Hands-On With The Nexus 9 Tablet

The Nexus 9 in a nutshell: it’s big, and it’s beautiful.

I got to spend a few fleeting minutes with the device this afternoon, and though we plan to have a full review in the coming days, I thought I’d share my initial thoughts.

Like the jump from Nexus 5 to Nexus 6, there’s a pretty huge spike in quality and build feel from the Nexus 7 to the Nexus 9. The predecessor never felt cheap, mind you — but the new guy just feels great. The Nexus 9 is expected to cost $200 more than the Nexus 7 ($400 vs. $200), and it certainly feels like a pricier device.

With that said, it’s hard to look at the Nexus 9 and not see an iPad. It was easy to avoid with the Nexus 7, with its 16:10 (read: widescreen) display. By switching to a more traditional 4:3 aspect ratio, the Nexus 9 instantly looks a whole lot more like its closest competition.

Is that a bad thing? Not really. Outside of the devout fanboys, no one should really care. Use whichever device you like, and let them squabble amongst each other about the similarities.

Anyway: build quality, device heft, platform performance — at a cursory glance, it all seems top notch.

Android Lollipop runs like butter — for our impressions there, and for our experience tinkering with the wonderfully shiny Nexus 6, click right over here.

A few neat things to note about the Nexus 9:

  • You can now double tap the screen to wake it up, rather than having to hunt for an unlock button.
  • The new multitasking view found in Lollipop is quite impressive, particularly on tablets. While I wasn’t able to get it to work on-the-fly in my video above, many apps (like games) can be ‘pinned’ to the screen. In doing so, you make it so that whoever is using the device is unable to leave the application without entering your password. It’s great for handing the tablet off to kids, or whoever, and it takes all of a single tap to enable.
  • There’s a new guest mode that creates a temporary, sandboxed user account on-the-fly. Create the guest account, hand it to a friend, and all of your stuff is protected. When they’re done, tap a button and the account is gone. I’ve been asking for this for 2 1/2 years now, so you can imagine that I’m quite pleased.

[Videography by Kyle Russell]