Nexus 10 Review: Bigger. Better. Faster. Stronger.

Reviews Basil Kronfli 12:08, 23 Mar 2015

We review the Google Nexus 10, a powerful 10-inch beast manufactured by Samsung

Rating: 
4
Pros: 
Class leading screen Solid performance Jellybean updates are considered Choice of materials feels rich
Cons: 
Android tablet apps still sub par Some games unoptimised Mediocre battery life Slight hollow feel to the tab

The Nexus 10 is now a member of Google's old guard; the tablet is still officially supported via software updates, but no longer produced or sold by Google. If you want to grab one in this day and age, you can find them floating around on the web on ebay or Amazon, or in those electronics exchange shops.

And there are good reasons why you might still want a Nexus 10. For a start it's the only large form-factor tablet Google has ever released, so if you want to experience pure Android on a display bigger than the Nexus 7 or Nexus 9 can provide then this is a good option. It has the latest Android 5.1 Lollipop software running stock, and one of the most stunning large-form, 10in displays on the market at 300ppi, so if you want larger real estate without compromising on image quality, it could well be a perfect match for you.

The Nexus 10 has now been superseded by the HTC-built Nexus 9 –– check out our Nexus 9 Review –– but is still largely very relevant, particularly with the advent of Android Lollipop. As Google's 10-inch offering, the Samsung made Nexus 10 challenges the iPad with Retina display head on, boasting the highest resolution screen around. Thanks to its advanced dual-core processor and the one of the most powerful mobile GPUs available, it’s also competitive spec-wise, and at £319 for the 16GB version or £389 for the 32GB version, cost-effective too. It's going to be good, but is the Android tablet ecosystem mature enough to make it the best tablet out there?

Google Nexus 10 Review - Design

As with the Nexus 7, Google has opted for plastic with its Nexus 10. On first impression, it feels slightly hollow, however the material is rich in the hand. With a comfortable tactility, the semi-matte back contrasts nicely with the high-gloss fascia and it’s as light as it needed to be for a 10-inch slate. Almost Palm-like, with a Pre/TouchPad aesthetic, it’s a refreshing change from angles and lines we see all too often.

Google Nexus 10

Being 603g with extremely soft parameters, everything from the weighting to the corners and the contoured back make this tablet a hand’s best friend when in landscape. The plastic finish Samsung has opted for provides excellent grip, meaning the Nexus 10 is one of the few 10-inchers out there that can comfortably be used one-handed.

Despite being just 8.9mm thin, somewhere between the Asus Transformer Prime and the Apple iPad 4, the Nexus 10 is longer than either and when held in portrait is noticeably more top-heavy.

We’re overjoyed to see an HDMI port on the right hand side of the tab, though can’t help but find it ironic that in using it, we’re effectively downsampling our image to 1080p from the Nexus 10's incredible 1600p. On the left of the tablet is a micro USB port and 3.5mm headphone jack while up at the top is a power button and volume rocker. The rear facing camera is surrounded by a rubberised mount that can be removed to make way for the folio case and down below is a dock connector.

Google Nexus 10 Review - Screen

It’s the screen that really sets apart the Nexus 10 from the competition. Thanks to its 2560x1600 pixel resolution and PPI of 300, Samsung and Google have a class leader on their hands. It’s sharper than the iPad with Retina display and clarity is also better than any other Android tablet, including the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity. With great brightness levels, outdoor viewing and extremely wide viewing angles, in isolation, we can’t fault it.

Side by side with other tablets and it still wins on the clarity stakes. Fine text is ever so slightly more nuanced than even the iPad with Retina display and everything looks head and shoulders above all other Android tablets other than the Transformer Pad Infinity which doesn't trail too far behind. Where the Nexus 10 packs less punch is in terms of vibrancy. Next to the iPad, it’s ever so slightly less saturated at max brightness. 

Google Nexus 10 Review - Operating System & UI

Android Lollipop 5.1 is now rolling out to the Nexus 10. According to a report from YouMobile it is being pushed over-the-air (OTA) to Nexus 10 tablets worldwide. The build is designated LMY47D and is a 104.4MB download, so not too hefty. On top of Lollipops existing changes, 5.1 improves performance ("huge performance improvements" apparently) and stability, as well as a bucket of bugfixes to improve your user experience. However, a memory leak issue is apparently still being worked on for version 5.1.1. The update push is going out in phases so you may need to repeatedly check for the update in your region to see when it will hit - you should get a notification, but to check manually go to Settings > About Device > Software Updates. Read our Android Lollipop Review for full details on the OS, as well as a break down of its features.  

    Google Nexus 10 Review - Camera

    5-megapixel sensor in tow, the Google Nexus 10 doesn’t seem set to trump smartphones, though needs to be at least respectable to fend off tablet competition from Apple and Asus. 

    The f/2.7 aperture kicks things off to a worse start than either of the other main competitors. The camera is in turn noisier off the bat and detail is slightly weaker, with more motion blur making its way into shots. Dynamic range could also do with a helping hand from an HDR mode which is sadly missing. 

    Touch to focus does nevertheless work well, macro capability is impressive and decent depth of field can be achieved. With good overall exposure, saturation and an LED flash, the Nexus 10’s camera isn’t without its redeeming qualities. 

    The user interface enables all menu interaction through a long press of the screen. Unfortunately, HDR mode present on the Google Nexus 4 is missing, though panorama and Photo Sphere are both present.

    Shot at full HD resolution, video on the Nexus 10 plays back at 27 frames per second. It’s occasionally patchy in terms of frame rate, though detail is fair.

    Google Nexus 10 Review - Multimedia & Storage

    Our tablet shipped with a full version of Ice Age on board the Google Play Movies app. Naturally, Google want to showcase their Nexus 10’s screen out of the box and boy does it. Getting any movie on here really makes you pay attention to the front facing speakers and fantastic display with smooth frame rates and great HDMI functionality.

    While the tablet isn’t pocketable and won’t make for an MP3 player substitute by any means, the front facing speakers are loud, delivering clear output and being on the front are well placed to avoid hand or surface muffle.

    Games run incredibly well on the Nexus 10. We’ve already covered ergonomics and looking at graphics, frame rates and general picture, it's possible that Android has a new gaming king in the tablet space. Some games like Wildblood need to be updated with their menus looking dishevelled thanks to the novel screen resolution, but this should be a temporary niggle.

    No modern Nexus device is expandable and the Nexus 10 is no exception, though it does pack a minimum of 16GB internal memory for £319. The 32GB version comes in at £389, and this is the version we’d recommend, especially if you’re a gamer. With HD films and intensive games being at least 1GB each, the capacity of the basic version could be filled in little over a day of app hoarding.

    Google Nexus 10 Review - Connections & Web

    In addition to Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct, the Nexus 10 has NFC for all your contactless needs. Browsing the web is done in Google’s Chrome browser and it's a seamless transition from desktop to a tablet. We didn't experience any slowdown in web pages, found legibility of text second to none thanks to the astronomical PPI and enjoyed pure whites from the LCD display. Vellamo scores bettered all other devices out there rounding off our impression of the web with some benchmarked affirmation.

    Google Nexus 10 Review - Performance & Battery

    Samsung’s Exynos 5 Dual is comprised of a dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU and a Mali-T604 GPU. As you’ve probably gauged from our gaming and web sections, performance is impressive in the real world, so while this isn’t a quad-core tablet, it delivers class leading power. 

    Benchmarking is a mixed bag on the Nexus 10. Antutu rates the tablet somewhere between the Galaxy Note and the Transformer Prime. Quadrant scores however pit it above both the HTC One X and the Asus Transformer Prime as does GL Benchmark. 

    The reality is that astronomical pixel counts always weigh heavily on the processor - just look at Nova 3 on the iPad with Retina display. This also weighs down on benchmarks. That said, we didn't see any lag make its way into real world usage in our time with the Nexus 10. Perhaps a long term test will show signs of cracking, but as it stands, we’re impressed.

    The 9000mAh battery is also impressive when looking at the capacity, though once again, is weighed down heavily upon by the display. While 10 hours of usage is realistic out of the likes of an iPad or Transformer Pad, the Samsung made Google Nexus ten will deliver nearer 8 hours. Not terrible, but neither is it class great for a device of its class.

    Google Nexus 10 Review - Conclusion

    The Google Nexus 10 by Samsung. It’s the tablet that makes you want to look at it, touch it, hold it, but should you buy it? 

    We can’t help but be impressed by the incredible iPad bettering screen resolution, the tactility of its backing and the updates Google have made to Android’s tablet UI. Given the £319 price point for the 16GB version, it also costs £70 less than the 16GB iPad.

    Google’s ecosystem is also stronger than ever before. Google Music, Google Movies and Google Books make the Nexus 10 an easy to set up media hub. The microHDMI makes it a breeze to connect to a TV and the Android inside should be familiar to 69 per cent of smartphone users.

    What works against the Google Nexus 10 are the lack of tablet optimised apps beyond Google's own. It's improved over the past year, especially on the games front, but apps pale in comparison to those on iOS in terms of volume, discovery and quality. If invested in the Android ecosystem and want a 10-inch tablet, it's a no-brainer, get the Nexus 10. If however you're torn between tabs and are an app-centric user, the iPad edges ahead.

    Specifications

    Typical Price From £389
    UK Launch November 2012
    Frequency N/A
    Phone Style Tablet
    Thickness 8.9mm
    Length 263.9mm
    Width 177.6mm
    Weight 603g
    Built-in Memory 32GB
    Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
    Screen Size 10.1-inch, 2560x1600 pixels
    Designer Lens 5-megapixel
    Flash LED
    Speaker Yes
    Internet Yes
    Browser HTML
    Battery Standby 500 hours

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