The new Nexus 7 is the best Android tablet yet and surpasses the iPad Mini in performance, screen clarity, and, at $229 undercuts, Apple's mini slate by a full $100. However, as with many consumer electronics products, Google's latest has experienced its fair share of launch technical difficulties.
I'll detail some of those difficulties below, but first it's important to note that not every Nexus 7 unit is experiencing these problems. I reviewed the tablet in July and my review unit has yet to play host to any of these particular problems.
There was a bit of the expected wonkiness you sometimes get with Android tablets, but the vast majority of the time my experience was problem-free. That said, CNET New York's Nexus 7 test unit has experienced frequent random restarts.
So which problems are getting the most attention? Below are the three most prolific:
- GPS doesn't work:GPS either doesn't work at all or works for about 10 to 30 minutes before it no longer functions.
- Random reboots: The tablet reboots itself at random intervals.
- Phantom touches (aka the "keyboard issue"): The touch screen registers taps in random parts of the screen, whether your fingers have actually touched areas in question.
One CNET reader willing enough to share his story said he's gone through four different Nexus 7 units. The details of each unit's issues are pasted below:
Unit 1 - No GPS functionality in any app including Google Maps. 1/3 of the screen had a pink hue
Unit 2 - No GPS functionality in any app including Google Maps. Keyboard would phantom type garbage at random and not register key taps most of the time.
Unit 3 - GPS would function for 30 minutes max, then no lock. This unit would also randomly reboot every 30-40 minutes.
Unit 4 - Current Nexus 7 unit, back to no GPS functionality. Google support says factory reset yet again. This time it bricked the tablet at the X logo screen as others have reported. Android "No Command" hard failure.
How has Google addressed these problems?
Google last week released a software update addressing both the GPS issue and the phantom touches. However, each of the updates has been met with mixed results. On Google's Mobile Help Forum, some users are reporting that the update completely fixed the issues; others have seen only marginal improvement. Still others report no change at all.
When asked for comment, Google pointed me to the following forum posts concerning the GPS and touch screen/keyboard issues, respectively. Google mentioned to me that the GPS and keyboard issues had been fixed, but clearly not for all if some of the comments are to be believed.
Still, it's difficult to determine exactly what percentage of units in the wild are actually suffering from these problems. Building consumer electronic products is not a perfect science and in my experience there are always going to be a certain -- usually small -- percentage of units that have deal-breaker snafus. Despite the indubitable bad luck the reader above had, it's unclear whether the problems are as widespread as they appear to be.
I'll definitely keep an eye on the issues, but I also want your feedback. How has your experience with the 2013 Nexus 7 been? Let me know in the comments below.