thing, the Nexus 9 is a great Android tablet; on the other hand, it’s also far from perfect.
Label: a middling Google android tablet, Nexus 9 assessment, which has been great