Thanks to some diligent detective work performed by Android Police, we now have (non-official) confirmation that Google is working with Asus to produce a 7-inch tablet called the Nexus 7. Under the hood there’s a quad-core Tegra 3 clocked at 1.3GHz, and a 1280×768 display (213 PPI). The new device will run Android Jelly Bean, but the version number will be 4.1, not 5.0.
All of this data originates from Rightware’s Powerboard benchmark suite (pictured below), which was presumably used by a Google/Asus/Nvidia employee. For further corroboration, Android Police dug into its website server logs and turned up numerous mentions of Galaxy Nexuses running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, presumably caused by Google employees dogfooding the new version of the OS.
Going by the Nvidia innards and Asus manufacturing, the Nexus 7 will probably be the same or very similar to the tablet that the two companies showed off at CES (pictured above). Basically, it seems like Google liked what it saw and signed on as a partner — or perhaps Google was working with Nvidia and Asus all along.
The timing of this leak would strongly suggest that Google will announce the Nexus 7 tablet and Android Jelly Bean at Google I/O, which takes place on 27-29 June. Not a whole lot is known about Jelly Bean other than it will feature further tablet optimizations, and Google Chrome will replace the stock browser. It is also possible that Majel — Google’s answer to Siri — will debut with Jelly Bean.
More importantly, though, the Nexus 7 is expected to cost between $200 and $250 — the same price as the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, and a full $150-200 less than the lowest-spec iPad — and sold directly through the Google Play Store, like the Galaxy Nexus. Display- and SoC-wise, the Nexus 7 will blow the other 7-inch tablets out of the water, and the quad-core Tegra 3 should be faster than the A5 SoC found in the iPad 2 — CPU-wise at least. The Powerboard benchmark results for the Nexus 7′s GPU don’t look good: just 18 fps on Rightware’s OpenGL ES 2.0 Taiji test.
What remains to be seen is whether there is a sizable market for low-cost 7-inch tablets. The Kindle Fire certainly sold well in the winter, capturing 50% of the Android tablet market — but in absolute numbers, we’re still only talking about a few million units, compared to Apple’s 11 million iPads sold in the same period. Sales of the Kindle Fire have since slowed down.
On the other hand, there are continuing rumors that Apple is also looking at producing a 7-inch iPad — and for reasons we’ve discussed many times, a mini iPad would almost certainly be cheaper and more powerful than the competition. A Nexus tablet sold and maintained by Big G itself might be the only way to stop Apple from mopping up the 7-inch tablet market.
Read more at Android Police