Nexus 7 32GB with Mobile Data: Some Early Thoughts & Questions

Nexus 7

I just got a new Nexus 7 32GB with Mobile Data delivered to me a couple nights ago. I’ve previously used the 2011 Kindle Fire and this year’s Kindle Fire HD, with Amazon’s heavily forked version of Android – so this will be my first real, proper look at a full-fledged Android tablet.

I’m very much an ‘iPad Guy’ when it comes to tablets, but I’ve been a huge fan of mobile tech across platforms for many years as well. I’ve loved mobile devices since way back in the days of Palm Pilots and other PDA devices – and was a heavy Palm and Windows Mobile user for years. So now it feels like it’s about time to really get to know an Android device. The Nexus 7 is a flagship Android small tablet, produced by a partnership of Google and Asus – so it seems an ideal candidate.

As very much an Android newbie, it’s going to take me some time to get to know the Nexus 7 properly – and I’m looking forward to putting that time in and seeing what it can do. For now, I thought I’d share some very early thoughts, notes and questions I have after just 36 hours or so with the Nexus 7.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Nexus 7 home screen

– Thought she has barely touched it so far, my 9 year old daughter loves it – thinks it is super cool and is continually asking to borrow it. She has been very fond of this device ever since looking over my shoulder and watching the Google I/O event where it was announced.

– You have to insert the SIM card yourself, which seems a little odd given that the device only runs on one US carrier and could easily have this done before being put in its box. It’s supposed to come with a ‘SIM Card ejection tool’ but I couldn’t find one in the box. The tool is really just a paper clip and I had one around to use – so no big deal.

– Activating an AT&T data plan has proved to be genuine problem though. I couldn’t find an obvious place in the Nexus 7 Settings app to add or manage a data plan. I had to read the setup guide to discover that the method for activating a data plan is like so:

  1. With the device off, insert the SIM provided – if it has not been previously inserted.
  2. Power on the device and follow the prompts to complete the on-screen setup (Wi-Fi connectivity is required).
  3. Turn off Wi-Fi (Settings > Wi-Fi > slide On to Off).
  4. Turn Airplane mode on then off again. (Press and hold the power button to toggle to airplane mode. TouchAirplane mode to turn it on. Press and hold the power button again.)Nexus 7 will display a notification indicator on the left side of your screen when your AT&T mobile broadband service is ready to be (re)activated. (A credit card or pin less debit card is required to (re)activate service.)

    If your Nexus 7 notification indicator does not display, go to https://buyasession.att.com using Google Chrome on your device or any PC. From Google Chrome, select the AT&T Data-Connect tab and follow the prompts to purchase your preferred AT&T data plan.

Unfortunately, that AT&T page never loads for me. I’ve tried numerous times (over 20) last night and today with no success. I’ve not seen any other sites fail to load in the Chrome browser, so assume this is an AT&T issue. This process is not an obvious or user-friendly one at all thus far. There’s no section for cellular data in Settings and there’s really nothing about it even under the promising sounding Mobile Networks area.

– The Nexus 7 feels pretty light, though not as light as the iPad mini. The plastic back helps it feel easy to grip and I can hold it in one hand pretty easily.

– As a user of quite a few Google services (Gmail, Google Contacts and Calendar, Google+ etc) I like the way the Nexus 7 quickly recognizes and configures my profile in all of those after my initial setup and login to the device.

– Out of the box the Nexus 7 was at just 32% charged. That’s much lower than most new smartphones and tablets I’ve ever used.

– I bought a companion blue case for the Nexus 7. I haven’t used it that much yet, but first impressions wise it feels quite rubbery and cheap. It doesn’t feel much like a $20 case, which is what it cost.

– The Nexus 7 has 27GB of storage space free out of the box, with a large number of built-in apps including, Gmail, Calculator, Calendar, Chrome, Google+, Maps, YouTube, Play Music, Google Earth, and Navigation. That’s a good amount, and a comparable amount to what you see on an iPad.

– I’m seeing ‘sync errors’ on my Google account in Notifications every few hours. No idea what those are about yet, since nothing about my Google account has changed at all.

– I’ve installed a handful of apps that are favorites / frequently used on my iPads. The Evernote app does not match up to the iOS version just yet, and the Spotify and Flipboard apps don’t support landscape mode – which is pretty lame.

– Speaking of apps that don’t support landscape mode, so far I don’t see any way in the Google Play store to identify which apps are designed for use on tablets. I’ve asked a few Android using friends on Google+ but have not seen any suggestions on this yet. If the store really does not offer any guidance at all on this, that’s a big miss. I would much rather install almost exclusively apps that are designed specifically for tablets, as I do on the iPad.

– Coming from the iPad mini, which I have been using heavily for a few weeks now, the Nexus 7 display feels quite small in a number of places.

That’s about it for very early notes and impressions so far. For any of you who are more veteran Android users, a couple of questions:

– Is there any way to see which apps are designed for tablets in the Google Play store? Have I just not spotted it yet?

– Any advice or suggestions on getting the AT&T data plan going more easily? My current plan is to call AT&T (which is always a joyous experience) and / or call Google support (also always a pleasure).

Any other tips on getting to know Android, best apps for tablets or similar topics would be much appreciated. Please feel free to school me in the comments.

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3 thoughts on “Nexus 7 32GB with Mobile Data: Some Early Thoughts & Questions

  1. Tablet apps – look for “HD” on the end. Other than that, not so much. This sucks.
    Display might feel smaller, but the higher resolution means more content than the mini.
    Mine is wifi only so you’ll have to Google or ask someone else. :)

  2. Hey Ramesh. Yeah I’ve been looking out for any with HD in the name, so far don’t see a lot. I’m also using an app called Tablified Market, recommended by someone at Gnomies. I got the data issues worked out quickly, even wrote a couple how-to posts on setting it up and enabling / disabling it.

    On the resolution side, I definitely see more on the iPad mini screen than on the Nexus 7 – especially in landscape mode.

  3. Pingback: The iPad mini Display – Not So Bad After All | iPad Insight

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