Back when the Nexus 9 first launched, I was both excited, and nervous. A more premium Nexus tablet at a new convenient size sounded great to me, but a $400 price tag didn’t. I decided however to give it a try. Well, long story short, I wasn’t impressed. At the time it was a good tablet, but it was the great one I expected to come with a $400 price tag. That combined with hardware and software issues made my transition to the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet that much easier. For several months I was very happy with the trade-off. However lately I’ve been missing the Nexus. With reports from many users claiming the most recent software builds had fixed many issues and no new Nexus tablet on the horizon, I figured it was time to give it another shot.
At first I was looking around to trade my SHIELD for a Nexus 9, but I couldn’t find a viable option that was worth it. However HTC then surprised me with a massive sale on the Nexus 9 plummeting the Nexus 9 to just $240. I didn’t even hesitate. Issues or not, this was a steal. So, with a full 9 months passed since it’s release, what’s the Nexus 9 looking like? Is it any good now?
First off let me start by saying that my main issue with the Nexus 9 the first time around with the price. So even though I got this unit at such a massive discount, I’m not judging it based on that. I’m judging it based on the current retail and used prices available throughout the web.
Just in case you’re not too familiar with the Nexus 9, it’s an HTC made mid-sized 8.9″ tablet running atop an NVIDIA K1 processor and 2GB of RAM. It’s a pretty simple device, and that’s just how I like my tablets. I don’t need a million features. Just good performance, solid battery life, and a good entertainment experience. The Nexus 9 is certainly a tablet that fits that criteria. At launch, the Nexus 9 was however riddled with issues. The software was buggy and updates didn’t really change that for a while. It wasn’t until Android 5.1.1 that most users were finally happy with the software on their tablet. I have to say that after using the build for the past few days, I’m very satisfied. It’s very quick with very minimal lag or stutter. There’s going to be some issues from time to time, but it’s nothing I couldn’t overlook.
Another problem with the Nexus 9 at launch was the hardware. HTC hasn’t made tablets in a long time, so it makes total sense they would have trouble with their first new one. However what we saw was a bit worse than I thought. The tablet’s construction had it’s fair share of issues including the back panel, metal edging, and the buttons. On my original unit, I had a problem with the back panel flexing and the buttons. Now the back panel wasn’t terrible, but the buttons were simply atrocious. There was absolutely no tactility or travel in them and I hated it. However on this new unit, they are awesome. The buttons feel great when pressed and they, well, they actually feel like they exist now.
Battery life has also improved a bit. Originally I wasn’t too happy with the heavy use performance on the Nexus 9 as it tended to fall a bit short. However now a full day of usage (including reading, streaming videos, and playing games) can now get me just under 5 hours of screen time. While that’s still not amazing, it’s certainly better than before and it’s enough for most users.
So after 9 months on the market, how has my opinion on the Nexus 9 changed? Well, I still don’t think it’s the best tablet out there, but it’s certainly shot far higher up the list then where it previously was. I still don’t think the Nexus 9 is quite worth it’s $399 base price tag, but it’s falling closer to it. However since it’s not the most popular tablet out there, you can get some solid deals on it. If you want a brand new unit, you can head over to Expansys to get either a 16GB Wi-Fi or 32GB LTE Nexus 9 for only $339. One of those is an absolute no-brainer, but I’ll let you do the math there. Amazon is also selling (at the time of writing) the tablet in it’s 16GB variant for $367 and the 32GB variant for $390. If you’re OK going the used route, you can actually head over to Swappa to pick up a used Nexus 9 as low as $250.
TL;DR Yes the Nexus 9 is much better. It’s still not perfect, but in my opinion it’s finally a tablet I can recommend buying to just about anyone in the market.