Nexus 7 teardown reveals similarities, better hardware than Kindle Fire

Bill Detwiler cracks open the Asus-built Google Nexus 7, examines the internal hardware, and explains why it has an edge on Amazon's Kindle Fire.

On the outside, there's a lot to like about Google's Nexus 7 tablet. It has a great-looking 7-inch display, runs Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), and sports a $199 price tag. After cracking the tablet open, I also found a lot to like on the inside.

Our $199 Nexus 7 test unit had a 1.3GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, 1GB of DDR3L RAM, 8GB of storage, 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera, and a 7-inch IPS display (1280x800 resolution). A 16GB model is available for $249.

Full TechRepublic teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Google Nexus 7

Cracking Open observations

  • Easy-open case: Like the Kindle Fire, but unlike the iPad, the Nexus 7's back cover pops right off, giving you easy access to the tablet's internal hardware.
  • Replaceable hardware: The battery isn't soldered to the motherboard and is easily removed. The speaker assembly, headphone jack and USB connector can all be disconnected and replaced.  Even the camera, upper microphone, motherboard, and internal frame aren't difficult to remove.

My only complaints about the Nexus 7's construction are minor.

  • Shielding is difficult to remove: Asus used two large pieces of what looks like copper alloy shielding—one covering part of the motherboard and the cable for the headphone jack and USB connector and one covering the display connector. You must be careful not to tear these shields when removing them.
  • Single-piece display/front panel: The display and front glass panel are fused together. If one of them breaks, you'll need to replace both.

Edge over Amazon Kindle Fire (for now)

So how does the Nexus 7 stack up against the other big $200 tablet—Amazon's Kindle Fire?

Well, there's no doubt Google's tablet has the edge in hardware. Its quad-core Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM are a step above the Fire's dual-core TI OMAP 4430 processor and 512MB of RAM. You can also get the Nexus 7 with 16GB of storage, while the Fire only comes in an 8GB model.

Given however, that Amazon will likely release an updated Fire later this year and Apple may introduce a smaller, cheaper iPad, the Nexus 7 may not be the most powerful 7-inch tablet for long.

Bottom line

Despite all its positives, Asus and Google did sacrifice a few features to keep the Nexus 7's price low. There's no rear camera, no HDMI out, no cellular data option, and no memory card slot.

But given that you can buy and 8GB model model for $199 and a 16GB model for $249, you definitely get a lot of bang for your buck.

For more information on the Nexus 7, including performance and battery life benchmark tests, check out Eric Franklin's full CNET review.

Internal hardware

Our Nexus 7 test unit has the following hardware:

  • 1.3GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC T30L-P-A3
  • 1GB Hynix DDR3L SDRAM (H5TC2G83CFR x 4)
  • 8GB Kingston KE44B-26BN/8GB eMMC (2400010-003.A00G 1218 M20480370.07 KE44B-26BN/8GB)
  • 4,325mAh, 16Wh Asus Li-Polymer Battery Pack (C11-ME370T)
  • 7-inch HYDIS HV070WX2-1E0 IPS LCD (1,280 x 800 resolution)
  • Maxim power management IC (MAX77612A EMJ 1213 HHSAJ)
  • Texas Instruments TPS63020 High Efficiency Single Inductor Buck-Boost Converter with 4A Switch (PS63020 TI 24K C2NP)
  • Fairchild FDMC667BZ -30V P-Channel Power Trench MOSFET (PC6BN FDMC667BZ)
  • 347 CL211
  • Broadcom BCM47511 Integrated Monolithic GNSS Receiver (BCM47511FBG NE1211 P12 192997 N3)
  • AzureWave AW-NH665 wireless module
  • NXP PN65 near-field communications (NFC) chip
  • Invensense MPU-6050 Six-Axis (Gyro + Accelerometer) MEMS MotionTracking Devices (MPU-6050 D1Y645-C1 EL 1211 D)
  • Realtek ALC5642 Audio CODEC + Headphone Amplifier (ALC5642 C3G34H2 GC12D)
  • Texas Instruments LVDS83B FlatLink transmitter (22C4TGT LVDS83B)
  • Elan eKTH1036BWS touchscreen controller (eKTH1036BWS BW123D4 1211D)
  • Elan eKTF3624BWS touchscreen controller (eKTF3624BWS BW124S2 1217W)


Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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