HTC-Built Android Lollipop-Rocking Nexus 9 is NOW Available

News Paul Briden 12:02, 8 Dec 2014

Google's Nexus 9 tablet can now be purchased via Google Play

After much ado and many months of speculation, the Nexus 9 is now officially available inside Google Play. As predicted, the Nexus 9 was designed and built by HTC –– the company behind Google’s first-ever Nexus smartphone, the Nexus One. The tablet itself is definitely larger than what came before but, with its 8.9in screen, it’s not quite as big as 2012’s Nexus 10.

Still, Google claims the Nexus 9 is small enough to carry around in one hand, unlike the Nexus 10 that currently sits in the Google Play Store, but is big enough to do everything you need from a slate. The Big G’s included a magnetic keyboard folio too, which supports two different angles and rests securely on your lap, making it easier to type (a la Microsoft’s Surface 3).

Is Google targeting the Nexus 9 at professional users? A lot of people believe so; the tablet itself is super powerful, and the inclusion of a keyboard option certainly makes it more attractive as a true productivity machine, unlike previous versions (and tablets in general) which are usually more about content consumption. 

Nexus 9 Specs Detailed –– The Most POWERFUL Nexus Yet

Onto the specs then; the beating heart of the Nexus 9 is NVIDIA's brand new Tegra K1 chip, specifically the "Denver" architecture, dual-core, 64-bit model which, according to multiple reports, is an absolute beast in benchmark tests. This is clocked at 2.3GHz, packs 2GB of RAM, and has a Kepler DX1 graphics processing unit (GPU).

You also get a 6,700mAh battery cell and a choice of either 16GB or 32GB of onboard storage. Conventionally Google has ditched microSD on its Nexus phones but kept it on its tablets, so it's surprising to see no microSD here as tablets are typically heavily multimedia orientated and this goes hand-in-hand with removable storage.

HTC's audio expertise has been leveraged and the Nexus 9 boasts a set of front-facing stereo BoomSound speakers which should do a good job of waking the neighbours if you want them to. On the imaging side there's little more than a rudimentary nod, but then, this is a tablet not a phone. You've got an 8MP setup on the rear and a front-facing 1.6MP secondary. Of course the software loaded onboard is Android 5.0 Lollipop with all its new bells, whistles, and Material Design UI. You can pick the Nexus 9 up from Google Play in black, white, or sand.

Nexus 9 Pricing & Release Date

The Nexus 9 is available now from Google's Play Store, it costs £319 for the 16GB edition which can be had in white or black, a 32GB model in these colours costs £399 - you can also get this version in "Sand".

Back in the UK, O2 has let us know it will be stocking the Nexus 9 but has yet to share prices. KYM has reached out to O2 for pricing details and if we hear a response we'll be sure to update this article.

Google has also announced the Nexus 6 smartphone and more features for Android L, now named Android Lollipop.

HTC-Branded Nexus 9 Coming With Sense UI?

HTC may be planning to release a variant of the Nexus 9 it made for Google with its own branding and UI overlay slathered on top.

Twitter source @upleaks revealed an HTC product roadmap which appears to show the company preparing three new tablets for market.

One of these is quite clearly stated as being "based on Nexus 9", and goes onto say it "maybe running HTC Sense." 

There's not much other info available at present, but it seems it may feature the same specs and hardware, simply with the new UI overlay and a few tweaks to the exterior to distinguish this model from Google's own-branded device.

Nexus 9 Folio Keyboard NOW SHIPPING

Remember that jazzy folio keyboard Google showed off at launch? It’s now available on Google Play and will ship out to users within 2 days. The folio case costs $129 (pretty bloody expensive for a piece of plastic) in the US and £110 in the UK store, where it’s still listed as “coming soon”.

The folio case doubles as a keyboard when open and as a protective sheath for your Nexus 9 when it’s closed. It also supports two viewing angles, making it ideal for bashing out work or kicking back and watching some movies. We’re still at a loss as to why it costs so much, though…

Amazon UK Pushes Back Release

Amazon UK seems to be having trouble getting the Nexus 9 in stock. Originally the online retailer planned to ship pre-orders on November 3 just like the Google Play Store and the general release. Now it seems there has been a setback and those that pre-order now will have to wait until December 15.

It isn’t a short amount of time either – that is a month and a half later and only just in time for Christmas. The Google Play Store is continuing to ship the Nexus 9 as per normal on November 3.

There is currently no sign of other retailers suffering from the same issues but is subject to change in the next week or so. 

Nexus 9 Tegra K1 Chip Benchmarked

The Nexus 9 isn't out in the wild yet but somone's managed to get hold of one and benchmark its 64-bit Nvidia Tegra K1 processor. A Vietnamese tech blogger went hands-on with the new device and revealed a benchmark score in AnTuTu of 54,000, which compares favourably to the Exynos 5433 (Note 4) at 40,000 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 at 38,000.

The test also revealed the Tegra K1 64-bit chip uses a Denver CPU, which appears to be quicker than Apple's Cyclone CPUs from the A8 chip

Nexus 9 Torn Asunder

HTC and Google's Nexus 9 tablet is fresh out of the factory and on Google Play for you to get your mitts on. Well some people have already picked it up on pre-order, including well known techy types iFixit, and you know what those guys do? They crack stuff open and look inside to see how easy it is to repair - the Nexus 9 has now undergone such exploratory surgery and iFixit has revealed all the gory details.

It's not all flowers and sunshine though, iFixit described the Nexus 9 as "meh" on the repairability front with a score of 3 out of 10. The reason for this lacklustre score? Well apparently despite the fact that the back panel is easy to remove even without tools, the way the internal components are packed in causes plenty of issues. iFixit reports taking off the back panel removed the camera module along with it, and reconnecting this requires you to remove the motherboard to access the connector. The Nexus 9 was described as a "mess of glue and hackery," and an "excercise in corner cutting".

iFixit also noted the camera module is the same hardware used inside the HTC Desire 610, so don't expect top imaging capabilities. The audio hardware is also apparently not high-end with iFixit suggesting the front-facing speakers look "more like low-volume earpiece speakers".

Removing other components proved much more difficult than the camera module, which just came out by accident.

"Separating the LCD from the display assembly requires an insane amount of heat, patience and prying. This is some of the toughest adhesive we've ever encountered in a tablet—on par with, though in lesser quantity than, the infamous Surface Pro."

T-Mobile Nexus 9 Launch Delayed

Previously we were told the Nexus 9 would be launching on T-Mobile at some point in early December. Right now we are well into December, but there isn’t any evidence of the tablet launching on the network.

There does seem to be a reason though – according to a leaked internal communication the tablet has been postponed. The statement read, “The launch of the Google Nexus 9 has been postponed. This article will be updated with the launch date once it is confirmed. 

“T-Mobile will launch the Google Nexus 9 on a date to be determined, which will be available on the web or through Ship-to (Direct Fulfilment) in HSO. This HTC device features a beautiful 8.9″ screen and a 64-bit 2.3GHz dual processor.”

It seems T-Mobile isn’t even sure itself when the tablet will be made available, which may mean we have to wait until next year. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for official word from T-Mobile as well but fingers crossed it won’t be long. 

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