Nexus 9 review roundup: The best Android experience ... at a price

The Nexus 9 tablet, the first to run Android 5.0 "Lollipop," is bigger, faster, and more expensive than its predecessor, the Nexus 7. Reviewers say the Nexus 9 offers the best Android experience right now, but that it doesn't quite measure up to the iPad in some ways.

A few weeks ago, Google and hardware maker HTC introduced the Nexus 9 tablet: a larger, more powerful, more expensive replacement for the reasonably popular Nexus 7. Google announced that the 9-inch tablet would be the first to run Android 5.0 “Lollipop,” which includes better multitasking, a lock screen with easy app shortcuts, and a host of other improvements.

But the cheapest Nexus 9, a 16 GB model, costs $399 – nearly double what the now-discontinued Nexus 7 cost. Is a bigger, faster, newer tablet worth the extra cash?

Early reviews suggest that the Nexus 9 is the best Android tablet around right now, but that it might not be right for everyone. In his review for The Wall Street Journal, Nathan Olivarez-Giles writes that the Nexus 9 beautifully showcases Android 5.0, which has a more playful, accessible feel that previous Android operating systems.

Yet there aren’t as many good apps for Android devices with big screens as there are for the iPad, he says, and even big-name apps such as Twitter and Facebook look “like stretched-out phone apps rather than something built for the big screen.” He concludes, “It’s an outstanding piece of hardware, and the best all-around Android experience available on a tablet. But if you care about apps, you’re still going to lean towards an iPad, and if you care about productivity, you may well aim towards the Galaxy Tab S or even a Surface Pro 3 instead.”

Over at PC Magazine, Sascha Segan has a similar take. He found the Nexus 9’s design “spare” and “elegant,” and found that games and resource-hungry apps ran smoothly on the tablet. He adds that the Nexus 9’s speakers are “very good,” but that its cameras (front and back) suffer from noise and a lack of HDR, meaning that photos frequently look blurry or washed out. Mr. Segan also worries about the lack of expandable storage and video output ports on the Nexus 9 (to stream video, you’ll need a Nexus Player or a Chromecast). Overall, Segan recommends the Samsung Galaxy Tab S – or even an iPad Mini 2, which has a smaller screen but costs $100 less – over the Nexus 9.

Finally, Dan Seifert’s comprehensive review for The Verge finds the Nexus 9 to be a reasonably capable jack-of-all-trades tablet, but not quite up to the standard set by the iPad. The Nexus 9 becomes quite hot when it’s working, Mr. Seifert writes, and although the Lollipop OS looks beautiful, the Nexus 9 suffers from frequent crashes and slowdowns. Seifert also writes that the tablet’s construction isn’t great, noting that “the power button and volume rockers feel low-rent and mushy and are too flush with the body,” and that the screen, despite having the same aspect ratio and resolution as the iPad, doesn’t measure up: “Colors aren’t as vibrant or appealing, the screen isn’t laminated to the glass as on the iPad Air 2, and the backlight bleeds into the edges of the screen in unsightly ways.”

All reviews generally agree that the Nexus 9 offers the best Android experience available right now, but that the tablet’s physical shortcomings keep it from being a real competitor to the iPad. If you’re a die-hard Android fan, the Nexus 9 is well worth considering – but if you just want a capable tablet to surf the Web, watch videos, and get some work done, you’re probably better off buying an iPad or waiting for a more refined Android tablet.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Nexus 9 review roundup: The best Android experience ... at a price
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today