Built by Samsung, the Nexus 10 tablet runs on the firm's home-grown Exynos 5250 1.7 GHz dual-core processor. This is twinned with 2 GB of RAM and you can choose between 16 GB or 32 GB of memory (note that there's no micro SD card slot for boosting storage). There's a micro-HDMI A/V out, a micro-USB port for charging and data transfer, and a 3.5 mm jack for audio output. Plus, the Nexus 10 has an NFC chip.
You'll find a 5-Megapixel camera on the back of the tablet for photos and 1080p video, as well as a 1.3-Megapixel webcam on the front. The Nexus 10 runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
The Google Nexus 10 tablet by Samsung is available from the Google Play Store at £319 for the 16 GB model and £389 for the 32 GB model.
Samsung hasn't looked too far for inspiration when designing the Nexus 10—from the front, this tablet looks like a remixed all-black version of Samsung's own Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and Galaxy Note 10.1 tablets. In other words, you get a casing that's not massively sexy. In fact, its most attractive design feature is possibly the fact that the speakers are cleverly positioned on the outer edges of the left and right sides of the bezel (with the tablet in landscape mode).
The bezel is quite thick around all the screen's edges, which is a little frustrating in a market where bezels have been progressively whittled down over several product generations. And it's especially frustrating to see that from a manufacturer that's not exactly new to the tablet game.
That said, the rubbery finish on the back of the tablet is very nice to touch and it's practical to handle. The tablet feels safe and stable in your hands. Note too that there's now an LED notification light on the front of the device.
The connections ports are generally well integrated into the casing. It's just a bit of a shame that the 3.5 mm headphones jack spills over the edge of the tablet onto the back—like it was cut out in the wrong place. That doesn't look massively sleek and it feels a bit strange when the fingers of your left hand fall into the gap when holding the tablet. It's no big deal, but we've seen sleeker approaches to fitting in connections.
We also noticed that the Nexus 10 gets quite warm around the top of the rear casing (thankfully, not where your hands rest). This was particularly noticeable when playing video games for more than 20 minutes.
Ever since Google announced the Nexus 10, we've been keen to get a closer look at its high-def screen—especially since the pixel destiny here is similar to that of a printed magazine page! The tablet has a 10.1" PLS screen, which is Samsung's version of IPS.
Unfortunately, the Nexus 10 doesn't get off to a good start here, as we measured the contrast at "just" 799:1—that's a little lower than the iPad 4, which isn't the most highly contrasted tablet out there (we've seen some tablets push average contrast up to 1200:1!).
However, the Nexus 10 does have a very good maximum brightness level of 408 cd/m², which beats the iPad. It's no match for the 600 cd/m² or more you get with an Asus Transformer Prime, but the Nexus 10 screen is bright enough to ensure good readability in most conditions—except perhaps on very sunny days with sunlight falling directly onto the tablet's glossy screen.
Colour fidelity proved a little disappointing too, as we measured an average Delta E of 6.9 in the Nexus 10, with some colours looking rather pale and others looking too gaudy with our test cards (Delta E measures the difference between "perfect" colours and those displayed onscreen, with anything under three considered accurate). Plus, the black is no match for the iPad 3 or the iPad 4.
The ghosting time worked out at 20 ms, which is on par with the best IPS tablet screens. However, there's no sign of any motion compensation or interpolation system to keep fast-moving images looking smooth.
So will the screen's high definition and impressive pixel destiny be its saving grace? With 2560 x 1600 pixels, the Nexus 10 has a pixel density of 298 pixels per inch, compared with 263 ppi for the iPad 4 (2048 x 1536 pixels) and 224 ppi for Android tablets with 1920 x 1200-pixel displays. And whether in the OS, Gmail or surfing the web, the sharp, crisp, finely detailed image is a real treat for the eyes.
Like when we first saw the iPad's Retina display, we feel as if there's a before and after Nexus 10 for Android tablets—it's a real turning point—and there's a more noticeable gain in onscreen quality here than with 1920 x 1200-pixel displays.
The Nexus 10 is debuting Android Jelly Bean 4.2—not to be confused with Android Jelly Bean 4.1. This new version of Google's OS brings a few small changes that you may already have heard about if you've been eagerly reading up on the Nexus 10 or if you've read our review of the Nexus 4 mobile phone.
Among the mass of updates included in Google's latest operating system are: a more extensive version of Google Now with new dynamic interactions (places and points of interest in your vicinity, with photos); Photo Sphere, which takes 360° photos; a Swype-style "Gesture Typing" keyboard where you drag your finger from letter to letter to form words; Google Voice Search has become a bit smarter (and it works!); and there's the welcome addition of a "quick settings" menu for managing connections and settings.
But unlike the Nexus 4, the Nexus 10 tablet has one additional new feature that's very welcome indeed—you can now set up user sessions! Could Google be trying to catch up with rivals who've already introduced this very useful feature? In any case, you can create up to eight different user profiles, within which each user can set their own homepage, Wi-Fi preferences and groups of apps. Sessions are accessible via a set of icons on the standby screen.
One nice feature in the controls is that you can bring up the notifications windows by sliding a finger down the left-hand side of the screen from top to bottom. Wireless and connectivity settings are accessed via the same swipe gesture on the right-hand side of the screen.
In general, the Nexus 10 feels like one very sprightly tablet to use, even though this didn't necessarily come across from the raw test data we got from our standard benchmark tests. As with the Nexus 4, this no doubt comes from some clever hardware/software optimisation, well managed processing power and (possibly) the fact that there's no custom skin over the interface. All of this makes for a seamless, flawless Android experience!
There's just one downside—Google doesn't seem able to launch a new, souped-up device with an appropriate set of accompanying apps to bring out the best in its new features. While Apple quickly brought out a whole load of apps and games compatible with the Retina display when outing its first iPad with this kind of technology, Google doesn't seem to have made a huge effort with new apps or updates with full, glorious compatibility for the Nexus 10. Google Earth, Facebook, Evernote and a handful of games are the only apps we found that really seem to make use of the extra shed-load of pixels on offer in this tablet.
The integrated web browser benefits from all the latest improvements Google has made to the mobile version of its cherished Chrome. Web browsing is therefore certainly a speedy experience. In fact, it's creeping closer and closer to the kind of experience you get with Safari on iOS (iPad and iPad Mini). You can either tap twice or pinch to zoom here, and both are fast and effective. The sheer smoothness of zooming and scrolling in web pages means we've finally found a tablet over 9" in size that beats the Sony Xperia Tablet S and Tablet S on slick Internet surfing.
But the real boon to web browsing with the Nexus 10 is obviously the IPS screen's incredibly high pixel density, which, as we mentioned above, makes onscreen text perfectly crisp and easy to read. In landscape mode, and above all in portrait mode, there's a visible difference between onscreen sharpness and clarity here compared with so-called "Full HD" Android tablets (Acer Iconia Tab A700 and Asus Transformer Tab TF700 with 1920 x 1200 pixels). And it goes without saying that the Nexus 10 is a world apart from tablets with 1024 x 768 pixels or 1280 x 800 pixels. The Nexus 10 is as nice to read in portrait mode as the iPad 4.
There's been no change to the media playback features in the new version of Jelly Bean. Android doesn't really go in for full-on format compatibility, but you'll be able to play most content with a third-part media player app (moboPlayer, for example) offering more extensive file support. However, like on the iPad's Retina display, we did notice that videos (even Full HD videos) lose some of their visual quality when subjected to the unforgivingly high resolution of the Nexus 10 display.
Note that Android 4.2 brings a whole load of filters and effects to the photo viewer app, which means you can play around with your shots without having to download a third-party app. That's a handy addition.
3D games look great on this screen. Like other apps, very few games really get the best out of the tablet's monster screen def, but certain visually impressive games like ShadowGun and Need For Speed Most Wanted really come to life on the Nexus 10 screen, with breathtaking results. Most of the time, though, you end up with 3D games that generally look fine but which can get rather rough and ready at times, with spells of blurred-looking and poorly defined graphics. That said, the Google Play Store will no doubt soon be inundated with a new wave of games made specially to suit the higher pixel count. After all, the App Store didn't take long to stock up with apps for the iPad's Retina display.
The photo and video camera isn't amazing in this tablet. The rear-facing 5-Megapixel camera lacks sharpness, the flash overexposes close-by subjects and the autofocus is somewhat chaotic. The front-facing webcam isn't the best we've seen but it'll do the job for occasional video chat. And while the Photo Sphere 360° photo function was already tricky enough to get the hang of using on a smartphone, imagine trying to use it with a 10.1" tablet held at arm's length. Enough said.
This tablet does a pretty good job of audio. The headphones socket gives a clean output with a good dynamic range, an acceptable volume level and a well-controlled level of distortion. The two speakers have been cleverly positioned on the outer edges of the screen bezel, creating a nice stereo effect. These aren't the most powerful speakers out there but they only saturate very slightly at high volumes. This makes them quite nice use, so long as you're in a relatively quiet environment. Otherwise, you'll have to really open your ears.
Samsung has used a 9000 mAh battery in the Nexus 10 with specs that look fairly similar to those of the battery in the Acer Iconia Tab A510. However, in the end—and with real-life use—the Nexus 10 battery is no match for Acer's 12-hour power pack.
This tablet's bog-standard score for battery life is no doubt due to its power-hungry high-def screen. Apple's iPad manages 10 hours—sometimes even more—in spite of its Retina display, but we struggled to get 8 hours out of the Nexus 10. Whether for video playback or for mixed use (e-mail, video, games, web, downloading, document editing, etc.), the Nexus 10 generally lasts for between 7 hrs 30 mins and 7 hrs 45 mins. We sometimes managed to coax it up to 8 hrs 20 mins by making a few concessions (backlighting on the minimum setting, not using much Wi-Fi, no 3D gaming, etc).
Ultimately, the Nexus 10 battery life doesn't compare well to many other flagship tablets on the market right now.
Note that the Nexus 10 takes around 3 hrs 15 mins to charge fully.
- High-def screen makes reading text incredibly pleasant
- Nice finish / Speakers cleverly positioned on the front of the tablet
- General responsiveness / Performance in games
- Ships with very latest version of Android / User sessions
- Onscreen colour fidelity
- Battery life under 8 hours
- Design, very wide bezel
- Photo/video camera and webcam could be better
- Not many apps yet make use of the 2560 x 1600-pixel screen def
While the battery life isn't great and we were hoping for higher contrast and more accurate onscreen colours, the Nexus 10 has so many strong points that you'll soon forget about all that. Google's latest tablet has a high-quality finish and is good value in terms of specs and price. On top of that, it behaves exceptionally well, runs the tablet-friendly Android 4.2 OS and—above all—boasts a high-def screen that's a real treat for your eyes, especially if you spend a lot of your tablet-time browsing the web.