Notebookcheck

HTC Google Nexus 9 (Wi-Fi / 32 GB) Tablet Review

Daniel Schmidt (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 11/22/2014

Candy lickin' good. The 64-bit version of Android 4.0 Lollipop and the matching 64-bit processor from Nvidia are certainly the big debuts in the Nexus 9. However, the new architecture apparently has some pitfalls and did not run quite smoothly in the test. Otherwise, we missed the attention to detail in HTC's tablet, which could, however, still score with a good performance and decent battery life.

For the original German review, see here.

Google's Nexus 9 replaces two products of the American corporation right away. Both the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 have become unavailable in the Play Store since the new tablet was launched in the market. That makes sense considering the applied screen size of 8.9-inches. Unfortunately, Google's customers have lost an affordable reference device in this category with the Nexus 7 because the Nexus 9 moves within similar price ranges as Apple's iPad Mini 3, and that is anything but cheap. That at least applies to the 16 GB version that should cost 389 Euros (~$482). 479 Euros (~$593) is due for the bigger 32 GB model. Apple sells 64 GB of storage for the same money. Besides that, Google charges around 10 Euros (~$12) for shipping. An LTE model has been announced and is to be available before Christmas. We are testing the 32 GB version.

The Nvidia Tegra K1 (Denver) takes care of the performance. The 64-bit processor has two cores that can clock with up to 2.3 GHz each. In order to use the SoC's 64-bit qualities, the tablet relies on Google's latest operating system: Android 5.0 Lollipop. However, it has to be satisfied with 2 GB of working memory. The graphics unit is the same as in the K1's 32-bit version and promises plenty of power. This time, the tablet has been built by HTC, which has not been particularly successful in the tablet sector so far.

Some contenders of HTC's Google Nexus 9 are Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 8.4Nvidia's Shield, and Apple's iPad Mini 3. Other tablets featuring the same screen size usually have a weaker configuration and are thus also cheaper. Among them are Huawei's MediaPad M1 8.0LG's G Pad 8.3, and Lenovo's Yoga Tablet 8. However, larger premium tablets like the iPad Air 2 are rivals seeing that the new Nexus places itself right between both iPad models.

Case

The back cover of the Nexus 9 is only clipped
The back cover of the Nexus 9 is only clipped
The buttons do not protrude evenly from the casing
The buttons do not protrude evenly from the casing

HTC's Google Nexus 9 does not belong to the slimmest of its kind and weighs 422 grams. Although the premium contenders are all a bit smaller, they also have a lower weight-per-inch of screen diagonal. The review sample achieves 47.2 gr. / inch, which is relatively heavy. Both the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (301 g; 35.83 g / in) and iPad Mini (331 g; 41.90 g / in) are the lightest. The dimensions of the bigger Nexus 9 also surpass those of its rivals. Users with small hands will have difficulties holding it in one hand. The back can only be clasped by a big hand.

Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which closes flush with the casing's metal bezel, protects the screen. The rest of the tablet is completely comprised of plastic. The back is rubberized, which provides grip but also captures every fingerprint. There is quite a bit of space between the back cover and the innards so that it is easy to dent the device. Stronger pressure will even cause waves on the screen. Light warping attempts led to audible creaking noises and loud cracking noises in some places. That is because the back is kept in place only by plastic clips that pop out when the casing is twisted. Although that makes opening the Nexus 9 easy, our colleagues at iFixit gave it 3 out of 10 points for maintenance, which is not particularly good. HTC relies a lot on thin wires and tape here.

The primary camera on the back juts out of the casing in some places. The volume rocker of our review sample was not inserted evenly into the casing, which made it difficult to feel. The same was true for the power button. The battery is non-removable and cannot be exchanged by the user.

The back is only clipped
The back is only clipped (source: http://www.iFixit.com)
The Nexus 9's maintenance rating is weak
The Nexus 9's maintenance rating is weak (source: http://www.iFixit.com)

Connectivity

HTC's Google Nexus 9 sports a micro-USB 2.0 port that is used for recharging the tablet and sharing data with a computer. OTG is only supported conditionally. Although external input devices were detected, the interface did not identify a USB stick but powered it anyway. The review sample does not support either MHL or DLNA. Since no HDMI port is installed, images can only be transmitted wirelessly via Wireless Display (Miracast).

The Nexus 9 does not have a micro-SD slot either, and thus the storage cannot be expanded.

Upper edge: audio
Upper edge: audio
No interfaces on the left
No interfaces on the left
Lower edge: micro-USB 2.0
Lower edge: micro-USB 2.0
Right: power, volume rocker
Right: power, volume rocker

Software

HTC's Google Nexus 9 is the very first device to feature Google's Android 5.0 Lollipop (Build LRX21L) operating system. Compared with its precursor, it has approximately 5000 new APIs. It is thus the first Android tablet that can utilize 64-bit architecture. Besides that, the "Material Design" has moved into the new version, and it facilitates and unifies the visuals.

One of the important key features of the new Android operating system is the possibility to encrypt the device's flash memory. Additionally, an energy-saving mode, which can limit the performance, is now an integral component of the system. Another useful feature is the blocking mode that makes it possible to mute all different kinds of notifications. That can also be time-controlled, and single contacts can be placed in the allowed list.

The notification bar is now folded compactly in the screen's upper edge and can be expanded to quick settings. Users who want to access the latter directly can pull down the bar with two fingers. Although the quick settings generally make a more clearly arranged impression, they also need more room. Notifications can now also be displayed on the lock screen and calls can be made directly from there, similar as in iOS 8.x or Nokia X. It is possible to disable the unlock codes or gestures for the lock screen when, for example, a specific smartwatch is connected to the device. When the wearable is disconnected, the selected code has to be entered again.

A list of the last used apps can be conveniently opened via the square button of the redesigned navigation buttons. They are available even after rebooting. It is a bit too bad that they cannot be completely emptied, but that every app has to be closed singly.

The menu that opens when pressing the power button for a longer time has been slimmed massively and now only allows shutting down the tablet. In the former version, the system could be restarted or flight mode could be enabled. Most of these functions are now in the quick access bar. Too bad that Google has unnecessarily purged options here.

Meanwhile, Google has started to distribute the new operating system on other Nexus models. We have already taken an in-depth look at them.

The settings are very clearly arranged
Notification bar
Energy-saving mode
Notification on lock screen
It's possible to flick through recently opened apps
Quick-access bar
Not many options arise when the power button is held down
The "Material Design" calculator
Blocking mode
Blocking mode via quick access
Apps and widgets are easy to arrange
Sources for internal search can be specified

Communication & GPS 

The Google Nexus 9 sports a Wi-Fi module that supports the IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac standards, and which can thus use both the 2.4 and 5.0 GHz frequency ranges. The components' range is decent. The tablet displayed a medium signal even at a distance of 20 meters from the router (Fritz!Box 6360, 2.4 GHz). The attenuation then fluctuated between -75 and -80 dBm. Although Internet browsing was still possible, the speed with which pages are opened dropped noticeably. Google is planning to launch a version with the high-speed LTE mobile network standard.

In addition to NFC, the review sample also integrates Bluetooth 4.1. Audio streaming functioned impeccably in the test, even when the sound was streamed from an HD video via Internet. Only a final cracking noise was audible from the speaker when playback finished.

GPS test: indoors
GPS test: indoors
GPS test: outdoors
GPS test: outdoors

Tracking is performed via GPS and Glonass. Though satellites were not found indoors, it functioned quite fast outdoors. We compared the accuracy using a Garmin Edge 500 bike computer. The tablet had obvious problems in difficult reception conditions, such as in the woods. However, the deviations remained below 4% over the entire route, which is a good outcome.

Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Google Nexus 9
Google Nexus 9
Google Nexus 9
Google Nexus 9
Google Nexus 9
Google Nexus 9
Front-facing camera
Front-facing camera

Cameras

The front-facing camera of the Google Nexus 9 offers 1.6 MP (1472x1104 pixels; 4:3) and shoots decent pictures that are even sufficient for occasional selfies.

The primary camera has a maximum resolution of 8 MP (3280x2460 pixels; 4:3) and can make use of auto-focus and an LED flash. The color reproduction of the lens is a bit pale but nevertheless natural. The pictures are a bit blurry. The Nexus 9 cannot compensate for this in difficult light situations (scene 2). The bright areas outshine the outlines of the trees, and the details look muddy in dark areas. That is even stronger in the low-light field (scene 3, no flash). Details are only difficult to recognize, which can be nicely seen in the face of the single figures. The exposure time is already so high that moving objects cannot be captured sharply.

The Nexus 9 records videos in Full HD (1920x1080 pixels; 16:9; 30 fps). More would certainly have been possible considering the powerful SoC. The option of HFR recordings would have been particularly desirable seeing that Google's video portal now supports that. The recording quality is also unsatisfactory and does not look really sharp. Besides that, the camera permanently refocuses, which leads to a recurring push effect. The sound is recorded in stereo and is decent.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the zoom step. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3

Accessories

The included accessories are comprised of a modular power supply with an output of 7.5 watts (5 volts, 1.5 ampere) and which is TÜV (German Association for Technical Inspection) and GS certified. A USB cable that can be used for recharging the tablet or sharing data is also included.

Google has an optional keyboard (129 Euros, ~$159) and a protective case (39 Euros, ~$48) in different colors. They were, however, not available at the test time.

Warranty

HTC includes a 24-month warranty on the Nexus 9 and 12 months on the included accessories. Optional upgrades are not available.

Input Devices & Controls

The 8.9-inch, capacitive touchscreen in HTC's Google Nexus 9 has a glass panel from Corning that is very suave. The input area detects up to ten fingers simultaneously and implements them accurately up to its edges. We noticed delays when waking the tablet up via double-tapping the touchscreen. The command sometimes had to be repeated. No problems occurred in the apps.

The physical keys on the side do not make a very high-quality impression and have a somewhat spongy pressure point, which often makes repeating inputs necessary. The drop is quite short.

The stock keyboard layout has also been adapted to the "Material Design" and has been completely revamped. It is a bit irritating at first that the keys are not visibly separated, but the user will soon adapt to that. It is too bad that there is no dedicated number column. Although it is displayed in the layout, they can only be accessed by pressing the corresponding letter for a long time. Inputting via Swype is also supported. It is positive that all common characters are directly available without having to switch within the layout when writing messages.

"Hangouts" portrait mode
"Hangouts" portrait mode
Web portrait mode
Web portrait mode
Web landscape mode
Web landscape mode

Display

Halos are vaguely visible at the edge
Halos are vaguely visible at the edge

HTC installs an 8.9-inch IPS screen in the Google Nexus 9. It has a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels, which equals an aspect ratio of 4:3 and a pixel density of approximately 288 ppi. Although that is quite good, single pixels are visible when looking closer. The iPad Mini achieves 324 ppi owing to its smaller screen size. The sharpest screen in the comparison field belongs to the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (359 ppi).

The review sample reaches a maximum brightness of 430 cd/m², which is a good rate. Also, the illumination is very homogeneous. Many users have reported annoying halos on the screen. We can confirm this in our review sample. They are primarily clearly visible in dark movie sequences.

413
cd/m²
405
cd/m²
411
cd/m²
409
cd/m²
430
cd/m²
411
cd/m²
413
cd/m²
410
cd/m²
394
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 430 cd/m² Average: 410.7 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 92 %
Center on Battery: 430 cd/m²
Contrast: 558:1 (Black: 0.77 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 3.17 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 3.29 | - Ø
62% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.39
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Screen
7%
3%
4%
-21%
Brightness
411
261
-36%
344
-16%
469
14%
292
-29%
Brightness Distribution
92
91
-1%
86
-7%
92
0%
78
-15%
Black Level *
0.77
0.61
21%
0.68
12%
0.45
42%
Contrast
558
585
5%
669
20%
731
31%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.17
3.66
-15%
3.35
-6%
3.88
-22%
5.08
-60%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
3.29
2.51
24%
2.09
36%
3.38
-3%
6.36
-93%
Gamma
2.39 100%
2.22 108%
2.4 100%
2.74 88%
3.9 62%
CCT
6746 96%
6450 101%
6851 95%
6537 99%
5852 111%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
62
100
61%
55
-11%

* ... smaller is better

The black level of the Nexus 9 is relatively high with 0.77 cd/m². Reproduced black looks more like dark gray. The resulting contrast ratio of 558:1 is also the worst rate in the comparison field. Especially the OLED technology of the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 has a clear advantage here (0.0 cd/m²; ∞:1).

The Nexus 9 reproduces colors quite well. Deviations in color accuracy and saturation are not visible to the human eye, except when AdobeRGB 1998 is used as the target color space. Since the tablet cannot even cover the entire sRGB color space, the deviations are correspondingly higher in a bigger color spectrum. This becomes particularly well visible in the assessments of the mixed colors. However, these deviations will not be noticed in practice. It is pleasing that the screen does not have any color cast whatsoever.

Grayscale (target color space: sRGB)
Grayscale (target color space: sRGB)
Color Management (target color space: sRGB)
Color Management (target color space: sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (target color space: sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (target color space: sRGB)
ColorChecker (target color space: sRGB)
ColorChecker (target color space: sRGB)
ColorChecker (target color space: AdobeRGB 1998)
ColorChecker (target color space: AdobeRGB 1998)

The Google Nexus 9 makes a mixed impression in outdoor use. Although it has a glare screen, the reflections are not as intense as in other tablets. That is due to the full-laminated screen, and the tablet does not have any problems outdoors in cloudy conditions or during sunset. However, the middling contrast rate is noticed adversely in bright daylight in direct sun. The content on the screen remains recognizable, but longer periods of reading is exhausting for the eyes.

The Nexus 9 does not have any problems in sunset
The Nexus 9 does not have any problems in sunset
It becomes difficult to recognize anything in the bright, fall sun
It becomes difficult to recognize anything in the bright, fall sun

The viewing-angle stability of the Google Nexus 9 is very good. The displayed content remains unaffected from color deviations owing to the underlying IPS technology. We only ascertained a minor brightness loss from an angle of roughly 40 degrees. Since there is no space between the glass and the screen, we did not notice ghosting either. Merely the reflections might prove annoying in bright surroundings.

Viewing angles: Google Nexus 9
Viewing angles: Google Nexus 9

Performance

HTC's Google Nexus 9 is the first Android device powered by a 64-bit SoC and which can even make use of it. Nvidia's Tegra K1 with two Denver cores with 2.3 GHz each is installed. Nvidia's Shield tablet also relies on a Tegra K1, but with four Cortex A15 cores and it only supports 32 bits. The graphics model in both models is the same Nvidia Tegra K1 Kepler GPU, which promises brute power.

We were slightly taken aback that HTC only installs 2 GB of working memory; 3 GB have become standard in the premium sector, and even more would be possible with 64 bits. Android 5.0 also seems to be quite wasteful with its resources. According to CPU-Z, just 818 MB of the 2 GB working memory is available even when no app is running in the background and the system has just been booted. The user will also notice that the available working memory soon drops to below 500 MB when the tablet has been idling for a longer time. That might explain the issues in some benchmark programs. Both AnTuTu v5.2 and AndEBench crashed during execution. The Anomaly 2 benchmark did not even start, and the Alpha Blending test (off-screen) stopped with the message "out of memory" in GFXBench 3.0. There is apparently still need for optimization here.

The SoC's performance is otherwise compelling and belongs to the fastest devices. The Nexus 9 scores considerably better than the Shield in Geekbench 3 with a 53% better result. However, it is tied in Linpack. The review sample lags behind other premium devices as soon as multiple cores are loaded because it only has two cores.

The Nexus 9 is defeated by the Shield in the 3DMark Unlimited test with a 20% lower total score. Although the graphics units are on par, the Shield tablet's double core count leads it to a better outcome in the physics calculations. Nevertheless, the Nexus 9 sports one of the fastest currently available GPUs.

Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
2892 Points ∼18%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
1452 Points ∼9% -50%
LG G Pad 8.3
1900 Points ∼12% -34%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
2797 Points ∼17% -3%
Apple iPad Mini 3
2479 Points ∼15% -14%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
3239 Points ∼20% +12%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
3495 Points ∼21% +21%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
1719 Points ∼37%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
481 Points ∼10% -72%
LG G Pad 8.3
629 Points ∼13% -63%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
935 Points ∼20% -46%
Apple iPad Mini 3
1373 Points ∼29% -20%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
1112 Points ∼24% -35%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
1127 Points ∼24% -34%
Linpack Android / IOS
Multi Thread (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
892.416 MFLOPS ∼30%
LG G Pad 8.3
517.382 MFLOPS ∼17% -42%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
770.167 MFLOPS ∼26% -14%
Apple iPad Mini 3
1480 MFLOPS ∼50% +66%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
696.97 MFLOPS ∼24% -22%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
726 MFLOPS ∼25% -19%
Apple iPad Air 2
2428.68 MFLOPS ∼82% +172%
Single Thread (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
670.667 MFLOPS ∼66%
LG G Pad 8.3
293.124 MFLOPS ∼29% -56%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
384.557 MFLOPS ∼38% -43%
Apple iPad Mini 3
887 MFLOPS ∼87% +32%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
319.975 MFLOPS ∼31% -52%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
673 MFLOPS ∼66% 0%
Apple iPad Air 2
1021.11 MFLOPS ∼100% +52%
BaseMark OS II
Graphics (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
8602 Points ∼100%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
371 Points ∼4% -96%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
1036 Points ∼12% -88%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
3441 Points ∼40% -60%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
8065 Points ∼94% -6%
Apple iPad Air 2
4920 Points ∼57% -43%
Memory (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
1509 Points ∼57%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
217 Points ∼8% -86%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
464 Points ∼17% -69%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
595 Points ∼22% -61%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
596 Points ∼22% -61%
Apple iPad Air 2
832 Points ∼31% -45%
System (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
1729 Points ∼26%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
654 Points ∼10% -62%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
1534 Points ∼23% -11%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
1647 Points ∼25% -5%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
1012 Points ∼15% -41%
Apple iPad Air 2
4104 Points ∼62% +137%
Overall (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
1845 Points ∼56%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
359 Points ∼11% -81%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
885 Points ∼27% -52%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
1273 Points ∼39% -31%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
1431 Points ∼44% -22%
Apple iPad Air 2
1967 Points ∼60% +7%
3DMark
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
12420 Points ∼20%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
8327 Points ∼13% -33%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
14318 Points ∼23% +15%
Apple iPad Mini 3
7798 Points ∼12% -37%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
18913 Points ∼30% +52%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
21086 Points ∼33% +70%
Apple iPad Air 2
10379 Points ∼16% -16%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
39070 Points ∼9%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
4410 Points ∼1% -89%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
13781 Points ∼3% -65%
Apple iPad Mini 3
19674 Points ∼4% -50%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
20733 Points ∼5% -47%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
39590 Points ∼9% +1%
Apple iPad Air 2
31542 Points ∼7% -19%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
26455 Points ∼14%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
4925 Points ∼3% -81%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
13897 Points ∼7% -47%
Apple iPad Mini 3
14699 Points ∼8% -44%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
20299 Points ∼11% -23%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
33129 Points ∼18% +25%
Apple iPad Air 2
21707 Points ∼12% -18%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
31 fps ∼6%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
5.5 fps ∼1% -82%
Apple iPad Mini 3
13.2 fps ∼3% -57%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
17.7 fps ∼4% -43%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
31.2 fps ∼6% +1%
Apple iPad Air 2
37.6 fps ∼8% +21%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
22.5 fps ∼20%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
2.8 fps ∼3% -88%
Apple iPad Mini 3
8.8 fps ∼8% -61%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
11 fps ∼10% -51%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
29.8 fps ∼27% +32%
Apple iPad Air 2
27 fps ∼24% +20%

Legend

 
Google Nexus 9 Nvidia Tegra K1 (Denver), NVIDIA Tegra K1 Kepler GPU, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0 HiSilicon Kirin 910, ARM Mali-450 MP4, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
LG G Pad 8.3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 Samsung Exynos 5420 Octa, ARM Mali-T628 MP6, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Apple iPad Mini 3 Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 APQ8084, Qualcomm Adreno 420, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W Nvidia Tegra K1, NVIDIA Tegra K1 Kepler GPU, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Apple iPad Air 2 Apple A8X, PowerVR GXA6850, 128 GB eMMC Flash

The browser performance of the Google Nexus 9 is superb. The preloaded Chrome 38 reaps in really good scores in all benchmarks. The review sample is only defeated by the iPad Air 2 in most cases. However, it is only nearly the best device in the comparison field in Mozilla Kraken 1.1. It shows a few minor weaknesses in the SunSpider Java benchmark. It makes an impeccable impression in practical use. Browsing on the Internet with the Nexus 9 is simply fun to do.

Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash (Chrome 38 Lollipop)
8210 Points ∼18%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
Mali-450 MP4, Kirin 910, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1467 Points ∼3% -82%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
4376 Points ∼10% -47%
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
5722 Points ∼13% -30%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash (Chrome 38)
5379 Points ∼12% -34%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
6777 Points ∼15% -17%
Apple iPad Air 2
PowerVR GXA6850, A8X, 128 GB eMMC Flash (Safari 9.0 Mobile)
10512 Points ∼23% +28%
Peacekeeper - --- (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash (Chrome 38 Lollipop)
2387 Points ∼39%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
Mali-450 MP4, Kirin 910, 16 GB eMMC Flash
616 Points ∼10% -74%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
574 Points ∼9% -76%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
859 Points ∼14% -64%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash (Chrome 38)
852 Points ∼14% -64%
Apple iPad Air 2
PowerVR GXA6850, A8X, 128 GB eMMC Flash (Safari 8.0 Mobile)
2750 Points ∼44% +15%
Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash (Chrome 38 Lollipop)
919.3 ms * ∼23%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
Mali-450 MP4, Kirin 910, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1444.1 ms * ∼36% -57%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1089 ms * ∼27% -18%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1067.1 ms * ∼27% -16%
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
440 ms * ∼11% +52%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash (Chrome 38)
955.6 ms * ∼24% -4%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash (Chrome 36)
525 ms * ∼13% +43%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash (Android 4.4)
458 ms * ∼11% +50%
Apple iPad Air 2
PowerVR GXA6850, A8X, 128 GB eMMC Flash (Safari 8.0 Mobile)
291.1 ms * ∼7% +68%
WebXPRT 2013
Offline Notes (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
900 ms * ∼19%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1545 ms * ∼32% -72%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1308.7 ms * ∼27% -45%
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
624 ms * ∼13% +31%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
1253.2 ms * ∼26% -39%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
748 ms * ∼16% +17%
Apple iPad Air 2
PowerVR GXA6850, A8X, 128 GB eMMC Flash
336 ms * ∼7% +63%
Stocks Dashboard (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
765.7 ms * ∼20%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1617.7 ms * ∼43% -111%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1323.3 ms * ∼35% -73%
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
403 ms * ∼11% +47%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
1268.7 ms * ∼34% -66%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
742 ms * ∼20% +3%
Apple iPad Air 2
PowerVR GXA6850, A8X, 128 GB eMMC Flash
268 ms * ∼7% +65%
Face Detection (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
810.4 ms * ∼7%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
2310.8 ms * ∼19% -185%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1843 ms * ∼15% -127%
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1682 ms * ∼14% -108%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
1713.8 ms * ∼14% -111%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
975 ms * ∼8% -20%
Apple iPad Air 2
PowerVR GXA6850, A8X, 128 GB eMMC Flash
1501 ms * ∼12% -85%
Photo Effects (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
576.2 ms * ∼6%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1478.8 ms * ∼17% -157%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1032.3 ms * ∼12% -79%
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
876 ms * ∼10% -52%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
980.7 ms * ∼11% -70%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
698 ms * ∼8% -21%
Apple iPad Air 2
PowerVR GXA6850, A8X, 128 GB eMMC Flash
648 ms * ∼7% -12%
Overall Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash (Chrome 38 Lollipop)
552 Points ∼24%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
243 Points ∼11% -56%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
309 Points ∼14% -44%
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
533 Points ∼23% -3%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash (Chrome 38)
326 Points ∼14% -41%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
530 Points ∼23% -4%
Apple iPad Air 2
PowerVR GXA6850, A8X, 128 GB eMMC Flash (Safari 8.0 Mobile)
764 Points ∼34% +38%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
4030.5 ms * ∼7%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
9895.6 ms * ∼17% -146%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
7894.5 ms * ∼13% -96%
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
5447 ms * ∼9% -35%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash (Chrome 38)
6127.4 ms * ∼10% -52%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
4286 ms * ∼7% -6%
Apple iPad Air 2
PowerVR GXA6850, A8X, 128 GB eMMC Flash (Safari 9.0 Mobile)
2396 ms * ∼4% +41%
BaseMark OS II - Web (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
516 Points ∼33%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
Mali-450 MP4, Kirin 910, 16 GB eMMC Flash
314 Points ∼20% -39%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
833 Points ∼54% +61%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
779 Points ∼51% +51%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
863 Points ∼56% +67%
Apple iPad Air 2
PowerVR GXA6850, A8X, 128 GB eMMC Flash
1263 Points ∼82% +145%

* ... smaller is better

The Google Nexus 9 is available with either a 16 or 32 GB eMMC flash storage, and it's a ripsnorter. The storage is the fastest that we have ever tested in an Android device to date, and it makes good use of the eMMC-4.51 specifications.

The user will have roughly 23 "real" GB available after initially booting the 32 GB version. That is relatively little, especially since HTC only preloads a few Google apps. The Galaxy Note 4 (32 GB, Android 4.4 KitKat) has 1.4 GB more available and considerably more apps at the same time. Android 5.0 Lollipop apparently simply needs more storage capacity. Unfortunately, there is no possibility to expand the storage via a micro-SD.

AndroBench 3
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
14.49 MB/s ∼19%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
Mali-450 MP4, Kirin 910, 16 GB eMMC Flash
0.95 MB/s ∼1% -93%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1.08 MB/s ∼1% -93%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1.46 MB/s ∼2% -90%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
3.14 MB/s ∼4% -78%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
0.9 MB/s ∼1% -94%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
36.22 MB/s ∼26%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
Mali-450 MP4, Kirin 910, 16 GB eMMC Flash
9.12 MB/s ∼7% -75%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
11.34 MB/s ∼8% -69%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
11.68 MB/s ∼8% -68%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
19.87 MB/s ∼14% -45%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
11 MB/s ∼8% -70%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
75.49 MB/s ∼40%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
Mali-450 MP4, Kirin 910, 16 GB eMMC Flash
12.13 MB/s ∼6% -84%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
10.45 MB/s ∼6% -86%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
18.02 MB/s ∼10% -76%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
38.91 MB/s ∼21% -48%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
15.5 MB/s ∼8% -79%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
279.16 MB/s ∼57%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
Mali-450 MP4, Kirin 910, 16 GB eMMC Flash
38.74 MB/s ∼8% -86%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
60.12 MB/s ∼12% -78%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
89.07 MB/s ∼18% -68%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
178.77 MB/s ∼37% -36%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
83 MB/s ∼17% -70%
BaseMark OS II - Memory (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
1509 Points ∼57%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
Mali-450 MP4, Kirin 910, 16 GB eMMC Flash
217 Points ∼8% -86%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
464 Points ∼17% -69%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
595 Points ∼22% -61%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
596 Points ∼22% -61%
Apple iPad Air 2
PowerVR GXA6850, A8X, 128 GB eMMC Flash
832 Points ∼31% -45%
PassMark PerformanceTest Mobile V1
Memory Tests (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
7534 Points ∼30%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
2832 Points ∼11% -62%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
3048 Points ∼12% -60%
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
3152 Points ∼12% -58%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
5263 Points ∼21% -30%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
4807 Points ∼19% -36%
Apple iPad Air 2
PowerVR GXA6850, A8X, 128 GB eMMC Flash
13780 Points ∼54% +83%
Disk Tests (sort by value)
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
25334 Points ∼18%
LG G Pad 8.3
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB eMMC Flash
4915 Points ∼4% -81%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
24230 Points ∼18% -4%
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
18775 Points ∼14% -26%
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084, 32 GB eMMC Flash
34250 Points ∼25% +35%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
28478 Points ∼21% +12%
Apple iPad Air 2
PowerVR GXA6850, A8X, 128 GB eMMC Flash
72371 Points ∼53% +186%

Games

Nvidia's Tegra K1 Kepler GPU provides more than enough graphics power for all common games, and it also supports the newest interfaces such as OpenGL ES 3.1 and DirectX 11. However, we noticed a minor issue in the race game Asphalt 8. The title could only be played in a lower detail level. The future will show whether the game needs optimization or whether it is due to the tight working memory. The game itself functioned perfectly.

We did not ascertain any issues with other games. The impeccably functioning sensors, the good touchscreen, and the powerful speaker underlines the gaming ambitions of the Nexus 9.

Asphalt 8 only ran in a low detail level
Asphalt 8 only ran in a low detail level
Angry Birds
Angry Birds
Clash of Clans
Clash of Clans

Emissions

GFX Bench 3.0: Battery Test
GFX Bench 3.0: Battery Test

Temperature

The surface temperatures of HTC's Google Nexus 9 reached a maximum of 34.4 °C when idling. The rates climbed up to 39.7 °C during permanent load, which we simulated by running the Stability Test app for at least one hour. It thus gets slightly warmer than its contenders that all remain below 40 °C. The iPad Mini 3 (max. 36.7 °C) is the coolest device in the comparison field. All rates are absolutely uncritical.

We checked the SoC's performance stability in a stress test. We used the Battery Test of GFXBench 3.0 that executes the T-Rex test thirty times in succession, and it records both the battery state and frame rates. The result was not particularly good. The Tegra K1 in the Nexus 9 delivered increasingly poor rates the longer the test ran, and struggled with temporary performance losses of approximately 30 percent.

Max. Load
 39.2 °C32.3 °C31.5 °C 
 39.1 °C32.4 °C33.8 °C 
 33.1 °C31 °C31.5 °C 
Maximum: 39.2 °C
Average: 33.8 °C
30.2 °C33.9 °C39.7 °C
31.4 °C33 °C38 °C
29.3 °C31.9 °C31 °C
Maximum: 39.7 °C
Average: 33.2 °C
Power Supply (max.)  47.7 °C | Room Temperature 21.9 °C | Voltcraft IR-350

Speakers

The Nexus 9 features decent speakers
The Nexus 9 features decent speakers

The two speakers in the Google Nexus 9 are equipped with HTC's BoomSound. They are located at the display's side when held in landscape mode. The produced sound is relatively good and sounds quite balanced up to a volume of approximately 75%. The sound is only a bit muffled, and the trebles could be clearer. Bass is very weak but audible. The sound distorts slightly when the volume is increased beyond that. Nevertheless, videos and, above all, games are simply more enjoyable with the speakers than with the common tablet standard.

The audio jack functioned without interference and made a subjectively good impression.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The idle power consumption of the Google Nexus 9 is quite high with 2.6 to 5.2 watts. The power consumption of the contenders is significantly lower; even the bigger iPad Air 2 (1.2 - 5.4 watts) is roughly on par here.

The consumption rates climb up to 9.2 watts during permanent load. Solely Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (max. 9.5 watts) needs a bit more energy. The iPad Mini 3 (max. 7.8 watts) and Shield (max. 5.5 watts) are clearly below that. However, HTC's included power supply is slightly undersized with an output of 7.5 watts.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 2.6 / 4.9 / 5.2 Watt
Load midlight 7.5 / 9.2 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

HTC's Google Nexus 9 sports a strong 6700 mAh battery that is recharged within three hours. Compared with the Nexus 7, the battery life has improved greatly. Only the maximum runtime has decreased but is still on a very good level.

The runtimes can be best compared using a screen brightness set to 150 cd/m². The Nexus 9 pretty exactly achieves the 9.5 hours promised by the manufacturer in the Wi-Fi browsing test and thus lasts longer than its contenders. A similar image is seen when playing the video Big Buck Bunny in Full HD in a loop. HTC's tablet even managed almost ten hours here. Only the iPad Mini 3 (10:12 h) tops that marginally. All in all, the Nexus 9 achieves very good battery runtimes.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
23h 42min
WiFi Surfing
9h 34min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
9h 57min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 44min
Google Nexus 9
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1 (Denver), 32 GB eMMC Flash
Google Nexus 7 2013
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Battery Runtime
15%
-37%
-4%
-6%
Reader / Idle
1422
2648
86%
856
-40%
1172
-18%
1215
-15%
Load
224
198
-12%
128
-43%
250
12%
210
-6%
WiFi
574
411
-28%
347
-40%
544
-5%
533
-7%
H.264
597
442
-26%
612
3%

Verdict

In review: HTC Google Nexus 9
In review: HTC Google Nexus 9

Google does not hit a homerun with its Nexus 9 like it did with its Nexus 7. The quality has suffered, and the price has been increased noticeably. Besides that, not everything seems to run smoothly in the 64-bit version of Google's new Android 5.0 Lollipop yet. While the Nexus 9 (Build LRX21L) still struggles with some issues, the new operating system runs smoothly on older Nexus devices.

Nevertheless, HTC delivers a decent tablet though compromises have to primarily be made in build. The performance of the Tegra K1 is awesomely good and the screen is also compelling even if halos are clearly visible in some places. Additionally, the speakers are really decent.

Furthermore, the K1's performance throttles noticeably under high load so that Nvidia's Shield tablet will remain to be first choice among tablets for gamers. It does not struggle with those kinds of problems. 2 GB of working memory also seem insufficient and push the device to its limits when used for a longer period. However, that only applies to the 64-bit version of Android 5.0. We did not ascertain these issues in the Lollipop test with the Nexus 5 (32-bit). The storage cannot be expanded either. We would have at least wished for a model with more storage in that case.

Anyone who wants a tablet with a lot of power and good battery life, which also supports 64 bits, will not get around the Google Nexus 9 at present.

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In review: HTC Google Nexus 9
In review: HTC Google Nexus 9

Specifications

Google Nexus 9 (Nexus Series)
Processor
Memory
2048 MB 
Display
8.9 inch 4:3, 2048x1536 pixel, capacitive touchscreen, 10 multi-touch points, IPS, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, glossy: yes
Storage
32 GB eMMC Flash, 32 GB 
, eMMC 4.51, 23.08 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: combo headphone and microphone jack, Sensors: ambient light, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, NFC, GPS, Glonass
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1, Body SAR: 0.168 W/kg
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 7.95 x 228.3 x 153.7 ( = 0.31 x 8.99 x 6.05 in)
Battery
25 Wh Lithium-Polymer, 6700 mAh, 3.8 volts, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 9.5 h, Standby 3G (according to manufacturer): 720 h
Operating System
Android 5.0 Lollipop
Camera
Webcam: 1.6 MP, main camera: 8 MP (auto focus, LED flash)
Additional features
Speakers: two front speakers with HTC BoomSound, Keyboard: virtual, USB cable, power supply, quick start guide, Google Apps, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
422 g ( = 14.89 oz / 0.93 pounds), Power Supply: 55 g ( = 1.94 oz / 0.12 pounds)
Price
479 Euro

 

The screen's size is 8.9-inches.
The screen's size is 8.9-inches.
Debuting Google's Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Debuting Google's Android 5.0 Lollipop.
The screen has a resolution of 1536x2048 pixels.
The screen has a resolution of 1536x2048 pixels.
The webcam shoots decent pictures.
The webcam shoots decent pictures.
The on-screen buttons have been revamped.
The on-screen buttons have been revamped.
Both stereo speakers are on the screen's sides.
Both stereo speakers are on the screen's sides.
The new Android 5.0 also supports 64 bits.
The new Android 5.0 also supports 64 bits.
The back provides good grip.
The back provides good grip.
The camera juts out of the casing in some places.
The camera juts out of the casing in some places.
The tablet is made by HTC.
The tablet is made by HTC.
The included accessories are no surprise.
The included accessories are no surprise.
The power supply has undergone quality testing.
The power supply has undergone quality testing.
The tablet's setup is fast and easy.
The tablet's setup is fast and easy.
Home screen.
Home screen.
Settings.
Settings.
23 GB is available.
23 GB is available.
Android 5.0 is preloaded.
Android 5.0 is preloaded.
Not all apps have been optimized yet.
Not all apps have been optimized yet.
No bloatware is found.
No bloatware is found.
Only Google apps are preloaded.
Only Google apps are preloaded.
Geekbench 3
Geekbench 3
Peacekeeper
Peacekeeper
Basemark OS II
Basemark OS II
Basemark X 1.1 (High Quality)
Basemark X 1.1 (High Quality)
3DMark
3DMark
WebXPRT 2013
WebXPRT 2013
Vellamo 3.1
Vellamo 3.1
PCMark for Android
PCMark for Android
The user is warned visually that the battery is low.
The user is warned visually that the battery is low.
AnTuTu v5.2 did not finish.
AnTuTu v5.2 did not finish.
Quadrant
Quadrant
Smartbench 2012
Smartbench 2012
PassMark
PassMark
SunSpider
SunSpider
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
BrowserMark 2.1 crashed.
BrowserMark 2.1 crashed.

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Links

  • Manufacturer's information

Compare Prices

Pro

+Swift 64 bit SoC
+Decent speakers
+Latest Android 5.0
+Low radiation rate
+Good primary camera (in bright surroundings)
+Superb battery life
+Good screen...
 

Cons

-...with visible halos
-Casing stiffness
-No MHL/DLNA
-Price design
-Only 2 GB working memory
-Throttling in load
-Weak power supply

Shortcut

What we like

Google's new Lollipop operating system makes a good impression. Besides that, we liked the swift performance of the 64-bit processor.

What we'd like to see

Where should we start? A storage expansion would have made sense. The tablet does not offer either DLNA or MHL. The halos are sometimes annoying, and a stronger power supply would have been appropriate.

What surprises us

HTC does not manage to control the temperatures of the K1, which might lead to noticeable throttling. Too bad that performance is wasted here.

The competition

Main contenders are Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 8.4, Apple's iPad Mini 3 and Nvidia's Shield Tablet. But also less expensive devices, such as LG's G Pad 8.3, Lenovo's Yoga Tablet 8 or Huawei's MediaPad M1 8.0 might be real alternatives.

Rating

Google Nexus 9 - 11/20/2014 v4(old)
Daniel Schmidt

Chassis
70%
Keyboard
72 / 80 → 90%
Pointing Device
86%
Connectivity
41 / 66 → 62%
Weight
84 / 88 → 92%
Battery
93%
Display
82%
Games Performance
71 / 68 → 100%
Application Performance
57 / 76 → 75%
Temperature
89%
Noise
100%
Audio
71 / 91 → 78%
Camera
55 / 85 → 65%
Average
75%
86%
Tablet - Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > HTC Google Nexus 9 (Wi-Fi / 32 GB) Tablet Review
Daniel Schmidt, 2014-11-22 (Update: 2014-11-23)