PROS / The Google Nexus 9's speedy processor can handle work or games easily.
CONS / The tablet has average battery life.
VERDICT / The Nexus 9 is a reliable high-end tablet, but its solid design is hampered by some build-quality hiccups.
Google's flagship Android tablet computer offers an impressive combination of performance and design. Benchmark testing from our colleagues at Laptop Mag found that the Nexus 9's 2.3GHz Nvidia Tegra K1 processor provided exceptional performance. During gaming test 3DMark, the Nexus 9's score of 25,387 was well above Top Ten Reviews' average of 15,523. However, the tablet PC's mark of 2,890 in processing test Geekbench 3 was in line with our average of 2,629. In our hands-on testing, the Nexus easily handled multitasking and the graphically intensive game "Injustice: Gods Among Us" with ease.
With dimensions of 9 x 6 x 0.31 inches and a weight of 0.93 pounds, the Nexus 9 sports a relatively lightweight body for a 9-inch tablet. The Nexus's lightly rubberized back adds extra support when you hold onto the tablet. It is cleanly designed, featuring sleek edges and minimal clutter on its body. The tablet's dual front-facing speakers have decent volume, though we found their low-end abilities to be lacking when playing bass-heavy songs.
The tablet runs Google's Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system. While many of the operating system's upgrades are under-the-hood improvements, Lollipop is as sharply laid out as past versions of Android. However, the availability of applications built for the Nexus remains mixed. Popular services such as Twitter, ESPN Fantasy Football and Facebook simply resize their smartphone applications on the tablet. While some third-party application developers offer tablet-optimized alternatives, the lackluster design of these resized smartphone applications is a difficult compromise given the Nexus 9's premium billing.
In addition, the tablet suffers from some build quality hiccups. We could feel the screen's edges flex when applying light pressure with a finger, and the tablet produced unimpressive numbers in Laptop's battery test. During their evaluation, in which a tablet loops through webpages at a constant brightness until the battery dies, the Nexus 9 only lasted for 7 hours and 42 minutes. By comparison, battery life under eight hours is usually only seen on budget tablets.
During our hands-on testing, the Nexus 9's 2048 x 1536 display handled tasks ranging from serving as an eReader to playing high-definition videos exceptionally well. In Laptop's benchmarking, the display's brightness rating of 371 nits was more than Top Ten Reviews' average of 347 nits. The tablet's 1.6-megapixel front-facing camera and 8-megapixel rear-facing camera also performed as expected, producing videos and images with decent fidelity. Google offers a one-year warranty on the Nexus 9 and provides additional support via phone, live chat and a dedicated online troubleshooting hub.
From the inside and outside, the Google Nexus 9 remains in the conversation with the best tablets thanks to its superb performance ceiling. Still, its build quality issues keep it a step behind these premium tablets. The Nexus 9's position as Google's definitive tablet is an upside, but these gains are offset by mixed battery life and operating system issues.