Tablets

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

Pros
  • 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.
Cons

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)

About

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...

8 comments
Pr1musInterPares
Pr1musInterPares

Hi all... Im here cuz this is the most complete list of Nexus 7 parts I found. I got mine last monday and I totally love the divice, it feels very responsive, image quality is great and Im totally loving it. But earlier today while reading at it I dropped it and the screen got broken. Since the screen updates when I wake it up and even showed my face on it when trying to unlock it (face recognition) I am pretty sure the camera and the display work. speaker is working and the everything seem to work (since I hear the notification when a new email comes in). I want to know the "touch glass" part number (or touch digitalizer as in the HTC nexus phone) so I can replace it myself (im leaving overseas and not google not nexus are going to help me. Maybe the part is already listed and i just failed to recognize that. So either Bill or any of the readers can help me with pointing out the part number so I can look for it. Thanks so much in advance for the help guys!!!

killian48
killian48

I know most people are not computer geeks but what if you could at least build to order and even make them so you could add it later. Get your say Acer as a basic starter tab and then add a cam later. DIY upgrades. Seems to me the tablet could be another learning platform for kids to build on. I think Velocity Micro ought to take that on.

Lucky2BHere
Lucky2BHere

Nice, clear article, Bill. A good fight is brewing. Good for all of us! And, yeah, I know, all everyone needs is another grammar monitor. But, here's the correct way to write your article title: Nexus 7 teardown reveals similarities with, better hardware than, Kindle Fire Or... Nexus 7 teardown reveals similarities with and better hardware than Kindle Fire And this one is probably an internal rule, but still wrong (and wrong everywhere it is presented this way), but all titles should use capital letters except for minor words: Nexus 7 Teardown Reveals Similarities With, Better Hardware Than, Kindle Fire Thanks for the insight on this fine piece of tech.

Gisabun
Gisabun

KIndle Fire is how old compared to the Nexus 7? Of course the Nexus will probably have better hardware. That's like comparing the Samsung Galaxy III S to an iPhone 4S - the latter is older and pronbably has inferior/slower/older hardware.

awilson77584
awilson77584

I want a Nexus 7, but I'm thinking that I'll wait for the next release. For every system I've owned, eventually the configured storage capacity becomes too small. I upgraded my Evo 4G card to a 16Gb card and now I have to shuttle movies in and out before flights so I have something to watch. I have a sense that 1Gb ram will be too small too in a year. For the same reason, I don't see ever upgrading to the Retina MBP, because I've upgraded my memory and twice since I bought the thing in 2009. The system feels like new, but now I'm deleting things on my 750Gb drive so that I stay above 200Gb of free space. I should have purchased a larger SSD for the OS too. My 128Gb Crucial M4 is plenty for the OS/etc, but I'd like to be able to put my VMs there too. I love the Nexus 7 idea. If I didn't have grown up priorities impinging on my toy funds, ... //smile

jreida
jreida

What happens if the copper alloy shielding gets torn. I'd like to be able to order and replace that myslef if it happens?

djohnsoniv
djohnsoniv

I just got my nexus 7 a week ago and absolutely love it! I was a long time user of ipad at my previous job and when i changed i felt that a tablet kept me going in airports, airplanes, out and about, etc, so i went ahead and bought the Nexus 7. Pretty much all the apps that I used on a day-to-day basis from itunes are available on Google Play. One of my reservation is not with the Nexus 7, but with Google Play and why they require a credit card for open domain books...but that's a different thread altogether! I have installed, tweaked, and tried throwing everything I've done in the past with my ipad at this little guy and it has handled it beautifully. For me, the great thing is the size. For those who don't hold their ipads or 10" tablets, it gets heavy after 30 minutes. This 7" screen is phenomenal and is so much easier to handle for reading/viewing/typing purposes. The default keyboard is lacking in that it does not split like the ipad's, BUT that was easily and quickly resolved with "FloatNSplit Tablet keyboard" available on the Google Play for free. and it's very customizable. Again...Loving my Nexus 7....and I have been using the Nexus S 4g with Sprint. Learning curb was nearly zero!! However...it NEEDS a memory card slot. that's one of the things I NEVER liked about the ipad2. and I continue to struggle with being limited on space to only the onboard drive space.