Samsung Nexus 10 review
When Apple introduced the famed Retina display to the third-generation Apple iPad, it set a bar so high that the rest of the industry struggled to catch up. That’s until Google and Samsung joined forces to produce the Google Nexus 10.
Incredibly, the display on the Nexus 10 has an even higher pixel density than the iPad’s. Its 10in screen is an IPS panel with a resolution of 2,560x1,600, giving a pixel density of 300ppi, some 14% higher than the iPad’s 264ppi. The result is a screen with stunningly crisp graphics and super-sharp text.
It’s also a good-quality screen. We measured its maximum brightness as 436cd/m2 and contrast as 807:1, so brightness is similar to that of the iPad but contrast isn’t quite as high. In our subjective tests, we felt colours weren’t quite as vibrant as on Apple’s tablet, so images didn’t have quite as much punch.
The tablet isn’t as lovely to behold as the iPad, but we still like it. Instead of metal, the Nexus 10’s chassis is built entirely from grippy rubber-coated plastic. The black chassis is curvier than the iPad’s, and the bezel around the display is broader as well. At 603g, it’s 49g lighter than the iPad, which makes it very comfortable to hold. We’ve no problems with build quality, and the fact the glass on the front is Corning’s tough, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass is another big bonus. The Nexus 10 feels like it would survive a drop better than the iPad.
It isn’t short on features, either. Around the edges you’ll find Micro HDMI, a 3.5mm headphone output and a Micro USB port. You can only charge the Nexus from scratch with the included charger, but it can be topped up via USB if you leave the charger at home. Wireless connections, meanwhile, can be made via Bluetooth, NFC or dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi. There’s GPS, a 5-megapixel camera with flash on the rear and a 720p webcam on the front. The main camera takes pretty impressive pictures, but composing shots using an unwieldy tablet is never easy. The only thing missing is a memory expansion slot to add to the Nexus’ 16GB (or 32GB) of storage.
With all those pixels to shunt about, you might be worried that the Nexus 10’s dual-core 1.7GHz Cortex-A15 processor wouldn’t be able to cope, but the tablet performs admirably thanks to its top-end Mali T604 graphics core and 2GB of RAM. Critically, all the games we threw at it, from Asphalt 7 to Shadowgun, barely skipped a beat. The only problem is the screen is so good that it’s easy to spot where the developers have taken shortcuts.
The Nexus 10 coped with both local and online 1080p video files, and notwithstanding the slightly below-par contrast, they looked stunning. This makes the Nexus 10 a far better device for mobile video fans than the iPad, given its huge range of available video players and easy drag-and-drop file transfer from a PC - no syncing problems or Dropbox workarounds here.
In general use, too, the tablet’s Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) operating system runs very smoothly. There’s not a hint of lag anywhere, whether scrolling from homescreen to homescreen, browsing through app launcher screens or, critically, when typing with the on-screen keyboard. The keyboard lets you type by swiping from side to side, as with the third-party Swype keyboard, but we found it more comfortable on a screen this broad to stick to traditional tapping.
As it comes with Android 4.2, the Nexus 10 also supports multiple user accounts - a first for tablet devices and something that’s unlikely to be available on iPad ever. If you live with friends or family, this means you can share the device, with each user having their own email, bookmarks, apps, home screens, settings and preferences. It’s a brilliant implementation of a feature that’s been well overdue on tablets. Buy one, keep it on your coffee table, and let all the family use it.
If there’s anywhere the Nexus 10 struggles, it’s with complex, picture-heavy web pages. This may sound strange, considering the tablet has enough grunt to play back movies and games with barely a dropped frame, but on the Flickr website and the BBC home page, for example, scrolling and panning lagged and stuttered. It’s not a horrendous problem, but it’s enough to be noticeable.
More serious, though, is the fact that this high-resolution screen saps the battery. When playing our test video on loop at mid brightness, the tablet lasted only 8h 34m, which is almost two hours less than the Nexus 7 and a long way behind the iPad’s 11 hours plus. It’s still enough to watch four films in a row, though.
The slightly below-par battery life, and the fact there’s no 3G (or 4G) version of the Nexus 10, are its only real drawbacks, and it’s hard to argue with the fact the tablet is £80 cheaper than the equivalent iPad. The Nexus 10 really is a bargain, and anyone looking for a good-value alternative to the iPad should be sorely tempted.